Water Baptism

Wednesday, June 29           

Acts 2:38.  And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”  Is this teaching us that water baptism is required for salvation?  The Greek grammar determines the answer.  The word “them” goes with “repent.”  Both are plural, so Peter is directing the command to repent to the people listening to his message.  The word “baptized,” however, is singular, and goes with “every one of you,” also in the singular.  His listeners would have understood this.  For any one who followed Peter’s admonition to repent, he would follow that by being baptized as a witness to others of his new relationship with God.  We’re dealing with hermeneutics here and I have two points that I think are pertinent.  First, since most of us don’t know Greek, we are dependent on those who do to make distinctions of this kind.  So there is a place for commentaries and other sources outside the text of the English Bible.  Second, again having to do with hermeneutics, we need to deal with context.  In this case, the immediate context doesn’t help much.  But comparing this passage with lots of other passages having to do with conversion, it becomes clear that repentance, which is a turning away from something to something IS a requirement.  That is an act of faith or belief.  All the rest of the New Testament makes that clear.  So, even without knowing the Greek language, we need not fall into a false doctrine here.  Water baptism is not required for salvation.

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