WHY DID GOD WANT BAPTISM TO BE A REQUIREMENT AND WHAT WAS IT SEEN AS IN SOCIETY?
Well, first of all, baptism is required because that is what God said (Mk. 16:16). But, consider what society saw baptism for in the first century. Baptism, that is immersion, was a symbol of purification. This was required for Gentiles who converted to Judaism long before Jesus ever walked the earth . . . They were called proselytes. And, baptism was further known as the womb of the world and so, when a convert came out of the water it was considered a new birth separating him from the pagan world. His status was changed and he was referred to as "a little child just born" or "a child of one day." Well, this is confirmed in the New Testament using similar terms as “new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17) and “born anew” (Jn. 3:3, 7), referring to a life changing experience. Thus, water in baptism was not used to remove any physical uncleanness (1 Pet. 3:21), but rather as a rebirth.
And so, God wanted baptism to be a requirement because it is the only way to get into the death of Jesus (Rom. 6:3-4) by which that blood cleanses us from sin (Acts 22:16; 1 Jn. 1:7-9; Acts 2:38). Thus, people are baptized into Christ (Matt. 28:19). But, being baptized into a name isn’t literally possible, but that the into stands for the reality behind the name. A person's name was not simply the title by which he was known - it was, in essence, who he was. Remember, "baptism" means to be immersed into something so that you take on the characteristics of that which you were immersed into. And, for Christians, we take on the characteristics of Christ for as Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).