By Wayne Camp

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into (eis) one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Are we baptized "into" the church? Is baptism the door to the church? In what sense are we baptized into the church if we are?

I want to make it clear at the very beginning that this is not a matter that, to my knowledge, has ever been made a test of fellowship, and I certainly would not do so. At times the matter has been hotly contested by some on either side of the issue, but by some it was not a cause of controversy. In my research on the matter I was amazed that the three leaders and co-workers in the Old Landmark movement did not agree on this though they worked very closely together.

J. R. Graves held that baptism is the door to the church while J. M. Pendleton and A. C. Dayton held otherwise. Yet, these three men, along with another part of the time, co-edited the Southern Baptist Review. Though they differed, neither of their positions was something they made a standard of orthodoxy that all who were true Baptists must hold.

In this message I wish to show the diverse views which true Baptists have held on this matter.


Above, I asked some questions. I will show how different brethren have answered the first in the past. But, first, let me give my own personal view. My answer to the first question would be a firm "Yes!" I believe that one is baptized into the church. And, I believe that baptism into the body is in the same sense that we are baptized into Christ, into his name, into his death, etc.


Comparing Scripture with Scripture is one of the best ways there is to discern the sense of a statement found in God's word. The following story is told about the commentator, Matthew Henry. "Matthew Henry, the great commentator, loaned one of his works to Mose, a colored help. Several days later he came to return the book; he laid it upon Dr. Henry’s desk and started backing out of the room. ‘Well, Mose, how did you like my commentary?’ asked Dr. Henry. ‘Strange, Massa, how much light the Bible do throw on your commentary,’ replied Mose. The Bible is indeed the best Commentary on the Bible."1 Therefore, let us compare the following verses.

I said that one is baptized into the body in the same sense that he is baptized into Christ, into Moses, into the death of Christ, etc. A comparison of the following Scriptures makes that very clear.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into (eis) one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into (eis) Christ have put on Christ.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into (eis) Jesus Christ were baptized into (eis) his death?

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into (eis) death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Acts 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in (eis) the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in (eis) the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in (eis) mine own name.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in (eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 10:2 And were all baptized unto (eis) Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

Note the parallel nature of these statements.

"baptized into (eis) one body" (1 Cor. 12:13).

"baptized into (eis) Christ" (Gal. 3:27).

"baptized into (eis) Jesus Christ" (Rom. 6:3).

"baptized into (eis) his death" (Rom. 6:3).

"baptism into (eis) death" (Rom. 6:4).

"baptized in [into] (eis) the name of the Lord."(Acts 8:16).

"baptized in [into] (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5).

"baptized in [into] (eis) the name of Paul." (I Cor. 1:13).

"baptized in [into] (eis) mine own name." (I Cor. 1:15).

"baptizing them in [into] (eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Mat. 28:18-20).

"baptized unto [into] (eis) Moses in the cloud and in the sea." (I Cor. 10:2).

Now, consider the expression, "baptized into" in the Greek in each of the instances above.

ebaptisqhm eis (1 Cor. 12:13).

ebaptisqhte eis (Gal. 3:27).

ebaptisqhmen eis (Rom. 6:3).

ebaptisqhmen eis (Rom. 6:3).

Baptismato" eis (Rom. 6:4).

bebaptismenoi eis (Acts 8:16).

ebaptisqhsan eis (Acts 19:5).

ebaptisqhte eis (I Cor. 1:13).

ebaptisa eis (I Cor. 1:15).

baptizonte" eis (Mat. 28:19).

ebaptisanto eis (I Cor. 10:2).

Consider also the tense of baptize in the first four instances where it is a verb. In the fifth instance above it is a noun.

Baptized—First aorist passive indicative of baptizo. (1 Cor. 12:13).

Baptized—First aorist passive indicative of baptizo. (Gal. 3:27).

Baptized—First aorist passive indicative of baptizo. (Rom. 6:3).

