It is written:
“Aaron will wash his whole body with water and put on the special clothes. He will put on the linen underwear next to his body, the linen robe, the linen belt, and then he will put the linen turban on his head.” (Leviticus 16:4)
Outside of the Tabernacle, there was something called the laver. It was used for ceremonial washing of the priests before they engaged in their priestly duties. Sometimes, the laver was used for fully body washing; other times, it was used for partial washing. The same word came to have reference also to the bath a woman took before entering into marriage.
In Paul’s writings, he pointed out that baptism was prefigured by the laver. He writes:
Ephesians 5:26-He died to make the church holy. He used the telling of the Good News to make the church clean by washing (Greek: λουτρόν-laver) it with water.
One second century Christian named Marius Victorinus said of this passage:
“Here we take “the church” to mean every believer and everyone who has received baptism. The believer is brought to faith by the washing in water and the invocation of the Word.” (Epistle to the Ephesians 2.5.25-26. [BT 1972:197 [1287C-D].])
Recently, brother Everett Ferguson wrote an eye-opening volume on the subject of baptism in the early church. Speaking on this passage, he writes:
“There is very likely a reference to baptism in 5: 26. Christ gave himself up for the church “in order that he might sanctify her, purifying her by the washing [τ λoυτρ, bath] of water with the word [ἐν ῥήματι].” The context compares the relations of husbands and wives with the relations of Christ and the church. In view of this marriage context elements of a wedding ceremony that could be related to Christian practice are likely being drawn on. The bride took a bath before the wedding, hence the reference to a washing expressly said to be in water, which would parallel the baptism of Christ’s “bride,” the church, taking place in the conversion of each of its members. There was also a wedding contract, an exchange of vows, hence the reference to a “word.”” (Everett Ferguson, Baptism In The Early Church: History, Theology, And Liturgy In The First Five Centuries, 3503-3509 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
Ferguson goes on to elaborate that the “word” spoken in the passage is most likely a reference to the “good confession,” quoting Augustine who applies Romans 10:8-10 to the confession made at the time of baptism.
The laver is symbolic of the washing that we undergo when we are baptized into Christ. Just as the priest could not enter into his priestly service without this washing in the laver, so we cannot enter into the Presence of God without receiving the washing of water by the Word. Little wonder then that every passage in the New Testament which mentions baptism and salvation always states that the believer is not saved until he is baptized (cf. Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 5:26; Colossians 2:11-14; Hebrews 10:22; Titus 3:5-8; 1 Peter 3:20-21).
Have you been baptized into Christ?