Acts 2:38, Repentance, Baptism, the Flood, the Red Sea

In Acts 2:38: are we baptized BECAUSE we are already saved or IN ORDER or to GO INTO the remission of sins. That is the most important question believers must answer for themselves. This is a response to Greg's comments:

From Greg:
ACTS 2:38 The main verb in this verse is metanoesate (3340), meaning "repent." This refers to that initial repentance of a sinner unto salvation. The verb translated "be baptized" is in the indirect passive imperative of baptízo (907) which means that it does not have the same force as the direct command of "repent." The preposition "for" in the phrase "for the remission of sins" in Greek is eis (1519), "unto." Literally, it means "for the purpose of identifying you with the remission of sins." This same preposition is used in 1 Corinthians 10:2 in the phrase "and were all baptized unto [eis Moses." These people were identifying themselves with the work and ministry of Moses. Repentance is something that concerns an individual and God, while baptism is intended to be a testimony to other people. That is why baptistheto, "to be baptized," is in the passive voice indicating that one does not baptize himself, but he is baptized by another usually in the presence of others.

Greg, you probably noticed that I am not a Greek scholar. As with Bible translations, I have to depend upon able scholars for my information -- and I gladly honor their contribution. I appreciate the way you rebut my views without being judgmental. I haven't reached that level yet.

Your question is bigger than an e-mail can wrap its hands around. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of posting a response on my web page. It will save a lot of work for others who ask important questions. It is at:

I offer this as today's understanding and I may change that as new information becomes comes available. I would appreciate it if you would read my comments and respond to them. I don't have conversion as a motive, or, like Paul, even baptism. You are correct that faith and repentance is the crucial issue and that was Paul's commission.

However, when one changes their mind or repents, it is logical that they are required to change their walk to move in the new direction of their minds.

All of these are natural faith responses and are means only in that Christ has offered them to believers as the physical response and model of a spiritual reality. Nothing I will say, or could say, should be taken as a hint that I believe that I can do anything to earn that reality.


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Greg, I keep trying to find one of those first century grammars for parsing and defining sentences. If I remember my history corectly, early students of New Testament Greek didn't even know what language the existing texts of the New Testament was written in. If the papyri are enough authority, we know that the New Testament was written in Koine. That is like comparing "Amuricun" language of my Tennessee hill country with Elizabethan English. Not too much connection. That means that the NT was written in the language of the Market Place. Fishermen and tradesmen were allowed to speak for God in the universal, pictorial language of the tradesmen of the ancient world. Because not everyone would understand Hebrew, Aramaic or Work-place Greek, the Holy Spirit makes sure that the Bible can explain itself by itself.

When men like Strong and other more scholarly works define a word, they almost universally just tell you how the word is used in other passages. This, I believe, is God's way of speaking to people who are not grammarians. However, I understand that one would not take Strong and attempt to translate Scripture.
Anyway, I cannot argue the Grammar.
Greg, you believe that "baptism" at the Red Sea or literal baptism "was intended to be a testimony to other people." However, I believe that the people at the Red Sea were baptized unto Moses only after they were in the "watery grave" was this not a testimony at all. To the contrary, it was their means of being saved from their old sins in Egypt. Remember that Philip baptized the eunuch and no one but the Spirit of Christ was watching. The "baptism" of the flood event was witnessed only by those who would all drown. I am not aware that Paul had any witnesses to his baptism nor was he baptized to "join himself" to any local congregation -- the believers would never have "voted him in."
As you note, the verb repent is:

Metanoeo (G3340) met-an-o-eh'-o; from 3326 and 3539; to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (mor. feel compunction): - repent.

