Friday, February 06, 2015

Acts 2:38--Baptism Essential to Salvation?

            Acts 2:38 reads, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  This verse is the favorite proof-text for many who defend salvation by baptism.  It is usually argued that Peter affirms that one must repent, and then be baptized, in order to receive (“for”) the remission of sins, after which one receives the Holy Spirit.[i]  The dogmatic crux on which the argument turns is the assertion that baptism is “for” the remission of sins in the sense that it is administered “in order to receive” forgiveness.[ii]  Careful study will demonstrate that Peter does not assert baptism is administered in order to receive forgiveness in Acts 2:38, nor is such a view of the verse consistent with the apostle’s teaching elsewhere in the book of Acts.
            While the baptismal regenerationist insists that “for” in Acts 2:38 means “in order to” receive remission of sins, those who give credence to the overwhelming testimony of Scripture in general to justification by faith alone usually[iii] contend that the “for” signifies “with respect to” or “on account of” remission of sins already received.  A poster with a picture of a criminal affirming that he is “wanted for robbery” asserts that he is wanted “on account of” a robbery already committed, not (hopefully!) “in order to” commit another robbery.  The English of Acts 2:38 is consistent with the view that Peter affirmed that the crowds at Jerusalem needed to repent, and then be baptized “on account of” the remission of sins that they received when they repented, rather than repenting, and then being baptized “in order to obtain” the remission of sins.
            An examination of the Greek text underlying Acts 2:38 similarly harmonizes with justification by faith.  The word translated “for” is the Greek preposition eis.  The second most common preposition in the New Testament, it appears 1,767[iv] times.  As one might expect with a word this common, eis has a great variety of meanings in different contexts—as does the English word “for.”[v]  The preposition eis can signify “on account of” or “with respect to,” as it does, for example, in Matthew 12:41 and 10:41-42 (3 times):
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas [Greek, eis, “on account of” the preaching of Jonah, not “in order to obtain” the preaching of Jonah]; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41)
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet [Greek eis, “on account of” or “with respect to” the name (or character) of a prophet—hardly “in order to obtain” the name of a prophet] shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in [Greek eis, “on account of” or “with respect to”] the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in [Greek eis, “on account of” or “with respect to”] the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. (Matthew 10:41-42)
Among the many uses of the word eis, the meaning “on account of”[vi] or “with respect to” is clearly found in Scripture.  This sense of eis represents Acts 2:38 as “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ on account of the remission of sins [received at the time of repentance].”  The baptismal regenerationist concludes too much when he affirms that Acts 2:38 proves his doctrine that baptism is administered “in order to obtain”[vii] forgiveness.  The verse can easily convey a meaning perfectly harmonious with justification by faith before baptism.[viii] 
            To determine more exactly the significance of eis in Acts 2:38 requires consideration of the verses where the preposition appears in connection with baptism.  While the word can signify “on account of” and “with respect to” in reference to other objects, if, in verses that associate eis and baptism, the sense is clearly “in order to” obtain, the baptismal regenerationist argument in Acts 2:38 might carry some weight. However, no such connection is found in the sixteen verses that associate baptism and eis in the New Testament.[ix]  The clear sense of the word in many of these verses is “on account of” or “with respect to.”  Not one of the uses must signify “in order to” obtain; indeed, such an idea is impossible in a number of passages.[x]  For example, John the Baptist preached, “I indeed baptize you with water unto [eis] repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).  Here it is obvious that John baptized people “on account of” their prior repentance; he certainly did not wrestle unrepentant sinners into the water “in order to” get them to repent![xi]  The affirmation that Acts 2:38 proves that baptism is “in order to” obtain the remission of sins does not take into account the use of eis in connection with baptism in the rest of the New Testament.
            Indeed, John’s preaching of a baptism on account of (eis) repentance (Matthew 3:11), a baptism that is the result of repentance (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4),[xii] controls a proper understanding of Acts 2:38.  John had “preached . . . the baptism of repentance [the baptism that is the result of repentance] to all the people of Israel” (Acts 13:24), and his message of baptism on account of repentance had filled “all the land of Judea . . . of Jerusalem . . . [and] all the country about Jordan . . . [so that] all men [came] to him” (Matthew 3:5; Mark 1:5; Luke 3:3; John 3:26).  Peter and the other apostles had been baptized by John (Acts 1:22).  When Peter preached,  “[Y]e men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem . . . [r]epent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for/on account of (eis) the remission of sins” (Acts 2:14, 38), his Pentecostal message of baptism on account of the remission of sins was one with which both the apostle and his audience were familiar from the preaching of John the Baptist.  The message of John, baptism on account of repentance (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:4), was what Peter preached in Acts 2:38.  Peter’s Pentecostal sermon was no more “Repent, and be baptized in order to obtain the remission of sins” than John’s message was “I indeed baptize you with water in order to get you to repent.”  The context and historical setting of Acts 2:38 within the framework of the baptism of John do not merely make it possible that Peter’s message was baptism on account of the remission of sins, but clearly establish this sense of the command.
            The grammatical structure of Acts 2:38 connects the receipt of the Holy Spirit (and thus the new birth “of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8) and its associated receipt of eternal life) with repentance, not baptism.  The section of the verse in question could be diagrammed as follows:
Repent (2nd person plural aorist imperative)
            be baptized (3rd person singular aorist imperative)
                        every one (nominative singular adjective)
                                    in (epi) the name of Jesus Christ
                                    for (eis) the remission of sins
            ye shall receive (2nd person future indicative) . . . the Holy Ghost
Both the command to repent and the promised receipt of the Holy Spirit are in the second person (i. e, “Repent [ye]” and “ye shall receive”).  The command to be baptized is in the third person singular, as is the adjective “every one” (hekastos).  Peter commands the whole crowd to repent and promises those who do the gift of the Holy Ghost (cf. Acts 10:47; 15:8).[xiii]   The call to baptism was only for the “every one of you”[xiv] that had already repented, received the Holy Ghost, and become the children of God.  The “be baptized every one of you” section of the verse is parenthetical to the command to repent and its associated promise of the Spirit.  Parenthetical statements, including those parallel in structure to Acts 2:38, are found throughout Scripture.[xv]  That is, the grammar of Acts 2:38 requires the connection “Repent ye, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” not “Be each one baptized, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  The connection in Acts 2:38 between the receipt of the Holy Spirit and repentance, rather than baptism, overthrows the assertions of baptismal regenerations on the verse.
            Peter also clearly affirmed elsewhere in Acts that at the moment of repentant faith one receives the Spirit and eternal life. As taught in all the rest of the New Testament, Peter believed that one “receive[s] the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14), not by baptism. In Acts 10:34-48, just as on the day of Pentecost (11:15, 17), eternal life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, was received at the moment of repentant faith (11:18; 10:43-48) and before baptism.  Peter explicitly stated that God “purif[ied] [the] hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9) of those given eternal life in Acts 2 and 10, when they “heard the word of the gospel, and believe[d]” (15:7, cf. v. 11), at which time they received the Holy Spirit (15:7-9).  Furthermore, in the rest of the book of Acts, Peter proclaimed justification by repentant faith alone.  He preached, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).  He associated “repentance . . . and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).  He commanded men to “repent . . . and . . . be forgiven” (Acts 8:22).  In Acts 10:43, he preached that “through [Christ’s] name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”  If Peter taught forgiveness by baptism in Acts 2:38, why did he teach justification by repentant faith, as the other apostles did (Acts 13:39; 16:31), in all the rest of Acts?  Did he change his mind in Acts 10-11 and 15, and, twice, inform the very church at Jerusalem that included numerous converts from his sermon in Acts 2 that they were saved by faith, not by baptism?  Did the entire Jerusalem church agree with Peter’s new teaching and “glorify God” (11:18) for it, including those that were supposedly baptized in order to receive the remission of sins on that first Pentecost?  The allegation that Acts 2:38 conditions forgiveness of sins on baptism ignores the clear statements of Peter about what happened on that day, his preaching of the gospel everywhere else in the book, and the numerous affirmations of salvation by repentant faith alone by others in Acts.
            Acts 2:38 does not by any means prove that one must be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of sins.  This assertion not only exceeds the English of the verse, it ignores the variety of usage of the Greek preposition eis in the New Testament, the Biblical uses of eis associated with baptism, the grammatical structure of Acts 2:38, the commentary of Peter upon the events of Acts 2, the teachings of Peter elsewhere in Acts, and the teachings of every other preacher of the gospel in the book and in the rest of Scripture.

