Who Was Baptized Twice In The Bible?

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

Nowadays, Christians know baptism as a way of identifying with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. However, baptism did not begin with Jesus. For years before Christ, the Jews used water as a symbol of cleansing. Then John the Baptist came into the picture and preached the need for repentance and forgiveness of sins. Those who believed in John’s message were baptized. That said, who was baptized twice in the Bible?

Acts 19 talks of a group of disciples in Ephesus who were baptized twice. John the Baptist first baptized them with water to signify repentance and purification. This was also a symbol of cleansing and starting a new life. The Ephesus believers were baptized again in the name of Jesus by Paul, and they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. While Jesus did teach the disciples about the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5), it did not replace water baptism. In fact, the disciples went on to baptize numerous people after Jesus’ ascension.

Paul In Ephesus

The journey of Apostle Paul, especially in Ephesus, teaches about double baptism. Upon arriving at Ephesus, Paul found 12 Ephesus believers and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The disciples answered no, prompting Paul to ask which type of baptism they received. The disciples specified that they had received John’s baptism.

Paul went on to explain that the baptism done by John was for the purpose of repenting and that if the men believed in salvation through Christ, they needed to be rebaptized in the name of Jesus. They agreed, and Paul laid his hands on the disciples and baptized them. After the 12 believers in Ephesus were rebaptized, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:1-6).

The 12 men Paul met recognized their sins and need for repentance. That’s why they went to John and were baptized with water. While repentance is important, the 12 Ephesus believers realized they needed salvation by talking to Paul. The baptism of the Holy Spirit provided that, and it was also a mark that the 12 men were joined to the body of Chris or welcomed into the family of God.

What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Twice?

In the Bible, people who were baptized twice received the baptism of repentance done by water, such as the one administered by John the Baptist. They were later baptized in Jesus’ name and received the Holy Spirit.

However, John’s baptism is different from the one Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18–20). But they share similar points. The baptism of John, also called water baptism, was of repentance and to prepare the way for the arrival of Jesus. In his own words, John the Baptist also gave us the main difference by saying:

 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11-12).

Before Christ, being baptized by John demonstrated recognition of sin and a desire for spiritual cleansing. It was also a way to show commitment to follow God’s law in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival.

Just before His ascension, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This is what many Christians today know as baptism.

Is Water Baptism Required For Christians Today?

It’s easy to wonder whether baptism, as done by John the Baptist, changed after Christ’s resurrection and if that’s the reason that made some believers be baptized again. When Jesus, who was without sin, was baptized by John the Baptist, He acknowledged the significance of water baptism and set an example for his followers. He also reaffirmed the importance of repentance and the need for people to turn to God.

John’s form of baptism, i.e., water baptism draws heavily on the Old Testament Jewish culture of purification or ritual of cleansing using water (Psalm 51:2). Leviticus describes how people used water for purification if they encountered something unclean.

On the other hand, Christian baptism is one of the ordinances that Jesus instituted for the church (Matthew 28:19-20). When we are baptized in the name of Jesus (Christian baptism), we become born again and gain admission into the congregation of Christ. 

Nonetheless, after Jesus went to heaven, the disciples preached the gospel and baptized people with water.

The Bible says:

“Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (Acts 10:47). This passage, together with Paul baptizing the 12 men from Ephesus, shows that once a person hears about Jesus and believes, they follow it up by getting baptized in water. Another example of where we see disciples following water baptism practice is when Phillip was preaching about the gospel.

When he came to town announcing the news of God’s kingdom and proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, the people forgot about Simon and were baptized. Phillip also preached the good news about Jesus to an Ethiopian eunuch and baptized him with water (Acts 8).

So, hearing and understanding the message about Jesus leads to water baptism (remission of sin) or getting baptized again. That’s why Apollo, who had been baptized by water, still needed further instruction and clarification in the faith.

Is Double Baptism Scriptural?

John the Baptist, referred to as one who prepares the way of the Lord, preached a message of repentance and turning to God. This belief was expressed through water baptism. However, repentance was not a mere ritual or one-time, outward action; it was a lifelong journey of turning away from sin and to God.

The Bible elaborates on this through various believers. For example, Apollo was competent in scripture, and Saul, who later changed his name to Paul, knew only of the baptism of John. On the other hand, the 12 men of Ephesus had also received John’s baptism, but after meeting Paul, they were baptized again.

Disciples who were full of the Holy Spirit such as Paul, Peter, and Philip, also baptized believers, and a good example is Lydia, who was baptized by water at Philippi (Act 2:38; 16:11-15; 22:16). It’s after hearing the gospel that Lydia was baptized. John the Baptist emphasized repentance and baptism because the prophesied Messiah was coming.

When John baptized Jesus, he made it clear that Jesus is the Messiah people should believe in and follow.

Based on the mission of John the Baptist, we learn that water baptism is for believers who accept that they are sinners and must repent. Because we also need salvation, we must also believe that Christ died for our sins; he was buried and resurrected to ensure we have eternal life. Through water baptism by immersion, we reenact Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection.

From the story of Lydia, the Ethiopian eunuch, and the 12 men that Paul met in Ephesus, we can deduce that as long as someone is baptized by water, it is not a must that they are baptized again because baptism is a public sign that the person identifies with Jesus and His teaching. That’s why, in most churches, new converts go through a baptism class to make sure they know what it means.

However, if you were baptized at a young age and did not fully understand God’s word or the meaning of water baptism, you can talk to your church elders and pastors, and if they agree, you can be baptized again. In fact, when it comes to deciding whether we should be baptized again, we should consider whether our initial baptism was just a ritual. 

If you truly failed to understand the importance and significance of baptism and what it means to be a follower of Jesus, it’s best to consider getting baptized again. And since we have a natural inclination to sin, we don’t need to be rebaptized every time we sin. Instead, we only need to repent, ask for forgiveness, then change our ways and God promises to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).


The administration of water baptism is a fairly simple act. But custom can blind us to the advantages it offers. What we do know is that water baptism did not begin with Jesus. It had been in operation since the Mosaic Law, where Jews accepted it as a form of spiritual cleansing. Jesus, who was also baptized with water, instructed his disciples to baptize people who went on to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, the core value of baptism as a remission of sin and a chance to be changed still stands today and is practiced by Christians worldwide. 

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About: Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.
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Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.

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