In a recent internet exchange, one of the Baptists raised their go-to objection, demanding book, chapter, and verse for a command to baptize infants.
It strikes me that this question has things exactly backwards. The apostolic writings assume the churches are familiar with the washing/baptism rituals of Israel.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings [literally “baptisms”], the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. (Heb. 6:1-3)
Repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection, and judgment are elementary doctrines. Among other things, new Christians would be taught about the washings and hand impositions associated with the Levitical sacrifices and clean/unclean regulations, which serve as the big print, colorfully illustrated, beginner books of worship and the approach to God.
In all of Israel’s experience, children were always included. There was no entry age restriction for eating Passover. Infants were among the host of Israel baptized in the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10). They all drank water from the rock. They all ate manna, the bread from heaven. And, every time the circumstance applied, they were washed/baptized in the cleanliness rituals:
- Infants and small children would have eaten at the family table and then all would have baptized afterwards when the meal was a lamb from the flock killed by, and recovered from a wild beast. (Lev. 17.15)
- Infants and small children would be routinely baptized for normal household contact with furniture mom or older sister used during her period, or dad in a time of a bodily discharge. (Lev. 14 and 15)
- Infants and small children would be baptized on the occasion of a family death, if they happened to be inside at the time of death. (Number 19.14ff)
So on the day of Pentecost when Peter told the people to repent and be baptized, and that this promise “is for you and your children,” nobody would imagine any kind of age or maturity test. (And by the way: where does the Bible require a maturity test for anyone, anywhere, for anything? The “age of accountability” is a man-made doctrine.) In fact, if the apostles meant for there to be an age/maturity test, they would have had to do a lot of teaching to explain such a big change.
In the mind of scripture, the question is not “where do the apostles explicitly say to baptize infants?” The question instead is, “Where is the book, chapter, and verse that explains why we are to STOP including the entire household?”