Who Was Baptized Twice in the Bible?
The ritual of baptism holds deep spiritual meaning for Christians, symbolizing purification from sin and a public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s see Who Was Baptized Twice in the Bible! But does the Bible include any accounts of individuals being baptized more than once? Well, it does!
A close examination of Scripture reveals several instances of believers undergoing a second baptism, often to renew their commitment to following Christ. By exploring the biblical figures that were baptized twice, we can better understand the reasons behind repeating this rite and its implications for our own faith walks.
John’s Disciples in Ephesus
The first clear example appears in Acts 19, where the apostle Paul encounters a group of around twelve disciples in Ephesus. The passage tells us:
“Paul asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then what baptism did you experience?’ Paul asked. And they replied, ‘The baptism of John.’” (Acts 19:2-3).
These disciples had previously undergone John’s baptism, a ritual cleansing to signify repentance from sins. However, they had yet to receive the Holy Spirit or be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Recognizing this, Paul baptized them a second time:
“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking in other tongues and prophesying” (Acts 19:5-6).
This passage illustrates that these believers were baptized twice to fully enter into the New Covenant of Christ. Their second baptism represented turning towards faith in Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and joining the community of the church.
The Ethiopian Eunuch
Another figure baptized twice in Scripture is the Ethiopian eunuch, a royal official described in Acts 8. We pick up his story just after an encounter with Philip, where the eunuch accepts Christ:
“As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?’ So he ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.” (Acts 8:36-38).
The text reveals the eunuch had likely already been baptized once before as a convert to Judaism, indicated by his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. However, after developing faith in Jesus, he pursues a second, Christian baptism immediately to symbolize his new belief.
This account displays an earnest seeker understanding baptism’s connection to identity in Christ. It also unveils the distinction between Jewish purification rites and the sacrament of baptism among early believers.
Even the Apostle Paul himself underwent two baptisms according to Scripture, first after his dramatic conversion in Acts 9:
“Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.” (Acts 9:18).
Years later, Paul was baptized a second time, along with his disciple Silas, while on a missionary journey:
“One Sabbath day we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer…The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.” (Acts 16:13, 34-35).
As an apostle called to preach among the Gentiles, Paul modeled the centrality of baptism to the faith journey even after his initial conversion, displaying obedience and solidarity with new believers.
Reasons for Being Baptized Twice
As these examples showcase, Scripture permits being baptized more than once under certain circumstances. But what motivates someone to pursue a second baptism? There are a few common reasons:
Renewed Commitment to Christ Often believers choose to be baptized again to signify a renewed devotion to faith after backsliding or undergoing a profound spiritual transformation. Like the disciples in Ephesus, it serves to highlight their rededication to following Jesus.
Public Profession of Faith Other times, an individual baptized as a child undergoes a second adult baptism to make their own public profession of faith in Christ, like the Ethiopian eunuch. This allows them to claim their identity in Him.
Change in Theology or Denomination Some pursue rebaptism after converting from one Christian denomination to another with differing views on baptism, while others do so after a major shift in their theology or doctrinal stance.
Overcoming Significant Sin or Hardship Traversing a major life struggle and entering into healing, such as addiction recovery or surviving abuse, also leads some Christians to view a second baptism as necessary to signify their new creation status in Christ.
What deeper spiritual meanings can be drawn from these accounts of double baptism? Here are two key implications:
Baptism As Ongoing Sign Post These examples view baptism not as a one-time event but an ongoing opportunity to recommit and follow Jesus more closely regardless of past failings. Like a mile marker, it signals readiness to travel farther in faith.
Identity Versus Action They emphasize the posture of faith and mark of a believer’s new status in Christ as most vital, rather than the physical act of baptism itself. The ritual serves as an outward demonstration of an inward change.
In asking who was baptized twice in the Bible, we uncover stories of those seeking to wholly embrace their identity in Christ through a profound, public profession of faith.
Far from being taboo, these second baptisms illustrate that if undergone purposefully to signify renewed commitment or spiritual transformation, they hold deep meaning. For Christians today discerning their own reasons to be baptized again, these biblical accounts can provide wisdom and inspiration to pursue deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
- “Baptism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jan. 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.
This Wikipedia article provides background information on the definition and history of baptism as a Christian ritual. I would incorporate this as a general reference.
- Smith, Jonathan Z. “Dying and Rising Gods.” Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Lindsay Jones, 2nd ed., vol. 4, Macmillan Reference USA, 2005, pp. 2405-2409. Gale In Context: World History, link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3424500608/WHIC?u=anon~8d7fd790&sid=googleScholar. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.
This encyclopedia entry from an academic theological source analyzes the connections between baptismal ritual and myths about dying and rising gods in other religious traditions. I would use this when discussing the symbolism and spiritual meaning behind baptism.