Baptized—First aorist passive indicative of baptizo. (Rom. 6:3).

This shows that the expression "baptized into" is used in the same sense in each of these expressions. "Baptized into one body" in I Cor. 12:13 is to be understood in the same sense as "baptized into Christ" in Gal. 3:27. "Baptized into one body" in I Cor. 12:13 is to be understood in the same sense as "baptized into Jesus Christ" in Rom. 6:3. "Baptized into one body" in I Cor. 12:13 is to be understood in the same sense as "baptized into his death" in Rom. 6:3. In each case it refers to relationship, not location. If, based on I Cor. 12:13, we say that baptism is the "DOOR" into the church, we should also be willing to say that baptism is the "DOOR" into Christ, is the "DOOR" into his death, was the "DOOR" into Moses for Israel, and was the "DOOR" into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mat. 28:18-20).

Is there not enough parallelism here to establish that fact that being baptized into the one body (1 Cor. 12:13) is in the same sense as being baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27)? Is not the construction so nearly alike that being baptized into the one body (1 Cor. 12:13) is in the same sense as being baptized into Jesus Christ and in the same sense as being baptized into his death (Rom. 6:3)?

If language means anything, it is in the same sense that we are baptized into Christ that we are baptized into his body. In the same sense that we are baptized into his death we are baptized into his body. The verb baptized is the same each time except for slight ending changes and in exactly the same tense, and eis is exactly the same in each of the Scriptures. The word eis (eis), as used in these verses signifies relationship. The Israelites were baptized into (eis) Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 1 Corinthians 10:2 And were all baptized unto (ebaptisanto eis) Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

Concerning the word (eis), we must be very careful about hinging a doctrine on a preposition. I like what Bro. Rosco Brong said on this. He wrote,

Baptized 'Into' Moses

A preposition is a weak peg to hang a doctrine on, but the phrase "baptized into Jesus Christ" in the King James version of Rom. 6:3 has long been a favorite with baptismal regenerationists. They are conveniently or willfully ignorant of the fact that identical translation of the same Greek preposition eis in I Cor. 10:2 makes "our fathers . . . all baptized into Moses."

"Of course, nobody is ever dipped into Christ, any more than anybody was ever dipped into Moses. The Greek preposition in both these passages should be rendered "with reference to" or "because of," either of which translations will give good sense, while "into" gives nonsense. 2

Bro. Brong enlarges on this danger of hanging a doctrine on a preposition that has several meanings. Let us simply recognize that nouns and verbs, in the very nature of language, are more nearly dependable in meaning than are prepositions. Specifically, we MUST take the Greek preposition eis in different senses in different contexts; we NEED NOT take the noun or verb for baptism or baptize in any other than the literal or nearly literal sense of dip, plunge, immerse, submerge, or overwhelm—and ALWAYS in water unless the context DEMANDS otherwise. This assumption makes possible harmonious interpretation of the scriptural doctrine of baptism without difficulty.

"But if we insist on "into" as the unvarying English translation of eis, even though Webster’s Third New International Dictionary gives 11 main definitions of "into," we shall have all sorts of trouble. Did the men of Nineveh repent "into" the preaching of Jonah? Did Jesus speak of giving someone a drink "into" the name of a disciple? (Matt. 12:41,10:42.) Did Peter tell repenters at Pentecost to be baptized "into" remission of sins? (Acts 2:38.)

