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After doing a lot of work on this page rebutting an Internet page I came across "proving" that baptism is not essential for salvation according to the Bible the old time gospel preacher Marshall Keeble came to mind.
He was reportedly engaged in a debate regarding the same question. He got up, opened his bible and read Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Then he sat down.
His opponent got up and went into a long spell of explaining why Mark 16:16 didn't mean what it said.
When it was his turn again, Keeble stood up, looked in his bible for a moment, read the verse again then said, "Yep, it still says the same thing." Then he sat back down.
After commenting on verse after verse offered by the original author to "prove" baptism is not essential to salvation I have decided to take a lesson from Brother Keeble and sit down.
Those who are interested in their salvation and read on down will see where I stopped addressing the original author's repetitious points. No further discussion is needed to show baptism is essential because it is where God's Grace and Christ's blood meet.
While doing some studying I came across a page on the net "proving" that baptism is NOT essential for the remission of sins and other spiritual salvation blessings according to the Bible. Since my understanding of the Bible has convinced me baptism, among other things, IS essential for salvation, I thought I would address the comments made by the original author.
Please note: I copied the original material on this page from
to allow the wording of the original author's material to be unaltered by me in any form. I have changed some of the HTML formatting code (background, document jumps, meta tags, etc.) to prevent bandwidth drain on someone else's server. I will insert my comments where appropriate between a beginning rule at the beginning of my comment and an ending rule at the end of my comment as I have done here.
In the study of Christianity the central doctrine is the Person and Work of
Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul understood the Gospel, the message of the saving
work of Christ, to be so important that he said:
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).
In the face of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration we must consider
precisely what makes a teaching "another gospel... than what we have
preached to you." It will be my contention that the Scriptures teach
clearly that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Baptismal regenerationists,
on the other hand, teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. If the
Scriptures deny the necessity of baptism for salvation, then its teaching is
"another gospel" than that preached by Paul.
Paul states: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (KJV) It is not "a" power of God unto salvation, it is "the" power of God unto salvation. God only saves through the Gospel. Because the gospel is God's saving power it is critical that it be preached as delivered - nothing added, nothing removed.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul emphatically says what the gospel is: "(1) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"(KJV)
We see the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ with a double emphasis on "according to the scriptures." If a gospel or presentation of "good news" is not according to the scriptures, it is not "God's power unto salvation." (Romans. 1:16)
In II Timothy 2:15 it says "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The proper scriptural conclusion regarding the necessity of baptism for salvation can only be reached by rightly dividing God's word. Let us strive to do exactly that as we continue in our discussion of the matter.
We will examine Scriptures purported to teach the necessity of baptism for
salvation, and seek to understand their true meaning. We will also show that the
New Testament teaches that salvation is strictly by grace through faith apart
The "salvation is strictly by grace through faith" terminology is most often used by those who teach that salvation is strictly a matter of belief and there are no works of man of any kind involved in man's redemption. Since those who rely on this belief mostly label baptism as a work of man rather than a work of God, one of their core blocks is to dismiss baptism as an essential for salvation.
The verse they point to is Ephesians 2:8: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (KJV) This verse is unquestionably true. However, "grace" is simply "favor." We often refer to grace when connecting it with God as "unmerited favor." We did nothing to deserve the favor. We can do nothing to deserve the favor otherwise it would be a payment. "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." Romans 4:4 (KJV) We are given the opportunity to be saved even though we did not deserve it. This grace didn't come about by our own works.
It did however come through to us because of our works. "(27) Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (28) Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? (29) Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." Matthew 6:27-29 (KJV)
Notice the question, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus replies that belief is a work. Hence, one must work (acquire belief) to have everlasting life. It is obvious from Ephesians 2:8, and other verses that God has extended grace to us. It is just as obvious that we must reach out and take it. Every one has the right to refuse God's grace either through outright rejection or incomplete belief action.
As we complete this study we'll see that baptism is as essential for salvation as other God directed "works." Click here for other salvation essentials directly from the word of God.
