Infant Baptism

Infant Baptism Demonstrated from Scripture

 "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39)

Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC) Question 166: Unto whom is baptism to be administered? A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descended from parents, either both or but one of them professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are, in that respect, within the covenant, and to be baptized.

Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) Chapter 25.2 The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children

WCF Chapter 28.1 Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church;

WLC Chapter 61 Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church? A. All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible.


The subjects of the ordinance of baptism are adults who profess the true religion and their children. While there is no explicit example of infant baptism in the New Testament, baptism of infants is clearly taught in scripture. Remember there is no explicit example of a woman partaking of the Lord’s Supper, yet the Bible clearly teaches that women should be admitted to the Table. Explicit examples are not always need to demonstrate the truth of a Doctrine

The young children of believers ought to be baptized for the following reasons: the promises of the Covenant of Grace are to you and your seed, the signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace are applied to believers and their children, circumcision and baptism represent the same thing, God considers children of believers as Holy unto Him, God expects believers to raise their children in the faith, and the fact that infants can be saved.

The Promise of Grace is to you and your seed

The promise of Grace has always included adult believers and their children.

 "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." (Genesis 17:7)

Notice this is a promise of God to be Abraham’s God and the God of Abraham’s seed (children, household). To keep this promise, God will have to reconcile Abraham and his seed to Himself. This is a promise of salvation for Abraham and his seed through the coming messiah who would be born in the line of Abraham.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:3 )

Paul explains that the Covenant between God and Abraham is the gospel.

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Galatians 3:8)

This Covenant that God made with Abraham and his seed is commonly called the Covenant of Grace or Covenant of Promise

We see the full extent of this Covenant of Promise in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

"And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (Jeremiah 32:39-40)

"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:  33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (This promise includes elect children)  34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34) 

"For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.  26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.  28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God." (Ezekiel 36:24)

Please notice the Covenant of Grace includes the children of the believer (Jer. 32:39-40, 31:33, Eze. 36:28.)

The Promise of the Holy Spirit is to the believer and his seed

One of the promises of the Covenant of Grace is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This promise of the indwelling Spirit is not just to the adult believer; it is also to the believer's seed.

"And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.  28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God." (Ezekiel 36: 27 )

"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:" (Isaiah 44:3)

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2: 38)

"For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." (Luke 1:15)

The conclusion to be drawn from all these verses is expressed by Peter when he saw the gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit.

"Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:47)

Since the children of believers can receive the Holy Spirit, they also have the right to the sign and seal (baptism) of the Covenant that promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Infants can be born again

WCF 10.3  Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons, who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

"But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.  10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly." (Psalm 22:9)

"Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4)

"For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15)

"For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines" (Judges 13:5)

"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14)

"And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:15)

Salvation is not just for adults who can make a credible profession of faith. Salvation is for all the elect of God no matter what age God sees fit to regenerate them. The New Testament sign and seal of that salvation is baptism. Those who can be saved have a right to baptism. Since both adults and infants can be saved, then both have a right to the sign and seal of their salvation. .

You might ask how can we know if an infant is has been saved. The same question can be asked of the adult. Scripture tells us the adult must give a credible profession of faith, but this does not reveal if they are regenerate. We apply the sign and seal of the covenant grace anyway and then train them in faithfulness to the covenant. If they prove counterfeit, they are removed by church discipline or they fall way on their own.

The same applies to the children of the adult believer. We do not know which children are of the elect, so they are all baptized and trained in faithfulness to the covenant. If they grow up and prove to be counterfeit the same happens as with the adult. In both cases, they are trained in what it means to be a true Christian.

Because of this doctrine we have hope that children of believers dying in infancy (before they can understand the outward calling of the Gospel) are of the elect and have been redeemed.

As David said of his dead child:

"But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:23)

His hope was to be reunited to his redeemed child in heaven.

Household baptisms

Based upon the God’s promise to be a God to the adult believer and his seed (household), Paul baptized Households.

"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:31)

"And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us." (Acts 16:15)

"And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other." (1 Corinthians 1:16)

There is good reason to believe the following households were also baptized.

"Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord." (Romans 16:11)

"Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household." (Romans 16:10) 

"Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus." (2 Timothy 4:19)

It has been pointed out that we do not know if any of these households had young children in them. But it must be admitted they more than likely did. Is it possible that in so many households none of them had young children?

However, let’s not miss what we have established. Based upon the promise to be a God to us and our seed, Paul promised salvation to a believer and his household and Paul baptized believers and their households. This is the same pattern followed by Abraham when he was given the sign and seal of circumcision; he circumcised himself and his household.

Circumcision and Baptism represent the same thing

Abraham believed God’s covenantal promises and was justified by faith. Circumcision was given by God as an outward sign and seal of the righteousness that Abraham had by faith.

"And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:" (Romans 4:11)

Because the promise included Abraham and his elect seed, he applied the sign and seal not only to himself as an adult believer, but also to his children.

"This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you." (Genesis 17:10)

What Abraham believed was the Gospel given in the form of a covenant (Covenant of Grace).

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Galatians 3:8)

Abraham believed the Gospel message and was justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Circumcision was an outward sign and seal of that faith, yet he applied it to his infant children.  Why? Because of the nature of the promises. I will be a God to you and your seed. I will regenerate you and your seed. I will justify you and your seed, I will give the Holy Spirit to you and your seed.

Baptism is the new sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace.  It replaces circumcision. It is a bloodless sign. It also signifies the righteousness that is by faith. It also is applied to the believer and his seed (household).

"In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:11)

Children of believers are holy unto God

God considers the children of believers to be holy, set apart unto Him.

"But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth." (Malachi 2:15)

"Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter," (Ezekiel 16:20)

"For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass." (Ezra 9:2)

Paul repeats this truth and adds that only One Believing parent is required for the children of the household to be considered holy unto God or a godly offspring.

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." (1 Corinthians 7:14)

This does not mean they are necessary regenerated, it means they are separated unto God by their relationship to a believe parent and considered part of the visible Church.

Notice children of unbelievers are called by Paul “unclean”; they are not members of the visible Church

In baptizing their children, believers are acknowledging God’s promise to be God to them and their seed, that their seed is holy unto God, that they have an obligation to raise them unto the Lord. (“As for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15)

Believers and their Covenant Households

Through the Covenant of Grace, God promises to be a God to the adult believer and his seed.

A “Covenant Household” is a household in which one parent is a member in the visible Church

The children of a Covenant household are considered by God to be holy unto him, so they are to be raised in the faith.

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

"For I know him (Abraham), that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." (Genesis 18:19)

Both Joshua and Abraham raised their young children in the true faith.


The ordinance of Baptism does not regenerate nor guarantee that those to whom it has been applied are regenerated or even of the elect.  This applies to the adult as will has the infant.  We baptize those who meet the outward qualifications. The adult must make a credible profession of faith and commitment to obedience; the infant must be a child of one or more church members. Both the adult and child will then be trained unto the Lord. Time will tell if they are faithful or not to the Covenant of Grace to which they were sealed.  

"Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." (Romans 9:6-8)