Question on water vs spirit baptism


Hello. I was talking to a non-denominational protestant friend of mine about baptism, and he asked me if there is a difference between water baptism and spirit baptism. Whats the proper response here? This was in regards to whether baptism is necessary for salvation.



This tract should help:


The proper response is that Catholic baptism is baptism of the holy spirit, as instructed by Jesus Christ.


Read John 3 where Jesus talks with Nicodemus about being born again of water and the spirit to enter the kingdom of God.


I would probably start by saying Jesus said water AND spirit, not water OR spirit, in John 3.

I am not a fan of that word necessary. The Catechism gives a good definition, especially the last sentence…

CCC 1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

The importance of Baptism is all over the Bible, especially John 3. I would be curious what reasoning he has come up with, to conclude that it is not important.

My all time favorite verse to date was the guy that said Mark 16:16 proves Baptism isn’t necessary.

Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

His reasoning was since Jesus didn’t repeat the word baptized in the second half of the sentence that means he didn’t really mean it in the first half. :thinking: Interesting?

Hope this helps,

God Bless


Hello All,

This has been very interesting. Please pardon the ignorant follow up question but for clarification while it sounds like both water and spirit baptism are important, they are separate. Is that correct? I’m confused at this point since I’ve not seen anywhere growing up catholic being separately baptized by the water and the spirit. Or is it the case that while they’re different they happen at the same time?


We are given the Holy Spirit when we are baptised. Without it, it is impossible to pray, love God and neighbour, discern right from wrong etc. The Holy Spirit is also given us “in a special way” when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The Catholic Church is very much “both/and” not “either/or” as some would like it to be. “Here and now but not yet.” is another expression that is used frequently when it comes to salvation.


Here are two great articles discussing baptism and the importance of water in God’s plan. It’s all over the Bible!


They are one and the same.

I wonder if what might be confusing you is John’s Baptism. John the Baptist’s Baptism (using water) was a Baptism of Repentance. It was not the same as Christ’s Baptism.

St. Thomas Aquinas told us the difference here…

[T]he whole teaching and work of John was in preparation for Christ: just as it is the duty of the servant and of the under-craftsman to prepare the matter for the form which is accomplished by the head-craftsman. Now grace was to be conferred on men through Christ, according to John 1:17: “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Therefore the baptism of John did not confer grace, but only prepared the way for grace; and this in three ways: first, by John’s teaching, which led men to faith in Christ; secondly, by accustoming men to the rite of Christ’s baptism; thirdly, by penance, preparing men to receive the effect of Christ’s baptism. ( Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, available at:

Basically, John’s Baptism of Repentance was water Baptism which was performed to declare that you are repentant of your sins. It was something YOU did.

Now Christ’s Baptism was a Baptism of Water AND Spirit (in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit). It is a sacrament which makes a mark on our soul. It’s not us that is the one doing something it is the Spirit conferring Grace and making this mark on our soul when the water is poured over our heads. It’s all ONE action, not separate.

Hope this helps,

God Bless


Yes! That is the answer I was looking for, thank you very much!


We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism and the fullness at Confirmation.


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