"This last reference involves the use of eis in connection with baptism certainly parallel with Matt. 28:19, Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27, etc. Even more pertinent is I Cor. 10:2, where we read that the Israelites were baptized eis Moses. The construction here is exactly parallel with baptism eis Christ and eis the name of the Lord Jesus. There is no more reason to imagine a "spiritual baptism" "into" Christ than a "spiritual baptism" "into" Moses. 3

The main problem I see with calling baptism the door to the church is that it takes the metaphorical use of a building to represent the church and makes it literal, as a house with a door. In that sense, if one goes through the door of baptism into the church, it would seem he would have to exit the church in the same manner. That is, unless one enters by one door and leaves by another. But, no one after whom I have read ever indicated there are several doors to the church. But, as D. N. Jackson argues later, that would require unbaptizing him. Moreover, I know of no instance in which anything was referred to as the "door" of the church in Scripture. Does any reader know of any place in Scripture where any writer or speaker called baptism the "door" of the church? Surely, if that doctrine were as important as some make it, there would be at least one instance where it is called the "DOOR" of the church! Of course, if those saying Baptism is the door to the church are using the word "door" metaphorically to speak of the relationship to the church, then I am in agreement with them. Christ did say to one church, "I have set before thee an open door," but that was used in a figurative sense also.

I emphatically believe that baptism is a church ordinance administered by an ordained elder on behalf of the church. I also would refuse to baptize a person who had no interest in being a church member. It is obvious from Scripture comparisons that we baptize into the church in the same sense we baptize into Christ and into his death. We baptize into the church in the same sense in which Israel was baptized into Moses. The expressions have to do with relationship, not a change of location. When eis is used of location it has the sense of "into". When it is used with reference to relationship, it has the idea of "in relation to", or "on account of", or "because of".

Baptism indicates a church relationship. Baptism is by the authority of a local church of the Lord Jesus Christ and is requisite to church membership. It declares one's relationship to Christ, to his death, and to his body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. Colossians 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

But, it should be pointed out again that,


It is evident that Baptists have never been able to come to one opinion on this matter of baptism being the actual door of the church. And, as for as I have been able to tell, none of our forefathers made an issue of the matter. In fact, as will be shown later, J. R. Graves held that baptism was the door to the church. J. M. Pendleton, as far as I have been able to ascertain, held that it was a prerequisite to church membership. A. C. Dayton, did not believe it was the door to the church.

I will begin now to give some quotes from others with comments now and then that show that all do not agree. But, it should be understood that this matter has never, in the past, been made a test of fellowship nor a standard of one's orthodoxy.


Graves wrote, "The Lord added to the Church daily those who were saved (Am. Ver). Baptism is the adding act."4

"The Holy Spirit testifies, in the same connection, that these were saved before they were baptized. 'And the Lord added to the Church daily those who were saved 'or' the saved.' Baptism is the only Lord's-appointed way of adding to His Church; for says Paul: 'In one spirit (i. e., of joyful obedience and submissive faith) we're we (the apostles and all whom he addressed, as well as every Christian that should in after time read the epistle) all baptized into one body (a local church), and were all made to drink of one spirit.'."5

Again Graves said, "Baptism, by initiating us into a local church of Christ, entitles us to all the privileges and rights of the church, not the least among those is the Lord's Supper."6


There can be no doubt that J. M. Pendleton was an old Landmark Baptist. He was the author of the well-known work called An Old Landmark Reset. It was from this work and Old Landmarkism: What Is It? by J. R. Graves that the name Landmark was adopted by many Baptist churches. Of the place of baptism in relation to the church, Pendleton wrote, "Baptism is the ceremonial qualification for church membership. There can, according to the Scriptures, be no visible church without baptism. An observance of this ordinance is the believer's first public act of obedience to Christ. Regeneration, repentance, and faith are private matters between God and the soul. They involve internal piety, but of this piety there must be an external manifestation. This manifestation is made in baptism. The penitent, regenerate believer is baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. There is a visible, symbolic expression of a new relationship to the three persons of the Godhead—a relationship entered into in repentance, faith, and regeneration. As Baptism will be the topic of a distinct chapter, it is briefly referred to here."7

Pendleton does not say that baptism puts one into the church or not. He simply says that it is a ceremonial qualification for membership. In his Baptist Church Manual Pendleton includes the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, a confession that is found in a number of Baptist Church Manuals. This confession, in Article IV, declares that immersion in water is ". . . a prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation."8

A prerequisite is something that goes before. It is a precondition. It appears that Pendleton felt that baptism was a precondition of church membership, but not, necessarily the literal door into the church. Perhaps this is why most churches have a member make the following motion when someone comes to present themselves for baptism and church membership. "I move that we receive this person for baptism, and after baptism, into the full fellowship of the church." If baptism is literally the door into the body, perhaps the motion should be, "I move that we receive this person for baptism, and in baptism into the full fellowship of the church."

