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«Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Even though baptism is one of the fundamental building blocks of ...»

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In conclusion, we have learned that the thief on the cross is a great example of God’s forgiveness, but his situation has nothing to do with us because he lived and died at a unique time before the new covenant was probated. We have learned that we are not saved by grace or faith alone, but that we accept God’s saving grace by having an obedient faith, which includes being baptized. Finally, we learned that Paul was not excluding baptism from the gospel, he was just saying that his primary mission was to preach the gospel because any Christian could administer it.


1. What are two possible reasons one of the thieves changed his attitude?

2. Could the thief be baptized with the baptism commanded by Jesus in The Great Commission?

3. Are we saved by grace alone?

4. When are we made alive with Christ?

5. Can we be saved by works of merit?

6. What is the difference between works of merit and works of obedience?

7. Explain why the gift of God is not faith in Ephesians 2:8.

8. What are some of things Paul taught about baptism?

9. Discus why Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel?”


The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, which was the common language of the first century. While the Word of God gives us the perfect definition of baptism and how it is to be done, we can learn more about this word by examining how other documents around that era used it. This information is found in various Lexicons in which Greek and Hebrew scholars have studied the Greek and Hebrew of other documents to give us a better idea of the meaning of words such as baptism. We need to keep in mind that these Lexicons are not infallible, and sometimes they will offer their own biased opinions. For instance, BDAG says: “Baptism by pouring is allowed in cases of necessity.” They suggest that pouring was sometimes used to baptize in certain situations. However, when we study the Scriptures, we will not find an example of pouring associated with baptism; so pouring under certain circumstances is a human invention. Besides, pouring has its own specific Greek words (ballo, epicheo), and they are never used to describe a person being baptized into Christ. Also, none of these Lexicons mention sprinkling as being associated with baptism, which has its own Greek word as well (rhantizo).

It is also important to understand that the translators of the Bible do not always translate a Greek word into its equivalent English word. Instead, they will transliterate it, which has been done with our word baptism. They took the Greek word baptisma and converted the Greek letters to the equivalent English letters and then dropped the last a. This transliteration gave us our new English word, baptism, which nearly every Bible translation uses. However, if our Greek word baptisma had been translated, it would have been rendered as immersion because that is what it means.

The reason it is important that we do a word study on baptism is that we cannot rely on the definition given for baptism in the English language. Some dictionaries state that sprinkling, pouring, or immersion are possible definitions for the word baptism, which does not agree with the original meaning from the Greek. So, why did we end up with a transliteration of baptisma instead of a translation? Edward Wharton offers

the following explanation:

How did we end up with a transliteration instead of a translation? It happened in England during the reign of King James, the son Mary, Queen of Scots. In A.D. 1604, during a conference of the clergy and bishops of the Church of England, King James ordered the Scriptures to be translated into the English language. Forty-seven (47) men of special learning were chosen from church-men, Puritans and scholars having no theological bias.

In A.D. 1611, these men produced what is called the “King James Version” of the Bible.

In that version there appeared, for the first time, a new English word - “BAPTISM.” This new word came into being because these forty-seven (47) scholars faced a problem. In the Koine Greek manuscripts was this word BAPTISMA which meant “TO IMMERSE.”

–  –  –

These scholars would not sacrifice their scholastic integrity by saying the word “BAPTISMA” meant “SPRINKLE.” That would make them the laughing stock of the world, they TRANSLITERATED the word by putting, in the text of the King James Bible, the English equivalent of the Greek alphabet.

Instead of the text reading: “…arise and be IMMERSED…” they wrote “…arize and be BAPTIZED…” And they did that in every place where the word or a form of the word, BAPTIZE, appeared in the original manuscripts. That is how we got our English word BAPTIZE and BAPTISM (84).

From that point forward, nearly every translation has continued to use the transliterated word baptism, which is unfortunate because all it does is add to the confusion of what baptism is all about.

There are two basic meanings of baptism.

First, it means to dip, plunge, immerse, or submerge someone or something. This is the way baptism is used most of the time in Scripture, and it is the only way it is used to refer to those who were being baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. There was several different types of baptisms, but when Paul wrote to the Ephesians, there was only one baptism that saved (Eph. 4:4-5), which was the same baptism commanded by Jesus (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16). We can know that one baptism consisted of water (Jn. 3:3-5; Acts 8:38;

10:47-48; 1 Pet. 3:20-21), and a person was fully immersed or buried in the water (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).

