I heard before that this tradition started ever since the time of Nero where Christian infants were being slaughtered, so what the early church would do was baptize the infant just incase. Is there any historical evidence for this or was there a different reason for this?
Where did you hear this? I’ve never heard of this claim. Granted, I’m no historical expert, but I’m 99% sure that’s not why the Early Church baptized infants. It’s to wipe Original Sin and mark their souls as Catholics–that’s why.
I’ve never before heard that Nero was the reason for the practice of infant baptism. Be that as it may, that explanation doesn’t make much sense. If Christians saw a need to baptize their infants because Nero might kill their infants, would Christians not also have a need to baptize their infants because their infants might die from natural causes? Or, are we to think that the infants of Christians never die from natural causes?
Christians baptize infants because Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3,5)
There have been times in history where people *put off *baptism until later in life, so it’s possible that when that thinking was prevalent, persecution of Christians might have encouraged people to baptize earlier. But children have been baptized from the time of the apostles.
Is there historical or/and scriptural proof of children being baptized during the time of the apostles?
Here is an excellent resource to get you started.
Nero? Wow. That’s pretty early. Peter and Paul were still alive at that time.
Here are some quotes from the Early Church Fathers, and many of them state that the practice of baptizing infants was apostolic in origin:
Early Church Fathers on Infant Baptism
Polycarp (69-155 AD)
“Eighty and six years have I served the Lord Christ” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 9: 3)
(Obviously, Polycarp was baptized very, very young.
Irenaeus (c.120-c.200 AD)
“For He came to save all through means of Himself all, I say, who through Him are born again to God, infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men” (Against Heresies 2:22:4).
“‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]” (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).
**Justin Martyr (100-166 AD) **
“Many, both men and women, who have been Christ’s disciples since childhood, remain pure at the age of sixty or seventy years” (Apology 1: 15).
Hippolytus (170-236 AD)
“And first baptize the little ones; and if they can speak for themselves, they shall do so; if not, their parents or other relatives shall speak for them.” (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]).
“The Church has received from the apostles the custom of administering baptism even to infants. For those who have been entrusted with the secrets of divine mysteries, knew very well that all are tainted with the stain of original sin, which must be washed off by water and spirit” (Commentary on Romans, 5.9).
“Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous” (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).
“The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit” (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).
Council of Carthage (254 AD)
“We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God… especially infants. . . those newly born.”
“Should we wait until the eighth day as did the Jews in circumcision? No, the child should be baptized as soon as it is born.” (To Fidus 1: 2).
“In respect of the case of infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man… Spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision… we ought to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins - that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another” (Letter 58 to Fidus).
“As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born” (Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]).
“If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another” (ibid., 64:5).
I was hoping you’d ask!
**INFANT BAPTISM PROVED FROM SCRIPTURE
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.
These texts show the circumcision of eight-day-old babies as the way of entering into the Old Covenant.
Connection to New Covenant
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Baptism is the new “circumcision of Christ” for all people of the New Covenant.
We are Born Again Through Baptism
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4"How can a man be born when he is old?" 5Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Baptism Washes Away Actual Sins
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
Do Infants Need Baptism?
1 "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. 2 He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure. 3 Do you fix your eye on such a one? Will you bring him before you for judgment? 4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
We are conceived in the iniquity of sin. This shows the need for baptism from the moment of conception.
Jesus Extols Child-like Faith
2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus says unless we become like children, we cannot enter into heaven. So why would children be excluded from baptism?
Jesus Receives Little Children and Infants
13Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Jesus says to let the children come to Him for the kingdom of God also belongs to them. There is no age limit on entering the kingdom, and no age limit for being eligible for baptism.
15People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Church Begins to Preach Baptism
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Peter did not say, “Every one of you adults”; he said, “Every one of you” without qualification and added “the promise (of the Holy Spirit) is for you and your children”. Baptism and the Holy Spirit are frequently connected throughout the Bible (cf. Ez. 36:25-27, Mt. 3:16, Jn. 3:5).
Then Peter said, 47"Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." 48So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Peter baptized the entire house of Cornelius which probably included infants and young children. There is not one word in this passage (or any other in scripture) about baptism being limited to adults.
13On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.
Paul baptized Lydia and her entire household. The word “household” comes from the Greek word “oikos” which is a household that includes infants and children. Further, Paul baptizes the household based on Lydia’s faith, not the faith of the members of the household. This demonstrates that parents can present their children for baptism based on the parents’ faith, not the children’s faith.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
**The Baptism of infants **
1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called.50 The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.51
1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.52
1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole “households” received baptism, infants may also have been baptized.53
Look at this and see that the church has done this all along. The Case For Infant Baptism
As I posted on another thread, for anyone who doubts that the Apostles practiced infant baptism, READ THE MARTYRDOM OF POLYCARP. We know St. Polycarp was a disciple of John. Many scholars also believe John baptized St. Polycarp. Right before he was martyred, Polycarp, says something eye opening.
Eighty and six years have I served him…
Infant Baptism is denied by those who theologically deny baptismal regeneration. There is a connection…
Those Christians who believe in Baptismal regeneration always (as far as I know) believe in Infant Baptism.
In any event, Infant Baptism has been practiced since Apostolic times, and is well documented. See Wall for the best defense of the historicity of Infant Baptism, written by a Protestant.
The argument in the early Christian years was not whether infants were to be baptized, but if they should wait 8 days like circumcision or not.
Acts 2:36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. **39The promise is for you and your children **and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
There is an analogy in the NT to baptism being the crossing of the Red Sea under Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2).
The question is then asked “Did the children of Israel leave their children in Egypt until they were old enough to make their own decision to leave Egypt?”
The answer is of course No. That is bcause the Covenant is familial NOT individual.
It would probably take at least three PhD’s in gymnastics to avoid this analogy.