1 Corinthians 10 and Paedo-Baptism

Here is the text (verses 1-4): “I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

The phrase I wish to examine is that phrase “baptized into Moses.” Obviously, all the Israelites passed through the Red Sea. Therefore, they were all baptized into Moses. It didn’t matter what age they were, they were baptized into Moses. Infants are included in this. What we have here is an indisputable example of “baptizo” being referred to infants. However, some of the details could use some elucidation.

Moses here is a type of Christ. This is proved by verse 6, which speaks of these things as “types” for us to follow. The Baptists might wish to argue here that the word only functions on a typological or figurative level. However, the question still remains, “Why did Paul use that word here?” By the way, this passage also forms part of the argument against “baptizo” always meaning “to immerse,” since the Israelites were not immersed. They went through on dry ground. It was the Egyptians who were immersed! However, this is a side issue, which could be dealt with in another post.

To be baptized into Moses surely functions on a typological level to point us to being baptized into Christ. If this is the case, then we have rock (vs. 4!)-solid evidence of paedo-baptism in the NT. We must be careful here in distinguishing and noting the sign and the thing signified. Remember that sacramental language sometimes ascribes the effects of the thing signified to the sign. Here we have the thing signified (escape from the Egyptians by the grace of God in the Red Sea), and a sign (the word “baptizo”) closely conjoined. They can be distinguished, though not violently separated. This is not to say that baptism saves, unless by that we mean that that to which baptism points saves us. The language must be extremely careful to not ascribe too much or too little to baptism. The fathers had their baptism in the sea. God was saving them. That is a type for us. Verse 6 absolutely and finally prohibits us from relegating verses 1-4 to the interesting but irrelevant solely typological level. These types are for our benefit. Therefore, the baptism of the fathers in verses 1-4 has reference to our baptism in Christ. Notice the parallel of baptism into Moses with baptism into Christ. Surely, Paul has the latter in mind in speaking about the former. In short, this passage is extremely strong in favor of paedo-baptism.