Bible Baptism

by Michael C.

The meaning and purpose of baptism have, for years unnumbered, been one of the chief dividing lines between the various denominations of Christianity. Indeed, the only thing upon which most agree is that it involves water, and even that much is questioned by groups like the Quakers. The purpose of this essay, then, is to focus mainly on what baptism is and what baptism does according to the Bible.

Does it have a place in the salvation process? Does it reflect the salvation process without being part of it? Does it regenerate in and of itself? Are all references to baptism in the Bible supposed to be taken as water baptism or is there another baptism of which we should be aware? These are the important questions that drive this essay, and they are important because discovering whether there is an essential link between baptism and salvation reaches all the way down into the core of the Gospel message, the foundation of what it is to be Christian.

Note that this essay will assume that you are at least somewhat familiar with "church" terms like "faith", "repentance", etc. If you are not, a dictionary may prove very helpful. Now, the only way to study baptism Biblically is to find occurrences of baptism in the Bible.

The very first instance of baptism that we find in the Bible is John the Baptist going around baptizing people. John the Baptist was considered the "forerunner" of Jesus, sent to prepare the way by preaching about the Messiah to come. In Matthew 3:11, John made a statement about baptism: "I baptize you with water but... He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." This verse brings up an important question: what do we mean when we say "baptism"? There obviously exist more than one baptism, and so unless otherwise noted, we mean water baptism when "baptism" is used without any other defining terms.

This baptism that John performed was a baptism of repentance according to Luke 3:3. Why repent? The verse explains: "For the forgiveness of sins." That was the formula, according to Scripture: people repented so that their sins would be forgiven, then they "brought forth fruits worthy of repentance" (which simply means acting out their repentance in their lives), then they were baptized so that they would be identified as disciples of John (and, thus, as followers of the coming Messiah) as a reflection of the repentance they had displayed in their lives. That baptism, for all we can see in the Scriptures, did not actually cause the forgiveness of sins, but was instead a reflection of it--a baptism of "repentance for the forgiveness of sins." Baptism here is a symbol, then, a profound symbol that was expected of everyone who followed John's teachings. It publicly identified people with what John taught, and what John taught was Jesus.

The fact is, those who were baptized by John and followed his teachings were considered, by default, followers of Christ. This concept is most clearly demonstrated in a passage in Acts, where Paul finds some people who were baptized only with John's baptism. Acts refers to them only as "disciples." What is interesting about this passage is that the word "disciple" is only ever used to refer to Christians in the book of Acts. There is no further definition added to the word, and we know that it was the disciples who were called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). That word, then, is exclusively a word to indicate followers of the Way, followers of Christ. So disciples of John were disciples of Jesus in the eyes of the Christians. For now, that is enough. We will come later to the reason for Paul's re-baptism of those disciples, but for now, the text speaks for itself when it calls them "disciples" and that Paul seemed to consider them fellow Christians.

Furthermore, Paul said something very important about the baptism of John: "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus" (Acts 19:4). That means that John's teachings were instructing people to follow Christ. In that sense, then, John the Baptist was the world's first Christian preacher! Ultimately, then, the baptism that John the Baptist performed identified people not with himself, but with Jesus Christ. The baptism of John was absolutely a Christian baptism, then.

Before we proceed, let us examine some criticisms to this view that occasionally arise. The most common is of the symbolism around baptism. Part of baptism's symbolism is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and our participation in those events (see Romans 6:3-4), and since that had not yet occurred, then John's baptism could not have symbolized it. There are two Biblical possibilities in response to that assertion: It is possible that God revealed the resurrection of Jesus to John, as He obviously revealed His death ("the lamb of God" in John 1:29 was a statement of His act as a sacrifice, and has no other Scriptural meaning). If He did not reveal that to John at the beginning, there is no reason that baptism could not have been assigned that symbolism later. To use an Old Testament example of such a situation, circumcision was given to Abraham long before the symbolism of cutting away the sinful flesh was assigned to it. The symbolism of signs given by God can develop later, and either possibility concerning this objection to the baptism of John being Christian baptism is valid.

The other objection that often arises is about the purpose of John's baptism versus that of "Christian" baptism. These mistakenly (as we have just demonstrated with Scripture) believe that John's baptism was for forgiveness of sins, while "Christian" baptism is for the Christian rebirth or "regeneration." There are two Scriptures often cited to support this point: John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. John 3:5 mentions being "born of water" and Titus 3:5 mentions a "washing of regeneration." Let us take these Scriptures one at a time.

