Do we need to be baptized in water to be saved?
Let’s look at an article by Robert Gromacki called Repent and Be Baptized to see how we might address this.
The genuine, intended meaning of a verse differs significantly from its implied meaning. Implied understanding is based on the first reading of a passage, but an accurate interpretation can only be obtained after a thorough examination of the verse, its context, and its relationship to other clear teachings in Scripture.
Several church organizations believe in baptismal regeneration, which teaches that personal salvation requires both repentant faith and water baptism. To become a member of such a community, one must be baptized in water for the explicit goal of receiving forgiveness for sins. A person’s faith is thereby expressed in and through the essential baptismal ritual, rather than being separate from it. Acts 2:38 is cited by these groups as one of their supporting verses.
Do we need to be baptized in water to be saved?
Our reader has requested a response to these groups’ claims. We may demonstrate that this text does not indicate that water baptism is required for personal salvation by following five steps.
1. Grammar Context
The syntax of the verse suggests that the only requirement for forgiveness of sins is repentance. Here is my translation of the Greek verse, which includes some extra words to highlight some major differences not seen in the English text: “Repent [you, plural], and be baptized [singular] in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive [you, plural] the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The command to repent is a plural verb, as is the promise to receive. The instruction to be baptized is a one-time event. The command (“let each of you be baptized”) is a parenthetical clause. “Repent… upon the name of Jesus Christ into the forgiveness of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Peter said. Peter told the audience only one task to complete in order to be forgiven of their sins. “Repent [you, plural],” was the only direct demand.
Other interpreters take a different approach to the verse. They concentrate on the term “in the phrase “for the forgiveness of sins.” ” This is a preposition (eis in Greek), which usually means “into.” However, it can also mean “as a result of” or “on the basis of.” The men of Nineveh “repented at the preaching of Jonah,” according to Matthew 12:41.
The preposition eis, which is translated as “for” in Acts 2:38, is the word “at.” Clearly, the men of Nineveh did not repent in response to Jonah’s teaching. Rather, they repented as a result of Jonah’s preaching. Preaching took place before repentance. Similarly, the forgiveness of sins in Acts 2:38 occurred prior to the practice of water baptism.
Both of these perspectives are viable alternatives to baptismal regeneration.
2. Immediate Context
Second, the verse’s immediate context demonstrates that all that is required for divine forgiveness is repentant faith. Later in his message, Peter recalled Joel (Acts 2:16-20) earlier in his message and ended with the evangelical plea of that Old Testament prophet: “And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 21).
People in the Old Testament era were saved through praying to Jehovah-God. They admitted their sinful plight, felt that only God could save them, and put their faith in Him. They refused to be baptized in water. Why would Peter mention Joel if he meant baptism was a need for salvation? The reference would be meaningless.
Later, Peter explained that Jesus Christ, the Lord-God, was the One to whom his audience should turn in penitent faith. Through his miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, God the Father authenticated Christ (vv. 22-35). “Therefore, let the house of Israel know surely, that God has made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ, “Peter continued (v. 36).
“Then they that joyfully received his word were baptized,” the context continues (v. 41). What was the message they got? It was the subject of Peter’s speech, in which he showed Jesus Christ’s deity and messiahship, as well as the importance of calling on Him for redemption. They repented after calling on Christ. That act of trust resulted in the forgiveness of sins. They were then baptized individually to demonstrate their newfound faith in Christ.
3. Additional Context
Third, the Book of Acts’ larger context demonstrates that contrite faith is the only way to obtain divine pardon. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” Peter said later in his preaching at Solomon’s Porch within the Temple (Acts 3:19). There is no mention of water baptism as a condition for the forgiveness of sins in this passage.
The unbelieving religious authorities who had recently imprisoned the apostles declared to the unbelieving religious authorities: “Our fathers’ God raised up Jesus, whom you killed and hung on a tree. “(5:30, 31)]. God exalted him with his right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to bring Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.” It’s important to realize that repentance and forgiveness are synonymous. Repentance is the human cause of salvation, and forgiveness is the divine outcome.
“To him [Christ] give all the prophets testify, that whatsoever believeth in him shall obtain remission of sins,” Peter said when explaining the Gospel to Cornelius’ family (10:43). That verse is incredibly straightforward and straightforward.
Acts 10:43 was spoken by the same person who spoke Acts 2:38. As a result, Peter is his own best interpreter. Cornelius’ family believed, got divine forgiveness, and received the Holy Spirit after hearing those sweet words (v. 44). A faith-only encounter resulted in these supernatural rewards. Cornelius and his household were afterward baptized, although not for the purpose of receiving forgiveness of sins. That spiritual truth was already a part of their lives.
Later, Peter explained God’s operation and Cornelius’ and his family’s conversion to the Christians in Jerusalem. “Then hath God also granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles,” they said, worshipping God (11:18).
According to Paul, water baptism does not have a role in gaining redemption. “Be it known unto you therefore, brothers and brethren,” he cried at Antioch in Pisidia, “that through this man is proclaimed unto you the remission of sins: and through him, all who believe are justified from all things” (13:38,39).
Add to that Paul’s assertion to the Corinthians: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the gospel” (1 Cor. 1:17). The juxtaposition of baptism and the Gospel message should be noted. Baptism is not a requirement for salvation. After salvation, water baptism is a necessity for obedience, but it is not a condition for spiritual regeneration (Matthew 28:18-20).
4.John the Baptist’s Ministry
Fourth, Peter’s words in Acts 2:38 can be understood in light of John the Baptist’s mission. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” the forerunner of Christ taught (Matt. 3:2). According to Mark, John preached “the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).
This text and Peter’s appeal share three characteristics: baptism, repentance, and remission of sins. But what is it that guarantees the forgiveness of sins? Repentance is what brings about heavenly forgiveness. Water baptism is merely the visible symbol or mode by which a believing sinner acknowledges that he has already been forgiven through contrite faith in Christ’s redemptive Person and work.
Fifth, the doctrine of salvation, which is taught throughout the Bible and demonstrated throughout all dispensations and ages, emphasizes that only contrite faith is required to be justified and obtain divine pardon. “Abraham believed in the Lord, and [God] counted it to him as righteousness,” says the Bible (Gen. 15:6).
The ways of salvation have remained the same from one age to the next. As a result, New Testament authors frequently use Old Testament characters as examples of trust. In this Church Age, teaching that water baptism is required for salvation is claiming that God has modified the way of gaining justification.
Dear readers, delight in the truth: “For it is by grace that ye are saved by faith; and it is not of yourselves: it is God’s gift” (Eph. 2:8).
Water Pictures Cleansing
Since circumcision was mentioned there, and there’s a picture of circumcision in Colossians 2, this is an interesting analogy. If you look at Romans 4:11, you’ll see that Paul says,
While yet uncircumcised, he [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision as a mark of the righteousness he possessed by faith. The goal was to make him the father of everyone who believes but isn’t circumcised so that their righteousness would be counted as well.
“The very first act of genuine saving trust in Christ justifies us, and then baptism follows.”
Then we get to Acts 22:16, which is the pertinent verse that the questioner brought up: “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins…” “Well, there it is,” you’d say if you came to a complete halt right there. The forgiving agent is water.” But that isn’t the end of it. “Rise and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on his name,” it says.
I believe the sense is the same. Baptism is the visible manifestation of faith in calling on the Lord’s name. The water has no bearing on our justification or connection with Christ. The water represents purification, but it is our trust in the heart, our cry to the Lord in faith, that unites us and forgives us.
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