«Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Even though baptism is one of the fundamental building blocks of ...»
The Eunuch was reading from the Isaiah 53:7-8, which is a prophecy about Jesus. Isaiah 53 has twenty-four prophetic points about the Messiah. Even Jesus claimed that Isaiah 53 was talking about Him (Mk. 10:45; Lk. 22:37). These Scriptures prophesied how Jesus would be led as an innocent sheep to the slaughter to be sacrificed for others. He did this voluntarily without murmuring or complaining. Even though He humbly submitted to His accusers and was proclaimed innocent by Pilate, the Jews insisted that He be put to death.
Since Jesus’ generation was responsible for putting Him on the cross, this is the reason it says: “And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” In other words, who is going to describe this wicked generation who crucified the Messiah?
The eunuch wanted to know who this prophecy concerned.
Was it about Isaiah or someone else? Philip took this opportunity to answer his question by preaching to him about Jesus from Isaiah 53. We are not told exactly what Philip taught him, but we can know that he taught him the same basic message he taught the Samaritans. He would have taught him about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and what he needed to do to be saved.
Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37).
These verses prove they were not in a dry desert because they had come near a pool of water. As Philip preached to him about Jesus and what was needed to be saved, he taught him about the necessity of baptism. We can know this because, when the eunuch saw the pool of water on the side of the road, he immediately wanted to know if there was anything preventing him from being baptized, which shows his eagerness to become a Christian.
Some Bible versions may or may not have verse 37 because it is not found in any of the earlier manuscripts, but it can be found in the later ones starting around the sixth century.
However, part of the Ethiopian’s confession of faith in Christ was quoted by Irenaeus in the second century (Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 1 Against Heresies, III.xii:8), which gives us some external evidence close to the first century that suggests that it belongs there. Whether this verse belongs or not does not take away from the question the eunuch asked. It is also interesting that the answer and response given in verse 37 fits naturally within in the text and agrees scripturally with the whole counsel of God.
Philip said that he must believe with all his heart, and the eunuch makes the confession that Jesus is the Son of God, which agrees with what Jesus said: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).
A person must believe before he can be baptized, which disproves the false doctrine of infant baptism because a baby cannot believe. These verses prove that the baptism Jesus was commanding and the baptism being taught by His disciples was water baptism. It also proves that a person’s baptism is crucial to his salvation, and it should not be scheduled as some do in the religious world. The eunuch did not schedule his baptism at some later date so his family members could watch it. No, he saw the water on the side of the road, and he wanted to be baptized right away. Every time we see a conversion in the Bible, the person is always baptized immediately without delay.
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea (Acts 8:38-40).
The eunuch commanded the chariot to stop, and they went down into the water. Philip baptized him, and they came up out of the water. Those who teach that pouring or sprinkling is a valid way to baptize will say that they went to the edge of the water and Philip either took a cup and poured some water on him, or perhaps put his fingers in the water and sprinkled him. We can know this is not true because the Greek word that has been transliterated baptism means to dip, plunge, or immerse. Besides, the text says they went into the water and came out of the water, which proves they did not just go to the edge of the water. If pouring or sprinkling is acceptable, it would not make much sense for them to go into the water and get themselves all wet when they could have stood at the edge of the water.
When they came out of the water, the Holy Spirit sent Philip to a new area, and the eunuch continued his journey home rejoicing because he knew he was saved. Rejoicing was the typical response of those who had been baptized (Acts 16:34).
The eunuch had a lot to rejoice about because he would no loner have to worship God from a distance outside the Jerusalem temple. Now he would be able to worship God in a local congregation with his brothers and sisters in Christ.
In conclusion, these two conversions have taught us that we must be taught about Jesus, which includes the simple plan of salvation. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, be willing to repent, be willing to confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and we must submit ourselves to baptism in water for the remission of our sins. Until we are baptized in the name of Jesus, we have nothing to rejoice about because without being baptized for the right reason we are hopelessly lost.
1. Discuss the origin of the Samaritans.
2. Why was Peter and John sent to Samaria?
3. Were the Samaritans saved before or after Peter and John came to them?
4. Was Philip in a dry desert when he met the eunuch?
5. How could Philip use Isaiah 53 to preach about Jesus?
6. Can a person be scripturally baptized if they do not believe?
THE CONVERSION OF SAUL
Out of all the conversions in the New Testament, Saul’s is the most revealing and detailed. Not only does Saul’s conversion prove that baptism is essential for salvation, it offers strong proof that Jesus was raised from the dead. Luke recounts Saul’s conversion in Acts 9 from a historical perspective, while Acts 22 and 26 recounts it from Saul’s perspective.
Each account offers its own unique information of what happened during his conversion. So, we will examine Saul’s conversion from all three accounts.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2).
