As has been shown, great emphasis is placed throughout the Old Testament on covenant children and their position and relationship with God from the beginning of their lives. Given this fact, and the general continuity between the covenants demonstrated in the previous post, it would take a strong statement from the New Testament to make clear to the earliest Christians (predominantly Jews) that their children had been removed from the covenant, and were no longer looked upon with favor by God. This is why arguments from silence, which are typically taken to favor the argument for believer’s baptism, actually favor the argument for infant baptism! With NO New Testament data concerning covenant children, the sheer weight of the Old Testament evidence would push one towards the belief that children should still be included in God’s covenant. However, we need not argue from silence. The New Testament speaks of children, and while no explicit command for baptism is given, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the children of the church are still to be included in God’s covenant with their parents.
Let’s begin our investigation of the New Testament passages on covenant children with a brief look at the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise to God soon after the announcement of Jesus’s coming birth. The complete text is Luke 1:46-56, and of particular interest is verses 49-50 and 54-55:
Luke 1:49-50, 54-55 49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.
54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his seed forever.”
Mary, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, calls to mind God’s faithfulness to His generational promises. Verses 50 in particular draws off of Psalm 103, of which verses 17-18 are quoted in Part 3 of this series: “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.” Does it then make sense that the Savior, the “help” that is coming to Israel is coming with a primary purpose of establishing a community in which the generational aspect of God’s covenant has been abrogated?
Over the next few posts, we will look at further New Testament passages that support the arguments for infant baptism.