This is part of an entire study that can be accessed here, or purchased for $0.99 for Kindle here.

TDR




[1]           Some baptismal regenerationists affirm that the Holy Spirit is received immediately after baptism. Others add requirements not found in Acts 2:38 by any stretch of the imagination; for example, Oneness Pentecostalism makes speaking in tongues after baptism a necessary sign of the receipt of the Spirit (see “Salvation, the Spirit, and Tongues,” pgs. 197-213, Oneness Pentecostals & The Trinity, Gregory A. Boyd, Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1992).  Roman Catholicism teaches that “the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation [which generally takes place years after infant baptism] is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost,” so that what Peter preached in Acts 2:38 is received only after a bishop “anoint[s] the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism . . . together with the laying on of the minister’s hand and the words . . . ‘Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit’” (sections #1302, 1320, pgs. 330, 333, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Mahweh, NJ: Paulist Press, 1994).  Apparently Peter’s promise “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” to his audience upon complying with Acts 2:38 would have been better stated as “ye shall only receive the gift of the Holy Ghost if, continuing faithful for some time after baptism, ye speak in tongues/get oil put on your forehead by a properly ordained bishop [or priest if it is an extreme emergency and you may die without the seal of the Holy Spirit] and submit to other ritualistic requirements.”
[1]           It is noteworthy that most baptismal regenerationists believe that baptism only forgives past sins, not all sin, but Peter never makes this qualification in Acts 2:38.  Would not “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ in order to receive the forgiveness of past sins,” or “in order to receive the forgiveness of some sins,” have been more appropriate? 
[1]                 Some who reject baptismal regeneration hold other views on the verse.  For Acts 2:38 to function as a proof-text for advocates of forgiveness by baptism, they must prove the text teaches the ordinance is administed “in order to receive” remission of sins.  Opponents of baptismal salvation do not need to prove anything from Acts 2:38.  They simply must show that it can reasonably mean something other than that baptism is a prerequisite to forgiveness.  Having accomplished this, the verse can no longer be used as a proof-text to (attempt) to negate the immense numbers of verses that clearly promise eternal life to all believers.
[1]                 This statistic was obtained by a search of the Greek Textus Receptus using Accordance Bible software.  The same figure is given on pg. 357 of Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1996).
[1]                 In the best (and the standard) New Testament lexicon, BDAG, (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (BDAG), 3rd ed., rev. & ed. Frederick William Danker, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), the preposition eis has ten listed main definitions, with twenty-nine subheadings classifying different senses under the main headings.
[1]                 Eis . . . [can be] use[d] . . . causally [as] ‘on account of,’ . . . Matthew 12:41. . . . [In] Matthew 10:41 . . . the sense here called for is a causal one, for which the preposition eis is suitable, just as the Semitic equivalent le admits not only a final but also a causal sense” (para. 98, 106, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples, Maximilian Zerwick.  Eng. ed. Joseph Smith.  Rome:  Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1963).  Eis can mean “because of” (pg. 103, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1957).  Concerning “eis . . . some contexts would certainly suit a causal sense: Matthew 3:11, because of repentance . . . 10:41; 12:41=Luke 11:32 metenoesan eis to kerugma Iona: they repented because of the preaching of Jonah . . . Acts 2:38 be baptized eis aphesin ton hamartion, on the basis of . . . Acts 7:53; Romans 4:20, on account of the promises of God, Abraham did not waver . . . Romans 11:32 God has imprisoned all because of disobedience . . . Titus 3:14, to maintain good works, because of the compelling need of them; Hebrews 12:7 [v. l.], you are enduring because of discipline . . . 1 John 5:10” (pgs. 266-267, 18:4:1c, Moulton, J. H. A Grammar of New Testament Greek. 4 vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1908-76. Vol. 3 (1963): Syntax, by Nigel Turner).  See J. R. Mantey, “The Causal Use of Eis in the New Testament,” Journal of Biblical Literature 70 (1951) pgs. 45-48, and “On Causal Eis Again,” Journal of Biblical Literature 70 (1951) pgs. 309-311.  In addition to quoting Matthew 3:11; 12:41; Acts 2:38, and other inspired texts as examples of a causal (“because of”) use of eis in the New Testament, Mantey provides evidence from uninspired Greek, such as Genesis 4:23 (LXX):  Andra apekteina eis trauma emoi kai neaniskon eis molopa emoi, “I killed a man for [on account of] wounding me, and a young man for [on account of] striking me.”  Mantey also mentions contemporary secular Greek examples such as Lucian, The Dead Come to Life, Vol. III, 12: ta hremata panu hetairika, kai epainoumene hupo ton heraston eis kallos echaire, “Her words are always those of a courtesan, and she delighted in being praised by her lovers for [because of] her beauty.”  B. H. Carroll provides evidence “from Aristophanes: ‘To jeer at a man eis his rags’ . . . [f]rom Plato . . . ‘To differ from one eis virtue.’ . . . [He concludes,] the meaning of eis in Acts 2:38 is . . . with reference to remission of sins. I am willing to risk my scholarship on that” (pgs. 81-82, An Interpretation of the English Bible, sec. 8, “The Theory of Baptismal Regeneration (concluded): Acts 2:38,” elec. acc. AGES Digital Software Library vol. 11, B. H. Carroll Collection. Rio, WI: 2006).  Indeed, the “illustrations of . . . [the usage of eis as] because of . . . are numerous in the N. T. and the Koiné [Greek outside of the Bible] generally” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1960, note on Acts 2:38). 
[1]           The preposition eis can signify “to” and convey a meaning of “in order to” (e. g., Colossians 1:29), although this usage is hardly the predominant or majority one.  However, it is not enough for the baptismal regenerationist to show that the word may signify “in order to” in a few of its 1,767 appearances.  He must prove that it can signify nothing other than “in order to” in Acts 2:38.  If he does not prove this sense is required in the verse, it does not establish his position.
[1]                 Some baptismal regenerationists attempt to support their view that eis aphesin hamartion in Acts 2:38 (“for/on account of the remission of sins”) means “in order to obtain” the remission of sins by cross-referencing Matthew 26:28, which states that Christ shed His blood eis aphesin hamartion.  However, this comparison of texts overlooks a number of facts.  The shedding of blood by Christ, not our baptism, is in view in Matthew’s gospel.  There are two other instances (aside from Acts 2:38 and Matthew 26:28) where the eis aphesin hamartion construction appears in the New Testament—Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3.  In both of these instances, the phrase is used in connection with baptism (unlike in Matthew 26:28) and signifies “on account of the remission of sins.”  To use Matthew 26:28’s eis aphesin hamartion to support the idea of baptism “in order to” obtain remission of sins in Acts 2:38, while ignoring the sense of Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3, where the word baptism is actually used with the phrase, is faulty exegesis.  Furthermore, “remission of sins,” aphesin hamartion, is promised elsewhere in Scripture to all who believe.  Acts 10:43 states, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (aphesin hamartion).”  Acts 26:18 likewise reads, “[T]hey may receive forgiveness of sins (aphesin hamartion) and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
[1]           It is worth mentioning that, although the KJV translates eis forty-eight different ways, it never renders the preposition as “in order to.”  Indeed, even Alexander Campbell’s own Bible version, the Living Oracles, only manages to render eis as “in order to” in eleven out of its 1,767 appearances—and this eleven includes a number of verses with an eis + to + infinitive construction entirely unlike Acts 2:38.  Nevertheless, Campbell did remember to make Acts 2:38 one of the 0.6% of references in his own Bible version where eis is rendered “in order to.”
