The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (an early Christian text not part of the New Testament) says of baptism (chapter 7):

On the subject of baptism, baptise thus: after having taught all that precedes, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. If for some reason you do not have living water, baptize in other water; and if you are not able to in cold water, in warm water. If you do not have enough of one or the other, pour out water three times on the head, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, let the baptizer, the baptized and others who can, observe first a fast; as for the baptized, you must enforce a fast beforehand for one or two days.

"Living water" is usually assumed to mean "running water", like the river Jordan in which Jesus was baptized.

What is the reason for preferring running water over still water, and cold water over warm water?

I know some people who were baptized in the sea; would that count as living water, or does the term only refer to rivers? (It certainly met the preference for cold water, by all accounts.)

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    Good question. If I were to guess, Baptism symbolizes not only the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but also cleansing. Running water is typically cleaner than standing water. Like I said, it's just a guess. It makes sense to me, but I don't know the answer for sure. I'm very interested to see this one answered! Sep 22, 2011 at 23:02
  • I have a hard time attributing any kind of spiritual symbolism to this. Our modern world is not nearly as familiar and aware of these kind of things, so I can understand the question. But cool, running water is simply: clean, fresh, safe water. Still, warm water is not clean and depending where you are, possibly partly saline. Bacteria and algae also grow in it. Additionally, it is more likely for dangerous wildlife to be in such still water. This is why it says if you can't find cold running water, it is acceptable in warm running water. The still/running part is most important.
    – Joshua
    Apr 10, 2016 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


You may find this link of interest:


And here is the significant part, where they talk about the significance of running water and cold water:

The main points here related to the topic of regeneration are (as in Ignatius' works) implicit, in a discussion primarily centered around the baptismal mode. There is a stress on baptism in living and cold water. Living water is likely preferred because rivers had symbolic significance as boundaries of transition in the ancient world. The living water emphasis also has Jewish parallels. Water which was running is also still connected to its natural source (J. Draper. The Didache in Modern Research. Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1996:46,218). Cold water may have been prescribed because of the shocking nature, which would make baptism a memorable event. Interestingly, however, if these types of water are not available, or even if enough water is not available to immerse, the great importance of baptism is seen in the admonition to do so in at least some fashion regardless of the resources at hand. The emphasis of living water is especially consistent with concepts of a change in the baptized person's life.

I found this quote of interest, if you search for the word 'leper', in http://www.christian-history.org/water-baptism-quotes.html, as it would seem that running water would also be better if we are to be cleansed.

For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes,

There are other thoughts that this is based also on the Jewish traditions, but I think that is getting into a different area than the question was intended.


Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ in running water as the scriptures speak

Isa 40:3¶The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Mat 7:14Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 16:17-19 (KJV)  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jhn 10:7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

Jhn 10:9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Mark 1:2-8 (KJV)  As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Luke 24:47-49 (KJV)  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Act 2:42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Mat 26:28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Hbr 9:22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Acts 2:37 (KJV)  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Revelation 3:20-22 (KJV)  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Act 2:38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Remission def: release from bondage or imprisonment

forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty

John 8:31-32 (KJV)  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Lev 13:45 And the leper in whom the plague [is], his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.

Lev 13:46 All the days wherein the plague [shall be] in him he shall be defiled; he [is] unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp [shall] his habitation [be].

Ok. What is the camp or city in the new testament , it is the kingdom of God or the church that we can not enter unless cleansed.

Jhn 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of WATER and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

1Jo 5:8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Jhn 19:34But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

Mat 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Lev 14 verses 1 thru 7  This in the old testament had to be done by the priest to cleanse the leper , but in the new it had to be done by a man who had been given the power to remit sins. Jhn 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Jhn 20:23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained.

Lev 14:4 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive [and] clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:

Lev 14:5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an EARTHEN VESSEL over running water:

1Ti 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH , justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Mat 26:28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Lev 14:6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird [that was] killed over the running water:

Jhn 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Rom 12:1¶I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Rom 6:4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into 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. Here the believer is set free from his sins and given the chance for a new life just as the bird is set free.

Lev 14:7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.

Naaman  2Ki 5:10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

2Ki 5:11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.

2Ki 5:12 [Are] not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.

2Ki 5:14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Wikipedia states baptistries belong to a period of the church when great numbers of adult catechisms were baptized, and when immersion was the rule. We find little or no trace of them before Constantine made Christianity the state religion, before the 4th century

The method began in running water in the name of Jesus christ but has went through must be warm water , if no warm water use cold, sprinkling , pouring, dipping 3 times ,the titles baptistries , pickup trucks and swimming pools, baby sprinkling ,some depending on your spiritual growth and your work effort and this is just some of the changes ,but what's wrong with Jesus's way the way it began , the old path , the only way that John prepared when he baptized the lord in running water, our example. Examples . RIVER JORDAN Mar 1:5And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. MUCH WATER Jhn 3:23And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. CERTAIN WATER Act 8:36And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? RIVERSIDE Act 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted [thither]. Act 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. Act 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought [us], saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide [there]. And she constrained us.