John 3:5 is a short part of a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a leader of the Pharisees. It is, in fact, one of the most famous portions of Scripture in the whole New Testament (almost every Christian of every denominational background is taught John 3:16 from youth). Jesus told Nicodemus in no uncertain terms that, in order to see the Kingdom of God (though Nicodemus thought he was already a part of it), he had to be born again or born from above. Jesus then proceeded to tell him that he had to be born of water and the Spirit, and to expound upon being born of the Spirit.

There are several interpretations of the phrase "born of water." Three of the most common are that the water is equivalent to the Spirit (or possibly the Word of God, which goes hand-in-hand), that the water refers to natural birth, or that the water refers to baptism. Whatever the water may be, it is absolutely necessary for salvation.

Let us examine this passage to see what clues we can find as to the nature of this water in the verses surrounding verse 5. First, two births are mentioned in verse 3. Nicodemus in verse 4 had the misconception of a second physical birth. Jesus corrected Nicodemus and went on to explain what a spiritual birth is like. Water is only mentioned in response to Nicodemus' comment about physical birth. The conversation could be paraphrased a bit like what follows:

Jesus: You must be born again.

Nicodemus: How can a man be born when he is old? Can he climb back into his mother's womb?

Jesus: You must be born of water and the Spirit. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit.

Based on the context of the passage, it seems clear that birth of water is being equated with birth of flesh, and is, therefore, equivalent to physical birth. Why Jesus chose this particular metaphor of water, only He knows, but the concept of water representing the physical birth is the only view that truly fits the concept of the passage where "water and spirit" is immediately compared with "flesh and spirit." Furthermore, physical birth is the first birth, as the birth of water is. It is also insufficient, as is the birth from water. Moreover, Nicodemus was expected to understand it (John 3:10). As a Jew, his understanding would have been that physical birth would have been enough to get him into the Kingdom of God, but he should have understood that God's heritage came through a spiritual birth.

If the rebirth in John 3:5 has nothing to do with baptism, then what about the "regeneration" in Titus 3:5? The exact phrase in the verse is "the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Baptism is not here equated with the "washing of regeneration." In fact, the verse does not so much as mention baptism. The only justification I have ever read or heard for considering "the washing of regeneration" to be baptism is rooted in an interpretation of being "born of water" in John 3:5 as referring to baptism. Since we have seen that John 3:5 has nothing to do with baptism, our conclusion has to be that the washing of regeneration is not baptism.

This point is further clarified by remembering that the washing of regeneration must be referring to something spiritual. Rebirth, or regeneration, is not accomplished by physical means. Paul himself drives that point home in that very verse, specifying that it was not by works of righteousness, or physical acts, but by the "washing of regeneration." But surely we can agree that regeneration itself is a spiritual thing, and that sin is washed away by a spiritual washing, whether or not that washing is triggered by a physical event. Thus, the washing of regeneration is not referring to the act of baptism. I should note that I have not yet begun in this essay to examine the question of whether Christian baptism is essential in order to be saved, but only to establish that neither John 3:5 nor Titus 3:5 speak of regeneration through baptism.

There is no Scriptural support, then, for the view that regeneration is directly linked to baptism. The idea that John's baptism and Christian baptism are inherently different in that way is unsupported by Scripture. Thus, weighing all the Scriptures and allowing them to speak for themselves, we must conclude that neither the Apostles nor Jesus Himself saw any difference between the baptism that John performed or the baptism that the Apostles themselves practiced. Therefore, we can use Scriptures regarding John's baptism and apply their truth to our understanding of Christian baptism as well, since in the Bible the two are equivalent.

Before proceeding, we do need to look at the obvious question: If the two are equivalent, why did Paul have the disciples in Acts 19 to be baptized again? That answer is actually very relevant to our discussion on baptism. Remember Paul's statement in Acts 19:4 about why John baptized: "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." The disciples of John had made the same mistake that many in the Church make today: they trusted in the baptism itself rather than the object. Paul was correcting them, telling them that the point of the baptism was faith in Christ. When they realized that they had been baptized for the wrong reasons, seeing John's baptism as an end in itself, they were baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:5). This encounter serves to demonstrate, rather than negate, the idea that John's baptism was for the same reason and purpose as Christian baptism.