There are several religious groups which teach that baptism is necessary for
salvation. Among them are several "Church of Christ" groups, some branches of
the "Christian Church-Disciples of Christ," and many small groups in the
Christian tradition. Of course, the largest and most well-known of the baptismal
regenerationist groups is the Roman Catholic church. Such groups teach that
water baptism is absolutely essential to the salvation of the soul. Many of them
also teach that this baptism must be by immersion, not by pouring or sprinkling.
However, we will not herein address the question of the mode of baptism, because
baptism's relation to salvation is more important. 
It is the purpose of this essay to analyze the doctrine that baptism is
necessary for salvation. In the following pages we will measure the teaching
against Scripture, examining the New Testament texts used in support of it, and
those which we believe show it to be incorrect. It is not our purpose to
question the Christian faith of members of the groups teaching the doctrine of
baptismal regeneration; there may well be many sincere Christians who are
confused or misled on this issue.
For the record I am a member of the church of Christ congregation that gathers for worship at Monticello, GA. While I am a member of the church of Christ, I am in no way speaking for it, only the Bible does that. I am merely expressing what my study of the Bible has led me to believe concerning salvation and its essentials.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20). We have here a command of Christ that we should make disciples of all nations, and instrumental in that task is the act of baptizing converts. In other words, baptism is part of making disciples. However, it does not say here that baptism is necessary for salvation.
The same command also includes the clause "teaching them to observe all things" that Christ has commanded them. If we are to assume that baptism is essential to salvation, then by consistent interpretation of the context, we should say that absolute obedience to all of Christ's commands is also necessary for salvation.
It is absolutely correct that this passage does not point blank say baptism is essential for salvation. Nor does it say baptism ISN'T essential to salvation either. The baptism reference in this passage is but part of a command sequence.
This passage, in and of itself, says nothing about the necessity of baptism for salvation. It does say it is necessary for obedience. I have never heard anyone in the Biblical church of Christ claim this passage proves baptism is essential to salvation. It merely proves baptism is a required ingredient to obey this passage.
After we have examined the original author's other offered passages and have discovered other baptism qualities and we join them to this passage, we'll see the necessity of baptism for salvation is inherent in Matthew 28:19-20.
But this, of course, is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. Scripture
tells us that no one, even the Christian, is without sin (I John 1:7-2:2). If,
then, we are to say that believers who do not obey all of Christ's commands may
be saved, then we may, unless some other text teaches otherwise, say that
believers who are not baptized may also be saved.
Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (KJV) This verse sums up Paul's explanation of how believers are freed from the law of sin and death. When one is in Christ and walking after the Spirit, or observing all things, believers are free from the condemnation of sin. To be free from the condemnation of sin one must meet two conditions: being in Christ Jesus and walking after the Spirit.
How does one get "in Christ Jesus?"
Paul addresses that earlier in Romans 6:3, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (KJV)
Baptism into Jesus Christ puts one "in Jesus Christ." After baptism into Christ there is no condemnation as long as we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."(1 John 1:7 KJV)
Following after the Spirit, after putting on Christ in baptism, is what brings about forgiveness of any sin of failing to observe all things Christ has commanded. This forgiveness, or cleansing, is conditional.
Now then we have harmony between the clauses of concern to the original author he sees in Matthew 28:19-20. Believers who are in Christ and walking after the Spirit are obeying both clauses; they are baptized AND free from sin's condemnation, even though they may sin, as long as they walk after the Spirit.
Some argue, however, that this verse proves that one gets "into Christ" by
being baptized in water. In support, reference is made to a marginal reading in
the Revised Version which has "into" as the translation for
"in the name of." But this certainly cannot prove
the point: the Revised Version simply shows that this is one
possible rendering of the phrase, while in fact the more accurate reading is
simply "in." This rendering is chosen by the Authorized
Version (King James), the Phillips Modern English
Translation, the New English Bible, the Jerusalem
Bible, the New International Version, and the
Today's English Version. In addition, this is the primary meaning
of the phrase (eis to onoma) in the Greek. A.T. Robertson, the
greatest English-speaking Greek scholar of our century, makes no allowance for
the possibility of translating this passage "into the name."  A comparison
with Matthew 10:41-42 will show that such a translation of eis to
onoma ("in the name") would make many of its uses
meaningless. This does not prove that one gets "into Christ" by being baptized
Matthew 28:19-20, therefore, does not prove the necessity of baptism for salvation, or for coming "into Christ."
