Is Baptism Essential for Salvation? – Program 2

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Jimmy Allen, Dr. James Bjornstad, Dr. Jerry Jones, Rev. David Kingdon; ©1982
The thief on the cross was not baptized, but Jesus seemed to indicate that he would be saved. How is that possible?


The following material is divided into four sections, corresponding to the four half hour programs as they aired. Each segment includes first the written copy directly from the program as aired, then separate comments by either Dr. Jones or Dr. Allen, and finally some concluding remarks by Dr. Ankerberg.

(This information was valid at the time this program was taped.)

Dr. Jerry Jones, Church of Christ evangelist, Professor of Bible at Harding University

Dr. Jimmy Allen, Church of Christ evangelist, Professor at Harding University

Dr. James Bjornstad, Professor of Northeastern Bible College, author, lecturer and a director of the Institute of Contemporary Christianity.

Rev. David Kingdon, Baptist minister, author and former college principal in Ireland.

Program 2: Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation?
Was the Thief on the Cross Saved Without Baptism?

Ankerberg: Gentlemen, we’re so glad that you are here with us tonight. Last week we were talking about what is necessary for salvation. We were talking about the thief on the cross. Would you like to continue that conversation? We also want to talk about Cornelius, and we’ve made some statements about that. Who would like to start.
Kingdon: Well I’d like to say this. The argument from Hebrews 9 is employed by our friends to meet the objection that the thief upon the cross was saved without baptism, and they say that he was saved without baptism under the old covenant. I say that he was saved under the new covenant on the basis of John 20 because our Lord died before him, and therefore the new covenant was in force.
Allen: I don’t believe the new covenant was in force until Pentecost. But granting the argument, let’s grant the argument that David is right. Saying that he is right, I maintain that he was initially saved back here while Christ was still living and thus before the new covenant went into force. His actual going into paradise was after the Lord’s death, but his becoming a saved man was before the Lord’s death and to find out what to do to be saved now, you’re going to have to come this side of the great commission.
Ankerberg: Are you saying in a sense then that he does not pass as an example for what you are saying or anybody is saying.
Allen: Right. No one had to be baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of sins until after the great commission went into force.
Kingdon: Well, that destroys Hebrews 9, because the argument in Hebrews 9 is that the testament comes into force on the death of the testator, not 50 days afterwards on the day of Pentecost. You can’t have it both ways.
Allen: I’d be delighted to respond. You make a will. David has made his will, and at the very moment he dies, the wealth will not be distributed. (Incidentally, David, if it were me it wouldn’t be much of a distribution.) But, anyhow, when David dies it is true that after that his will goes into force once it is probated. The Lord Jesus during His personal ministry was gradually revealing the part of the New Testament which was to go into force after His death, and I maintain the will was probated on Pentecost Day when the gospel was preached as an accomplished fact for the first time.
Ankerberg: Alright. If there’s any other further comments, I’d like to jump to the next topic, if we could. Would you mind if I threw in a key verse in the book of Romans? Romans 3:26: “He made Him to be a propitiation for our sins.” I don’t have my Bible here, if possibly you gentlemen would like to take a look at that, and one of you, if you would read it, it seems like Paul is building an argument concerning faith, and about blood, and I know that both of you on both sides of this question are going to do some deep study here in Romans. Romans 3:25-26. Would someone read that for me. I’d like to have a comment from either one of you.
Kingdon: “Whom God hath sent forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
Ankerberg: May I ask you gentlemen on both sides what do you think Paul is saying there?
Jones: Okay, let me jump in right here, John. I believe he is talking about faith that justification is by faith and not by the works of the old law. This is the argument that Paul makes throughout the whole book. He talks about through faith in His blood. As we started the program last week, we pointed out that Jimmy and I are not maintaining baptismal regeneration. We are saved by the blood of Christ, we are saved by the death of Christ, and that’s why in Romans – staying in the book – look at Romans 6:3. The Bible says: “Know ye not, that all of us were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Now where it says “were baptized into his death,” this is a figure of speech we call metonymy, which simply means were baptized into the benefits of His death. So the benefits that the death of Christ brought, the benefits that the blood of Jesus Christ brought, it’s in baptism then when we are united and brought unto union with these benefits.