Pendleton emphasized the importance of baptism with one's confession of faith in Christ because of the symbolic representation in baptism of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. He wrote, "Baptism is the first thing after a person is discipled to Christ. It is the believer's first public duty. It is the first external manifestation of his internal piety. It is an open avowal of allegiance to Christ."9


Eld A. C. Dayton is listed with those pillars of orthodoxy among Baptists in the past. He was a friend of J. R. Graves. In fact, Graves wrote the introduction to the book, Alien Immersion, from which I am about to quote. Graves, who held that baptism is the door to the church, heartily commended and recommended this book in his introduction. But, Dayton did not hold that baptism is the door to the church. Rather, he held that baptism placed one in the visible kingdom of Christ of which the local church is the executive body. After baptism into the kingdom, the baptized could be received into a local church. He wrote, Now the Church of Christ is the executive of His laws and the guardian of his ordinances. It is her province not to decide whether His laws are right or wrong, but faithfully to carry out His instructions. Among the most important, all the duties imposed upon her are those which pertain to the reception of members into His kingdom. It has pleased the King to require that those who become members shall first believe and then shall be baptized. Faith is the essential qualification for membership and baptism the ceremony by which they are initiated. It is this they take and seal the oath of consecration to Him, of allegiance to His government. This is a positive enactment, a legal requisition designating the form and order of admission to His Kingdom. If the believer is to profess his faith, this supposes some authority in somebody to receive and judge of his profession. If he is to be baptized, this supposes there is somebody who is to administer the baptism—just as the requirement of a foreigner to take the oath of allegiance supposes somebody authorized to administer it and certify that it has been taken. Now the authority to administer this ceremony of initiation into Christ's kingdom is either limited by Him to those within the kingdom or it is not. If not thus limited, then Christ has placed the most important of His ordinances in the keeping of His enemies. He has authorized those who will not obey, and who ofttimes mock at His ordinances to be the rightful administrators of it, and requires His Churches to receive their work as though it had been done by themselves. If limited to those within the kingdom, and baptism be the rite of initiation into that kingdom, then, of necessity, it is limited to the baptized, as no others can be reckoned as initiated. If this gives rise to difficulties, the Church cannot help it; if this leads to hard feelings, she is not responsible. If some men are too conscientious to receive the ordinances of those whom Christ appointed, she may pity their errors, she may seek to convince them of their wrong, but she may not receive that as Christ's baptism which was administered by those to whom He gave no authority to act for Him in regard to this matter.10

Dayton did not believe that baptism administered without the authority of a local church was scriptural. He denied it could be received as an initiatory rite into the invisible kingdom of Christ. And, he further insisted that this baptism into the kingdom was a prerequisite to church membership. The individual church, in Dayton's position, is not the visible kingdom into which one enters by baptism. The local church is the executive of the kingdom and those baptized into the visible kingdom are then qualified to be received into a local church. Or, according to Dayton, they may organize themselves into a local church.

Dayton said, But now, as the King has gone to Heaven, whom has He left to attend to the business of the kingdom in His absence? Who shall appoint the officers? Who shall receive new members? Who shall depose or exclude the unworthy? Who shall provide and do all that is needful for the purity, the permanence and the extension of the kingdom? He provided for all this before he went, by directing as many of the citizens of the kingdom as could conveniently meet together, to assemble and organize themselves into a 'Church,' which should in its corporate capacity attend to all these matters. It is this Church which must receive the profession of faith, determine on its genuineness and administer the baptism. It is the Church as a Church that has charge of the door of entrance into the kingdom.11 (Emp. mine, RWC).