Second, it was used to show how someone can be overwhelmed in something. For example, Jesus referred to the suffering He would face at His death as a baptism (Mt. 20:22), and John used the term baptism with fire, which describes the eternal punishment that all unbelievers will suffer on the Day of Judgment (Lk. 3:16-17). To provide a more in-depth study

of the Greek word baptizo, I have provided the following excerpts from several well respected Lexicons:

Friberg Lexicon

4491 βαπτζω fut. βαπτίσω; 1aor. ἐβάπτισα, mid.

ἐβαπτισάµην; pf. pass. ptc. βεβαπτισµένος; 1aor. pass.

ἐβαπτίσθην; 1fut. pass. βαπτισθήσοµαι; strictly dip, immerse in water; middle dip oneself, wash; in the NT predominately of the use of water in a religious and symbolic sense; (1) of Jewish ritual washings wash, cleanse, purify by washing (MK 7.4); (2) as a symbolic rite indicating an aspect of relation to Christ; (a) of John the Baptist's preparatory baptizing with water baptize (MT 3.6); (b) of Jesus' transitional baptizing with water (JN 3.22); (c) of Christian baptism with water, identifying a believer with the death of Christ (AC 2.41; RO 6.3); (3) figuratively, in reference to ideas associated with baptism, as an act of commitment and identification; with Moses (1C 10.2); of receiving the Holy Spirit (MT 3.11b); of trial and martyrdom (LU 12.50) BDAG Lexicon 1400 βαπτίζω

• βαπτίζω …In Gk. lit. gener. to put or go under water in a variety of senses, also fig., e.g. ‘soak’ Pla., Symp. 176b in wine) in our lit. only in ritual or ceremonial sense …

1. wash ceremonially for purpose of purification, wash, purify, of a broad range of repeated ritual washing rooted in Israelite tradition (cp. Just., D. 46, 2) Mk 7:4; Lk 11:38;

… The Law of Purification in Mk 7:1-23 …

2. to use water in a rite for purpose of renewing or establishing a relationship w. God, plunge, dip, wash, baptize. The transliteration ‘baptize’ signifies the ceremonial character that NT narratives accord such cleansing, but the need of qualifying statements or contextual coloring in the documents indicates that the term β. was not nearly so technical as the transliteration suggests.

a. of dedicatory cleansing associated w. the ministry of John the Baptist (Orig., C. Cels. 1, 47, 4), abs. J 1:25, 28;

3:23a; 10:40; hence John is called ὁ βαπτίζων Mk 1:4;

6:14, 24 … Pass. Mt 3:16; ISm 1:1; oft. have oneself baptized, get baptized Mt 3:13f; Lk 3:7, 12, 21; 7:30; J 3:23b; … w. water Mk 1:8a; Lk 3:16a; Ac 1:5a; 11:16a;

… W. the external element and purpose given ἐν ὕδατι εἰς µετάνοιαν Mt 3:11a (AOliver, Is β. used w. ἐν and the Instrumental?: RevExp 35, ’38, 190-97).—βαπτίζεσθαι τὸ βάπτισµα Ἰωάννου undergo John’s baptism Lk 7:29. εἰς τί ἐβαπτίσθητε; Ac 19:3 means, as the answer shows, in reference to what (baptism) were you baptized? i.e. what kind of baptism did you receive (as the context indicates, John’s baptism was designed to implement repentance as a necessary stage for the reception of Jesus; with the arrival of Jesus the next stage was the receipt of the Holy Spirit in connection with apostolic baptism in the name of Jesus, who was no longer the ‘coming one’, but the arrived ‘Lord’)? β. βάπτισµα µετανοίας administer a repentance baptism vs. 4; GEb 13, 74.—S. the lit. on Ἰωάν(ν)ης 1, and on the baptism of Jesus by John … b. of cleansing performed by Jesus J 3:22, 26; 4:1; difft.

4:2 with disclaimer of baptismal activity by Jesus personally.

c. of the Christian sacrament of initiation after Jesus’ death (freq. pass.; s. above 2a; Iren. 3, 12, 9 [Harv. II 63, 3]) Mk 16:16; Ac 2:41; 8:12f, 36, 38; 9:18; 10:47; 16:15, 33;

18:8; 22:16; 1 Cor 1:14-17; D 7 (where baptism by pouring is allowed in cases of necessity); ISm 8:2.—β. τινὰ εἰς (τὸ) ὄνοµά τινος (s. ὄνοµα 1dγb) baptize in or w.

respect to the name of someone: (τοῦ) κυρίου Ac 8:16;

19:5; D 9:5; Hv 3, 7, 3. Cp. 1 Cor 1:13, 15. εἰς τ. ὄν. τ.

