John the Baptist said to those who came to him to be baptised that he baptised with water for repentance: “But after me comes one who is more powerful than I. . . . He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). John the Baptist distinguished his baptism (with water) from the Lord’s baptism (with the Holy Spirit).

John 1:35-40 mentions two of John the Baptist's disciples, Andrew (Simon Peter's brother) and the other, almost certainly the writer of the Gospel of John. They would have been baptised in water by John the Baptist (a baptism of repentance).

A CSE question exists which asks if there is any Church Tradition to show that Jesus baptised his apostles. Here is part of the answer:

"St Thomas in his Summa theologiae III, q. 72, a. 6, ad. 2 quotes St. Augustine and affirms that the Apostles were baptized. As Augustine says (Ep. cclxv), from our Lord's words, "'He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet' (John 13:10), we gather that Peter and Christ's other disciples had been baptized, either with John's Baptism, as some think; or with Christ's, which is more credible. For He did not refuse to administer Baptism, so as to have servants by whom to baptize others." There is nothing in the Scriptures that describes the apostles having been baptized by Jesus — but in John 3:22, we read that, “after this, Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing.”

However, John 4:21 informs us that “Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptising more disciples than John [the Baptist], although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples.

The argument from Church Tradition does not appear to be in harmony with John 4:21. The disciples were baptising in water by the direction of Jesus and under His authority.

Apart from knowing that Andrew and John were baptised by John the Baptist, does the New Testament say if any other of Jesus' apostles were ever baptised in water, and if any of the apostles were baptised by Jesus?

Also what have biblical scholars said said about this?

  • My answer to that question does state the Bible offers no clues about the baptism of the Apostles.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Feb 2 at 3:22
  • 2
    @KenGraham Yes, your answer acknowledges the Bible does not say the apostles were baptised by Jesus, although the Church suggests that "Peter and Christ's other disciples had been baptized, either with John's Baptism, as some think; or with Christ's, which is more credible." Apart from Andrew and John being baptised by John the Baptist, is there any biblical basis for thinking the other apostles were baptised in water? I hope to get further insights from biblical scholars.
    – Lesley
    Commented Feb 2 at 7:18
  • 1
    My apologies for failing to make clear that I was looking for a biblical basis answer and did not add that tag till now. I've not been firing on all four cylinders for the past 24 hours.
    – Lesley
    Commented Feb 2 at 14:37
  • 3
    Made some minor edits and voted to reopen this post.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Feb 2 at 15:39
  • 4
    There is no explicit statement, but it seems most unlikely the original twelve were not baptized by John the Baptist, or in "his baptism" (by one of his disciples). On the other hand, it seems clear none of the twelve had a second water baptism after the resurrection. Their second baptism was with fire on the day of Pentecost. Only Paul had what could be called a Christian water baptism. Commented Feb 2 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


Before the Crucifixion
Unlike the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22) there is no explicit statement any of the twelve Apostles were baptized by John the Baptist. Nevertheless, it is likely they were among those who heard and responded to John the Baptist's call:

Mark 1 (ESV):

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Mark, Matthew (3:1-12) and Luke (3:1-20) describe the Baptist's work taking place along the River Jordan and outside the region of Galilee. They also describe something which drew many people and those from Galilee were certainly aware of what was happening.

The Fourth Gospel makes no mention of Jesus' baptism; instead it states some of the Twelve had been disciples of John the Baptist:

John 1:

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus...40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

Andrew went and got Peter; Philip and Nathanael were also in the vicinity. Even if they were not disciples of the Baptist, it is unlikely they were not baptized by John or one of his disciples. Additionally, Luke states those who refused John the Baptist rejected the purpose of God.

Luke 7:

29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

Matthew (21:24-27), Mark (11:27-32), and Luke (20:1-8) each describe Jesus asking those who challenge His authority whether John's baptism was from God. The implication of His question is those who refused John's baptism erred.

It is most unlikely Jesus would have chosen someone who was not baptized to be an Apostle. This does not eliminate a second baptism by Jesus, but there are reasons this seems unlikely. First, the Baptist taught a second baptism would be by one who came after him and would be by fire. Second, the Fourth Gospel makes the point Jesus did not baptize.

John 4:

1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples)

The Fourth Gospel is showing the disciples of Jesus (some of whom had been disciples of the Baptist), continued the work of the Baptist in the presence of Jesus, who did not baptize anyone Himself. Which is saying, the baptism of John was a singular activity, the purpose of God, carried out by John the Baptist and his disciples only. Jesus did not usurp John's work. Instead Jesus was baptized by John and for a short time allowed His disciples to join in John's work.

After the Crucifixion
There is no indication any of the original Apostles or disciples would need or had a second water baptism (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). Rather, the disciples who remained in Jerusalem were baptized by fire on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

The only one called "Apostle" who had a traditional Christian water baptism was Saul (Acts 9:18). Like the Twelve, his water baptism was performed by someone other than Jesus.

  • Excellent summary. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 3 at 20:20
  • Most helpful, thank you. I'd forgotten about the Apostle Paul being baptised in water (Acts 9), but also noted he was "set apart" by the Holy Spirit for the work to which he had been called. Other instances in Acts show how Paul wasfilled with the Holy Spirit on many different occasions.
    – Lesley
    Commented Feb 6 at 10:48

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