As we have already agreed, Matthew 28:19-20 does not prove the necessity of baptism for salvation, or for coming "into Christ." What it DOES say is that baptism is necessary for obedience. There are other verses far more suited for proving purposes such as Romans 6:3 "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (KJV) We'll be discussing this verse later since it is one of the verses the original author says doesn't mean what it says.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe
will be condemned.
This verse is often quoted as supporting the teaching that baptism is
necessary for salvation. However, a more careful analysis of the verse shows
that it teaches nothing of the sort.
While the first clause says that all who both believe and are baptized will
be saved, it does not say that all who neither believe nor are baptized will not
be saved. In other words, the clause does not exclude any group, while it does
tell of a group of people who will be saved, namely, those who both believe and
are baptized. But the second clause negates one group: those who do not believe
will not be saved. There is no negation of the group of those who believe but
are not baptized. Thus, while the verse as a whole does teach that belief is
essential to salvation, it does not teach that baptism is.
While this does not prove that baptism is not necessary for salvation, it does mean that this verse cannot be used to prove that baptism is necessary for salvation.
When it says who the clause INCLUDES, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," there is no need for clauses saying who is EXCLUDED. In the clause "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," we find two conditions joined by the coordinating conjunction "and" giving both belief AND baptism equal importance in the clause.
When we order "bacon & eggs, no ketchup" in a restaurant we expect our server to know what we want. We include bacon AND eggs and exclude ketchup. We would not accept our order if we were told, "well, you didn't exclude chocolate syrup." When God tells you what he wants he is telling you what he DOESN'T want as well.
If any verse of the Bible more clearly spells out the necessity of baptism as a salvation ingredient, I'm at a loss as to which one it could be.
How many times does God have to say something to make it so? A person really has to dig to misunderstand Mark 16:16. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Believers are baptized and saved, non-believers are not.
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him (Luke 7:30).
This was in reference to John the Baptist's baptism, not to Christian
baptism. Therefore, it cannot be used to prove the necessity of baptism for
salvation. Acts 18:24-19:7 shows that John's baptism is invalid now. This fact
is even pointed out by "Church of Christ" writer Ernest Clevenger in his
Pocket Ready Reference for Personal Workers.  It is thus the
more surprising that two other "Church of Christ" writers, A.C. Williams and J.
Harvey Dykes, make reference to this verse as an argument in favor of the
necessity of baptism for salvation in their booklet Ready Answers to
Religious Error. 
It does not matter what brothers Clevenger, Williams, Dykes or other humans write. Again, the only thing that matters is what is written in the Bible. Only the Bible speaks for God or the church of Christ.
Furthermore, John the Baptist preached baptism. To reject his
baptism, therefore, was to reject him. He was sent from God to testify of Christ
(John 1:6-7), and therefore whoever rejected him rejected God. It was, then, not
specifically the rejection of baptism which caused them to be against God, but
the rejection of John which was entailed in the rejection of his baptism. But I
will show later that the Christian is not sent to preach baptism, for the
Gospel, which he is sent to preach, does not include baptism (I
Luke 7:30, therefore, does not prove the necessity of baptism for salvation.
In Mark 1:4 we read, "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." In Luke 3:3 we read, "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;"
John's baptism was the baptism of repentance or looking to Christ. Christ had not yet died for our sins. "Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." (Acts 19:4 KJV) John's baptism was the baptism of repentance "for the remission of sins."
Taken in context, Luke 7:30, with verse 29, along with Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3, does prove the necessity of John's baptism of repentance for those who lived while Christ lived. After Christ died on the cross for our sins the baptism of repentance became the baptism for the remission of sins. "(3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. (4) Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:3-5 KJV) This passage shows baptism is essential to something. Other verses we shall be examining later will show that something is remission of sins.
