John Owen on Infant Baptism and Covenant

At this time I am not a pedobaptist, however I haven’t looked into it at length, and my view on this could be altered. It hasn’t been a major interest of mine. We have no children, and therefore no grandchildren. Not that it isn’t an important issue, because it involves things like covenant.

For those who haven’t looked into this at all and wonder how that whole thing works, here is a quote by John Owen from his commentary on Hebrews from a post titled John Owen was never a Baptist by Lee Gatiss.

Infants are in the covenant, were baptised in apostolical times, and should be now.
“For whereas there were two sorts of persons that were baptized, namely, those that were adult at their first hearing of the gospel, and the infant children of believers, who were admitted to be members of the church; the first sort were instructed in the principles mentioned before they were admitted unto baptism, by the profession whereof they laid the foundation of their own personal right thereunto; but the other, being received as a part and branches of a family whereupon the blessing of Abraham was come, and to whom the promise of the covenant was extended, being thereon baptized in their infancy, were to be instructed in them as they grew up unto years of understanding. Afterwards, when they were established in the knowledge of these necessary truths, and had resolved on personal obedience unto the gospel, they were offered unto the fellowship of the faithful. And hereon, giving the same account of their faith and repentance which others had done before they were baptized, they were admitted into the communion of the church, the elders thereof laying their hands on them in token of their acceptation, and praying for their confirmation in the faith. Hence the same doctrines became previously necessary unto both these rites;–before baptism to them that were adult; and towards them who were baptized in infancy, before the imposition of hands. And I do acknowledge that this was the state of things in the apostolical churches, and that it ought to be so in all others.” Hebrews vol 5:58

– See more at: John Owen was never a Baptist – Reformation21 Blog

2 Responses to “John Owen on Infant Baptism and Covenant”


  1. 1 Gary Zimmerli

    I am a paedo-baptist by default, as a lifelong Methodist. I understand the Baptists’ point of view, and have little problem with it. But I have seen and have experienced, that God does indeed work in and through families, and the children of His beloved people have a special place in His heart. I don’t believe they are saved by being baptized any more than the rest of us, but the baptism of the infant is the outward and visible sign of the parent’s dedication of the child to God, and possibly the same outward and visible sign of God’s favor towards that child, because of the parents’ faith.

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    I can understand that point of view now. My own situation is similar in a way. Although I was baptized Catholic, and went to Wed night classes, I don’t think we were ever given a Bible lesson, told to read the Bible or had the gospel explained. But I did know about and “believe” in God until I was saved at 19. So just as much as Baptism, I think God works in the elect until they’re saved. Obviously everybody’s situation is different, and God just barely keeps some alive until they’re born again. But because it was so obvious in my situation, I can see how ‘being members (or part of) the church’, or in my case, being of the elect, can be an advantage. I can’t think of a better term than advantage at this late hour, but you know what I mean. What’s the advantage (works better this time) in Baptism over being of the elect other than catechesis?
    Jeff

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