In Christianity, most denominational groupings consider baptism an important ritual to manifest a person’s commitment to the new way of life. But to whom would the person be manifesting that reality? John is attributed for water baptism, as recorded in the Bible.
But John specifically stated that Jesus would not use a similar method to baptize the converts (Matthew 3:11). This viewpoint should also address the question of whether Jesus specifically instructed His disciples to use water baptism.
There is no record of Jesus ever baptizing anyone of His disciples. Some of those disciples may have been baptized by John, before Jesus. However, there is no record showing that Jesus considered their baptismal record, before calling them into His ministry.
For instance, Matthew was a tax collector, who may have not been a convert to John’s preaching. Similarly, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were businessmen, engaged in fishing, without time to attend to John’s baptismal ministry.
Baptism was adopted as a tradition, commonly practised, as having been initiated by John. It can, therefore, not be surprising that the disciples viewed water baptism as necessary for the converts. But the only well-pronounced water baptism was by Philip when baptising the Eunuch. Although the consideration of baptism was initiated by the Eunuch, Himself, and not by Philip.
As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea (Acts 8:36-40 NIV).
The Eunuch may have been familiar with the baptism of John. He knew that a person having accepted conversion needed to follow the tradition of baptism. Philip complied, possibly as a matter of tradition, and not necessarily as a matter of principle. Paul also showed that the tradition was commonly practised without showing how it was conducted.
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 13-17 NIV).
Jesus instructed the apostles to teach others, everything He had commanded. We have a clue of what Jesus commanded them, as recorded in the four Gospel Books, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. But the baptismal method remains not clarified.