In the religious world today there is much controversy over the subject of baptism. Some believe it is necessary to obedience and one may not refuse to submit, but it is not essential to our becoming a child of God. Others believe it is not necessary at all while others believe it is a prerequisite in becoming a Christian.
What Do The Scriptures Say?
Peter was asked by the those assembled on Pentecost, “What should we do?” (Acts 2:37). He replied, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). The expression, “for the remission of sins” is literally “into (to, unto, with a view to) the remission of sins.” Also note that inspiration puts (1) repent and (2) baptism before (3) “remission of sins.”
Argument Over The Word “For”
Some in the religious world argue that the word “for” before “remission of sins” is translated from the Greek word “eis” and means “because of.” In other words, one is to repent and be baptized “because” his sins have already been forgiven.
First, that would be a strange interpretation putting repentance after one becomes a Christian rather than before. Can one be saved without repentance (Luke 13:3,5; Luke 24:47; Acts 17:30-31)? Secondly, it is also interesting that Jesus himself tied baptism with belief (faith) in Mark 16:16. He also put “saved” after both belief and baptism. If one is saved before repentance and baptism, then the same would hold true of belief (faith) in Mark 16:16. Is one saved before he believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?
The Greek Expression “Eis” And A Similar Passage
Does the Greek expression “eis”, rendered “for” in Acts 2:38 mean “because of?” If the expression means one is already saved before he repents and is baptized, it would have that meaning in other passages where it is used. If it does not mean that in other passages, it cannot mean that in Acts 2:38.
When Jesus instituted His supper, he stated in the latter part of Matthew 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Who will argue that we are saved before Jesus shed his blood (Hebrews 9:22)? If the expression, “for the remission of sins” means one is saved before what is described prior to the expression in Acts 2:38, then that interpretation must also apply in Matthew 26:28. It would make Jesus saying His blood was shed for many because their sins were already forgiven. Just think, you and I were saved before Jesus shed His blood! If we were, then we were saved by something other than the blood of Jesus!
If the phrase “for the remission of sins” in Matthew 26:28 means Jesus’ blood was shed “in order” that you and I might receive the remission of our sins, then the same expression in Acts 2:38 means you and I repent and are baptized “in order” to receive the remission of sins.