Ankerberg: So you would say that in the baptism ceremony itself, it is at that point you have contact, or the application of salvation is made.
Bjornstad: I think the first area of comment is that we move very quickly from Romans 3 to Romans 6. In any hermeneutic approach to the Scriptures or any honest approach, the first thing is to deal with Romans 3. Hermeneutics is the science of the study of the Scriptures. You study the words and the grammar in the context in which it occurs. First of all, there is no mention of baptism in Romans 3 in the passage that we read about propitiation. Only by jumping to Romans 6 could that be brought in. So the first thing I think we have to acknowledge is Romans 3 does not cover that but rather speaks about propitiation by faith.
Ankerberg: What is a propitiation?
Bjornstad: Propitiation is a word that can be used for satisfaction, even a reconciliation with God. Many times the word is used in the Septuagint of the mercy seat where God accomplished atonement for us through the sacrifice and of course through Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: So what does the verse mean?
Bjornstad: So I think the passage is teaching that we are made right, that we have satisfied God’s demands, that that has been done through Jesus Christ, His shed blood; and through faith in Him we are saved.
Ankerberg: Have we done it? Have we satisfied God?
Bjornstad: We are not the ones who satisfy. Jesus is the One who has paid that for us as the propitiation.
Ankerberg: And how does it come? According to that verse, how would you say it is applied?
Bjornstad: Okay, the passage here would indicate the fact that it’s by faith, first of all. Romans 3:24 “Being justified as a gift by his grace [that it is God’s doing] through redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” And then as you go further with that passage, you’ll pick up the idea in verse 25 “whom God displayed publicly [that is, Jesus] as a propitiation [or satisfaction] in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed.” And then he goes on to say, “that He [that is God] might be the just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” [Rom. 3:24-26] The passage only teaches that faith in Christ is essential to have that rightness with God. Only as you jump to Romans 6 can baptism be brought in. I want to make that very clear to begin with.
Ankerberg: Alright, comment also on Romans 6 then.
Bjornstad: Romans 6, as I go to that passage, the key to that is the language that is used there which connotes some of the ideas of similes. For instance, “in the likeness of his resurrection,” “in the likeness of his death.” [Rom. 6:5] It’s used here basically in somewhat of a figurative sense of identification; that is, us with Christ in His death and in His resurrection. But I do not find it used in a literal sense at all in that passage as water baptism as he indicates.
Ankerberg: So you would agree that we are united with Christ, but you are saying that it is not a one-to-one identification there.
Bjornstad: No. The word likeness would indicate that it could not be.
Ankerberg: If it’s not a one to one in its likeness, what would you call that?
Bjornstad: Well, the phrase that is used most of the time is a simile. It bears a resemblance or an analogy to that which you have. For instance, if you say this person is like that person, you don’t me that he is the same as that person. You mean rather that he bears some resemblance. And I think that’s what we are talking about here: that baptism bears some resemblance in the sense it identifies us with His death, but it is not His death and it is not His resurrection.
Ankerberg: Alright. Response.
Jones: Now, also, let’s go back to the Romans 3 passage. I’d be more than happy to go back to that. It does not mention repentance either, and yet Jim would believe that repentance is essential to salvation. Now if you understand it and want to bring up hermeneutic principles, I think that is excellent, because many times you have a part standing for the whole. If you understand faith as an umbrella to include everything that God requires us to do, then you don’t have any trouble with it. For instance, let me just modify the idea of faith. For instance, in Galatians 3:26: “For ye are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Alright, that’s exactly what James is maintaining. But watch verse 27: “For [which is the Greek word gar, which introduces a reason] all of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.” So if you understand faith to include everything, then you are okay. Romans 3 doesn’t include repentance, it doesn’t say anything about loving God, it doesn’t say anything about confessing Christ. But Jim might not take this position.