Why is that important? There are two verses that read almost exactly the same that seem to express the purpose of baptism. The first I have mentioned previously--Luke 3:3. It says that John's baptism was "of repentance for the remission of sins." Acts 2:38, on the other hand, has Peter telling the crowd, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Here we come to the crux of this entire subject, because this verse is the subject of much controversy about the purpose of baptism. Before attempting to interpret the verse, we should examine a few facts about it.

Fact: The Greek word "eis," translated "for," can mean "for the purpose of obtaining" or "as a result of." As an example that clearly uses that word in the latter way, Jesus said that the men of Nineveh "repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonah." Surely they didn't repent in order to obtain the preaching of Jonah.

Fact: The Greek sentence structure of Acts 2:38 connects repentance and not baptism with remission of sins. The sentence in Greek might be re-written, "The group of you repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of the group of your sins."

Fact: Repentance and remission of sins are connected outside of baptism in the account of the baptism of John (as we examined earlier) in Luke 3:3 and by Jesus in Luke 24:47.

There are three major interpretations of Acts 2:38. One view connects baptism directly with forgiveness of sin, to the point of pure baptismal regeneration (that is, being baptized causes rebirth without being qualified with faith or repentance). The other view connects it directly to forgiveness of sin in the repentant believer. The third view is that baptism is a reflection and expression of repentance, and it is only the repentance that is directly connected to forgiveness of sins. In light of the three facts we reviewed, the view most consistent with the Scriptures is the third view, that Peter was presenting baptism as a reflection of repentance, which is connected directly to the forgiveness of sins.

We have not yet determined if there is some aspect of salvation for which baptism is required--that is, whether an unbaptized person can be saved. After all, there are certainly verses (such as Mark 16:16 which says that "he who believes and is baptized will be saved") that seem to indicate that baptism is required for salvation. What we have determined from an examination of the Scriptures about baptism, though, is that baptism is not directly linked to the Christian rebirth or the forgiveness of sins.

The simplest way to approach whether baptism is necessary for salvation at all is to look for a Scripture that states the proper candidates for baptism. Does Scripture indicate who can be baptized? In Matthew 28:19, Jesus told the Apostles to go and make disciples, baptizing them. There are two principal views of that verse: that one makes disciples by baptizing people or that disciples are the people who should be baptized. As with Acts 2:38, there are certain facts which should be considered before a particular view is chosen.

Fact: The Greek for "make disciples" is one word that the King James Version renders "teach." However, it is more accurately rendered "to disciple".

Fact: The Greek word "by" does not appear in the text, nor is it implied by the grammatical structure.

Fact: A disciple is a student. Discipleship is related to being instructed, not in following a ritual.

In light of those facts, one can only conclude that the proper candidates for baptism are the people who have been discipled--and who would that be, but disciples? We know from earlier in this study that disciples are saved. Matthew 28:19, then, seems to indicate that baptism is for those already saved, who already have a disciple relationship with the Lord Jesus. While that might be enough to state conclusively that baptism is not essential for salvation because it was for people who were already saved, there are still some Scriptures and lines of thinking that must be addressed.

Paul stated clearly in I Corinthians 15:1-4 that the Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Obviously, it is only through the Gospel that we are saved. The Gospel, after all, is the very "power of salvation" (Romans 1:18). There is a line of thinking that holds that the only way to participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is to be baptized and partake in the symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Two key passages of Scripture are held in support of this view: Colossians 2:12 and Romans 6:3-4. The argument is that without baptism, there is no way to participate in the Gospel, and therefore no way to be saved.

That reasoning does not seem to hold in light of Paul's own words in I Corinthians 15. Paul made it clear in verse 2 and Romans 1:18 that the saving power of the Gospel is in "[holding] fast the word" and believing it. What do we make of the other passages in question, then? Let us examine them.

