Baptism (from the Greek noun βάπτισμα ''baptisma''; see below) is a Christian sacrament of admission and adoption,〔St. Paul: Romans 8:15 "the spirit of adoption" ("of sonship" RSV), Galatians 4:5 "adoption of sons", Ephesians 1:15 "the adoption of children by Jesus Christ" ("to be his sons through Jesus Christ" RSV).〕 almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally.〔For example, "baptized in the Catholic Church" ((Second Vatican Council, ''Lumen gentium'', 28 )〕 The canonical Gospels report that Jesus was baptized〔, , 〕—a historical event to which a high degree of certainty can be assigned. Baptism has been called a sacrament and an ordinance of Jesus Christ. In some denominations, baptism is also called christening, but for others the word "christening" is reserved for the baptism of infants. Baptism has also given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations, they being called Baptism as a whole.
The usual form of baptism among the earliest Christians was for the candidate to be immersed, either totally (submerged completely under the water) or partially (standing or kneeling in water while water was poured on him or her). While John the Baptist's use of a deep river for his baptism suggests immersion, pictorial and archaeological evidence of Christian baptism from the 3rd century onward indicates that a normal form was to have the candidate stand in water while water was poured over the upper body. Other common forms of baptism now in use include pouring water three times on the forehead, a method called affusion.
Martyrdom was identified early in Church history as "baptism by blood", enabling martyrs who had not been baptized by water to be saved. Later, the Catholic Church identified a baptism of desire, by which those preparing for baptism who die before actually receiving the sacrament are considered saved. As evidenced also in the common Christian practice of infant baptism, baptism was universally seen by Christians as in some sense necessary for salvation, until Huldrych Zwingli in the 16th century denied its necessity.
Today, some Christians, particularly Christian Scientists, Quakers, The Salvation Army, and Unitarians, do not see baptism as necessary, and do not practice the rite. Among those that do, differences can be found in the manner and mode of baptizing and in the understanding of the significance of the rite. Most Christians baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (following the Great Commission), but some baptize in Jesus' name only. Much more than half of all Christians baptize infants; many others hold that only believer's baptism is true baptism. Some insist on submersion or at least partial immersion of the person who is baptized, others consider that any form of washing by water, as long as the water flows on the head, is sufficient. The term "baptism" has also been used to refer to any ceremony, trial, or experience by which a person is initiated, purified, or given a name.
The English word ''baptism'' is derived indirectly through Latin from the neuter Greek concept noun ''baptisma'' (Greek , "washing-ism"),〔, , , . ''The several Greek words from which the English word ''baptism'' has been formed are used by Greek writers (in classical antiquity, in the Septuagint, and in the New Testament) with a great ''latitude of meaning'', including "to make Christian" and "baptisma pyros (baptism of fire)"'' — (The University of Texas at Austin, College of Liberal Arts, Linguistics Research Center, ''Indo-European Lexicon'', PIE (Proto-Indo-European) ''Etymon'' and IE (Indo-European) ''Reflexes'': "baptism" ) (and "baptize" ), (Greek ''baptein, baptizein, baptos'' ) — (New Advent, ''Catholic Encyclopedia'': "Baptism": Etymology ) — (Spirit Restoration, Theological Terms: A to B Dictionary: "baptize" ) (''scroll down to "baptism"'') — (Online Etymological Dictionary: "baptize" ) — (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: "baptism" ) — two parallel online sources, Search God's Word and Eliyah, for "''Strong's numbers''": (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Greek Lexicon ''907'' ''βαπτίζω'' "baptize" )/(''907'' ''baptizo'' "baptize" ), (''908'' ''βάπτισμα'' "baptism" )/(''908'' ''baptisma'' "baptism" ), (''909'' ''βαπτισμός'' "baptisms" )/(''909'' ''baptismos'' "baptisms" ), and ( ''910'' ''βαπτστἠς'' "baptist" )/( ''910'' ''baptistes'' "baptist" ). 〕 which is a neologism in the New Testament derived from the masculine Greek noun ''baptismos'' (), a term for ritual washing in Greek language texts of Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period, such as the Septuagint. Both of these nouns are derived from the verb ''baptizō'' (, "I wash" transitive verb), which is used in Jewish texts for ritual washing, and in the New Testament both for ritual washing and also for the apparently new rite of ''baptisma''. The Greek verb ''baptō'' (), "dip", from which the verb ''baptizo'' is derived, is in turn hypothetically traced to a reconstructed Indo-European root
*''gʷabh-'', "dip".〔American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, ''(page 33 )''.〕 The Greek words are used in a great variety of meanings.
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