32. Acts 18:18-28
Paul leaves Corinth and is headed for Ephusus and then Antioch. Verse 24 tells of a Jewish believer named Apollos who was teaching about Jesus accurately except he was hung up on one point, baptism. The text says that he knew only of the baptism of John. So a christian couple, Pricilla and Aquila, took him aside and "explained to him the way of God more adequately." Apollos was still teaching and baptizing in the same way that John, the forerunner, had taught. So what does it matter? Baptism is not that important is it? Isn't it just a good thing to do? Not according to Acts 18 and 19. It was important enough that Pricilla and Aquila needed to correct Apollos and in chapter 19 Paul actually baptizes some disciples "into the name of Jesus Christ," when they had already had the baptism of John.
In the Christian world today there is more division over baptism than just about any other teaching in the New Testament. One church says one thing another says something else. One says it is not important, another says it is essential. So what are we to believe? The simple answer is, believe the Bible. It was important enough to the early church that some believers needed to be straightened out concerning this teaching. Throughout the book of Acts people who were old enough to believe when told about Jesus and his sacrifice were immediately baptized (which in the Greek means to dip, plunge or immerse) for the forgiveness of sins. John's baptism was to signify repentance. Baptism after the church started (Acts 2) was a connection to Jesus and was always accompanied with the forgiveness of sins. Romans 6 explains that when you are baptized you die are buried and then raised to new life. There is a literal connection to Christ's death, burial and resurrection. I believe this is what we must take from the Bible, not any other baptism will satisfy the scriptural accout. As we continue to read through the book of Acts let's see if this pattern holds true.
By the way, the thief on the cross was saved because Jesus says he was saved. There also would be no way for the thief to have been united with Jesus death, burial and ressurection since Jesus had not died yet. The thief is pre-church era just like all those others in the Gospels that Jesus told, "your sins are forgiven." If the thief were going to be baptized at this time, before the church was established, he probably would have been baptized by John's baptism for repentance, but like Apollos he too would have needed to be taught about Christian baptism after the beginning of the church.