Romans 6:3-4 says that we who were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death. It further says that, since we were buried with Him by baptism into death, we will rise with Him in newness of life. The error, so far as I can tell, is in equating baptism into water with baptism into Christ. Some have trouble disassociating the two using the word "baptize," so let us replace it with the meaning of the Greek word "baptizo"--"immerse." We are immersed into Jesus Christ. In other words Jesus Christ Himself is the substance of our baptism, and He is the only Substance that can provide the true "washing of regeneration". Water baptism is a reflection of that true, spiritual baptism. This view of "baptism into Christ" is further supported by Paul in I Corinthians 12:13, wherein Paul states that by (or in, as the Greek word "en" can be translated either way) one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body. Into whose Body are we baptized but Christ? Furthermore, he states that we were all made to drink of one Spirit. The symbolism of water with regards to the Holy Spirit is a fairly consistent theme in the Scriptures. The Spirit is said to be poured out in Acts 2. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus equates the Spirit to fountains of living water. So it is only natural that water baptism should be the symbol of the spiritual baptism into Christ.

The passage in Romans 6 says that we were baptized into Christ's death. Our immersion into the Spirit and Body of Christ--our spiritual baptism--is the place where we first undergo our death to sin, according to the Scriptures. In light of that, Colossians 2:12 makes sense. That passage first speaks of the circumcision made without hands. That is, Christ circumcises our souls, cutting away the flesh nature. Then it talks about being buried with Him in baptism. But baptism into what? Baptism into water does not fit with the theme of that passage, nor with the Romans 6 passage, nor with I Corinthians 12:13.

Thus, the Biblical view is that our participation in the Gospel comes about through our inward reaction to the message of the Gospel, resulting in a spiritual baptism (immersion into Christ), reflected in a physical baptism (immersion into water). We are saved by believing the Gospel, by "holding fast" (latching onto) the promises of Christ inwardly. We are baptized after our true immersion into Christ as a physical identification with Him. The view that baptism is a physical identification with Christ to take place after we already belong to Him is further clarified by Paul's words in I Corinthians 10:2. The Israelites were "baptized unto/into Moses in the cloud and the sea." They already belonged with Moses, were already identified with Yahweh God, and were already truly Israelites before they were baptized with that Old Testament type of baptism.

There is another possibility we have not yet examined. In Galatians 3:27, Paul makes the statement that all who have been baptized into Christ have clothed themselves with, or put on, Christ. In other words, immersion into Christ is the action whereby one clothes oneself with Christ. From the Scriptures we have heard so far, it seems that baptism into Christ is, by definition, something distinct from water baptism; it is a fully spiritual experience reflected in water baptism. However, there is a verse that must be reckoned with, as it challenges this entire perspective on the Scriptures. Romans 13:14 is a command that Paul issued to believers to put on or clothe themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, the theme of "changing clothes," so to speak, is common in the New Testament and is an act commanded of Christians on several occasions.

I believe that this analogy is referring to salvation. Classical systematic theologians have divided salvation into three parts differentiated by time: initial salvation, called "justification"; progressive salvation, called "sanctification"; and ultimate/eternal/future salvation, called "glorification." The Bible makes the distinctions in the types of salvation, though the titles are often interchanged. For instance, Ephesians 2:8 says that we have been saved. So, in a sense, salvation is a completed action. But, I Corinthians 1:18 says we are being saved, indicating a progressive action. And Romans 5:9 says that we shall be saved--a future occurrence. The New Testament is covered in examples of all three. So, then, if clothing oneself with Christ can be equated with salvation in the Bible, we should expect to see the same sort of past-present/progressive-ultimate/eternal differences in that concept as well.

That is exactly what we find in the New Testament. We have already looked at two examples: the past in Galatians 3:27 and the present in Romans 13:14. There is an example of the future "clothing" when Paul speaks of the mortal putting on immortality and the corruptible putting on incorruption in I Corinthians 15:53. Immortality and incorruption, after all, are traits only God possesses (see I Timothy 6:16), and so putting them on are indicative of a "putting on" of Christ Himself. Thus, it is clear that putting on Christ and being immersed into Christ are both metaphors for salvation. There is, then, no contradiction with the message of the Scriptures we have seen so far.

In spite of all we have found in the Scriptures, though, and the way they all beautifully paint a picture of a spiritual baptism into Christ that is, and causes our salvation, followed by immersion into water as a declaration and reflection of that salvation, there are still some passages that seem to indicate something entirely different. The Bible can be a complicated Book sometimes, but I believe it is completely unified in every subject within its pages. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Scriptures that would still seem to teach that water baptism is the agent of salvation.