Ankerberg: Alright, Jim.
Bjornstad: My response to that would be again he is bringing outside passages into the text. First by trying repentance and then by trying baptism. Now metonymies or any figures of speech, the basic rules of interpreting the Scriptures as you begin with it in terms of literal understanding – face value every day – until you on longer can. And then at that point, you begin to consider the fact that it is something that may be a figure of speech or figurative language, or literary device. What he has done is simply again to incorporate more into faith. I would disagree, of course, with him as to what constitutes that faith.
Ankerberg: Alright, he is asking the question, though, what about these other things, because I would assume that you hold repentance as well, and it doesn’t say that there. What would be your response on that?
Bjornstad: My response to that would be that faith itself, as indicated in James, is not something that the demons themselves could believe, or merely an intellectual belief, but also incorporates the idea of trusting and putting yourself into it. And if you do that, then you repent. So I see faith and repentance coming together, and I think that’s the way “faith” is used biblically because intellectual belief is denoted in James as being separate from the biblical kind of faith when it refers to the demonic. I think in the case of the other, though, what he has done quickly is to jump right past that into baptism which he wants and then bring that into the passage.
Ankerberg: Alright, Jerry, can I come back to you in terms of the comment that Romans 6 is figurative and you have words such as “the likeness of His death,” or “the likeness of his resurrection.”
Jones: Okay. Let me make one comment about this Romans 3. You see, he is including repentance in faith, and yet he can’t find the word repentance there. Alright, all I’m saying is that faith includes everything that God says. Now, why am I wrong in using the same writer’s definition of faith in Galatians 3? It’s the same writer. So here’s your comment upon it. Now let’s go to Romans 6.
Kingdon: Now, when you are dealing with Romans 6:3 you say, as I understand your teaching, that baptism puts us into contact with the blood of Christ, okay.
Allen: The death of Christ.
Kingdon: Well, with the death of Christ.
Jones: Into the death of Christ.
Kingdon: Well, you will admit the blood stands for His death.
Allen: That’s right.
Jones: Yes.
Kingdon: Alright, what about then Romans 3:25? What does faith do? And this comes before Romans 6. Does faith put us into contact with the blood of Christ? The saving death of Christ?
Jones: Now, while he defined faith, I’m going to agree.
Kingdon: Well, it seems to me that Romans 3:25 teaches very clearly that faith does put us into contact with the saving death of Christ, which is the propitiation, that is to say it removes God’s wrath from us due to us for our sins. And I don’t see that that can be avoided.
Ankerberg: Would you say, Jerry, that faith puts you into contact with the death of Christ?
Jones: Properly defined biblical faith, yes.
Ankerberg: Okay, define it as you would see it.
Jones: Okay. Of course, they’re not wanting me to go to other passages, but I went to Galatians 3 to show you the definition of faith. Hebrews 11 simply says the faith that saves is the faith that obeys. We’ve got, “Noah, by faith, built the ark and he was saved.” [Heb. 11:7]
Ankerberg: Okay, let’s hold on to those two verses. We’ve got Galatians 3 and Hebrews 11. Response on that.
Kingdon: Now you’ve been to Romans 6:3. Now Paul in Romans 6 is not making a direct statement about baptism. He is appealing to the meaning of baptism and in particular to what baptism commits Christians to. It commits them to a certain way of life because of what it signifies and symbolizes. So he’s appealing to the ethical significance of baptism. He is not making a statement about the saving significance of baptism. And that is a very, very important distinction.
Ankerberg: We need to comment still on Galatians 3, if you would, and Hebrews 11.
Kingdon: Galatians 3. Let me just ask you whether there is metaphor in Galatians 3?
Jones: What is it?
Kingdon: Well, I would ask you whether there is any there?
Jones: What part of it?
Kingdon: Well, when you put on Christ. [Gal. 3:27] Do you literally put on Christ?
