Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Ethical/On Baptism/XIX

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Ethical, On Baptism by Tertullian, translated by Sydney Thelwall

Chapter XIX.—Of the Times Most Suitable for Baptism.

The Passover affords a more than usually solemn day for baptism; when, withal, the Lord’s passion, in which we are baptized, was completed. Nor will it be incongruous to interpret figuratively the fact that, when the Lord was about to celebrate the last Passover, He said to the disciples who were sent to make preparation, “Ye will meet a man bearing water.”[1] He points out the place for celebrating the Passover by the sign of water. After that, Pentecost is a most joyous space[2] for conferring baptisms;[3] wherein, too, the resurrection of the Lord was repeatedly proved[4] among the disciples, and the hope of the advent of the Lord indirectly pointed to, in that, at that time, when He had been received back into the heavens, the angels[5] told the apostles that “He would so come, as He had withal ascended into the heavens;”[6] at Pentecost, of course. But, moreover, when Jeremiah says, “And I will gather them together from the extremities of the land in the feast-day,” he signifies the day of the Passover and of Pentecost, which is properly a “feast-day.”[7] However, every day is the Lord’s; every hour, every time, is apt for baptism: if there is a difference in the solemnity, distinction there is none in the grace.


  1. Mark xiv. 13; Luke xxii. 10, “a small earthen pitcher of water.”
  2. [He means the whole fifty days from the Paschal Feast till Pentecost, including the latter. Bunsen Hippol. III. 18.]
  3. Lavacris.
  4. Frequentata, i.e. by His frequent appearance. See Acts i. 3, δι᾽ ἡμερῶν τεσσαράκοντα ὀπτανόμενος αὐτοῖς.
  5. Comp. Acts i. 10 and Luke ix. 30: in each place St. Luke says, ἄνδρες δύο: as also in xxiv. 4 of his Gospel.
  6. Acts i. 10, 11; but it is οὐρανόν throughout in the Greek.
  7. Jer. xxxi. 8, xxxviii. 8 in LXX., where ἐν ἑορτῇ φασέκ is found, which is not in the English version.