What is Baptism?
Baptism is not simply water, but it is the water included in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.
Which is that word of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
What benefits does Baptism give?
It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
Which are these words and promises of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
How can water do such great things?
It is not just the water that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simply water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit. As St Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying” (Titus 3:5-8).
What does such baptizing with water signify?
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily come forth and arise, to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?
St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
This modernised version of Luther’s Small Catechism is based on the public domain text here, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please attribute it by linking back to this page.
All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.