Jones: Okay, why don’t you respond on the idea of gar, “for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ [as an expression] those are of sons of God.” [Gal. 3:27]
Kingdon: Sure. It doesn’t give me any problem. Because when I was baptized I professed to be a child of God, I professed to put on Christ, I professed to have died to sin.
Jones: Did you put on Christ before baptism?
Kingdon: In one sense, yes, and in another sense, no.
Jones: How about in the sense of Galatians 3:27?
Kingdon: Well, let me ask you about Romans 6. Are we crucified with Christ in baptism?
Jones: You’re jumping to Romans and I’m going to stick with Galatians for a while.
Kingdon: Alright, but I want to draw out a point here. Are we crucified with Christ in baptism?
Jones: Yes.
Kingdon: What about Galatians 2:20 then?
Jones: Okay, I am crucified with Christ.
Kingdon: We are crucified with Christ when Christ died for us on the cross. Right? Let me just quote it: “I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”
Jones: Okay, when did that death of mine take place?
Kingdon: It took place in one very profound sense when Christ died, because I died in union with Him.
Jones: Let me read to you where it took place. In Romans 6:4: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death.” There’s where I died.
Kingdon: No! I died with Christ in union with Him when he died for me.
Jones: Well, when you were baptized, what kind of union did you have then?
Ankerberg: The question is not whether or not there is an exact one-to-one union, but is that used as a teaching tool of illustration?
Jones: Let’s come back to Galatians 3:27. Now if you were clothed with Christ before you were baptized, what does 3:27 mean?
Kingdon: I take that as one has put Him on in one’s Christian profession.
Jones: Before or after baptism?
Kingdon: In baptism.
Jones: Okay, you put it on in baptism so therefore it wasn’t put on before you were baptized.
Kingdon: No. I have no problem with that.
Jones: Could you be saved without putting….
Kingdon: But are we using metaphorical language or are we saying that baptism effects what it signifies?
Jones: Could you be saved without putting on Christ?
Kingdon: I would say yes because I am putting on Christ in the sense of Christian profession.
Jones: You are saying that you could be saved without putting on Christ.
Kingdon: No, you are putting words into my mouth. You are putting words into my mouth. You see, I am trying to get at the point of the language here. Is it metaphorical or is it literal. Am I literally clothed with Christ, as a garment?
Jones: It’s descriptive of what is taking place.
Kingdon: Exactly! But that’s the whole point at issue. Do I literally put on Christ? Am I literally crucified with Christ, Romans 6, in baptism?
Ankerberg: Let me bring up a question here that seems to be apparent, and maybe it’s not. But it seems after a person is saved – let’s assume that a person is baptized, has faith, repentance and so on – are there any terms in Scripture that you would concede that happened after baptism that would be growth in the Christian life?
Jones: Well, we’re told to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. [2 Pet. 3:18]
Ankerberg: Would there be any figurative language that Paul uses in Ephesians or other places that would suggest growth?
Allen: May I respond to that? Figurative and metaphor and what have you. Galatians 3:26-27 is a passage on sonship. It deals with sonship. And if you will back up starting at about Galatians 3:11 and working through to verse 27, it has to do with our putting on Christ in the sense of being clothed with His righteousness. It is the act in which we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ literally. There is literally where we receive the Lord’s righteousness. It’s not talking about after one becomes a son. It’s talking about how people become sons and they put on the garment in the sense that they put on the righteousness of Christ. We’re made righteous through Him. The only difference between these gentlemen and us is baptism a part of the process by which we are made righteous. Repentance is faith turning, confession is faith speaking, baptism is faith obeying the Lord to be brought into a dynamic union with Jesus and it’s a part of the process of salvation by faith. It’s not faith plus anything, it’s faith properly defined.
Ankerberg: Just a final comment, Jim.
Bjornstad: Let me just give a quick comment to it. I think his argument basically is extension. He starts with the idea of the clothing of Christ and all of a sudden comes up with the idea of the righteousness of Christ. You’ve got a verse for that?
Jones: Yes sir. It’s in the context.
Ankerberg: Alright, let’s hold it until next week. Thank you, gentlemen, for this week.