 Baby baptism  NO VERSES IN THE BIBLE Doing it three times NO VERSES IN THE BIBLE pouring water NO VERSES IN THE BIBLE sprinkling NO VERSES IN THE BIBLE baptistries NO VERSE IN THE BIBLE . Swimming pools NO VERSES IN THE BIBLE In pickup trucks NO VERSES IN THE BIBLE  Father son holy ghost NO VERSES IN THE BIBLE


HOW DID THE EARLY CHURCH INTERPRET CHRIST'S COMMAND IN MATTHEW 28:19? ACTS 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, and 19:5 are four Biblical references that answer this question. If the Biblical record is not enough, please examine the findings of the educated, scholars, and historians.

Britannica Encyclopedia, 11th Edition, Volume 3, page 365 – Baptism was changed from the name of Jesus to words Father, Son & Holy Ghost in 2nd Century.

Canney Encyclopedia of Religion, page 53 – The early church baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until the second century.

Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 2 – Christian baptism was administered using the words, "in the name of Jesus." page 377. Baptism was always in the name of Jesus until time of Justin Martyr, page 389.

Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 2, page 263 – Here the authors acknowledged that the baptismal formula was changed by their church.

Schaff – Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Volume 1, page 435 – The New Testament knows only the baptism in the name of Jesus.

Hastings Dictionary of Bible, page 88 – It must be acknowledged that the three fold name of Matthew 28:19 does not appear to have been used by the primitive church, but rather in the name of Jesus, Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus.

IS IT AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY THAT THE NAME OF JESUS BE SPOKEN OR CALLED OVER A CANDIDATE FOR WATER BAPTISM WHEN HE IS BEING BAPTIZED? For the answer to this question, please read Acts 15:17 and James 2:7 [Greek Linear]. First Century Christians INVOKED OR CALLED the name of Jesus over believers in water baptism. If, as some say, "the name of Jesus means the authority of Jesus', then so much more should the NAME, rather than titles, be called over an individual in baptism. Read Matthew 28:18, Acts 4:12 and Colossians 2:9. Jude 3 is an exhortation to "CONTEND FOR THE FAITH ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS." See Galations 1:8-9 also. Should anyone dare to change what Christ and the Apostles established?





Which of These Were Practiced  By the Apostles in the Early Church?



JEWS – "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:38.

SAMARITANS – They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 8:16.

GENTILES – He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Lord Jesus. Acts 10:48.

PETER TAUGHT – There is none other name given whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12.

PAUL TAUGHT – Whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Col. 3:17.


Matthew 28:19 was a command by Jesus to baptize in a NAME. The Apostles did not repeat the words of the command, but they did obey it as seen in the scriptures above. Since Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are titles of the mainifestations of the Almighty Spirit and His body, the Apostles understood HisSAVING NAME to be JESUS. Can any dare say that the Apostles disobeyed the Lord, or failed to baptize properly? THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST IS LORD JESUS CHRIST. The actions of the Apostles in the Book of Acts prove this to be true.

BAPTISM IN JESUS NAMEAccording to The Bible








The above scriptures are not given to refute Matthew 28:19 where JESUS told Apostles to baptize in the name of the FATHER, & OF THE SON, & OF THE HOLY GHOST. They merely show how the command was interpreted and obeyed by them.

The Apostles knew what most religious leaders of today fail to recognize. First: That the Lord Jesus Christ is the family name. Eph. 3:15. Second: That the FULNESS of the GODHEAD (Deity or God) dwelleth bodily in CHRIST. Col 2:9

They knew the name of the SON was JESUS. Matthew 1:21. They knew that the SON came in the FATHER'S name. John 5:43. They also knew that the HOLY GHOST was the SPIRIT of CHRIST and would come in JESUS NAME. John 14:26.

The name JESUS means JEHOVA SALVATION. Faussets' Bible Encyclopedia. Page 359.

BAPTISM IN JESUS NAMEAccording to History

BRITANICA ENCYCLO. – The baptismal formula was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son & Holy Ghost by Catholic Church in the second century. 11th Edition, Vol 3, page 365-366.

BRITANICA ENCYCLO. – Everywhere in the oldest sources it states that baptism took place in the name of Jesus Christ. Vol. 3, page 82.

CANNEY ENCYCLO. OF REL. – The early church always baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until development of Trinity Doctrine in 2nd century.Page 53.

CATHOLIC ENCYCLO. – Here the Catholics acknowledged that baptism was changed by the Catholic Church. Vol. 2, Page 263.

