Q: Does the New Testament teach more than one baptism?
There are multiple baptisms recorded in the New Testament. There is the baptism into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), baptism in water (Acts 1:5, 10:44-48, 19:2-6) and Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4).
The baptism into the Body of Christ is what the Apostle Peter was talking about as he ended his message about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in Acts 2. He said, “repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (verse 38). When a person accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.
Water baptism tells the story in a picture of a believer’s earlier baptism into the Body of Christ. The story being told of the submersion in and raising out of the waters is a life-changing event that already occurred in the life of the believer. Without first making Jesus your Lord and believing God raised Him from the dead, water baptism would have no purpose. Water baptism is not the baptism that saves. What cleanses us from sin is not the water but the precious blood Jesus shed on the cross (See Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22; Revelation 1:5).
The baptism that empowers for ministry is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is the baptism Jesus promised before His death: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you” (John 14:16). It is the baptism which came on the disciples at Pentecost when “everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:4).
Each baptism mentioned in the New Testament is for you today to bring you into the Body of Christ, testify to other believers and the world of your new nature, and empower you to take the message of God’s love to your world.