John Ankerberg’s remarks on Acts 2:38

I want to thank all four of our men for being our guests on the program tonight. Would you mind if we took a look at Acts 2:38 and see if together we can translate this verse? At the risk of raising the fog level, let’s take a look at the Greek here. We know there are three clauses in this verse. The first one is “Ye repent.” The second clause is “everyone of you be baptized.” The third clause is “Ye shall receive the Holy Spirit.”

Now each of these clauses has a subject and a verb that possesses person and number. For example, in the first clause the subject is “ye” and it is second person and plural number. Remember that. The verb is “repent.” It is also second person and plural number. In the second clause the subject is “each one of you.” It is third person and singular number. The verb in this clause is “be baptized.” It is also third person singular. In the third clause, the subject is “ye” and it is second person and plural number. And the verb is “ye shall receive” which is also second person and plural number.

Now, how do we know that these subjects and verbs go together. The Greek rule states that subject and verb must agree in both person and number. So, in the first clause the subject “ye” and the verb “repent” do agree and they go together. But they do not agree with the subject and the verb in person and number of the second clause. Therefore, we cannot read them together. But in the third clause there is agreement, so we can join the first and the third clauses together and it can read, “Ye repent, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Now, what if we wanted to take the subject of the second clause “each one of you” and join it to the two verbs in the first and second clauses; that is, join “repent” and “be baptized” together. Well, we could not do that because both verbs are of a different number and person. Only one of them agrees with the number and person of the subject “each one of you.” That is the verb “be baptized.” Now the greatest English-speaking Greek scholar that ever lived, A. T. Robertson, has said about the change of number and person from the first clause to the second clause here, “This change marks a break in the thought here that the English translation of the Bible does not preserve.” He goes on to say that what Peter is teaching is, “The first thing they should do is make a radical and complete change of heart and life. Then, let each one be baptized after this change has taken place and the act of baptism be performed in the name of Jesus Christ.”

But now what about the words “for remission of sins?” This is a modifying phrase that can only go with either the first clause or the second clause, but not with both. Well, which clause does it go with? Put it with the first clause and the verse would have to read, “Ye repent, for the remission of your sins,” and this would rule out baptism as playing any part in receiving the remission of sins. Now, if we put it with the second clause, the verse would have to read, “Each one of you be baptized for the remission of your sins.” But then repentance would not play any part in having one’s sins remitted. All a person would have to do is get baptized, and without expressing any repentance he would receive remission of his sins. Now all of us would reject that view.

I think that it makes logical and grammatical sense to keep together all of the words that are plural in number, and second person. Remember that the subject and verb of the second clause is third person singular but, “the sins of all of you” is second person plural. It does not go with the subject, “each of you be baptized,” but it does go with “ye repent” and “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Now, if we try to ignore the singular and plural words here and connect baptism as the cause of the remission of all their sins, it would read kind of funny. It would literally read this way: “Each one of you be baptized for the sins of all of you.” This would apply to the next person as well. He would hear, “You also will be baptized for the sins of all of them.” The people hearing Peter understood the meaning of baptism. As preached by John and Jesus, it was a baptism of repentance; that is, baptism was a testimony of true, heartfelt repentance which came before a person was baptized. John did not a repentance of baptism, that is a repentance “that came from being baptized.” Baptism was not the thing that caused it.

Here in Acts 2:38 when Peter told the people to repent, it was already established in their minds that true inward repentance was properly acknowledged by the outward declaration made through water baptism. Baptism was public confession of the fact and open identification with the name of Jesus Christ. It did not convey salvation, I believe it witnessed it.

That concludes our program for tonight. Next week we will have part 3 in this debate, and I hope that you will be with us. I am also going to be talking and commenting on “Are there two baptisms when we talk about the Spirit of God baptizing a person into the body of Christ, and then water baptism? What about Ephesians where it says there is just one baptism? We’ll talk about that next week.

