Summary: Baptism does not save! So why bother?
1. Arguments for or against "Baptismal Regeneration"
"eis" Their argument is that no Lexicon translates it "because of"
John Pickering = into, on, to, towards, against, upon, because of, with respect to, among, through, for.
Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon = in regard to, in relation to
This would mean that the remission of sins is related to baptism, but not necessarily the purpose of baptism.
Arndt and Gingrich’s A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament also lists the causal use of eis (because of) as one of the lesser used, but nevertheless legitimate, meanings of the word.
In addition to these works on the Greek language, there is other evidence which cannot be ignored: the casual use of eis is found in the New Testament itself. Luke 11:32 says, "For they repented at (eis with the sense of "because of’) the preaching of Jonah." Romans 4:20 says, "He staggered not at the promise of God through (eis) unbelief." Evidently, theA translators of the King James Version were aware of this usage.
The second problem in Acts 2:38 is the relationship of the two verbs “repent and be baptized.” Some argue that they must be taken together as two things necessary for salvation. However, it is clear that there is a break in the thought between the two verbs in the Greek text which is not preserved in the English translation. The first verb (repent) is in the second person plural: “repent ye”, but the second one (be baptized) is in the third person singular: “let each one be baptized.” Why is there a change unless the two thoughts are to be separated? “Repent” is in the plural because it is directed to the whole crowd present that day. “Be baptized” is singular because it is addressed to each one who has repented.
The fundamental question, however, is not whether Acts 2:38 can be understood as agreeing with the position of salvation by faith alone, but whether the contention that baptism is necessary for salvation can be reconciled with the rest of the New Testament. Just a few of the problems with this view will be cited.
(1) The thief on the cross next to Jesus was saved without baptism (Luke 23:43).
Dr. Guy Bellamy: talking to a leader with the Church of Christ
"What about the thief on the cross?"
C.C. "You can’t prove he had not been baptized before they nailed him to the cross."
Guy, "You are right. But I can prove, though he had been baptized many times, he was still a thief. The Bible says so. But he was different when he looked to Jesus and trusted Him."
(2) The Gentiles were told in Acts 10:43, “Whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While they were listening to the preaching of Peter, the Gentiles believed in Christ, received the Spirit, and spoke in tongues (Acts 10:46). All of this occurred before Peter asked if anyone would deny their right to be baptized. Who can denyA that receiving the Holy Spirit is proof of one’s salvation?
(3) Paul clearly states in 1 Corinthians 1:17 that baptism is not part of the gospel when he says: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” Baptism is clearly not a part of the gospel, according to Paul. He adds, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius” (1 Cor. 1:14). These statements are totally incompatible with the idea of baptismal regeneration.
(4) If this were not enough, Paul’s two great works on the doctrine of salvation, Romans and Galatians, give the most detailed discussions of salvation found in the Bible. Both conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:22-24, 28; 5:1; Gal. 2:16). In fact, the entire fourth chapter of Romans was written to show that Abraham was declared righteous by faith before he was circumcised (Rom. 4:9-11). Circumcision was the sign of obedience to the new covenant. If the analogy is followed, it is clear that baptism is not a part of salvation, but a sign that one has salvation.
Since baptism is a work which one can perform, salvation by faith plus baptism amounts to salvation by works, and this is in direct contradiction to the grace of God. Paul says, ’Therefore, it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Rom. 4:16), and "Whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:4).
The conclusion of the whole matter is:
It is a dangerous matter to base one’s entire interpretation of the Bible on one word which has numerous meanings.
Difficult passages should be interpreted in the light of the whole Bible.
If this principle is followed, one will not come up with interpretations which contradict the whole spirit and content of the Scriptures.