1 Corinthians 1:17 is part of a discourse where Paul is discussing the problem of following after those who baptized them rather than following after Christ. When we take the passage in context and examine the verses before and after, we see why Paul says he was not sent to baptize but to preach the gospel. Yet, he did baptize. He baptized (vs 1:14) Crispus, Gaius, (vs 1:16) the household of Stephanas and he didn't remember whether or not he had baptized others.
Christians are NOT sent to baptize. They ARE sent to preach the gospel. Baptism is a result of believing the preached gospel. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. " (Mark 16:15-16 KJV)
1 Corinthians 1:17 does not in any way disprove the necessity of baptism. The context of the passage is rebuking the practice of following after the baptizer rather than Christ.
Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
If "born of water" means water baptism, then this verse proves
that it is necessary to be baptized in water to be saved. About that we can be
sure. But I will give several reasons why "born of water" cannot
mean "baptism in water."
First, at the time that Christ said this, Christian baptism had not yet been
instituted. There was no such thing at that time as baptism "in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." It therefore
would have been impossible for Nicodemus to understand "born of
water" as referring to water baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and
Also, this must be seen in the context of verse 6: "That which is born
of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,"
and of verse 7: "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born
again.'" This shows that being "born again" (see also
verse 3) is being "born of the Spirit." Being "born
again" cannot be being "born of the flesh" (verse 6), so
it must be being "born of the Spirit."
If "born of water" meant water baptism, then verse 5 would
contradict verse 6, which requires for salvation only being "born of the
Spirit," while verse 5 would require being baptized in water
and being born of the Spirit. But if being "born of
water" does not mean water baptism, and instead is a figurative way of
saying "born of the Spirit," then verse 5 does not contradict
There is good reason to believe that "born of water" could be simply a figurative way of saying, "born of the Spirit." The word "water" in connection with salvation, the covenant, regeneration, rebirth, is often used in Scripture as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself used water this way when He said:
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-38).
In the next verse, John added:
But this He spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.... (verse 39a)
With this interpretation in mind, the reader should note the following
verses, and see if they make more sense understanding "water" in
each case as a symbol of the Spirit, not as the physical element: Isaiah 12:3,
35:6, 55:1; Ezekiel 36:25; Jeremiah 2:13; Zechariah 14:8, cf. Ezekiel 47:1-5;
John 4:10; Revelation 21:6, 22:17. These verses make more sense if we see
"water' in them as symbolic of the Holy Spirit. We therefore have good precedent
for understanding "water" in connection with salvation as symbolic
of the Holy Spirit, and this means that it would be reasonable to do so at John
3:5 as well. 
If this is the case, then John 3:5 would be understood as follows: when Jesus
said, "You must be born of water and the Spirit," He used water as
a figurative way of saying "born of the Spirit," and then made
Himself perfectly clear by reiterating the thought in plain language. Such a
form of speaking was common, to the Jews and to Jesus' own teaching. It would
readily be understood by Nicodemus, who as a Pharisee would be quite familiar
with the Old Testament symbolic usage of "water." Water baptism, on the other
hand, in the Christian formula, could not have been understood by Nicodemus,
because it did not exist at the time.
John 3:5 does not even refer to water baptism, or to any form of baptism. It
therefore does not prove the necessity of water baptism for salvation.
The original author states: "Water baptism, on the other hand, in the Christian formula, could not have been understood by Nicodemus, because it did not exist at the time." If by the term "Christian formula" the original author means baptism by immersion in water then it most certainly did exist at the time and was extremely well known. "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;" (Luke 3:3 KJV) "Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Luke 3:7 KJV)
"And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins." (Mark 1:5 KJV)
Nicodemus knew about baptism.
One cannot read the story of John and conclude anything about him, especially baptism, was unknown.
The original author seems to say that the verse implies "born of the spirit and of the Spirit" and thus has no connection with actual water.
The original word translated from the original Greek as water in John 3:5 is udatov. It is the same word translated as water in Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, 9:41, Luke 16:24, 22:10, John 2:7, 3:5, 4:13, 4:14, 7:38, Acts 8:39, Ephesians 5:26, Hebrews 9:19, I Peter 3:20, II Peter 3:5, I John 5:6, Revelation 21:6 and 22:1. Eighteen verses in the New Testament where udatov means water and here we are asked to believe that in John 3:5 udatov means the fluid our bodies are made up of.
