More Information
ISBN: 9781839732348
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 15
Publication Date: 14/10/2022
Pages: 272
Series: Studies in New Testament
Language: English

Baptism as an Event of Taking Responsibility

A New Reading of Romans 5:12 to 6:23


For those whose context is rich with cultural and communal rites of passage, how does the church ensure that baptism is not just another ritual, but is understood to be a deliberate participation of a Christian in an event that brings decisive change into the new life that Christ brings?

In this in-depth study, Dr. Pontien Ndagijimana Batibuka explores afresh Paul’s teaching on baptism demonstrating that it encompasses both divine intervention and human action, rather than simply being about an action of Christ. Readers are invited to re-examine Romans 5:12–6:23 through a socio-religious lens rather than the christological reading that has historically prevailed. Through Dr. Batibuka’s skilful exploration of the stages of initiation in antiquity he argues the importance of Christians actively taking responsibility for their baptism, while further shedding light on the interaction of both the divine and human roles. Baptism is more than a ritual done to a passive candidate, it is an event in which the believer personally decides for, and pledges allegiance to, Jesus Christ.

Author Bios

Pontien Ndagijimana Batibuka

PONTIEN NDAGIJIMANA BATIBUKA has a PhD in Pauline Theology from London School of Theology, UK. He is a professor of New Testament studies and the Library Director at Shalom University of Bunia, DRC. Dr. Batibuka co-founded the NGO, PROREV (The Program of Empowering People Made Vulnerable by War) in 2019 for which he also serves as coordinator. He is married to Bernadette and they are blessed with five children and five grandchildren.


Dr. Batibuka shows us how far we are removed today from the early church when one’s baptism was understood as the most important and maybe the most frightening experience of one’s life. This book should be carefully read, discussed and contextualized by African theologians to help the church recapture what it has lost: the true meaning of baptism.

Bungishabaku Katho, PhD
Dean, Graduate School at Shalom University of Bunia,
Senior Researcher, Centre de Recherche Multidisciplinaire pour le Développement de Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pontien Batibuka adds a significant element to the debate about Christian baptism. He addresses the instrumentality of baptism in the context of process which generally concludes with the initiatory claims of Christ of baptism as a spiritual transition from death to life.

Raymond Potgieter, PhD
Senior Research Professor Systematic Theology and Apologetics,
North West University, South Africa

Paul’s understanding of baptism is much debated, including whether baptism is divine or human action. Dr. Batibuka offers a fresh approach to the question through a fourfold model of initiation drawn from the ancient world: an encounter with the divine, a break with the old way of life and attachment to the new, a public ceremony of transfer, and a commitment to a new way of life. The application of this model to Paul’s own conversion and to Romans 5–6 is thoughtful and engaging, drawing on a wide range of scholarship. It is particularly good to see Francophone scholarship well represented.

Steve Walton, PhD
Professor of New Testament,
Trinity College, Bristol, UK

In this fascinating study, Dr. Pontien Batibuka analyses Romans 5:12-6:23 as a multi-faceted account of Christian initiation. By comparing this with ancient Graeco-Roman and Jewish initiation processes, and with Paul’s own experience, Batibuka very effectively brings out four stages of Christian initiation: encounter with God, death to the old self, identification with Christ in baptism, and the move into the new, committed life. This study offers enlightening food for thought, both for those interpreting Romans and for those considering the pattern of initiation in churches today.

Peter Oakes PhD
Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis,
University of Manchester, UK

Table of Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Abbreviations
  3. Foreword
  4. Chapter One Baptism in Romans 6 and the Idea of Taking Action
    1. The Research Question
    2. On Methodology
      1. Action is Not Always Physical: “Speech-Act Theory”
      2. Socio-Religious Approach to Romans 5:12–6:23
    3. Structure
    4. Two Presuppositions on Romans 5:12–6:23
      1. Romans 5:12–6:23: A Pericope on Transition and Action
      2. Baptism in Romans 6: Initiation as the Meaning
    5. Literature Survey: Action in Baptism, an Overlooked Aspect
      1. The Baptismal Candidate Considered as Passive
      2. Hints at Baptism as a Time of Action
    6. Conclusion
  5. Chapter Two The Four Stages of Entry into the New Life in Paul’s Time
    1. Introduction
      1. Ethnic Origin of Believers in Rome
      2. Relevant Religious Settings and Structure of Chapter Two
    2. The Four Stages and the Mysteries
    3. The Four Stages and State Religions
      1. Initiation to Adulthood
      2. Entry into Marriage
    4. The Four Stages in Jewish Context
      1. Proselytes’ Entry in Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism
      2. Entry into the Qumran Community
    5. Summary
  6. Chapter Three Paul’s Conversion and the Four Stages of Entry
    1. Introduction
    2. Methodological Issues in Connection with Paul’s Conversion
    3. God’s Light and Glory Given to Paul (Stage One)
    4. Blind But Fasting and Praying (Stage Two)
    5. Sealing Attachment to the New Way: Baptism (Stage Three)
    6. The After-Entry Life Anticipated in the Entry Process (Stage Four)
    7. Summary
  7. Chapter Four The Four Stages and Action in Romans 5:12–6:23
    1. Introduction
    2. Divine Action at the First Stage: ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι . . . Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐπερίσσευσεν (5:15)
    3. Second Stage Action: Death to the Old Way of Life (ἀπεθάνομεν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, 6:1–2)
      1. Stating the Issue
      2. Death to Sin and the Initiatory Act of Breaking with the Old Way
    4. Third Stage Action: The Ritual of Baptism, Sealing the Rejection of the Old and the Bond with the New (6:3–4)
    5. Fourth Stage: The After-Entry Life Embraced in the Transition Process
      1. βασιλεύσουσιν (5:17) and Initiatory Future in Romans 5:12–6:23
      2. Διὰ δικαιοσύνης (5:21): Forensic, or the Initiate’s Righteous Life?
      3. Walking in the New Existence (ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς περιπατήσωμεν, 6:4–5)
      4. Serving the New Existence: The Slave Motif (6:6, 13–22)
    6. Summary
  8. Chapter Five Conclusion
    1. Summary of Findings
      1. The Rite that Seals Entry, a Time for Action: Chapters Two and Three
      2. Baptism in Romans 6: A Time for Action
    2. Suggestions for Further Research
    3. Achievement
  9. Bibliography
    1. Books and Articles
    2. Intertestamental, Greco-Roman, Rabbinic and Early Christian Writings
    3. Reference Books