Dr. Jimmy Allen – Response to John Ankerberg’s Remarks on Acts 2:38

In the name of fairness, a rule of honorable controversy, universally recognized, is that one does not introduce material to which his opponent has no opportunity to respond. In adding his own rebuttals to our position, since we had no opportunity to respond before the TV audience, John stretched the rule a bit. His editorial comments were not made at the auditorium when the discussion took place. They were filmed in some quiet studio in our absence and without our knowledge or consent. Prior to the taping, it was my understanding that such would not be done. Let me hasten to add that I am grateful to John for the opportunity to make this brief reply in writing.

Because John thinks a verb must always agree with its subjects in person and number, he argued that it is a violation of grammar to join “repent ye” (second plural) and “be baptized everyone of you” (third, singular) to receive “remission of sins.” A simple reading of Acts 2:38 shows that Peter did exactly what John says cannot be done!

Read Word Pictures in The New Testament, Volume III, pages 34-36, to see if A. T. Robertson held the same view as Ankerberg. Robertson was a Baptist (thus on John’s side of the fence), however, he connected “remission of sins” to baptism rather than to repentance as John did. Robertson was wrong in saying their sins were forgiven before they were baptized but he was right in joining “remission of sins” to water baptism.

Hekostos is the Greek singular translated as “everyone” in Acts 2:38. Consider the following comments on Hekastos. The singular from its collective significance is frequently joined with a plural verb” (H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 411). “The singular is used with pronouns or verbs in the plural… humon hekasto” (W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 236). “Hekastos with plural verb occurs eleven times in the New Testament (Mt. 2, Lk. 1, Jno. 2, Acts 2, Eph. 1, Heb. 1, Rev. 2)” (J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. III, p. 311). “It is used distributively in apposition with the nominatives of plural verbs, either expressed or implied” (E. Robinson, Greek and English Lexicon, pp. 199-200). The scholars show that Ankerberg’s rule allowing no exceptions does not exist. Moulton specifically refers to Acts 2 (see verse 8) as a chapter where the singular does have a plural verb. “Each one of you” in Acts 2:38 is hekastos humon, the very words Arndt and Gingrich gave to prove “the singular is used with pronouns and verbs in the plural.”

According to Luke 2:3, “And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city.” “All” and “everyone” (hekastos) refer to the same people. “Went” is a plural verb. Hence, “everyone [singular] went [plural] into his own city.” Acts 2:8 says, “And how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born?” “We” and “every man” (hekastos) refer to the same people. “Hear” is a plural verb. The singular, “every man,” takes the plural verb “hear.” These are cases both written by Luke, where the subjects do not agree with their verbs in number. This can be done because “everyone” in Luke 2:3 stands in apposition to “all,” and “every man” in Acts 2:8 stands in apposition to “we.” “All,” that is “everyone,” went to be taxed and “we,” that is “every man,” hear them speak in our own tongue. Similarly, although the construction is not exactly the same (the verse is in the form of a command rather than a statement of fact and it has two verbs and a conjunction), “everyone” (hekastos) in Acts 2:38 stands in apposition to “ye.” They were all (everyone) to repent (plural) and everyone (all, literally, “everyone of ye”) to be baptized (singular) for the remission of sins.

John said the “ye” in the first (“repent ye”) and third (“ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”) clauses refer to the same people but the “everyone” in the second clause is a different group. His failure to see “ye” in the second clause demolishes the distinction he makes. The verse says, “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of ye (plural)… and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The “ye” of the first, second and third clauses is the same! As far as those addressed were concerned, what is the difference in “All of you repent” and “everyone of you be baptized”? Peter spoke to them collectively in commanding repentance and individually in commanding baptism. The latter is actually more emphatic than the former.