[1]                 In addition to the very obvious Matthew 3:11, it is hard to see how “in order to” can fit many other Biblical texts.  Is Matthew 28:19 “in order to” obtain the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?  (Compare eis used with baptism and “name” in Acts 8:16; 19:5.)  Is Mark 1:9 “in order to” obtain the Jordan river? Is Acts 19:3 “in order to” obtain John’s baptism?  Is 1 Corinthians 1:13 (also 1:15) “in order to” obtain the name of Paul?  Is 1 Corinthians 10:2 “in order to obtain” Moses?  The only remaining verses containing eis and baptism can at least as easily signify “with respect to,” “on account of,” or one of the other senses of eis.  Not one verse must signify “in order to” obtain (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27).
[1]                 Further evidence that John’s baptism was not “in order to” the forgiveness of sins comes from the lack of Pharisaical challenge to his ministry on that account (cf. Matthew 3:7).  Christ did claim the power to forgive sin (although He did not baptize, John 4:2—note that the Lord Jesus did “make” disciples before having them baptized, evidencing that one is not made a disciple by baptism, but is one previous to it), and the Jewish religious leaders contended with Him on that ground (Matthew 9:3; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21; 7:49).  They did not make a similar challenge to John because his baptism was not a means for the receipt of forgiveness.  It was an evidence that pardon had already been received.
            Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, when describing John’s baptism, stated that it was performed on account of already forgiven sin, not in order to obtain forgiveness. “John, who was called the Baptist . . . was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:5:2:117).  Similarly Eusebius, the first known writer in Christiandom to compose a church history, slightly altered the statements of Josephus but agreeed with his conclusions, writing:  “John who was called the Baptist . . . said that baptism would prove acceptable . . . only in those who used it not to escape from any sins but for bodily purity, on condition that the soul also had been previously cleansed thoroughly by righteousness” (Ecclesiastical History, I. XI:5, cited in Loeb Classical Library ed., trans. Kirsopp Lake, pg. 81).  While neither the writings of Josephus nor of Eusebius are inspired Scripture, of course, if John publicly proclaimed that his baptism was a prerequisite to forgiveness, would not the ancient historical record have indicated, rather than contradicted, this view?
[1]                 John’s “baptism of repentance for (eis) the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3) was not one administered “in order to” obtain remission by baptism but “on account of” remission already received by repentance and faith in the Savior (Acts 19:4-5).  The genitive construction “baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4) is a result/reason construction, meaning “baptism [result] on account of repentance [reason],” similar to the phrases “work [result] of faith [reason], labour [result] of love [reason], and patience [result] of hope [reason]” (1 Thessalonians 1:3; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Hebrews 6:10) or “obedience [result] of faith [reason]” (Romans 16:26).  (Compare the discussion of the genitive of production/producer on pgs. 104-106 of Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and the genitive of source or origin analyzed on pgs. 109-110, which Wallace says “stresses cause,” that is, reason.  The connection between production/producer and reason/result can be seen, not only in the texts above, but in verses such as 1 Peter 1:3, “sanctification of the Spirit” or Galatians 3:13, “curse of the law”; cf. also Galatians 5:22; 2 Corinthians 11:26.  Note, outside the NT, texts such as 1 Clement 50:5, “harmony of love,” or Amos 6:12; Sirach 45:11 (LXX); or Philo, Allegorical Interpretation 2:68.)  Baptism is one of the “works meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20) that follows receiving the gospel.  The record of John preaching “I indeed baptize you with water unto (eis) repentance” (Matthew 3:11) is simply a statement explaining the summary phrase that John preached a “baptism of repentance for (eis, on account of) the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).  Since the phrase “a baptism of repentance” is a result/reason genitive construction indicating that baptism is a result of repentance, Matthew 3:11 means that John baptized with water “on account of” or “as a result of” repentance, defining eis in the text as “on account of/because of” repentance.  One notes further that even apart from this strong syntactical evidence from related passages, the natural and obvious sense of Matthew 3:11 is eis in the sense of “on account of” in any case.
[1]                 Peter’s use of kathos kai, “even as,” in Acts 10:47; 15:8 provides further support for the fact that the Holy Spirit was received before baptism in Acts 2:38.  Peter explains that in the same way that the Holy Spirit was given before baptism in the account of Acts 10:43-48, the Jews who responded to the gospel in Acts 2:38 likewise received the Spirit before baptism.  Compare the other uses of kathos kai in the New Testament (Luke 6:36; 11:1; 24:24; Acts 2:22; 10:47; 15:8; Romans 1:13; 15:7; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 9–10, 33–11:1; 13:12; 14:34; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 11:12; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 4:4, 17, 32; 5:2, 25, 29; Colossians 1:6–7; 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 3:4; 4:6, 13; 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 5:6; 2 Peter 1:14; 3:15).
While the fact that Peter preached the receipt of the Spirit upon repentance, and before baptism, in Acts 2:38; 10:47 & 15:8 refutes all versions of baptismal regeneration, it is especially worthy of note as a response to the Oneness Pentecostal doctrine that people do not receive the Holy Spirit until after they have received anti-Trinitarian Oneness baptism and spoken in tongues.  Acts 2:38 promises the Spirit before baptism, and far before the time advocated by Oneness doctrine.  The Bible also teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, that the one and only God has existed from eternity in three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 1:1-4).  Furthermore, even before the gift of tongues, the miraculous ability to speak in known foreign languages, ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8; cf. “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and the Cessation of Miraculous Gifts,” R. Bruce Compton. Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 9 (2004) 97-144), it was never for all believers (1 Corinthians 12:30), and certainly was not a prerequisite to justification.  Additionally, in Acts 19:2 the aorist participle “believed” (pisteusantes) is dependent upon the aorist verb “received” (elabete), and the verse indicates (consider also the use of ei in the question) that Paul assumed that the Holy Spirit was received instantaneously upon believing (that is, with temporal simultaneity but logical subsequence to faith), not at some later period when some sort of second blessing took place.  “[W]hen the aorist participle is related to an aorist main verb, the participle will often be contemporaneous (or simultaneous) to the action of the main verb” (pg. 624, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace).  Paul’s question to these professed disciples assumed the reality of an immediate receipt of the Spirit at the moment of faith.  “[In Acts 19:2] there is no question about what happened after believing; but the question rightly relates to what occurred when they believed. . . . [The verse could be rendered] rightly, ‘Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?’” (Word Studies in the New Testament, Marvin Vincent, vol. 1, note on Acts 19:2, elec. acc. in AGES Digital Software Library, Classic Commentary collection).  The post-believing coming of the Spirit in miraculous power recorded in Acts 19:6 employs a different Greek word (erchomai) than that generally used for the simple receipt of the Spirit as in verse 2 (lambano).  The word in verse 2, when employed after the historical event of Spirit baptism ceased by Acts 19, always refers to the receipt of the Spirit at the moment of faith.  This use is universal in the epistles (Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 3:2, 14, cf. the prediction in John 7:39).  In contrast, the word in Acts 19:6 is never used in the New Testament of the believer’s receipt of the Spirit at the moment of faith and regeneration.