That Dayton believed one was first baptized into the visible kingdom of Christ and then received by a local church into its membership is even more evident from the following statement. But Of whom is each Church to be composed? It must consist of those who are members of the kingdom, that is, of those who have believed and been baptized. When a person applies for Church membership with her, she inquires whether he is in the kingdom, if not, she must receive him into the kingdom by baptism before she can receive him into her special "ecclesia," or assembly, as a Church member. But if a sister Church has received him into the kingdom, she only asks to be certified of that fact. He must be in the kingdom before he can come into a Church within the kigdom [sic. kingdom].12

Dayton also wrote, Here, then, is the point to be decided. How does one enter into this visible kingdom? We answer, by profession of his faith and baptism. Who must receive and judge of the genuineness of this profession and administer to him this initiatory ordinance—those in the kingdom, or those without it? We say, those who are within and we would say this on the ground that common sense requires it should be so even though there were no precept or example affecting the case to be found in the Word of God. (Emp. mine, RWC)."13

Let me give one other brief statement from Bro. Dayton. ". . . all Baptists hold that baptism is an essential prerequisite to Church membership."14 A prerequisite to church membership cannot at the same time be the door to membership. As before stated and proved, Bro. Dayton held that baptism places one in the visible kingdom of Christ and this member of the kingdom could then be received as a member of the executive body in the kingdom, a local church of Jesus Christ. I thought it interesting that J. R. Graves so highly recommends this book while he held that baptism is actually the door into the church and Dayton held it is the door into the visible kingdom of Christ, but not into the church. It boils down to the fact these brethren did not condemn as heretics and apostates any who might disagree with them on such a matter. We should not do so either.


In 1645 Robert Garner wrote a very good tract on the subject of baptism. In it he makes the convincing argument that baptism is the way the Lord adds one to one of his churches. I have a scanned copy of the book and cannot give the original page numbers for the following quotes. It is very good. A casual reader may think that Garner speaks of the universal church but a careful reading shows very much the opposite. He held that baptism is the way one comes into a church relationship. He writes:

I Corinthians 12:13 Explained

Entrance into the Fellowship of the Gospel Church

A Second privilege which believers have by Christ in their baptism is this, to wit, by baptism they do enter into the fellowship of His Body, which is His Church, with all the privileges and liberties of the same. Baptism is that only orderly entrance which God has appointed for believers into the fellowship of the Church of Christ, I Cor. 12:13. For by one spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. In which words we have these two things proved, to wit, first that believer's baptism is their entrance into one particular Body, Church, or Congregation of Christ. By one Spirit (speaking of believers) we are all baptized into one Body. That is, We that are members in particular, diversely gifted and fitted, by that one and the self-same Spirit, are all baptized into one body or fellowship, for the mutual profit and benefit of each member, according to the proportion of grace given, and divided to us by that one Spirit.

Into Its Privileges

And, secondly, as Believers by baptism do orderly enter into the Body or Congregation of Christ, so likewise into all the privileges of that body. And that is expressed in the latter clause of this verse, and in the verses following. In this verse (saith He) We have been all made to drink into one spiritual benefit, or into one spiritual communion, which believers have from Christ in His Supper. According to that I Cor. 10:16. The Cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And in the verses following of the 12th Chapter, He mentions other privileges of the Body, which all the Members thereof do share in, said he, they are all helpful to each other, and do all take care of each other. They suffer and rejoice with another. And as this Scripture holds forth this privilege which believers have in baptism, so does that likewise in Acts 2:41, 42. They that gladly received His Word were baptized; and the same day there were added about 3,000 souls. Whereas it is clear, that the entrance of all these believers into the union and fellowship of the body, was by baptism: they were added by baptism or in baptism. And so we were to understand Acts 2:47 and 5:14 and 11:24. For God has appointed but one way, for the joining or adding of believers into His body. Which sometimes is called an adding to His Church, and sometimes an adding to the Lord; both which come to one and the same thing.

