Water baptism has become an accepted event by all Christian sects and groups. It is considered an ordinance of church and one of the steps to salvation.
But it is also worthy of note that there is a prescribed methodology for performing water baptism as vividly seen in the Bible. Sadly, there is a form of disunity existing in Christendom over the right way to do water baptism.
This disunity has split the Body of Christ into two groups. The first believe that water baptism can be administered by sprinkling water over a person. The other group hold that water baptism is only valid when the person being baptized is completely immersed in water.
Fortunately for us all, the word of God does not leave us in the dark as to what baptism in water is about and how it ought to be performed. So in order to get accurate perspectives about water baptism and its administration, we would search the scriptures.
It will interest you to know that there is no where water baptism was specified in the Bible to be done by sprinkling. All of the places where water baptism is recorded in the Bible indicates an immersion and not sprinkling of water.
One important pointer to note is the Greek word translated "baptize". It actually means to immerse or to dip under water and as your rightly know, the New testament was written in Greek.
This point is important because when we want to get the exact meaning of a word translated from another language, we check out its meaning from the root language.
From the actual meaning of the word baptism in the original Greek rendition, we see that sprinkling is not captured as a method of administering water baptism but immersion.
Furthermore, if we look at the ministry of John the Baptist, we would see some very interesting stuff. First of all, the word "baptist" in the original Greek rendition means "immerser" "dipper" or "plunger". From the name given to him you already see that John was not a water sprinkler but a water dipper, immerser, or plunger.
John carried out his ministry of baptizing people "in the Jordan river" as revealed in Matthew 3:6
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
He did not sprinkle water on the people else there would be no need to take them into the river Jordan. We see this vividly expressed when John baptized Jesus in verse 16
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
Notice that it is clearly spelt out that Jesus went "out of the water" indicative of the fact that He actually went "into the water". If John sprinkled water on Jesus then scriptures will not record that Jesus went in and out of the water as there would be no need to go into the water.
John clearly baptized Jesus in the Jordan river by immersing Him in the water and when Jesus came out of the water the heavens were opened.
For further analysis on this matter, let's look at the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. The Bible records in verse 36 that on getting to a body of water, the eunuch asked Philip "See, here is water; what hinders me from being baptized?" (Paraphrased).
Philip told him only if he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and after declaring his believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eunuch and Philip "went down both into the water" (Acts 8:38).
Philip conducted the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in the water not by sprinkling it on him. They would not go down into the water if sprinkling was all they would do. By standing by the bank of the water they could carry out sprinkling but since it was going to be an immersion which it was, they went into the water.
Water baptism according to the Bible is practically the immersion of people in water and not sprinkling. Sprinkling water over a person does not get him or her baptized. It is this activity that brought up the issue of Rebaptism.
For water baptism to be according to the pattern followed by Jesus, used by John the Baptist, and observed by the early church, it must be administered by complete immersion into a body of water.
It is unscriptural to claim that water baptism can be done by sprinkling water over a person – except we find scriptures which clearly shows that sprinkling is the methodology for baptism.
Another salient point which validates that immersion is the right means of administering water baptism is in one of the significances of water baptism.
Water baptism is significant of partaking in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The process of immersion in water identifies us with the death of Christ. Whe we come out of the water, it is a typology of the resurrection of Christ.
This is what Apostle Paul related to both the Romans and Colossians
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. – Colossians 2:12
We are buried in Him and we rise in Him through the ordinance of water baptism. It is our means of partaking in the death and resurrection of Jesus and sprinkling water does not touch this very important significance.
The significances of water baptism can only be actualized by immersion not sprinkling. As we have seen in scriptures: the ministry of John the Baptist, the pattern followed in the baptismal service of Jesus our pattern man, and the adminstration of water baptism in the early church, water baptism is carried out by immersion in water.
Until it can be scripturally-proven, sprinkling is not a way to carry out baptism and if you have been baptized by the sprinkling of water then you would need to undergo Rebaptism to be baptized according to Biblical standards.