Mikveh-Ancient Water Baptism
By Pastor G. Reckart
Copyright 1996 All Rights Reserved
Born of the water and of the Spirit
Jesus said everyone must be born of the water and of the Spirit. Most Christians argue about being born of the water; does it mean being born of the birth water of a mother; or does it mean water baptism? For the most part, Christians are ignorant of the Jewish connection to water baptism. They see it as a new invention beginning with John the Baptist. This gives many to reject water and Spirit baptisms as two parts to being born again. For Apostolics, we see in Acts 2:38 the verification of water and Spirit baptisms as the born again experience. We do not need nor do we look for any other validation or proof to the meaning of Jesus in John 3:3-5. However, for those not convinced in water and Spirit baptisms of the one new birth, especially that being born of the water is water baptism: I offer the Jewish source as proof.
The baptismal water (Mikveh) in rabbinic literature was referred to as the womb of the world, and as a convert came out of the water it was considered a new birth separating him from the pagan world. As the convert came out of these waters his status was changed and he was referred to as a little child just born or a child of one day (Yeb. 22a; 48b; 97b). We see the New Testament using similar Jewish terms as born anew, new creation, and born from above.
This mikveh in the above picture (ritual baptism of purification) was located to the south of the Temple close to the Huldah gate. It dates to the time of the Temple during the life-time of Jesus and the Apostles. It was covered up by dirt for centuries until it was discovered and excavated. At a time when people have concocted all sorts of theories about baptism and its origin, truth speaks from the ground. Here is the proof that water baptism has an ancient history and did not begin with John the Baptist.
The Mikveh was used for several different washings. They were all for a good conscience before God. The Mikveh was not a work of man, it was not invented by man. God is the designer and originator of this baptism (by baptism we mean immersion). There were several types of mikveh-baptisms. There was mikveh for women who completed their monthly cycle. This purification mikveh could be done at home and is the cause of the water pots where Jesus turned water into wine. It is said these contained water after the manner of the purification of the Jews. These waters of Mikveh were also for the washing of hands after being defiled by touching things unclean. They were used for washing clothes that might have become unclean by some contact with the profane. The waters of Mikveh were specifically designed to bring about sanctification. They were additionally the object for ceremonial washing and purification. In other words, whatever passed through the waters of Mikveh was then cleansed, purified, and sanctified, MADE HOLY!
Holiness is first the product of the Mikveh before it is the product of daily living and a part of a person's character. Even so, holiness begins at baptism when the blood of Jesus washes (cleanses) away all sin and uncleanness whereby a person is profane and unholy before God. This holiness is purification and the convert is in a state of total cleansing and purity having been washed by the blood of Jesus. In this condition of sanctification by the blood of Jesus, the convert cannot be condemned for past sins by anyone: not the devil, not the priest or preacher, not friends or relatives, no, not even by your own self. A person so baptized according to Acts 2:38 is free from all condemnation. After this holiness, baptism is seen as the sanctification and justification of God upon the convert. A person is then set aside by God for blessing and for special purpose in the Kingdom. The individual is totally and fully justified by the blood of Jesus. Justification simply means made just, without sin or evil, and without any condemnation before God. So, we are in baptism justified by the name and blood of Jesus Messieh (Romans 5:9; 1Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 2:16). Mikveh symbolism as it applied to all prior washings and cleansings are rolled into ONE BAPTISM, ONE MIKVEH! So there is no need for divers Mikveh washings or baptisms in the New Testament. Many are void of this understanding. They think Paul was saying ONE BAPTISM because he was either arguing for the trinity formula of Matthew 28:19 or he was arguing for the Acts 2:38 formula. This is not true. There were no trinitarians at that time and no trinity baptisms. In fact, the trinitarian language was not in the original Hebrew Matthew. Click here to see for yourself. Paul's ONE BAPTISM points to there being only one holy cleansing MIKVEH for the purification, sanctification, and justification of the convert and that being the one according to Acts 2:38. Any other explanation of ONE BAPTISM is simply conjecture and will not be explained in contrast to the previous many Mikveh-Baptisms of the Jews.
Mikveh is the gathering together of any waters where any form of washing or passing through is considered an act of cleansing and sanctification. The term arises from the creation account when God gathered the waters and separated the land from the sea. From this springs the idea that in all acts of Mikveh there is a separation made by the water. It is said when the children passed through the Red Sea on the way to the promised land and were thus separated and sanctified unto Moses from Egyptian defilement, that this was a mikveh. The passing through the waters of the Red Sea is called a mikveh by Jews. Likewise, any passing through waters of separation by any means of cleansing is called a mikveh. When a Gentile wanted to convert to Judaism, he/she had to undergo Mikveh-baptism as a sign they were passing from Gentileism into Judaism, passing from idols to the true God, passing from life as a dead person to a new life in God, passing from the darkness of evil knowledge into the light of God's truth, and passing from the religion of the nations to accept the religion of the Jews. A person who did not say as Ruth: Your people shall be my people and your God shall be my God, could not enter the waters of convert Mikveh because they had not brought forth the fruits of repentance (Turning to God from one's past sins, life, and identity). These could not be a convert to Judaism. Each convert must make the same confession as Ruth at the time of their convert Mikveh-baptism: Your people shall become my people, and your God my God. All these Mikveh were by immersion and the name of God was invoked over them as they were either self immersed or was plunged under by a baptizer. The name "ADONAI ELOHIM EHJEH" (Lord God of Salvation and Deliverance) was pronounced over the convert.
All water baptism of the New Testament have their beginning in these ancient Mikveh cleansing, purification washings of the Jews. Water baptism was essential to becoming Jewish in olden times and it is essential to becoming a Christian in the New Testament. Any doctrine on baptism that does not include the Jewish foundation of these Mikveh washings is incomplete and usually false.
If you have not come to Jesus by the waters of separation in New Testament Mikveh according to the grace of God found through faith in Acts 2:38, now is the TIME. Do it today. If there is no one to bring you into the no condemnation holiness of Jesus and you want to live for God in true holiness and separation from the world, then call me. I will make plans to see that you are immersed according to the correct manner of faith (1-813-238-SAVE).
Born of the water and of the Spirit is New Testament and Apostolic truth found in Acts 2:38.
See also Jewish Origin of Water Baptism