            The Oneness Pentecostal idea that “the one name of Matthew 28:19 is Jesus, for Jesus is the name of the Father . . . the Son . . . and the Holy Ghost . . . the name of Jesus was orally uttered as part of the baptismal formula . . . the name Jesus was orally invoked at baptism” (The Oneness of God, David K. Bernard.  Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1995, Chapter 6, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” elec. acc.) is entirely erroneous and heretical, and it cannot be sustained Scripturally.  If one must, as Oneness Pentecostalism affirms, employ the correct words at the time of baptism or salvation is impossible, which words should be employed?  Those of Acts 2:38, “in [epi] the name of Jesus Christ”; those of Acts 8:16 and 19:5, “in [eis] the name of the Lord Jesus”; or those of Acts 10:48, “in [en] the name of the Lord”?  Since there are three different groups of words, with three different prepositions employed (epi, eis, and en), and three different endings (“Jesus Christ,” “Lord Jesus,” “Lord,”—note that the last does not even have the name “Jesus” at all), which set constitutes the magic words without which salvation is impossible?  Would it also not be very unfortunate that, whichever of the three sets of words one determines is the true one, every person the apostles and first century Christians baptized employing the two “wrong” sets of words was eternally damned?  How many of the first century Christians must have missed heaven because they did not know which of the various sets of words were the magic keys to heaven!  How unfortunate, indeed, how misleading it is that Luke, writing under inspiration, does not give the slightest hint that either Acts 2:38, or 8:16, or 19:5, or any other verbal formulation whatsoever, is essential to salvation!  What errors the apostles made as well in allowing all those baptized in Acts into church membership, whichever set of words are recorded in connection with their baptism, although the two-thirds with the wrong formula were not truly saved!  Or is it not rather obvious that the Oneness Pentecostal notion that a certain set of words is essential to salvation cannot be sustained in the book of Acts or elsewhere in Scripture?  Since there is no consistent set of words recorded in Acts in connection with baptism “in the name of” the Lord, and so Acts is not giving a specific set of words that must be employed without sinning and facing eternal damnation, what does the “name” terminology really mean?
Baptism is “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38), not because Jesus is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, nor because the words “in the name of Jesus” or some similar non-Trinitiarian formula was uttered when the ceremony was performed, but because baptism is performed with Christ’s authority.  The Lord Jesus, who has all authority or power (Matthew 28:18), commanded that baptism be performed with the Trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:19.  When this is done (and other requirements for baptism are met, such as that the person being baptized is a believer, not an infant), the baptism is performed with Christ’s authority, that is, in His name.  When Baptist churches employ the Trinitarian formula the Lord Jesus commanded for use until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), they are baptizing in Jesus’ name.
            The fact that “in the name of” means “with the authority of” is evident in Scripture.  Several examples, out of many, will be given.  In Deuteronomy 18:5-7, the Levites were “to minister in the name of the LORD.”  Unlike the other tribes, they had Jehovah’s authority to do their Levitical work.  They did not go around all day long repeating His name in a sort of mantra.  Their ministrations in the tabernacle and temple, teaching the Law to God’s people and completing other work, was done with Divine authority, hence “in His name.”  In 1 Samuel 25:9, “when David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.”  David’s young men came to Nabal with David’s authority and gave Nabal a message from David.  They did not come to Nabal and say, “David, David, David, David.”  In 1 Kings 18:32, Elijah “built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.”  Elijah built the altar with Jehovah’s authority (1 Kings 18:36).  The point was not that he repeated the Tetragrammaton over and over again.  In Esther 3:12, “the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.”  The letter had the authority of king Ahasuerus, so all men in his empire needed to pay attention.  The words of the letter were not “Ahasuerus, Ahasuerus, Ahasuerus.”  In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul wrote, “[B]rethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”  The apostle commanded the church at Thessalonica with Christ’s authority.  Paul wrote under inspiration, and the command to practice church discipline was given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20.  In Acts 4:7, the elders of Israel asked Peter what authority the apostle had for his message.  Their question was, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”  In Luke 24:47—which sets the background for the use of “in the name of” formulae in Acts, since Luke wrote Acts as the continuation of his gospel (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-4) and the preaching in Acts was in fulfillment of the command given in Luke 24 (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15)—“repentance and remission of sins should be preached in [Christ’s] name among all nations.”  That is, the Lord Jesus gave authority to the church to preach repentance and remission of sins, and so this preaching was done as recorded in the book of Acts.  “In the name of” means “with the authority of” in Scripture.
            Acts 19:1-7 demonstrates that the formula given in Matthew 28:19 was employed by the apostolic churches, corroborating that Trinitarian baptism is actually baptism with Christ’s authority (Acts 19:5).  When Paul found people who claimed to be “disciples” (v. 1) who had “not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost” (v. 2), the apostle, in shock, asked “Unto what then were ye baptized?”  Since the churches were “baptizing . . . in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), employing the Trinitarian formula in their baptismal ceremony, Paul asks these alleged “disciples” how they could have been baptized and never have heard of the Holy Ghost, when He is mentioned in the baptismal ritual itself.  Paul’s question would not make any sense if the baptismal ceremony employed a formula such as “I baptize you in the name of Jesus.”  How would that formula be a guarantee that all baptized disciples had heard of the Holy Ghost?  Trinitarians correctly explain Paul’s mental process as, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost, but He is mentioned in the act of baptism itself!  ‘Unto what then were ye baptized?’”  Oneness Pentecostals would have made Paul think, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost—now He isn’t mentioned in the act of baptism, since only the word “Jesus” is used in the formula.  However, I’ll ask them what they were baptized unto anyway, as if that related to what they had just said somehow.”
Very early documents in church history demonstrate that even around the end of the first century baptism was administered employing the Trinitarian formula.  Near the end of the first century, it was written:  “Now concerning baptism, baptize as follows: after you have reviewed all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Didache 7:1). “For those things which the prophets announced, saying, ‘Until He come for whom it is reserved, and He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles,’ have been fulfilled in the Gospel, [our Lord saying,] ‘Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’” (Ignatius to the Philadelphians, chapter 9).  Some decades later, declarations like the following are found: “For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: ‘Go,’ He saith, ‘teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’” (Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter 13).  In contrast, no extant patristic writer or ancient document says anything like “we should not baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but in the name of Jesus Christ” or anything remotely similar.  True churches in the earliest centuries of Christianity employed the Trinitarian baptismal formula (as even proto-Catholicism did).
When Biblical churches employ the Trinitarian formula in baptism, they are baptizing in Jesus’ name, just like the first century churches did.  Oneness Pentecostals that employ the phrase “in the name of Jesus” when immersing people but believe the idolatrous heresy that Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do not have any authority from God for their practice—they are the ones who do not really baptize in the name of Jesus Christ.
[1]                 “of you” (humon), is a second person pronoun in the genitive case.  It is a partitive genitive (see pgs. 84-86, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace) indicating the group from which each person was derived.
[1]                 Ephesians 4:26-27 is an example:
Be ye angry (2nd person plural imperative)
and sin not (2nd person plural imperative)
            [do] not . . . let go down (3rd person singular imperative)
            the sun (nominative singular noun)
                        upon your wrath
neither give place (2nd person plural imperative)
            to the devil.
Compare Joshua 6:10 (LXX, trans. Brenton):
And Joshua commanded the people, saying,
Cry not out (2nd person plural imperative)
            nor let any one hear (3rd person singular imperative)
                        your voice, until . . the time to cry out, and then