HASTINGS ENCYCLO. OF REL. – Christian Baptism was administered using the words, "IN THE NAME OF JESUS." Vol. 2, Page 377.  The use of a Trinitarian formula of any sort was not suggested in early Church History. Vol. 2, Page 378.  Baptism was always in name of the Lord Jesus until time of Justin Martyr when Triune formula used. Vol. 2, Page 389.

Exodus 7:16-22 (KJV)  And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river. And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.

1Pe 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

1Pe 3:21 The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Doth Def translated from sozo means to save same translation as save us

Eze 47:9 And it shall come to pass, [that] every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

Eze 47:10 And it shall come to pass, [that] the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a [place] to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.

Eze 47:11 But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. 

Mal  3:6For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Romans 3:4 (KJV) 4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

This is from the Catholic encyclopedia volume 2 pg 263 g. The Council of Nicaea '(can. xi.x) ordered the rebaptism of Paulianists, and the Council of Aries (can. xvi and xvii) decreed the same for both Paulianists and Photinians. There has been a theological controversy over the question as to whether baptism in the name of Christ only was ever held vahd. Certain texts in the New Testament have given rise to this difficulty. Thus St. Paul (Acts, xix) commands some disciples at Ephesus to be baptized in Christ's name: "They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." In Acts, x, we read that St. Peter ordered others to be baptized "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ". Those who were converted by Philip (Acts, viii) "were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ ", and above all we have the explicit command of the Prince of the Apostles: "Be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins" (Acts, ii). Owing to these texts some theologians have held that the Apostles baptized in the name of Christ only. St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and Albertus Magnus are invoked as authorities for this opinion, they declaring that the Apostles so acted by special dispensation. Other writers, as Peter Lombard and Hugh of St. Victor, hold also that such baptism would be valid, but say nothing of a dispensation for the Apostles. The most probable opinion, however, seems to be that the terms "in the name of Jesus", "in the name of Christ", either refer to baptism in the faith taught by Christ, or are employed to distinguish Christian baptism from that of John the Precursor. It seems altogether unlikely that immediately after Christ had solemnly promulgated the trinitarian formula of baptism, the Apostles themselves would have substituted another. In fact, the words of St. Paul (Acts, xix) imply quite plainly that they did not. For, when some Christians at Ephesus declared that they had never heard of the Holy Ghost, the Apostle asks: "In whom then were you baptized?" This text certainly seems to declare that St. Paul took it for granted that the Ephesians must have heard the name of the Holy Ghost when the sacramental formula of baptism was pronounced over them. The authority of Pope Stephen I has been alleged for the validity of baptism given in the name of Christ only. St. Cj^irian says (Ep. ad Jubaian.) that this pontiff declared all baptism valid provided it was given in the name of Jesus Christ. It must be noted that the same explanation applies to Stephen's words as to the Scriptural texts above given. Moreover, Firmilian, in his letter to St. Cyprian, implies that Pope Stephen required an explicit mention of the Trinity in baptism, for he quotes the pontiff as declaring that the sacramental grace is conferred because a person has been baptized "with the invocation of the names of the Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Ghost". A passage that is very difficult of explanation is found in the works of St. Ambrose (Lib. I, De Sp. S., iii), where he declares that if a person names one of the Trinity, he names all of them: 'If you say Christ, you have designated God the Father, by whom the Son was anointed, and Him Who was anointed Son, and the Holy Ghost in whom He was anointed." This passage has been generally interpreted as referring to the faith of the catechumen, but not to the baptismal form. More difficult is the explanation of the response of Pope Nicholas I to the Bulgarians (cap. civ; Labbe, VIII), in which he states that a person is not to be rebaptized who has already been baptized "in the name of the Holy Trinity or in the name of Christ only, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (for it is one and the same thing, as St. Ambrose has explained)". As in the passage to which the pope alludes, St. Ambrose was speaking of the faith of the recipient of baptism, as we have already stated, it has been held probable that this is also the meaning that Pope Nicholas intended his words to convey (see another explanation in Pesch, Praelect. Dogm, VI, no. 389).

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    This really should be edited down to form a succinct answer. Apr 10, 2016 at 13:05
  • 1
    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. In particular, answers here must focus on answering the specific question asked, rather than discussing related issues. Most of your answer has nothing to do with the particular question asked, and the small part that does really doesn't answer the question. See: What makes a good supported answer? Apr 10, 2016 at 17:26
  • @JontheArchitect "This really should be edited down to form an answer." [corrected]
    – Joshua
    Apr 10, 2016 at 17:47
  • This is a wall of text that is mostly verse quotes . The vast majority of the post doesn't address the issue at all. This is not a time to post a thesis of the sacrament of baptism, the question is just about why some specific groups prefer cold running water over other options. When @JontheArchitect suggested editing this down for clarity, adding a whole bunch more irrelevant content wasn't the solution. Please edit this to remove anything that doesn't directly address the question that was asked.
    – Caleb
    Apr 11, 2016 at 8:38

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