It really means to "exercise the mind, comprehend or reconsider." It is simply recognizing that one is heading in the wrong direction and decides to turn and walk in a different direction. However, repentance does not mean that one has turned or that one is saved by "repentance only."
For instance, Peter commanded:
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. Ac.8:22
This is said of one who is already a believer. However, it is identical to Acts 2:38 which reads:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
Surely, Peter did not say that "repentance" did the trick; and Simon must now pray to God "to be a testimony to other people." No. Simon must first recognize that he is wrong and have a new understanding or reconsider. Then, he must pray to God that his old "pre-turned" thoughts will be forgiven
I understand Paul's reference to baptized unto or in connection or pledged to Moses in the following way:
MOREOVER, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 1 Cor 10:1
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 1 Cor 10:2
And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 1 Cor 10:3
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 1 Cor 10:4
Even back then, the Israelites received the "gift of the Holy Spirit" which (who) supplied all of the literal food and drink. Jesus identified this as partaking of His body which is always in suffering and "drinking" of the Water of the Word (John 6:63; 7)
First, we should notice that sin, represented by Pharaoh, was on the Egyptian side of the water. Unless this "army" was destroyed in the watery grave of the Red Sea, Israel would not even be safe in Sinai. Second, notice that Moses gave the proof text for those old sermons: "Stand see and see the salvation of the Lord." However, God had a different understanding:
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still (present yourselves), and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. Exodus 14:13
The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:14
And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: Exodus 14:15
Moses, and the people, seemed to say that baptism in the Red Sea was just a testimony to the Egyptians. Therefore, if they wanted to see God arrange for their salvation they should just watch and wait for the magic. However, God said, in effect, your belief has no value unless it becomes faith which is belief in action. Jesus said, "Go forward," Jesus said, "be baptized."
The Pillar representing Christ did all of the "work" in the earning sense. or in a literal sense. He "opened the veil" so the people could come into the remission of their old sinful state. In the same way,
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Heb.10:20
Christ's torn body was the "torn veil" into the Most Holy Place. The torn vail still stands there like the Ark or the great slash in the body of the Red Sea. In order to get into Christ one must lye down in the Ark or Coffin, descend into the Red Sea or place one's body where Jesus paid the price and ripped the veil. Jesus Christ, full Deity, said that the time and place for believers is in baptism -- a tiny sample of the flood or the Red Sea.

Jesus passed over and stood between Sin and Israel to protect them while He opened the "grave" of the Red sea by a great wind or His own Spirit:

And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: Exodus 14:19
A it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. Exodus 14:20
Like the old, sinful Saul (Paul), the Egyptians were momentarily blinded to the fleeing sinners. However, the Israelites had light to carry out Christ's plans:
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. Exodus 14:21
And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Exodus 14:22
You will notice that it is not the spirit of the believer which gets wet. Rather, it is their old nature of flesh or sin represented by the Egyptian army which was literally drowned.
Only when Christ did His work by opening up the "grave" of the Red Sea and the Israelites obeyed His commands and were hidden in the death-dealing water could they be saved on the other side of the water and see their old enemy of sin drowned and behind them. On that side of the water, they could come into covenant relationship at Mount Sinai. Notice, however, that after all of that, they still had the option of rejecting the Covenant and be forced to live under Law.
Again, notice that they were not baptized into Moses when they "believed" and left Egypt. It was not when they "repented" and turned away from their old life. It was not when they confessed their dedication to Moses and went to the banks of the Red Sea. Rather, they were not baptized unto Moses until..
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 1 Cor 10:2
Now, let's look at Acts 2:38:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
Just as one turns and then goes through the door and into the house, Peter says that one must first turn or repent and then be baptized into the remission of sins. Baptism is the time and place where one takes the name of Jesus Christ - not "Father, Son and Spirit."
Isn't the word "and" a coordinate conjunction? Doesn't repent and be baptized stand on the same level? If I say, get out of bed and get dressed (put on Christ) and you may go shop with me, is getting out of bed the main thing and getting dressed just optional, at-your-leasure request?
We have to remember that the New Testament was translated into English by men who probably were singled out for the clergy early on, studied Greek in elementary and high school, went on to some university, read the documents in the original, and practiced their trade in universities for many, many years. One reference I once saw was that one needed at least 8 years before one was competent to understand the original
Then when they translated for us in English, it was never: "for the purpose of identifying you with the remission of sins." Baptismal regeneration, which almost no one believes, would say, "for earning your remission." However, it does say, "If you don't identify with the earning power of Christ's death" there is no remission of sins. That does not make baptism any less mandatory. In fact, Peter said that baptism is the time and place where we request a clear conscience from Christ.
The Holy Spirit of Christ directing the message of Peter had at His command a perfectly good Greek word for because and he used it just before and just after Acts 2:38:
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Ac 2:26
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Ac 2:27
The Greek for because is:
Hoti (h3754) hot'-ee; neut. of 3748 as conj.; demonst. that (sometimes redundant); caus. because: - as concerning that, as though, because (that), for (that), how (that), (in) that, though, why.
Therefore, if we give the Spirit of Christ any credit, He directed Peter to use another word which does not mean "because" in Acts 2:38. Rather, it is the word to describe one getting into some thing or condition. Remission of sins is the thing one gets into through baptism. No, Noah couldn't save himself. Yes, Noah could obey God and get into the Ark. No doubt, if Noah had not gotten into the Ark or the Israelites had not gone through the Red Sea they would have drowned as their old "sins" were being destroyed.
AND in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Ac.6:1
Look again at Acts 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
Now, compare this to what Jesus said:
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Mt 26:28
Can we believe that Christ shed His blood because of the remission of sins already past?
Do we understand this as?:
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many in order to the remission of sins. Mt 26:28
Or This:
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many because of the remission of sins. Mt 26:28
Baptism can mean many things. However, when one person baptized another, the New Testament speaks of water baptism. After showing the futility of living under the Law of Moses which could not cleanse the conscience, Paul showed the remedy under Christ's system of faith:
WHAT shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Ro 6:1
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Ro 6:2
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Ro 6:3
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Ro 6:4
This is repeating the common theme: to refuse to be baptized -- to obey a simple command of the God of the universe -- is to continue in sin (to be drowned outside the ark or drowned in the Red Sea). This is exactly what Jesus said when He commanded baptism:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark16:16
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
Notice that the NIV does not put a comma in Acts 2:38 because none was in the text:
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38NIV
The Living Bible translates this (and makes commentary):
And Peter replied, "Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift, the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
Notice how this fits with the Red Sea event? The people then and the believers in Christ were baptized in the depths of death and the grave. Not in faith, repentance or confession or any form of "identifying with" Christ death but the watery toomb itself.
This had not changed one bit when Paul wrote to Titus:
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Tit 3:4
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Tit 3:5
Washing of regeneration is baptism:
Loutron {g3067} loo-tron'; from 3068; a bath, i.e. (fig.) baptism: - washing.)
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Herews 10:22
Now, we understand that washing of the body is not washing of the soul. Christ washes is in the "water of the word" when we have our bodies washed in pure water.
Peter says it in another way: baptism has no spiritual value in removing the dirt. Rather, the "bath" is the time and place where we request or appeal to God for a clear conscience based upon the merit and pattern of Christ's death, burial and resurrection:
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 1 Peter 3:20
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21
FORASMUCH then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 1 Peter 4:1
And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Genesis 7:7
'el (h413) ale; (but used only in the shortened constr. form 417 el); a prim. particle, prop. denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, i. e. near, with or among...
Noah went into the Ark (coffin or grave) and was literally burried in the waters below and above. However, he was saved by, or because of, the waters exactly because the waters kept him high and dry even in the watery grave. The death-dealing waters would never touch him.
Look again at Acts 2:38 with the idea that eis is almost uniformaly translated as "into" as they "went into the house":
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ INTO the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
Doesn't this say that one:
Repents then
Is baptized INTO the remission of sins
Then: You shall receive Christ to walk with you in the wilderness.
As Noah went into the Ark and one is baptized into the remission of sins one goes into a house:
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Mt 2:11
And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. Acts 6:15
And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship (went into the ship); and they returned home again. Acts 21:6
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Rom 6:4
Therefore, to be baptized for the remission of sins is to be baptized in order to go into the remission of sins.
If we could take a bath and be saved then it would be a work of righteousness. However, we cannot "work" when we submit our limp bodies into the hands of the baptiser and name ourselves after Christ.
Ancient baptism even for the proselytes was the only time and place where people confessed their new teacher by naming his name and placing themselves under his control. In every example, the believer was never passive. Remember that when Abraham was justified by faith, God said:
And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Genesis 26:4
Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Genesis 26:5
Greg, I believe that a lot of misunderstanding -- especially among the anti-baptism members of my fellowship -- is caused by the mantra of "earn, wages, works, legalism." This predjuices people into believing that our group believes in baptismal regeneration. In fact, it is those who were paid and taught baptismal regeneration in churches of Christ, who now want to be paid huge wages and be honored as God's anointed who want to tell us what is wrong with baptismal regeneration. Ain't it always so?
I know of no one who has ever believed that they can do anything, in Paul's words, to "earn salvation as a wage for their works of which they can boast." However, the statement: "nothing to do to earn" is vastly different from "nothing to do." As you pointed out, repentance really means that one can, of their own volition according to Peter to Simon, rethink their understanding. However, after they change their minds (repentance) they must change their outward, bodily actions (obedience) and, in Peter's words, pray to God. Taken together, belief, change of mind and obedience is that which constitutes the faith only which saves one based totally upon the earning-meriting power which only God in the flesh could purchase. None of us can pick up the tab for our own debts -- obviously and emphatically!
The man who is supposed to teach "baptismal regeneration" clearly shows that baptism is the action of faith:
Thomas Campbell, in The Christian Baptist, VOL. II. NO. III. BUFFALOE, (BETHANY) BROOKE CO. VA., OCTOBER 4, 1824 states:
"Now this internal religion, externally manifested by certain acts and exercises of divine appointment, is what is commonly called worship, and rightly too. See the whole bible upon this word. The first instituted act of christian worship is baptism into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
"Why is it translated "in the name," &c, contrary to the literal and almost universal translation of the particle eis? In the name of any dignified character, universally imports, by the authority of such a person. Whereas this is not the proper and obvious meaning of the baptismal institution. For although it is done by virtue of the divine authority enjoining it, that is, by the authority of Christ; yet its proper and primary import is not a mere exhibition of authority on the part of the institutor, and of submission on the part of the baptized, though this is certainly implied in every act of worship; but it is of a much more consolatory and blissful import, being an expression of faith and obedience on the part of the baptized; nay, the very first instituted act of the obedience of faith, in and by which the believing worshipper is openly declared to be of the household of faith and of the family of God, being baptized into "the name of the Father," of whom the whole redeemed family in heaven and earth is named; and into the name of the Redeemer, the Son, and heir of all things, who makes his people free; and into the name of the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier, the comforter, and perfecter of the saints; that by virtue of his indwelling and sanctifying presence, he, the baptized believer, may be separated to God, with all the redeemed, for a habitation of God, through the Spirit.
"Thus a new and blissful relation to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, is publicly recognized towards the believer, by an ordinance divinely and graciously instituted for this purpose. Being thus openly and explicitly declared to be of the family of God, through Jesus Christ, by the Spirit, he is declared free--justified from the guilt, and washed from the pollution of sin, by this washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which is the privilege of all those that believe and thus obey the gospel, by a worshipful and obediential compliance with this divine appointment. His faith corresponding with every item of the divine testimony, thus exhibited, he joyfully recognizes his new, justified, sanctified, and filial relation to God; and realizing this, is filled with peace and joy in believing; and so goes on his way rejoicing, as well he may. See Acts viii. 39. So much for the first divinely instituted act of the worshipful obedience of faith.

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Thanks, I welcome any comments or rebuttal. I have no "territory" to defend and no pay day to protect.
Ken Sublett
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