ye shall cry out (2nd person plural future indicative).

20 comments:

Michael Alford said...

You don't even need to run to the Greek language to put this argument to bed. Every single time the word 'for' in used in Acts 2, it means 'on account of'.
The other problem the Campbellites run into is that every time they see the word 'baptism' in the Bible, they think 'water', which causes them to get tangled up in Ephesians and 1 Peter.

Lance Ketchum said...

Good exegetical work Brother Brandenburg!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Lance,

I appreciate it, but it is Thomas Ross's post on Fridays. He's got the best book there is refuting baptismal regeneration. I haven't seen better.

Farmer Brown said...

Would it be fair to say this:

"You have to be a believer to be baptized, but you cannot refuse baptism and be a believer."

We know Acts 2:38 does not overthrow all of the rest of scripture. The church of Christ people have that joke, How do you kill a baptist? With an Acts and 2 38's. They want us to explain away that single verse.

Fine, but first you explain the 1000+ verses that contradict your position starting with Exodus 12 and Genesis 12 and 17. We know salvation is by faith, as that is the pattern all through the Bible from Genesis onward.

However, Peter so closely links salvation and Baptism several times, and Jesus does as well in Mark 16:16 as part of the great commission. It must be extremely important and integral to salvation, although balanced by the knowledge that is is not part of the event of being born again.

Hence the second part of the statement above. A person who knowingly refuses to be baptized would be showing that he never had true saving grace. This is similar to Romans 10, the call. We know calling does not save, but is indicative of the change of heart that takes place in the believer.

This could also be likened to circumcision, where the Jew who refuses to submit is cut off. By refusing that outward sign, he has shown he lacks the inward change. (Romans 4). By the same token, the (alleged) believer who professes faith but refuses this public association with Christ never had that saving faith to begin with.

Maybe this is taking it too far, but we cannot overlook Mark 16:16 and the passages in Acts. Jesus and Peter both linked them so closely. We have to disassociate it from salvation as much as is appropriate, but no more than is appropriate.

Lance Ketchum said...

Would you have him send me a copy with an invoice?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Lance,

It is free here:

http://faithsaves.net/baptismal-regeneration/

And it is in kindle form here for 99 cents: http://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Baptized-Gospel-Baptismal-Regeneration-ebook/dp/B004XOGLSE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421428495&sr=8-1&keywords=heaven+only+baptized+thomas+ross&pebp=1421428498508&peasin=B004XOGLSE

But it is not in print form. We've believed we should do this, but we have not achieved that goal yet -- hopefully soon.

George Calvas said...

"We have to disassociate it from salvation as much as is appropriate, but no more than is appropriate."

This is similarly associating faith and works according to James. Works saves no one, but if you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then show me your faith by your works. Verses such as "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" and "they profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" show forth this truth.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Bro Ketchum, Alford, Brandenburg, etc.,

Thanks for the comments.

Dear Farmer Brown,

I agree that someone who, for long periods, rejects baptism is not acting like a believer and we should not treat him like one. I think that is part of the point of Mark 16:16a.

I would encourage you to check out here:

http://faithsaves.net/romans-10-sinners-prayer/

in regard to calling.

For all, I also look forward to the day when Heaven Only for the Baptized? is in print.

Anonymous said...

I notice that those who fight against water baptism in Jesus Name never seem to quote I Peter 3:21.

