On Baptism, Against The Donatists

The Seven Books of Augustin, Bishop of Hippo, On Baptism, Against the Donatists

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

to perfection, as He washed the feet of His servants,1483 so was He willing to be baptized with the
baptism of a servant.1484 For as He set Himself to minister to the feet of those whose guide He was
Himself, so He submitted Himself to the gift of John which He Himself had given, that all might
understand what sacrilegious arrogance they would show in despising the baptism which they ought
each of them to receive from the Lord, when the Lord Himself accepted what He Himself had
bestowed upon a servant, that he might give it as his own; and that when John, than whom no
greater had arisen among them that are born of women,1485 bore such testimony to Christ, as to
confess that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe,1486 Christ might both, by receiving
his baptism, be found to be the humblest among men, and, by taking away the place for the baptism
of John, be believed to be the most high God, at once the teacher of humility and the giver of
11. For to none of the prophets, to no one at all in holy Scripture, do we read that it was granted
to baptize in the water of repentance for the remission of sins, as it was granted to John; that, causing
the hearts of the people to hang upon him through this marvellous grace, he might prepare in them
the way for Him whom he declared to be so infinitely greater than himself. But the Lord Jesus
Christ cleanses His Church by such a baptism that on receiving it no other is required; while John
gave a first washing with such a baptism that on receiving it there was further need of the baptism
of the Lord,—not that the first baptism should be repeated, but that the baptism of Christ, for whom
he was preparing the way, might be further bestowed on those who had received the baptism of
John. For if Christ’s humility were not to be commended to our notice, neither would there be any
need of the baptism of John; again, if the end were in John, after his baptism there would be no
need of the baptism of Christ. But because "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every
one that believeth,"1487 it was shown by John to whom men should go, and in whom, when they had
reached Him, they should rest. The same, John, therefore, set forth both the exalted nature of the
Lord, when he placed Him far before himself, and His humility, when he baptized Him as the lowest
of the people. But if John had baptized Christ alone, he would be thought to have been the dispenser
of a better baptism, in that with which Christ alone was baptized, than the baptism of Christ with
which Christians are baptized; and again, if all ought to be baptized first with the baptism of John,
and then with that of Christ, the baptism of Christ would deservedly seem to be lacking in fullness
and perfection, as not sufficing for salvation. Wherefore the Lord was baptized with the baptism
of John, that He might bend the proud necks of men to His own health-giving baptism; and He was


John xiii. 4, 5.


Matt. iii. 13.


Matt. xi. 11.


John i. 27.


Rom. x. 4.