As noted in the other question, there are two modes of water baptism of which I am familiar--immersion and sprinkling. As far as I know Catholics practice sprinkling along with many Protestant traditions, although many other Protestant traditions practice immersion.

What is the biblical basis for baptism by sprinkling according to those who have a literal interpretation of the Bible?

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    The question of infant baptism has already been asked here: What traditions espouse infant baptism and why?.
    – Narnian
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 13:45
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    It's worth noting explicitly (although I'm sure Narnian knows this) that the technical term sprinkling in respect of baptism doesn't mean a gentle act like sprinkling salt, but does in fact mean pouring. It may be pouring from the hand, or with an implement like a shell, or even a jug; but it does not mean sprinkling drops from the fingers. Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 6:10
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    Mod Notice: I have removed a whole pile of answers from this question that were obviously way out of line with our site guidelines. This question may only be answered from the perspective of people who think there is scriptural support for sprinkling. Saying it's an invalid practice is Not An Answer per our rules on matching the scope of answers to the question. Also debating infant/adult baptism is not the subject of the question even though it is tangentially related, this is about sprinkling as opposed to immersion, not paedo vs. believer baptism.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 11:41

3 Answers 3


There seems to be a basis for sprinkling.

Ezekiel 36:25-27. " I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will become clean; I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your disgusting idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my spirit inside you, and I will cause you to walk in my regulations, and you will observe and carry out my judicial decisions."

  • P.S. The verb translated as "sprinkle," likely means "splash." NET Bible on Lev. 1:5 (where the verb also occurs): “Splash” (cf. NAB) or “dash” (cf. NRSV) is better than “sprinkle,” which is the common English translation of this verb (זָרַק, zaraq; see, e.g., KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT). “Sprinkle” is not strong enough (contrast נָזָה [nazah], which does indeed mean “to sprinkle” or “to splatter”; cf. Lev 4:6).
    – user900
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 4:48

Catholics don't baptize by sprinkling water, we pour it over the baptized's head, if there's just a font.

If you read Acts 8:24, you probably think baptism by immersion if that how baptism happens in your tradition, but if baptism is usually performed by pouring, then this is what your minds eye produces:

Philip baptizing a eunuch

Philip baptizing a eunuch by Abel de Pujol

Canonically, either is permissible in the Catholic Church.

Sprinkling is biblical, but it's usually connected with blood. But, since we're "baptized into His death", then I think the water of baptism may represent Jesus blood in some way, especially since that was what poured forth from His side when He was pierced on the cross.

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    Acts 8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him Acts 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
    – user16659
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 19:58
  • Acts 8:24 does not speak of Baptism. "Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
    – user4562
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 0:38
  • @user4562: I converted your answer into a comment on this answer. Please see the About page to see how our site works and note that you need 50 rep to comment on posts other than your own. Commented May 26, 2013 at 18:34

Sprinkling or pouring is a standard Old Testament practice associated with cleansing and anointing. Immersion would have been foreign to the Jews, who were familiar with Old Testament practices.

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    If you could expand this answer to contrast that point about old Jewish practice with the people being baptized in the river(John the Baptist), it would improve it, as well as comparing that to some early Christian traditions of full immersion. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 19:32

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