Whenever anyone is arguing against the importance of baptism the thief on the cross next to Jesus is brought up. They say, “what about the thief?” he was not baptized.
Well, the truth is, we don’t know if he was baptized or not. John was baptizing for a long time before the thief went to the cross. Mark 1:5 (NIV) says, The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. So it is quite possible the thief was baptized.
There is more about the thief that can be surmised, but it can not be said, with certainty, that the thief was not baptized, because we are not told, one way, or the other. The man who says that the thief was not baptized has only a 50% chance of being correct.
What else can be surmised about the thief, you ask? Well, Jesus came to save the lost sheep of Israel first. When Jesus sent the twelve apostles out, with authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease, He told them not to go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans (Mat.10:5). Gentiles were not spoken to until Jesus appointed Paul (except the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15). Because the thief on the cross was the very first person that Jesus saved we can surmise that he was an Israelite. Which means he probably was baptized, because he would have been one of those who were part of the whole Judean countryside and all of the people of Jerusalem spoken of in Mark chapter one, verse five. Taking this into account we have a better than 50% chance that the thief was baptized.
After all of this surmising I am sure the thief was baptized because of Luke 7:29&30 (NIV), (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) You see that the thief acknowledged God’s way is right when he admitted he was being punished justly and that Jesus had done nothing wrong and he did not reject God’s purpose for himself, because he ask Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. He could not have done this unless he had been baptized.