Tell me how you will explain this scripture away, which says,

"Baptism, which corresponds to this [i.e., the saving of Moses and his family], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,"

This verse clearly says how baptism in the name of Jesus saves us.

And when you do explain it away, as I am sure you will, how can you have a good conscience toward God?

KJB1611 said...

Dear Anonymous,

We are glad that you do not like people fighting against water baptism, people opposing Jesus's name, or people that ignore parts of Scripture. You have come to the right place, for neither of the contributors on this blog, nor the vast majority of commenters on it, fight against water baptism, oppose Jesus's name, or want to explain away 1 Peter 3:21 or any other passage in the Bible.

If you want to know what 1 Peter 3:21 means, please read the careful study of that verse in its context here:

http://faithsaves.net/baptismal-regeneration/

It appears that you have not studied 1 Peter 3:21 very carefully, since you think that it refers to Moses and his family, and the phrase "the name of Jesus" is not found in the verse anywhere.

When you read this study on 1 Peter 3, if you truly care about having a good conscience toward God, you will repent of the damnable heresy that baptism is the instrumentality through which people come into a right standing before God.

By the way, if you want to know what "the name of Jesus" in connection with baptism refers to, the study here:

http://faithsaves.net/jesus-only/

explains that carefully and also carefully deals with the idolatry of the Oneness Pentecostal doctrine of God.

I have reprinted some of the material from the links below for your convenience. May God bring you to an understanding of the truth of the gospel.

KJB1611 said...

10.) 1 Peter 3:21

The final major attempt to support baptismal regeneration with Scripture comes from 1 Peter 3:21. This verse states that “baptism doth also now save us,” while verse 20 mentions that “souls were saved by water.” Baptismal regenerationists argue on this basis that the unbaptized are lost. However, this view takes the verses out of context, as a study of the passage and Peter’s teaching elsewhere indicates.

First Peter 3:18-22 reads:

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Within the wider context of a primary theme in 1 Peter, suffering for Christ (v. 13-17), verse 18 mentions the Lord Jesus’ substitutionary death for sin, as He, “the just for the unjust,” suffered in the place of mankind. The verse then recounts His “death in the flesh,” and explains how, by the Holy Spirit, Christ was “quickened” or “made alive.” Verses 19-20 mention that by this same Spirit He preached to those who are now “spirits in prison,” but were, at the time of the preaching, the rebellious and ungodly generation of men that “sometime were disobedient . . . in the days of Noah.” When Noah, a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), proclaimed the truth to his contemporaries, he functioned as God’s mouthpiece, so that, by the Spirit, it was really Christ preaching to that rebellious generation. However, since the men of Noah’s day did not receive the truth in that time “while the ark was a preparing,” they died in the flood and went to hell, where they are now “spirits in prison.” Eight people or “souls,” namely, Noah, his wife, and their three sons with their wives (Genesis 6:18; 7:7, 13) were then “saved by water”; that is, they were separated and saved from the ungodly world system by means of the waters of the flood. They were not saved from their sins by the floodwaters, and the water certainly did not save them from either physical or spiritual death—those in the water and not in the ark drowned and were damned. Verse 21 then explains that as Noah and his household were saved from the ungodly world by the flood waters, so Christians today are saved from the ungodly world by baptism (v. 21a), which is not the act which actually puts away sin (v. 21b) but is rather the “answer of a good conscience toward God” (v. 21c). The doctrines mentioned in the text are only possible because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (v. 21d), who has ascended into heaven and has all authority (v. 22). Furthermore, these truths can encourage the suffering Christian (4:1ff.). Having surveyed 1 Peter 3:18-22, an analysis of its alleged support for baptismal regeneration is now possible.

KJB1611 said...

First, the parenthesis in verse 21 demonstrates that Peter does not here teach baptismal regeneration. On the contrary, it expressly disclaims the doctrine. It could well have been included specifically to forstall the danger of abusing the passage to unwarrantedly conclude that baptism is required for forgiveness. The parenthetical statement teaches us that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Peter’s affirmation that baptism does not put away filth is incongruous if regeneration takes place by means of the ordinance.[cxxxi] Conclusive evidence against baptismal forgiveness is found in the affirmation that baptism is the “answer of a good conscience toward God.” Peter affirms that one has a good conscience prior to his baptism, which is his “answer[cxxxii] . . . toward God” resulting from his reconciled state and peace of mind and heart.[cxxxiii] If one heading up to the baptistry is, as baptismal regeneration teaches, still lost and a child of the devil (John 8:44) who is under the wrath of God, a heartbeat from the fires of hell, and an unforgiven, Spirit-resisting, non-confessing, disobedient God-hater[cxxxiv] who still sinks under the weight of every sin he has ever committed his entire life, how can he possibly have a “good conscience” toward God, as 1 Peter 3:21 affirms one must prior to baptism? The lost have, rather, a “reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28) and a “corrupt mind” (2 Timothy 3:8). They are “vainly puffed up by [their] fleshly mind” (Colossians 2:18). They have “their mind and conscience defiled” (Titus 1:5) and “seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). They need to have their conscience “purge[d] . . . [with] the blood of Christ” (Hebrews 9:9, 14; 10:2,[cxxxv] 22). The fact that baptism is a good conscience’s answer[cxxxvi] toward God proves that baptismal regenerationists err in their view of 1 Peter 3:21.

Thomas Ross said...

Second, a study of the specific words used in 1 Peter 3:20-21 indicates that spiritual salvation from sin and hell is not in view. In verse 20, the word “saved” (“in the days of Noah . . . eight souls were saved by water”) is diasodzo. This Greek word is never used in the New Testament for salvation from sin;[cxxxvii] instead, it means “to rescue or deliver from a hazard or danger, bring safely through.”[cxxxviii] A first century Christian reading Peter’s epistle in Greek might be saved in the diasodzo sense by means of baptism if he hid in the baptistry and so escaped from Roman soldiers seeking his arrest, but he would not have used diasodzo to convey the idea of salvation from sin. The idea is similar to the declaration in Hebrews of Noah’s physical deliverance and separation from the world system when he “prepared an ark to the saving [physical deliverance, not spiritual salvation] of his house” and in so doing “condemned the world” (Hebrews 11:7). The use of diasodzo in verse 20, which also fits with the background of Hebrews 11:7, controls the understanding of Peter’s use of the verb sodzo in verse 21 (“baptism doth also now save us”). This word[cxxxix] is used for both physical deliverances such as salvation from drowning (Matthew 14:30) and for salvation from sin (Matthew 1:21). The connection with the diasodzo of verse 20 indicates that in verse 21 sodzo does not speak of baptism saving in the sense of forgiving sin.[cxl] Rather, baptism “doth also now save us” in the sense of disassociating believers from this world and its ungodly system and identifying them with God’s new order. God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah . . . bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5). As Noah was saved from “the world that then was” (2 Peter 3:6) by the Deluge, being separated from its influence and power, so baptism saves a Christian from the ungodly world with its influences and power and identifies him with God, His redeemed people, and His new order. When the Christian identifies himself with Jesus Christ in the ordinance, he outwardly and publicly cuts himself off from his old life and ways. Having submitted to Christ as his King and entered His kingdom at the moment of repentant faith, in baptism he publicly puts on the uniform, as it were, of His Master’s host (cf. Galatians 3:27).[cxli] Baptism’s saving the Christian from the world’s ungodly system and publicly separating him unto God fits the words used in 1 Peter 3:20-21. Baptism to achieve forgiveness of sin does not.

