Season 1, Episode 87
For Tuesday, May 12, 2015
“Baptism: What about Acts 2:38?”
Welcome to The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ has created in you. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s scripture:
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Is baptism necessary for salvation? That’s the question under our consideration this week on The New You. Today, we turn our attention to Acts 2:38, a passage that is often used to prove the necessity of baptism. Some people, however, call our attention to that little word “for.” Peter says that baptism is “for the remission of sins.” But what exactly does that mean?
That word “for” is an English translation of the Greek word eis. Some say the word means “because of,” which would mean that Peter says we are baptized because we have the remission, or forgiveness, of our sins. Others, however, say that the word eis means “in order to,” which would mean that Peter says we are baptized so that we can obtain the forgiveness of our sins.
I know this sounds somewhat technical and detailed. I suppose it is to some degree. However, this is an important detail to get straight. Either we are baptized because we have forgiven, making baptism an “outward sign of an inward grace,” or we are baptized so that we may be forgiven, making baptism the moment at which we enter salvation.
So let’s look at that Greek word eis. What does it mean? Notice with me the works of two Greek scholars: Thayer and Strong. Joseph Henry Thayer was a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, where he would later serve as a professor. He is known for his Greek lexicon in which he gives definitions of Greek words that are found in the New Testament. He died in 1901. Thayer said that the word eis denotes “entrance into … the end which one has in view, i.e., object, purpose.”
Now look at the the work of James Strong. Strong was an American Methodist scholar, an educator, and the creator of Strong’s Concordance, in which he listed every word found in the Bible, its corresponding Greek word(s), and offered a definition for each. Strong’s definition of eis is this: “to or into (indicating the point reached or entered … often expresses motion.”
So what does all of this mean? Well, here are two individuals who are known for their Greek scholarship. They say the word eis, which is translated “for” in Acts 2:38, means “entrance into,” “the purpose of,” the idea of getting into something or obtaining something. In other words, Peter said that baptism is in order to obtain the remission of sins. Without baptism, you don’t have the forgiveness that you need.
Let’s wrap it up: You don’t have to be a Greek scholar to understand the true meaning of Acts 2:38. In fact, all you have to do is look at one other instance in which this word eis was used to see what it really means. Jesus, when instituting the Lord’s Supper, took the fruit of the vine and said, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mat. 26:28). The phrase is identical. So what did Jesus mean? Was Jesus’ blood shed because people already had remission of sins? Of course not. Without Jesus’ blood, there was no remission of sins! Jesus’ blood was shed so that we could have remission of our sins. It was necessary. And so it baptism.
Memory Verse: In addition to all that we’ve seen from Acts 2:38, I think Acts 22:16 is extremely clear about the necessity of baptism and what it does for us. It washes our sins away. You can’t be saved until your sins are washed away!
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).
Thanks for listening to The New You. For more information about this show and the other work that we do on The Light Network, visit thelightnetwork.tv. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/roberthatfield. For more information about the North Charleston church of Christ, just go to northcharlestonchurchofchrist.com.
Tomorrow, we’ll ask a question that has been asked time after time. What about the thief on the cross? It’s a great question with a Bible answer. I hope you’ll join me then for The New You.