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The word “Baptism” is a transliteration (writing a word in a different language alphabet) of the Greek “baptisma from baptiso” which literally means “to dip”, “to immerse”, or “to wash”.
While this word has been used for religious and ceremonial purposes throughout the ages, it was originally used by the Greeks for the process of “dyeing/coloring cloth or yarn”. That required total dipping/immersing of the object in a large pit or container full of dye of the desired color.
The first records we have of this practice, signifying accepting a new “truth” or entering a fellowship with a specific faith community, are from Judaism. It was required of anyone, wishing to join that faith community, to be baptized.
The Essenes, a sect of Judaism, were performing that ceremony when John the Baptist/Baptizer began his calling to prepare the way for the awaited Messiah/The Anointed One.
This “washing” is to signify, symbolically, the cleansing of one’s sins and transgressions and accepting the new character imparted by God, His coloring. It is a public demonstration of submission to God’s will and covenanting to live according to the new understandings of The Truth which God is revealing to the person.
For those of us who know Arabic, going to the Honored Qur’an gives us what this is all about through translating the Greek word “baptiso” rather than transliterating it. In Surah 2:138, translated by ‘Abdullah Yusuf Ali, we read:
Transliteration: “138. Sibghata Allahi waman ahsanu mina Allahi sibghatan wanahnu lahu ‘aabidoona.”
Translation: “138. (Our religion is) The Baptism of God: And who can baptize better than God? And it is He whom we worship.”
The word “sibghat” literally means “dye/color”. When we are “baptized” we take upon us the coloring of God Almighty. He transforms our nature and a change of our character begins as we grow day by day in knowing His will for us and learn to “submit” to Him more fully. Our lives are not ours any more but His Love, Word, and Revelation is reflected through us. Our old nature is totally covered by His nature just like the original color of the cloth does no longer exist because it has been totally changed! It does not matter what it looked like in the past, what matters is what it is now! One’s past life, regardless of how dirty it was, is covered by God’s robe of righteousness.
Do you want your own colors or do you want to receive God’s coloring/dye?
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