To be Added to the Church by Baptism is equal to being added to the Lord in a Mystical external Union.

For to be added to the Church of the Lord, or the body of the Lord, is to be added to the Lord Himself, in a mystical external union. And the same Scripture likewise declares, that as they entered by baptism into the union and fellowship of the body, so likewise unto the enjoyment of all the privileges of the body. For so it follows: And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles Doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.


Hence, I may take occasion to instruct believers, who have entered into the Lord's body in the Lord's way, that they endeavor to walk closely with the body in all love, helpfulness, carefulness, tenderness, and usefulness, as becomes the Members of Christ's Body.15

Garner further writes,


Again, this that I have said concerning this privilege which believers have in baptism, through Christ, may serve as a fourth Touchstone for the trial of Infant's baptism, whereby it is discovered not to be of God, but of men only. For if all baptized persons according to the Scripture, were baptized into one body, to wit, the Church of God, and all the privileges thereof as has been clearly proved, from the I Cor. 12:13, and Acts 2:41, 42; (And doubtless, there is but one and the same rule for all the Churches of Christ to walk by), Then surely the unlawfulness of Infant's baptism is hence also proved. Are they meet subjects to be enjoined or added to the Lord's body, who neither knew the Lord, nor His body, nor the privileges of the same? Are they meet to be added unto the body in baptism, who are no ways meet to partake in the privileges and liberties of the body? Who are no ways meet to walk with the body in doctrine, in fellowship, in breaking of bread, in prayers, and in other liberties? And surely, according to the Scripture, those who are added unto the body, are added unto the present partaking and enjoyments of all the privileges of the body. Are they meet to be added to the body, who are in no ways useful, helpful, and profitable unto the body? Such who cannot care for the body, nor suffer with it, nor rejoice with it, nor perform any office of love or duty to the body?16

In future installments on this subject we will see that our Baptist forefathers did not always hold to exactly the same position on this matter but, as with Graves, Pendleton, and Dayton, it was not made a test of fellowship. There is no doubt in the writings of all true Baptists about one thing. No person can enjoy the privileges and blessings of church membership without Scriptural baptism. There can be no church relationship without obedience to the Lord's command of baptism. Of this there was no question and no difference of opinion. True Baptists have ever held that baptism is absolutely essential to church membership. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body."


1 "The Best Commentary," H. M. Miller, The Berea Baptist Banner, Vol. 4,, Number 5, May 15, 1983, P. 12.

2 Christ's Church and Baptism, Rosco Brong, Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, 1977, Pp. 46-47.

3 Ibid., P. 48.

4 John's Baptism, J. R. Graves, 1887, P. 102.

5 Ibid., P. 104.

6 Acts of Baptism, J. R. Graves, P. 50. Quoted by Jarrel E. Huffman in Ecclesiology (A Study of the Church), P. 34.

7 Christian Doctrines, J. M. Pendleton, 1878, P.331.

8 Baptist Church Manual, J. M. Pendleton, P. 56.

9 Ibid., P. 94.

10 Alien Baptism, A. C. Dayton, Pp. 161-163. This book was originally published in 1903 with the title Pedobaptist and Campbellite Immersions. It was republished in 1977 with the title Alien Immersion.

11 Ibid., P. 167.

12 Ibid., P.168.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid., P. 193.

15 A Treatise of Baptism, Robert Garner, London, A.D. 1645.

16 Ibid.

[To be continued in a future issue]

Click here to return to index of The Grace Proclamator and Promulgator



free hit counters
free hit counters

Friday, March 04, 2011