Consistent translation of udatov demands one accept the water in John 3:5 to be actual water.
But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out (John 19:34).
Quite curiously, W.C. Johnson refers to this verse as proof that it is
baptism which identifies us with Christ's death where He shed His blood, which
saves us.  But the objective reader can see no connection between this and
baptism. Does Mr. Johnson think that whenever water is mentioned, it must refer
to baptism? This would be ridiculous (we have seen that it does not in John
Quite simply, this verse shows us part of the physical cause of Christ's
death on the cross. Dr. W. Stroud explains in his work The Physical Cause
of the Death of Christ that the emmission of water from Christ's chest
cavity when He was pierced showed that the sac surrounding the heart, which
contains a substance most commonly described on sight as water, burst, so that
the water was mixed with the blood which flowed from His ruptured heart. (This
means, significantly, that Christ died of a "broken heart.").
Not every historical narrative in the Bible has a symbolic significance.
Hence it is not necessary that there be one in John 19:34.
The text itself appears as simple historical narrative, which does not bear
symbolic meaning. But if symbolic meaning is sought in it, it would seem most
reasonable to take "water" here as referring to the Holy Spirit, as was noted in
our discussion of John 3:5. Water is more frequently used symbolically in
Scripture of the Spirit and therefore it would seem that this would be the most
likely candidate, if we were determined to find some symbolic meaning in it. But
the best interpretational procedure here is to leave it as an historical
John 19:34, therefore, does not prove the necessity of water baptism for salvation.
Actually what we have seen from our study of John 3:5 is that the water mentioned is water by studying the original Greek word used, udatov, "udatov" is consistently translated "water" from the original Greek.
Again, what any human says about baptism means little. What is important is what God says. This passage does not prove, or disprove, the necessity of baptism for salvation.
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).
This is one of the favorite verses of those who believe baptism is necessary
for salvation. They point out simply that it says that we must be
"baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,"
and since remission of sins is necessary for salvation, baptism is therefore
necessary for salvation.
A careful study of the Greek grammar at this point shows that it is repentance, not baptism, which is "for the remission of sins." The Greek text reads (translated):
You (plural) repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (the) remission of the sins of you.
This makes it clear that "remission of your [plural] sins" is the result of
"you [plural] repent[ing]," not of "each one [singular] being baptized." The
command to repent is given in the plural number and second person; the command
to be baptized is given in the singular number and third person; the sins
remitted belong to "you" in the plural number and second person.
It is therefore improper to refer "remission of sins" to
"baptism" as its cause, for this would mean that each one was
baptized for the remission of the sins of all those present.
To take baptism here as causing the remission of sins would be to make the
text say, "Let him be baptized for the remission of all your sins," and "Let him
(another) be baptized for the remission of all your sins," and "Let him (yet
another) be baptized for the remission of all your sins," and so on to each
person in the group. Thus, each one would be baptized for the remission of the
sins of all the people in the group.
But the grammar instead is quite clear. Remission is the result of repentance, not of baptism. You repent and your sins will be remitted. You all repent and the sins of all you will be remitted. Acts 2:38, therefore, does not teach the necessity of baptism for salvation.
I have no idea where the original author found "You (plural) repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (the) remission of the sins of you." for Acts 2:38 but it really doesn't matter because the text offered here still requires us to deal with the coordinating conjunction "and." This gives "repent" and "be baptized" equal importance. And doesn't "be baptized each one of you" include ALL of them?
"Then Peter said (5713) unto them, Repent (5657) , and be baptized (5682) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive (5695) the gift of the Holy Ghost."
"Petrov de prov autouv, Metanohsate, (5657) [fhsin,] (5748) kai baptisqhtw (5682) ekastov umwn epi tw onomati Ihsou Xristou eiv afesin twn amartiwn umwn, kai lhmyesqe (5695) thn dwrean tou agiou pneumatov;" (KJV Strong's Interlinear Version)
Acts 2:38, the response to the question from those convinced they had killed the Christ, does indeed show the necessity of both repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. When we read Mark 16:16 "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" we have in these two verses alone, believing, repentance (changing one's life) and baptism (acting on that belief). Romans 8:1 covers continuing in belief.