The most obvious of these passages is I Peter 3:21, which says, "There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." There is the context to consider and a few facts we must understand in order to take this verse as Peter intended it to be taken.

The context of this passage is actually a fairly abrupt subject change caused by a tangent. Peter was speaking of how Jesus went to preach to "the spirits in prison" (the exact meaning of which is well beyond the scope of our study here) who were there since Noah's day. Then he talked about how Noah's family was saved through the water of the Flood, and how the Flood was a type of baptism, which now saves us in the same way the Flood saved Noah and his family. Now, there are some facts about this verse and this passage we would do well to have in mind before proceeding.

Fact: The word "save" in the New Testament does not always mean "to be justified before God, have one's sins forgiven, and be filled with the Holy Spirit." The word "to save" must be defined by context. In the common Christian definition, we are saved from God's wrath and eternal death. It is important to remember, though, that it doesn't have to mean that and context will determine if that is the definition of "save" that Peter meant.

Bearing those facts in mind, let's look at the context under which the statement Peter said that baptism saves, and see if Peter is saying baptism saves us from our sins, God's wrath, eternal death, etc., or if he means we are saved from something else. Peter is very quick to qualify his statement that baptism saves with "not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer [or pledge] of a good conscience toward God." Peter, then, has very clearly given two indications about water baptism: it does not remove the filth of the flesh (ie. sin or moral depravity, as the word "rhupos," translated "filth", can mean), and one's conscience must already be good before God (ie. he must already be justified before the Lord) before being baptized.

Before proceeding to see what, precisely, Peter was trying to say in this statement, it is important to examine some concerns over the translation of this verse. Some translations translate "filth of the flesh" as "dirt from the body." While "dirt" is one possible translation of "rhupos," the Greek word "sarx" never means "body." It always means "flesh," and is almost always used in the New Testament to refer to the fleshly, sinful nature (see Romans 8 for a great discourse on the "sarx"). Furthermore, the adjective form of the word "rhupos" is used in Revelation 22:11 as "filthy," with the meaning clearly intended as "depraved." Thus, it seems that the most accurate way of viewing this phrase is not "dirt from the body," but "[moral] filth of the flesh [nature]," when one examines how the words are used in Scripture. "Filth of the flesh" is a literal translation that keeps that idea intact. The second phrase, "but the answer/pledge of a good conscience toward God," is also debated.

The word "eperotema", translated "answer" in some translations, "pledge" in others, and "appeal" in still others, is a subject of debate. The question, essentially, is whether baptism is an appeal for a good conscience or some sort of reaction (answer or pledge) of a good conscience. The key, perhaps, is to be found in a bit of Greek grammar. First, it should be noted that there is no preposition in this phrase at all. Neither the word "of" nor the word "for" appear in the Greek. It is taken from a form of "a good conscience". That form is most accurately translated "of a good conscience." So, it cannot be the appeal for a good conscience, but rather, it is the pledge (as that word can also be translated) of a good conscience.

I Peter 3:21, then, very clearly demonstrates that baptism does not cause the forgiveness of sins or the spiritual rebirth that our spiritual baptism into Christ does. In what way does it save, then? It saves in the same way that the flood saved Noah. As we discovered earlier, the Flood did nothing to affect Noah's standing with God, but rather revealed it. In that sense, the Flood saved Noah and his family by separating them visibly from the dying world. That is the way in which baptism saves us: it is a sign that visibly separates us from a world of death.

With the vast number of Scriptures that have been shown to paint the picture of Biblical baptism we have discovered--that of a testimony to salvation already received through the spiritual baptism of which it is a reflection--there are yet a few questions regarding verses at which we must look. The first of these verses is Acts 22:16. Again, this is a verse that seems to teach baptismal salvation. In it, Ananias told Paul, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." There are two observations that should be sufficient to settle questions concerning this verse: being baptized and washing away sins are separate actions, while washing away sins is connected grammatically with calling on the name of the Lord. The use of "washing" displays the symbolism present in baptism.