If Acts 2:38 said, “Repent ye and have faith everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the grammatical dust kicked up around it would immediately vanish. Two other illustrations follow to show that second person, plural and third person, singular can be joined to obtain the same result. “Turn ye [second, plural, active] and be vaccinated everyone of you [third, singular, passive] in the name of the doctor for the prevention of smallpox.” “Come ye [second, plural, active] and be examined everyone of you [third, singular, passive] in the name of the state for your certificate of promotion.”

The prepositional phrase, “for the remission of sins,” can as readily be joined to baptism as to repentance. John says if it is joined to baptism, repentance would be non-essential to salvation. This is like saying if bread is made by baking, the mixing is non-essential. As something precedes baking, something precedes baptism. Repentance is necessary if “for the remission of sins” is connected only to baptism. The truth is that repentance and baptism are joined by the conjunction and both are for (in order to) “the remission of sins.” John interprets “for” correctly (it does not mean “because of”). If he can extricate himself from the so-called grammatical difficulties, I think he will see the truth.

According to Ankerberg, Acts 2:38 should read, “Repent ye for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” What Peter said is, “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” You must decide which of the two readings is correct.

John, I love you and wish you the best.

Closing Remarks on Acts 2:38

Ankerberg: The objection has been raised concerning the Greek rule that states that a subject and verb that agree in both person and number go together. This is the rule of concord. Exceptions to the rule are pointed out, but the rule still stands and especially here. Much time has been spent arguing that hekastos (third, singular) could be joined with a plural verb. The whole point has been missed. Why argue it could be joined to a plural verb, when the verb it is joined to is “be baptized,” in the singular?

Both subject and verb are third person singular, and as such, cannot be joined to the first or third clause where both subject and verb are second person plural. Not one of the examples cited have hekastos joined with both a singular verb and a plural verb in the same sentence. Who wished to argue that when both subject and verb agree in person and number they do not go together?

I find it interesting that A. T. Robertson is cited against my remarks when in fact he is against the Church of Christ position. Both Robertson and I believe there is a shift in thought after “Ye repent,” because of the change of subject and verb from second person plural to third person singular, “Each, be baptized.”

After citing Robertson as an authority who disagrees with my conclusion, Robertson himself is said to be wrong when he disagrees with the Church of Christ conclusion. Now Robertson and I both agree that the “remission of sins” goes back to repentance and not to baptism. I see the clause agreeing in number and person with the first clause and therefore referring back to that which comes of repentance.

Robertson forcefully argues about the use of eis (“for”) in the phrase, “Each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” He points out that eis can be translated “be baptized for the purpose of remission of sins” (the Church of Christ view). But another equally good usage for eis can be found from Scripture itself. In Matthew 10:41, there are three examples. In this verse, eis means “in the name of a prophet,” “in the name of a righteous man,” and “in the name of a disciple.” Eis here does not and cannot mean purpose or aim, but rather, the basis or ground: on the basis of the name of a prophet, a righteous man, a disciple.

Matthew 12:41 is another example. Jesus said, “They repented at [eis] the preaching of Jonah.” Did they repent for the purpose of receiving Jonah’s preaching? No. They repented because of the preaching of Jonah. A. T. Robertson lists numerous other Scripture passages illustrating eis used in the same way.

If eis is used in this sense in Acts 2:38, it would read, “Each one of you be baptized upon the basis of the remission of sins.” This would mean, “you have already received forgiveness of sins and baptism is expressing that fact” – publicly identifying that person with the name of Christ. Notice: If the remission of sins did not come from baptism, it had to result from repentance. Robertson and I are thus in agreement. The English has this same sense. If you ask a man in jail, “What are you in for?” and he replies, “I’m in for robbery,” then “for” expresses “on the basis of,” and not “purpose.” If the Church of Christ use of for [purpose] is granted, we end up saying, “each one of you be baptized… for the sins of all of you.” I don’t think we want that.


Read Part 3

1 Comment

  1. Ken Scarborough on November 8, 2017 at 1:27 am

    The representatives from the Church of Christ won this debate hands down. Was not even a close call.

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