The word “baptism” in the New Testament means to immerse. The Greeks used the term to speak of plunging cloth in a dye solution. When people became Christians in the New Testament, they were baptized.
Here are three key features:
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
It was for believers. This means it was for people who understood the message about Christ. Such people were of age and freely able to make decisions for themselves.
And Peter said to them, “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…”
It was for people who were making an important decision to turn from one way of life to another. It is associated with a realization that one needs to change by turning from sin. It is for those who want to become a new person in Christ.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
It is not an act of physical cleansing but a response out of faith to the call of Christ to be saved. The saving power of Christ is in His death, which was the payment for our sins, and His resurrection, which showed His power over death. Baptism is a reenactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In baptism we unite with Him and those powerful acts.
These passages teach the essential nature of baptism to being saved in Christ. Lay aside the traditions of religious teachers and institutions and follow this simple path found in the Bible.