The Great Commission and Infant Baptism

Francis Turretin, in Institutes of Elenctic Theology (vol. 3), argued that the Great Commission was grounds for baptizing both adults and infants (Q. XX.III). I did not see how that was possible until I considered the Greek, but it was not as if only paedobaptists recognized the construction of the Greek grammar. Baptists fully acknowledged it, too. In Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, Andreas J. Kostenberger notes, “Jesus’ followers must ‘go’ in order to ‘make disciples.’ ‘All the nations’ includes Israel. The two present participles ‘baptizing’ (baptizontes) and ‘teaching’ (didaskontes) specify the manner in which disciples are to be made.”3Daniel Wallace calls these participles a participle of “means,” which is similar to a participle of “manner” (See Greek Grammar, Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, 627–30).

In other words, disciples are made by baptism and by teaching. Thus, the so-called Great Commission should be read, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations, by means of baptizing them…by means of teaching them” (Matt. 28:19–20). This proper rendering of the Great Commission is consistent with the Reformed paedobaptist view. It is no wonder the apostle Paul addressed children and told them to be obedient in the Lord (Eph 6:1). They were disciples initiated into the covenant community by means of baptism and rendered as having the ability to receive God’s instruction and obey their parents. This was not some natural law command. They were to obey their parents in the Lord the same way their parents were to love each other in the Lord (Eph. 5:22, 25).

Source: Rev. Leon M. Brown, a portion from the Heidelblog, “Baptism: The Doctrine that Caused Tears (4)”

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