Topical studies

New Testament baptism and circumcision

(1 Cor 15:46 KJV) Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual

This pattern can be seen in the rite of circumcision. It was first performed in the natural flesh but in the new covenant this rite is entirely spiritual.

A Table of Comparisons


The Natural


The Spiritual
The Rite of Circumcision Water Baptism
(a) The natural name of the child was given/and received at or near birth. The spiritual name of Jesus is received at the time of new birth. “You must be born again”
(b) A cutting off of the natural flesh. Blood was shed. A cutting off of the spiritual flesh, circumcision of the heart by faith in the cross and the blood of Jesus which was shed . This kind of faith only possible if one has been born again.
(c) The natural name of the child was invoked at circumcision.
(?? as in Christening or dedication.)
The name of the Lord is invoked at N.T. water baptism.
(Christian names have no place in N.T. baptism)
(d) On the eighth day Points to the resurrection on the eighth day. (The Lord’s day) To rise and walk in newness of life as He did.
(e) Circumcision was the seal of the covenant. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the New covenant.
(f) For every male born or accepted into the tribes of Israel. To every repentant, born again, child of God, both men and women.
(g) The blessing was handed down through the male seed. The blessing is through the Son of God. (no flesh involved)
(h) A covenant of the flesh. A covenant of the Spirit.
(i) The initiate became an accepted son and heir to the promises given to Israel. Power is given to become sons and daughters of God.


1. The great weakness in the idea of equating baptism with circumcision and then baptising children is the question of sex. To be consistent we should either not baptise girl children or delete child baptism altogether.

This is the answer to the “all his household” Scripture. No adult Jew is likely to fail to see a significant change in meaning was implied by the inclusion of women in the covenant blessing of baptism. Such change would press home the need to repent and believe and make it abundantly clear that only those of mature age could come to a state of saving faith and hence believers’ baptism.

2. Infant baptism places baptism before repentance and believing. It causes baptism to become a sign and a seal of that which hasn’t taken place and indeed may not take place. (i.e. belief in Jesus as saviour.)

3. It may be argued that infants do not require baptism. Jesus said the kingdom of God already belongs to such as they are.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.


4. The practical outworking of O.T. circumcision has no parallel in the N.T. teaching in regard to the actual and physical. Baptism is a spiritual event.

5. In the O.T. physical rite the covenant act of circumcision was entered into on the eighth day after birth. In the N.T. dispensation the rite of covenant baptism in water would need to be entered into eight days after being born again of the Spirit and becoming a new babe in Christ in order to perfectly fulfil the O.T pattern.

The clearest example that this was not so, is Jesus himself. He was dedicated to God as an infant but not baptised until 30 yrs of age.