πατρὸς καὶ τ. υἱοῦ καὶ τ. ἁγίου πνεύµατος Mt 28:19 … Ac 2:38 text; more briefly εἰς Χριστόν Gal 3:27; Ro 6:3a. To be baptized εἰς Χρ. is for Paul an involvement in Christ’s death and its implications for the believer … The effect of baptism is to bring all those baptized εἰς ἓν σῶµα 1 Cor 12:13 (perh. wordplay: ‘plunged into one body’).—W. the purpose given εἰς ἄφεσιν τ. ἁµαρτιῶν Ac 2:38 … many believe that by being received into the mysteries by the rites (τελεταί) they become more devout, more just, and better in every way.—ὑπὲρ τ. νεκρῶν 1 Cor 15:29a, s. also vs. 29b, is obscure because of our limited knowledge of a practice that was evidently obvious to the recipients of Paul’s letter; it has been interpr. (1) in place of the dead, i.e. vicariously; (2) for the benefit of the dead, in var.

senses; (3) locally, over (the graves of) the dead; (4) on account of the dead, infl. by their good ex.; of these the last two are the least probable… On the substitution of a ceremony by another person cp. Diod. S. 4, 24, 5: the boys who do not perform the customary sacrifices lose their voices and become as dead persons in the sacred precinct.

When someone takes a vow to make the sacrifice for them, their trouble disappears at once.

3. to cause someone to have an extraordinary experience akin to an initiatory water-rite, to plunge, baptize. Cp. ‘take the plunge’ and s. OED ‘Plunge’ II 5 esp.

for the rendering of usage 3c, below.

a. typologically of Israel’s passage through the Red Sea εἰς τὸν Μωϋσῆν ἐβαπτίσαντο they got themselves plunged/ baptized for Moses, thereby affirming his leadership 1 Cor 10:2 v.l. (if the pass. ἐβαπτίσθησαν is to be read with N.

the point remains the same; but the mid. form puts the onus, as indicated by the context, on the Israelites).

b. of the Holy Spirit (fire) b. tina. $evn% pneu,mati a`gi,w| Mk 1:8 (v.l. + evn); J 1:33; Ac 1:5b; 11:16b; cp. 1 Cor 12:13 (cp. Just., D. 29, 1). evn pn. a`g. kai. puri, Mt 3:11b; Lk 3:16b (JDunn, NovT 14, ’72, 81-92). On the oxymoron of baptism w. fire: REisler, Orphisch-dionysische Mysterienged. in d. christl. Antike: Vortr. d. Bibl. Warburg II/2, 1925, 139ff; CEdsman, Le baptême de feu (ASNU 9) ’40. JATRobinson, The Baptism of John and Qumran, HTR 50, ’57, 175-91; cp. 1QS 4:20f.

c. of martyrdom … ‘overwhelmed by debts’ …‘he drowned the city in misery’ …; Mk 10:38 (perh. the stark metaph. of impending personal disaster is to be rendered, ‘are you prepared to be drowned the way I’m going to be drowned?’); cp. vs. 39; Mt 20:22 v.l.; in striking contrast to fire Lk 12:50 …

Thayer’s Lexicon

948 bapti,zw bapti,zw (imperfect evbaptizon); future bapti,sw; 1 aorist w;

evba,ptisa; passive (present bapti,zomai); imperfect evbaptizomhn; perfect participle bebaptismenoj; 1 aorist evbapti,sqhn; 1 future baptisqh,somai; 1 aorist middle evbaptisamhn; (frequent. (?) from ba,ptw, like balli,zw from ba,llw); here and there in Plato, Polybius, Diodorus, Strabo, Josephus, Plutarch, others.


1. properly, to dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge (of vessels sunk, Polybius 1, 51, 6; 8, 8, 4; of animals, Diodorus 1, 36).

2. to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water; in the middle and the 1 aorist passive to wash oneself, bathe; so Mark 7:4 (where WH text rvantiswntai); Luke 11:38 (2 Kings 5:14 evbapti,sato evn tw/| Iorda,nh|, for lb;j'; Sir. 31:30 (Sir. 34:30; Judith 12:7).

3. metaphorically, to overwhelm, as ivdiwtaj tai/j evisforaij, Diodorus 1, 73; ovflhmasi, Plutarch, Galba 21;

th/| sumfora, bebaptismenoj, Heliodorus Aeth. 2, 3; and

alone, to inflict great and abounding calamities on one:

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