The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper were instituted by Jesus Christ as signs and seals of the covenant. They explain the basis of this covenant and apply its benefits to believers. They replace circumcision and the Passover which were the sacraments of the old covenant.
The sacraments as signs of the new covenant
BaptismMt 28:19Baptism is one sign of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. See alsoAc 2:38,41
The sacraments as a participation in the body of Christ
BaptismGal 3:27In the NT baptism immediately follows conversion and testifies to the individual’s union with Christ. See alsoRo 6:3
The Lord’s Supper1Co 10:16-17The “body of Christ” is a term which goes beyond Jesus Christ to the church. Those who partake of the bread in this way are declaring their membership of the church. See alsoMt 26:26 pp Mk 14:22 pp Lk 22:19 pp 1Co 11:24; Jn 6:32-35,48 Jesus Christ likens himself to bread as he is the source of spiritual life and nourishment; Jn 6:50-58 The believer who eats the bread of the Lord’s Supper is renewing his or her dependence on Jesus Christ for spiritual life.
The sacraments as a participation in the death of Christ
BaptismRo 6:3-4Through baptism individuals declare that they have applied to themselves the death of Jesus Christ which atones for sin. See alsoAc 2:38; Ac 22:16 Baptism does not accomplish the cleansing from sin but it is the outward sign that this has taken place by faith; Ro 6:5-7; Col 2:12; Tit 3:5; 1Pe 3:21
CircumcisionAc 7:8Circumcision was the initiation rite under the old covenant. See alsoGe 17:10-14; Ro 2:28-29 Circumcision was never meant as merely an outward rite. To be effective it required a right attitude of heart; Ro 4:10-11 Circumcision was the seal of Abraham’s righteousness imputed to him by his faith; Col 2:11-12 Circumcision has now been superseded by baptism for the Christian as the rite of initiation.
The PassoverEx 12:25-27The Passover meal was instituted as a regular commemoration of Israel’s redemption from slavery in Egypt. See alsoLk 22:15-16 The death of Jesus Christ is closely associated with the Passover by its timing and meaning. The Lord’s Supper has superseded the Passover as the corporate meal commemorating the act of redemption; 1Co 5:7
Dictionary of Bible Themes Scripture index copyright Martin H. Manser, 2009. As Editor, Martin Manser wishes to thank all those who compiled or edited the NIV Thematic Study Bible, on which this work is based.