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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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Unto the remission of your sins (eis aphesin tôn hamartiôn hûmôn). This phrase is the subject of endless controversy as men look at it from the standpoint of sacramental or of evangelical theology… One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission. So I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had already received (Robertson).

He is saying, instead of relying on the grammar of this verse, or the meaning of the word eis, we have to decide what it means based on our theology whether baptism is for or because of the remission of sins. Mr. Robertson also associates repentance with turning to the Lord, but this is not the case.

To prove my point, I want to show that turning to the Lord is equivalent to being saved and added to the Lord.

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord (Acts 11:21).

When the Christians spread out because of Stephen’s death, they went out and successfully proclaimed God’s Word everywhere they went. Luke teaches that a great number believed and turned to the Lord. In the last part of this passage, we can see that turning to the Lord is equivalent to being added to the Lord. However, the word believed is an aorist participle, which means it takes place before the main verb turned. These verses show that turning to the Lord is equal to being saved, and belief happens before one turns to the Lord, which clearly shows that something more than belief must occur before one can be saved.

But declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance (Acts 26:20, ESV).

Notice, they had to repent and turn to God, which means that repentance is something different than turning to God.

We have learned that both belief and repentance are not equivalent to turning to the Lord. So, when does a person turn to the Lord? We can find out by comparing Acts 2:38 to Acts 3:19.

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20, ESV).

In this last passage, Peter was teaching the same message he did on the day of Pentecost. We can see that turn again happens after repentance, and as we compare these two passages, it becomes clear that turn again, that your sins may be blotted out is equivalent to be baptized … for the remission of sins. This proves that baptism is for the remission of sins. Also, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit is equivalent to times of refreshing.

Another argument people use to change the meaning of eis to because of in our passage is by saying there are four or five places the word eis would make more sense to translate as because o” However, these four or five places they refer to are controversial, and it can be shown how the standard translations of eis can be used. But, let’s say they are right and there are four or five places that eis could be translated because of.

This would mean out of the 2000 + times eis is used, only four or five instances meant because of. Therefore, using because of would be rare and something in the text would have to demand that eis be translated to because of.

Is there anything in Acts 2:38 that would demand such a translation? No! To put this argument to rest, consider the following points.

First, repentance and baptism are tied together by the coordinating conjunction and, which means if baptism is because of the remission of sins, so is repentance.

Second, when we examine the whole counsel of God, we will learn that baptism washes away our sins (Acts 22:16; 1 Cor.

6:11), puts us into Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3), and saves us (1 Pet. 3:21). While more verses could be used, these are sufficient to show there are no exceptions in Acts 2:38 to justify changing eis to because of because baptism is for the remission of sins. So, even if we allow them to have their four or five exceptions, it still does not help them with Acts 2:38.

Another Greek argument made against baptism in Acts 2:38 is that the words repent and be baptized are different in person and number. Specifically, repent is 2nd person plural and be baptized is 3rd person singular. Therefore, they claim the phrase for the remission of sin cannot refer to both verbs. Of course they chose baptism as being the one that must be excluded. When people have to go to extremes like this to explain away clear passages, it should cause us to raise an eyebrow. However, there is no truth to this argument, and I can prove this by the following quotes from two different authors who examined this argument.

In early 1968, I wrote a letter to F.W. Gingrich, co-translator of the famous ArndtGingrich Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christians Literature. The

letter, dated February 12, 1968, reads as follows:

“Dear Professor Gingrich: Is it grammatically possible that the phrase ‘for the remission of sins,’ in Acts 2:38, expresses the force of both verbs, ‘repent ye’ and ‘be baptized each one of you,’ even though these verbs differ in both person and number?” From Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania (February 21, 1968), Gingrich replied:

“Yes. The difference between metanoesate (repent) and baptistheto (be baptized) is simply that in the first, the people are viewed together in the plural, while the second the emphasis is on each individual (Jackson, The Acts of the Apostles 28).

David Padfield wrote to four different Greek scholars and

asked them the following question:

Is it grammatically possible that the phrase ‘eis aphesin hamartion,’ ‘for the remission of sins,’ as used in Acts 2:38, expresses the force of both verbs, ‘repent ye and be baptized each one of you,’ even though these verbs differ in both person and number?”

Their response is as follows:

1. Bruce Metzger wrote: “In reply to your recent inquiry may I say that, in my view, the phrase ‘eis aphesin hamartion’ in Acts 2:38 applies to both of the preceding verbs.”

2. F.W. Gingrich wrote: “The difference in person and number of ‘repent’ and ‘be baptized’ is caused by the fact that ‘repent’ is a direct address in the second person plural, while ‘be baptized’ is governed by the subject ‘every one of you’ and so is third person singular.

‘Every one of you’ is, of course, a collective noun.”