With the Scriptural view of baptism as a reflection rather than a cause of salvation, what are we to make of Jesus' words in Mark 16:16, that "he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." This verse, and Jesus' words in it, only make sense in light of what we've seen in the rest of the Bible. Baptism is a reflection and expression of salvation. It should happen at the time of salvation. Salvation and condemnation, however, are conditioned upon belief in this verse. Baptism, as in Acts 2:38, is a separate command, and well it should be, for Jesus is effectively saying, "He who believes and expresses his salvation shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be condemned." It is, in fact, equivalent to what Paul said about belief in confession of Christ in Romans 10--"that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." That verse would make it seem as though confessing Jesus were part of salvation. Yet, I Corinthians 12:3 clearly indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit in anyone who confesses Jesus. Thus, confession is an expression and not a condition of salvation, just like baptism.

There are clearly two specific baptisms in a Christian's life: water baptism and spirit baptism. We have explored both and their place (or lack thereof) in the salvation process. At this point in the study, a question concerning Ephesians 4:5, which says, "One Lord, one faith, and one baptism." The question that is raised is, what baptism is the "One baptism," and how can we Scripturally claim the existence and activity of two? As with all of the Scriptures we have examined, the answer lies in looking at certain facts about it.

Fact: The words "there is" do not occur in the verses of that passage in the Greek.

Fact: Paul believed in the existence more than one baptism, since the baptism of the Holy Spirit was clearly a part of the Holy Spirit's ministry in the book of Acts.

The passage, then, is not referring to the existence of only one of those things. There exists more than one lord, faith, body, and spirit, but of all of those things, there is only one in which all Christians everywhere are united. Christians are united in one faith, one Body, one Spirit, one Lord. Similarly, Paul is saying that Christians are united in one baptism. What baptism is that? Paul himself gave us the answer in I Corinthians 12:13, where he says, "By one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body." Every believer has received the spiritual baptism; not every believer has been baptized in water.

In concluding this study of the Biblical ordinance of baptism, let's take a brief look at what we have discovered. We discovered that John's baptism and Christian baptism were the same by studying Luke 3:3, Acts 2:38, and Acts 19:4. We learned, through a study of Acts 2:38, John 3:5, and Titus 3:5, that baptism is Scripturally not the cause of rebirth or forgiveness of sins. We learned from Romans 6:34, Colossians 2:11-12, Galatians 3:27, and I Corinthians 12:13 that spiritual baptism is what actually saves and baptism is a reflection of that. We learned from Matthew 28:19 that baptism is for those who are already disciples, and from Acts 11:26 that disciples are those already saved. We discovered from I Peter 3:21 that baptism is for those who already have a good conscience before God and that it does not remove the filth of the sinful nature. Finally, we learned from Acts 22:16 and Mark 16:16 that baptism is Biblically separated from salvation and from Ephesians 4:5 (and I Corinthians 12:13 again) that all Christians are united in spiritual, rather than water, baptism. The only Scriptural conclusion to the entire matter is that baptism is a beautiful, God-ordained symbolic reflection of our death to sin, our participation in the Gospel, and our salvation and washing away of sins--that is, of the salvation we receive through faith and repentance.


This work would not have been possible without the work of many who have gone on before. There were four primary references in which I found information regarding the Greek behind the Scriptures:

Strong's Greek Dictionary

Thayer's Greek Definitions

Vincent's Word Studies

Robertson's Word Pictures.

A number of commentaries were consulted throughout the course of my study on baptism. Ultimately, though, I sought to let the Scripture speak for itself. Fausset's Bible Dictonary provided much information useful and pertinent to this study.

The in-text notes of The Amplified Bible proved themselves very helpful, but they were not used except when supported by the other Greek study aids.

Dr. Richard Koffarnus' article, entitled "Baptism and the Forgiveness of Sins," provided support for the Greek grammatical structure of Acts 2:38, and New Testament Greek for Beginners by Machen and McCartney provided information for the grammatical structure of I Peter 3:21, along with the use of the aforementioned Greek study aids.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary was very helpful in its thorough exegesis of some of the verses in question, along with John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible.

The Greek study aids were listed here first, because they were of first importance in allowing the Bible to speak for itself. The first thing one must do in any sort of Biblical study is attempt to understand the words as originally written. I encourage you, dear reader, to undertake your own study of this subject, and of any other about which questions arise, with an open mind and heart, to let the Word of God speak to you about it from itself, and not through the filters of the doctrines of men.

This writing is the copyright of Michael C. and is posted with his permission.

Page added February 17, 2007


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