Thomas Ross said...

Third, Peter’s comparison between the events in the days of Noah and baptism nullifies claims of regeneration by the ordinance. Noah’s deliverance or salvation “by water” is “the like figure”[cxlii] whereunto baptism saves us. Noah, however, was by no means saved from his sin by the waters of the Flood. The book of Genesis recounts that “the wickedness of [the entire race of] man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5); therefore, Noah was a sinner deserving condemnation along with the rest of the mankind. However, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8); God saved Noah by His grace, by undeserved favor, and so justified him entirely apart from any righteous act of his. As Romans 11:6 states, “if [salvation is] by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Noah was “heir of the righteousness which is by faith” and was saved “by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Furthermore, God commanded Noah to enter the ark because he was “seen righteous” (Genesis 7:1), “just,” and “perfect” (Genesis 6:9) before Him, being justified on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness (cf. Revelation 13:8b) when he believed in the coming Savior. Because he had been justified by faith, Noah manifested his change of state in a change of life—he “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Having been “seen righteous” judicially before Jehovah, he “did according unto all that the LORD commanded him” (Genesis 7:1, 5) in his practical life. Christ was in fact preaching through Noah (1 Peter 3:18-19) for one hundred twenty years (Genesis 6:3) before the flood; by the grace of God, the sinner Noah was transformed into a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Clearly, he was saved from his sin and manifested his change of life far before the time of the flood. Indeed, God saved him from the evil world by the Flood specifically because of his state as an already justified individual (Genesis 7:1). As evidenced in the life of Noah, individuals today must be justified and show evidence of regeneration before they are Biblically baptized (Matthew 3:8). The comparison with Noah in 1 Peter 3:20-21 demonstrates that one must be justified by faith before he can rightly enter the waters of baptism. As Noah was justified before he passed through the flood, so for Christians today justification by faith takes place before one reaches the water and is a prerequisite for a proper relationship to it.

Thomas Ross said...

Fourth, a recognition that Noah’s ark pictures Christ provides further evidence that 1 Peter 3:20-21 does not teach baptismal regeneration. As the ark was “lift[ed] up” (Genesis 7:17), so “the Son of man [was] lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). As there was only one ark, so there is only one Savior (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). Only one door saved from destruction in Noah’s day, and Christ, the only way to heaven (John 14:6), said, “I am the door” (John 10:9). The ark was sufficient and complete to save from destruction, as Christ is sufficient to save (cf. Hebrews 9:12-14; Hebrews 10:10-14). The ark was available for all men who believed God’s promise of judgment and accepted His provision for salvation (cf. Revelation 22:17; 1 Timothy 2:4) which was needed by all (Romans 3:10, 23); so it is with Christ. God waited patiently before the Flood (Genesis 6:3; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9), but there came a time when it was too late to accept His offered escape (Genesis 7:11-13; 2 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-14); likewise He waits patiently today for men to repent and believe in His Son, but a time will come when the opportunity to receive salvation has passed. Furthermore, all that were in the ark were secure and saved, shut into it by God’s power; not one person on the ark was lost or died, just as all who believe are in Christ and will never suffer eternal death (Genesis 7:16; 1 Corinthians 15:22, John 10:27-30, 1 John 5:11-13). Those who are in Christ will never have the wrath of God poured out upon them, as it was poured out on the inhabitants of the world in Noah’s day who were outside the ark (Psalm 79:6; Ezekiel 22:31; Revelation 14:10-11), since Christ, pictured by the ark, saves men from their sin. Only those first in the ark passed through the water with Noah; it was the “ark . . . wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” As Noah and his household were in the ark, shut into it by a miraculous act of God (Genesis 7:16), a week before the flood began (Genesis 7:1, 4)., so a man must be “in Christ” by faith before he can enter the waters of baptism.[cxliii] One certainly did not pass through the waters of the flood in order to enter the ark—nor does one become “in Christ” by means of baptism. The ark saves from destruction, and the water from the world system. The “figure” of Christians and their baptism (1 Peter 3:21) provided by Noah’s passing through the flood fits very well with the Biblical truth that men are justified before their immersion; it does not fit baptismal regeneration well at all.

Thomas Ross said...

Fifth, 1 Peter 3:20-21 does not affirm baptismal regeneration because Peter earlier in his epistle, and elsewhere in Scripture, taught justification simply by “precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1). 1 Peter 1:1-5 affirms that the “elect . . . are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:1, 5). Peter establishes in the beginning of his epistle that God’s elect, all believers, are eternally saved and secure by Divine power. He affirms that “believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1:8-9). Further, he contrasts redemption by the incorruptible blood of Christ (1:18-19), received by supernaturally given faith (v. 21) in the imperishable Word of God (v. 23) with redemption by “corruptible things” (v. 18), which would include the solely temporal waters of baptism. The apostle also states that “he that believeth on [Christ] shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (2:6-7).[cxliv] When Peter speaks of the new birth, he never connects it with baptism (1 Peter 1:3, 23). In Acts, Peter’s message was: “repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19); “repentance . . . and forgiveness of sins” (5:31); and that “through [Christ’s] name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (10:43). Peter declared: “God gave them the [Holy Spirit] . . . who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (11:17), since “the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost . . . purifying their hearts by faith” (15:7-10).[cxlv] Peter did not contradict his teaching elsewhere and affirm baptismal regeneration in 1 Peter 3:20-21. As the waters of the flood lifted up the ark (Genesis 7:17), baptism is designed to exalt Christ, who in His death, burial, and resurrection, provides the meritorious cause of justification, which is received instrumentally simply by faith.

The conclusion that 1 Peter 3:20-21 does not teach forgiveness by baptism is clear. The parenthesis of verse 21, the words used for “saved” in the passage, the comparison to Noah’s deliverance by the Flood, and Peter’s teaching elsewhere in his epistles and in Scripture prove this fact. Baptismal regenerationists must mangle this verse, as they do the handful of other passages examined earlier, to invent support for their view, since the Word of God provides no support for their devilish perversion of the precious gospel of Christ. Those who neglected the ark and were in the water in Noah’s day died. Those who look to the waters of baptism for deliverance from sin will likewise be destroyed.