3. Arthur L. Farstad wrote: “Since the expression ‘eis aphesin hamartion’ is a prepositional phrase with no verbal endings or singular or plural endings. I certainly agree that grammatically it can go with both repentance and baptism. In fact, I would think that it does go with both of them.”

4. John R. Werner wrote, Whenever two verbs are connected by kai ‘and’ and then followed by a modifier (such as a prepositional phrase, as in Acts 2:38), it is grammatically possible that modifier modifies either both the verbs, or the latter one. This is because there is no punctuation in the ancient manuscripts, so we don’t know whether the author intended to pause between the first verb and the ‘and.’ It does not matter that, here in Acts 2:38, one of the verbs is second person plural (“y’all”) and the other is third-person singular (“is to”).

They are both imperative, and the fact that they are joined by kai ‘and’ is sufficient evidence that the author may have regarded them as a single unit to which his modifier applied (Padfield).

The quotes from these Greek scholars prove that this invented Greek argument against baptism has no merit, and it is just another desperate attempt to twist a clear passage and make it fit with their doctrine.

The final argument I want to examine comes from those who teach that sprinkling or pouring is an acceptable mode of baptism. They claim there was not enough time or water to baptize 3000 people there, so they must have sprinkled water on them or poured water on them.

First, this does not agree with the meaning of baptism, which means to dip or immerse.

Second, there was plenty of time to baptize 3000 people. Peter started preaching around 9 A.M., and even if he did not finish until noon, there was still be plenty of time. It is possible to baptize one person every minute, and there were twelve apostles. They could have baptized all these people in about four and a half hours, which does not include the possibility of the new Christians helping with the baptisms.

Third, as far as having enough water available, archeologists have proven there was plenty of water available close to the temple. The pool of Siloam (immediately south of the Temple enclosure) is still used today for the immersion of believers (Reese 81).

Note what McGarvey said:

As to the quantity of available water, Dr. J. T.

Barclay, in his work entitled "The City of the Great King," written during a residence of three years and a half in Jerusalem, as a missionary, shows that Jerusalem was anciently better supplied with water than any other city known to history not permeated by living streams. Even to the present day, though most of the public reservoirs are now dry, such as the supposed pool of Bethesda, 365 feet long by 131 in breadth, and the lower pool of Gihon, 600 long by 260 in breadth, there are still in existence bodies of water, such as the pool of Siloam, and the pool of Hezekiah, affording most ample facilities for immersing any number of persons (McGarvey).

These three points prove there was plenty of water and time to baptized 3000 people, which does not leave any room for the false doctrine of sprinkling or pouring.

In conclusion, we have learned that Acts 2 records one of the greatest events in the history of humankind. We have learned that we must repent and be baptized before we can receive the remission of our sins or the gift of the Holy Spirit. We examined several opposing Greek arguments and we learned they did not have any merit. Finally, I proved there was enough water and time to baptize 3000 people on that day.


1. Discuss the significance of Acts 2.

2. How can we prove that the church and the kingdom are the same thing?

3. Why is the first day of the week important?

4. What did Peter say was necessary for the remission of sins?

5. Discuss the various arguments people use against Acts 2:38.

–  –  –

After Stephen’s death a great persecution arose against the church, and the disciples of Christ were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, but the apostles remained in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1). Saul was doing his part to wreak havoc on the church as he drug both men and women to prison (Acts 8:3).

Men like Saul thought they could destroy this new movement, but all they did was help it grow because it caused these disciples to go to new areas and preach the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:4), which is exactly what Jesus wanted. He told His disciples: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Many unnamed disciples went out and preached the Word, but Luke records the work of Philip the evangelist. This is the same Philip who was chosen to be one of the seven men who took care of a problem that had developed over the Grecian widows (Acts 6). These seven men are the first recorded to have the apostles lay their hands on them so they could receive the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city (Acts 8:5-8).

The city of Samaria was located in the country of Samaria, north of Jerusalem, and it was at a lower elevation than Jerusalem, which is why Luke wrote, “Philip went down to the city.” For Philip to go to Samaria and preach the Word, he had to overcome the typical prejudice against these people.

Most full-blooded Jews would not enter Samaria because they were considered an impure race. Samaritans were part Jew and part Gentile. The rabbis prohibited Judean Jews from setting foot on Samaritan territory because it would make them unclean according to the Babylonian Talmud. There was not much love between these two groups. To help us understand the reason the full-blooded Jews despised the Samaritans, let’s take a closer look at their origin and how this all began.

The territory of Samaria was comprised of two tribes - Ephraim and part of Manasseh. After the children of Israel divided into two kingdoms, King Omri started building the city of Samaria around 880 B.C. His son Ahab finished its construction around 874 – 853 B.C. This city became the capital of Israel. Due to Israel’s constant disobedience to God, the Assyrians captured their capital around 722 – 721 B.C., and many of the Israelites were taken away to Assyria (2 Kgs.

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