When was Baptism instituted?


Was it from the moment John the Baptist started baptizing, or when Jesus was baptized, or at some other time?

If it was when Jesus was baptized, does that mean that everyone who was baptized before Jesus by John needed to be re-baptized?


What in the world are you talking about?


Christian baptism had a starting point. When was it?


**Gospel of Matthew 28:16-20:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very en**d of the age.

I would imagine that is where Christian Baptism began. The Jews had a purification ritual that was similar to Baptism but they used another name for it and it really didn’t have the same connotation as does Christian baptism.


We do not know the precise institution- there are differing opinions.

John’s baptism was not sacramental. And yes, they had to be re-baptised. See for example, Acts 19.


Good verse. Thank you.

So was Jesus following a Jewish ritual when John baptized Him “to fulfill all righteousness” or was there more of a Christian baptismal significance to this event.



Thank you for that verse.


He was following a Jewish tradition that is somewhat analagous to our practice of going to Confession.

After confessing their sins to John the Baptist, instead of receiving the Absolution, they would have been immersed by him in the water as a sign of spiritual cleansing. I don’t know if this ritual still exists in modern day Jewish practice.

(The Hindus have a similar ritual, though; at certain times of the year, they immerse themselves in the Ganges for cleansing from sins. One hears of it in the news, because sometimes things get out of control and people get either trampled or drowned.)

Obviously, Jesus didn’t have any sins to confess; He was baptized by John “to fulfill all righteousness” - I suppose in order to make a public record that in fact, He had no sins to confess.


Now, from what I understand, the custom of “baptism”, as far as what St. John the Baptist was doing, comes from the Essenes. In fact, the Essenes practiced this ritual. There is a cave near the Jordan where such baptisms were done.

Something else to think about comes from the book “Jesus of Nazareth”. In it, the Holy Father writes:

The Baptism that he (St. John the Baptist) enjoined is different from the usual religious ablutions. It cannot be repeated, and it is meant to be the concrete enactment of a conversoin that gives the whole of life a new direction forever.

Therefore, because John’s type of Baptism is a one-shot deal, so to speak, I suppose that it could very well have set the standard for our Baptism, which is a once-for-all event.

Now, as far as the institution of the sacrament of Baptism, this happened when Jesus himself submitted to it. As Pope Benedict says in “Jesus of Nazareth”:

The whole significance of Jesus’ baptism, the fact that he bears “all righteousness” first comes to light on the Cross: the Baptism is an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity…Only from this starting point can we understand Christian Baptism. Jesus’ Baptism anticipated his death on the Cross and the heavenly voice proclaimed an anticipation of the Resurrection. These anticipations have now become reality. John’s baptism wth water has received its full meaning through the Baptism of Jesus’ own life and death. To accept the invitation to be baptized now means to go to the place of Jesus’ baptism. It is to go where he identifies himself with us and to receive there our idenfitication with him.

So, even though, as the Catechism notes:

1226 From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism.

Jesus, through his very participation in Baptism, elevated it and instituted. Why else would he have chosen this form as the principal sacrament of Initiation?

Just a thought.


Note that John 3:22 states that Jesus also baptized early in His ministry [though it is clarified elsewhere that it was His disciples, not Jesus who did the baptizing. ]

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.

It is not clear whether this was a scramental baptism or a baptism or repentence like John’s/


For whatever it’s worth, the following is from the Catechism of the Council of Trent. I found it at cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/trent/tsacr-b.htm

Institution Of Baptism
When these things have been explained, it will also be expedient to teach and remind the faithful that, in common with the other Sacraments, Baptism was instituted by Christ the Lord. On this subject the pastor should frequently teach and point out that there are two different periods of time which relate to Baptism, �� one the period of its institution by the Redeemer; the other, the establishment of the law regarding its reception.

Baptism Instituted At Christ’s Baptism
With regard to the former, it is clear that this Sacrament was instituted by our Lord when, having been baptised by John, He gave to water the power of sanctifying. St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Augustine � testify that to water was then. imparted the power of regenerating to spiritual life. In another place St. Augustine says: From the moment that Christ is immersed in water, water washes away all sins. And again: The Lord is baptised, not because He had need to be cleansed, but in order that, by the contact of His pure flesh, He might purify the waters and impart to them the power of cleansing.

A very strong argument to prove that Baptism was then instituted by our Lord might be afforded by the fact the most Holy Trinity, in whose name Baptism is conferred, manifested Its divine presence on that occasion. The voice of the Father was heard, the Person of the Son was present, the Holy Ghost descended in the form of a dove; and the heavens, into which we are enabled to enter by Baptism, were thrown open.

Should anyone desire to know how our Lord has endowed water with a virtue so great, so divine, this indeed transcends the power of the human understanding. Yet this we can know, that when our Lord was baptised, water, by contact with His most holy and pure body, was consecrated to the salutary use of Baptism, in such a way, however, that, although instituted before the Passion, we must believe that this Sacrament derives all its virtue and efficacy from the Passion, which is the consummation, as it were, of all the actions of Christ.

Baptism Made Obligatory After Christ’s Resurrection
The second period to be distinguished, that is, the time when the law of Baptism was made, also admits of no doubt. Holy writers are unanimous in saying that after the Resurrection of our Lord, when He gave to His Apostles the command to go and teach all nations: baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the law of Baptism became obligatory on all who were to be saved.

This is inferred from the authority of the Prince of the Apostles when he says: Who hath regenerated us into a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead;’ and also from what Paul says of the Church: He delivered himself up for it: that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life. By both Apostles the obligation of Baptism seems to be referred to the time which followed the death of our Lord. Hence we can have no doubt that the words of the Saviour: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, refer also to the same time which was to follow after His Passion.


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