KJB1611 said...

The Oneness Pentecostal idea that “the one name of Matthew 28:19 is Jesus, for Jesus is the name of the Father . . . the Son . . . and the Holy Ghost . . . the name of Jesus was orally uttered as part of the baptismal formula . . . the name Jesus was orally invoked at baptism”[lix] is entirely erroneous and heretical, and it cannot be sustained Scripturally. If one must, as Oneness Pentecostalism affirms, employ the correct words at the time of baptism or salvation is impossible, which words should be employed? Those of Acts 2:38, “in [epi] the name of Jesus Christ”; those of Acts 8:16 and 19:5, “in [eis] the name of the Lord Jesus”; or those of Acts 10:48, “in [en] the name of the Lord”? Since there are three different groups of words, with three different prepositions employed (epi, eis, and en), and three different endings (“Jesus Christ,” “Lord Jesus,” “Lord,”—note that the last does not even have the name “Jesus” at all), which set constitutes the magic words without which salvation is impossible? Would it also not be very unfortunate that, whichever of the three sets of words one determines is the true one, every person the apostles and first century Christians baptized employing the two “wrong” sets of words was eternally damned? How many of the first century Christians must have missed heaven because they did not know which of the various sets of words were the magic keys to heaven! How unfortunate, indeed, how misleading it is that Luke, writing under inspiration, does not give the slightest hint that either Acts 2:38, or 8:16, or 19:5, or any other verbal formulation whatsoever, is essential to salvation! What errors the apostles made as well in allowing all those baptized in Acts into church membership, whichever set of words are recorded in connection with their baptism, although the two-thirds with the wrong formula were not truly saved! Or is it not rather obvious that the Oneness Pentecostal notion that a certain set of words is essential to salvation cannot be sustained in the book of Acts or elsewhere in Scripture? Since there is no consistent set of words recorded in Acts in connection with baptism “in the name of” the Lord, and so Acts is not giving a specific set of words that must be employed without sinning and facing eternal damnation, what does the “name” terminology really mean?

Baptism is “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38), not because Jesus is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, nor because the words “in the name of Jesus” or some similar non-Trinitiarian formula was uttered when the ceremony was performed, but because baptism is performed with Christ’s authority. The Lord Jesus, who has all authority or power (Matthew 28:18), commanded that baptism be performed with the Trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:19. When this is done (and other requirements for baptism are met, such as that the person being baptized is a believer, not an infant), the baptism is performed with Christ’s authority, that is, in His name. When Baptist churches employ the Trinitarian formula the Lord Jesus commanded for use until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), they are baptizing in Jesus’ name.

KJB1611 said...

The fact that “in the name of” means “with the authority of” is evident in Scripture. Several examples, out of many, will be given. In Deuteronomy 18:5-7, the Levites were “to minister in the name of the LORD.” Unlike the other tribes, they had Jehovah’s authority to do their Levitical work. They did not go around all day long repeating His name in a sort of mantra. Their ministrations in the tabernacle and temple, teaching the Law to God’s people and completing other work, was done with Divine authority, hence “in His name.” In 1 Samuel 25:9, “when David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.” David’s young men came to Nabal with David’s authority and gave Nabal a message from David. They did not come to Nabal and say, “David, David, David, David.” In 1 Kings 18:32, Elijah “built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.” Elijah built the altar with Jehovah’s authority (1 Kings 18:36). The point was not that he repeated the Tetragrammaton over and over again. In Esther 3:12, “the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.” The letter had the authority of king Ahasuerus, so all men in his empire needed to pay attention. The words of the letter were not “Ahasuerus, Ahasuerus, Ahasuerus.” In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul wrote, “[B]rethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” The apostle commanded the church at Thessalonica with Christ’s authority. Paul wrote under inspiration, and the command to practice church discipline was given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20. In Acts 4:7, the elders of Israel asked Peter what authority the apostle had for his message. Their question was, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” In Luke 24:47—which sets the background for the use of “in the name of” formulae in Acts, since Luke wrote Acts as the continuation of his gospel (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-4) and the preaching in Acts was in fulfillment of the command given in Luke 24 (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15)—“repentance and remission of sins should be preached in [Christ’s] name among all nations.” That is, the Lord Jesus gave authority to the church to preach repentance and remission of sins, and so this preaching was done as recorded in the book of Acts. “In the name of” means “with the authority of” in Scripture.

KJB1611 said...


Acts 19:1-7 demonstrates that the formula given in Matthew 28:19 was employed by the apostolic churches, corroborating that Trinitarian baptism is actually baptism with Christ’s authority (Acts 19:5). When Paul found people who claimed to be “disciples” (v. 1) who had “not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost” (v. 2), the apostle, in shock, asked “Unto what then were ye baptized?” Since the churches were “baptizing . . . in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), employing the Trinitarian formula in their baptismal ceremony, Paul asks these alleged “disciples” how they could have been baptized and never have heard of the Holy Ghost, when He is mentioned in the baptismal ritual itself. Paul’s question would not make any sense if the baptismal ceremony employed a formula such as “I baptize you in the name of Jesus.” How would that formula be a guarantee that all baptized disciples had heard of the Holy Ghost? Trinitarians correctly explain Paul’s mental process as, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost, but He is mentioned in the act of baptism itself! ‘Unto what then were ye baptized?’” Oneness Pentecostals would have made Paul think, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost—now He isn’t mentioned in the act of baptism, since only the word “Jesus” is used in the formula. However, I’ll ask them what they were baptized unto anyway, as if that related to what they had just said somehow.”

Very early documents in church history demonstrate that even around the end of the first century baptism was administered employing the Trinitarian formula. Near the end of the first century, it was written: “Now concerning baptism, baptize as follows: after you have reviewed all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”[lx] “For those things which the prophets announced, saying, ‘Until He come for whom it is reserved, and He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles,’ have been fulfilled in the Gospel, [our Lord saying,] ‘Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’”[lxi] Some decades later, declarations like the following are found: “For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: ‘Go,’ He saith, ‘teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’”[lxii] In contrast, no extant patristic writer or ancient document says anything like “we should not baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but in the name of Jesus Christ” or anything remotely similar. True churches in the earliest centuries of Christianity employed the Trinitarian baptismal formula (as even proto-Catholicism did).

When Biblical churches employ the Trinitarian formula in baptism, they are baptizing in Jesus’ name, just like the first century churches did. Oneness Pentecostals that employ the phrase “in the name of Jesus” when immersing people but believe the idolatrous heresy that Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do not have any authority from God for their practice—they are the ones who do not really baptize in the name of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget "in the name of a disciple" as seen in Matthew 10:42. "In the name of" is a phrase used several times, although I didn't see this one in the notes: Matthew 10:42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.