The first time Saul appears in the New Testament is on the occasion when Stephen was being stoned to death by the opposing Jews. These Jews laid their clothes at Saul’s feet (Acts 7:58), and he approved of what they did to Stephen (Acts 8:1). This brutal murder was the beginning of the first great persecution of the church, and Saul was passionate about destroying anyone following Christ (Acts 8:3; 22:3-4; 26:9-11;
Gal. 1:13). Saul was not satisfied with persecuting the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem alone. He wanted to go to Damascus, which was around 140 miles away, and seek them out there as well. It did not matter if it was a woman or a man, he wanted them all to be imprisoned or put to death.
Saul went to the high priest to get letters that would give him authorization to arrest any disciples of Christ he found in their synagogues at Damascus. Since there were multiple synagogues, this suggests there was a large Jewish population there. Josephus confirms this because he wrote that Nero slaughtered 18,000 Jews, including women and children (Wars of the Jews 2.20.2; 7.8.7).
Once Saul went to the high priest, who was the head of the Sanhedrin Council, he obtained the authority and commission of the chief priests (Acts 26:12). The chief priests all held the position of high priest at one time, and they still had a great influence on the decisions that were made. They were against Jesus’ cause from the beginning, and they were still opposed to it.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:3-4).
Saul was full of anticipation as he made his way to Damascus, which would turn out to be a life-changing event for him. His weeklong journey to Damascus was almost over, but around noon, suddenly without warning, a great light (Acts 22:6) brighter than the sun was shining around Saul and those who were traveling with him (Acts 26:13). This bright light caused all of them to fall to the ground (Acts 26:14). Some think Saul and his companions were riding horses, and they fell off their horses when this happened. However, horses are not mentioned in the text anywhere. Next, Saul hears a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5).
At this point, Saul did not know who was speaking to him, which is the reason he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The term Lord was sometimes used in a similar way as we call someone sir today, while other times it was used to refer to Jesus. Since Saul did not know who He was, it is obvious that he was not calling Him Lord because He was Jesus. Some claim that Saul was saved when he hit the ground, but if this is correct, then he was saved before he knew Jesus.
Jesus answered his question in Hebrew saying, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 26:14). Grammatically He is saying, whom you are continuing to persecute. So, when someone persecutes the church, like Saul was doing, they are persecuting Jesus. The church is Jesus’ body (Col. 1:18), which is made up of individual Christians (1 Cor. 12:27), and He is the head of that body (Col. 1:24). When we are baptized into that body (1 Cor. 12:13), God adds us to the church (Acts 2:47), which Jesus will save (Eph. 5:23). So, when we become members of that one body (Eph. 4:4), we are supposed to rejoice and mourn for one another (1 Cor. 12:26) just as Jesus rejoices and mourns for us as a good shepherd would (Jn. 10:11).
Jesus also told Saul, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” According to Acts 26:14, Jesus said this before Saul asked who he was talking to, but Acts 9:5 shows Jesus saying it after his question. This chronological difference does not do any harm to the text because it does not matter if it was said before or after Saul’s question. All that is important is that He said it. However, please note that most Bible versions do not have Jesus’ statement in Acts 9:5 because there is a lack of textual evidence for it, but all the versions have it in Acts 26:14, which strongly suggests that Jesus made His statement before Saul’s question.
To help us understand what Jesus is talking about, we need understand what a goad is: “A pointed stick used in driving draft animals - 'goad.' …'to kick against the goad' (Acts 26.14), meaning to hurt oneself by active resistance” (LouwNida). A goad was used to motivate animals to move, and if they resisted, it caused them to endure more pain. These were used often on oxen that were being used to plow a field. According to the Easton’s Bible Dictionary, this phrase kick against the goads, “…was proverbial for unavailing resistance to superior power.” Saul was kicking against the goads. He was an intelligent man who knew the Scriptures, and he had heard what was being taught about Jesus. The truth was there, but he had resisted it and now the truth was undeniable because Jesus appeared before him and spoke to him. Before we go any further in Acts 9, we need to examine what else Jesus said to Saul in Acts 26.
But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you (Acts 26:16).
Jesus commanded Saul to rise to his feet, and He told him the reason He appeared to him. He wanted to make him a minister and a witness of the things he had just experienced and a witness of the things that would be revealed to him later (Acts 18:9; 22:17-21; 23:11; 27:23-24; 2 Cor. 12:2; Gal. 1:12).
Since Saul was an eyewitness of Jesus, it made it possible for him to become one of the apostles (Acts 9:17; 1 Cor. 9:1;
“I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:17-18).
When Jesus said He would deliver him from these people, He did not mean that Saul would not face persecution or difficult times (Acts 9:15-16; 2 Cor. 11:23-27). He simply meant that his life would be spared, and it was on many occasions (Acts 21-23, 27-28). The purpose of Saul’s future ministry was to open people’s eyes to the truth about Christ so they might turn away from the darkness of sin to the light of righteousness. If we are willing to obey God’s Word, we can receive the forgiveness of our sins and an eternal home in heaven.
Notice how the forgiveness of sins is associated with being sanctified. We learn how to be sanctified by studying God’s Word (Jn. 17:17) and by obeying it (1 Pet. 1:22-23). Paul teaches that sanctification is associated with baptism (1 Cor.
6:11), which makes sense because baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).