Those who struggle to remove baptism from God's plan of salvation seem to ignore one little word, the coordinating conjunction and. "And" is used to connect two concepts of equal importance..
One really needs help misunderstanding "Repent, AND be baptized.." in Acts 2:38
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture [Isaiah 53:7-8], preached Jesus to [the eunuch]. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"
Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may."
And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him (Acts 8:35-38).
There is nothing on the surface of this account which teaches the necessity
of baptism for salvation, but teachers of baptismal regeneration refer to this
as a good example of the manner of salvation. The eunuch had heard the Word, he
had been taught, he had repented, he had believed, and finally he was baptized
to complete the process. They contend that baptism must be involved in
"preaching Jesus," because otherwise the eunuch would not have known about it.
If "preaching Jesus" included preaching baptism, they reason, baptism must be
part of the Gospel, and since the Gospel is the way of salvation, baptism must
be necessary to salvation.
But this neglects the context. Verse 27 tells us that this eunuch had come to
Jerusalem to worship. He was therefore familiar with the Jewish religion, if not
actually a convert to it. If he were a convert, or if he were considering
becoming one, he must have known of the Jewish practice of baptizing all
converts to Judaism (which had been done for several centuries). The Jews used
baptism as an initiation rite for Gentiles who were converted to Judaism, and in
other religions as well.  Hence the eunuch would have been familiar with this
use of baptism even if Philip never mentioned baptism.
What is more, the eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah, and happened at
the moment when Philip joined him to be reading Isaiah 53:7-8. But the tense of
the verb "read" in verse 28 is imperfect, meaning that he was continuing to
read; that is, he had been reading before Philip got there and was still reading
when Philip walked up to him. This makes it very probable that he had also just
read Isaiah 52:15, which begins, "So shall He sprinkle many
nations." The eunuch, familiar with Judaism as he must have been since
he had gone to Jerusalem to worship, would almost certainly have known that the
Jews referred to this passage in connection with their rite of baptizing
converts as initiation.
Here is an important point: The eunuch was returning from worshipping at Jerusalem. Now then, he certainly had already undergone the "initiation baptism" of Judaism since he was a worshipper. Why would he ask for it again? And, if it was a sprinkling he expected, why would both Philip and the eunuch go down into the water?
A further reason to believe that Philip's preaching of Jesus did not include telling the eunuch of baptism is that Paul himself separated the preaching of the Gospel from baptism (I Corinthians 1:17). If Paul had left baptism out of the Gospel and Philip had it in the Gospel, there would be a contradiction in Scripture. But the simple answer is that Philip did not include the teaching of baptism in his preaching of Jesus.
All we have recorded in the Bible about the story of Philip and the eunuch is what DID happen, not what DIDN'T happen. Once more, Paul did not separate baptism from the gospel in I Corinthians 1:17, he separated calling oneself a follower of the baptizer from the Gospel.
It is perfectly allowable that Philip could have mentioned baptism, however,
without making it a part of the preaching of Christ. The passage only mentions
that he preached Christ to him, but this does not mean that after preaching
Christ to him, he could not also have told him about baptism, and indeed about
many other things. He could, therefore, have told the eunuch about baptism
without saying that it was actually part of the saving Gospel.
With all of this in mind, it should be perfectly clear that Acts 8:35-38 does
not prove that baptism is a part of the preaching of Christ, that is, a part of
the Gospel. It certainly gives no clear indication that Philip taught that
baptism was necessary for salvation, or that the eunuch believed it was; indeed
not only does it give no clear indication, it gives no indication at all.
Acts 8:35-38, therefore, does not prove the necessity of baptism for salvation.
Here is clear indication Philip taught baptism: (1) Philip preached Jesus - the gospel, (2) The eunuch asked to be baptized. (3) Philip weighed the eunuch's belief. (4) Philip baptized the eunuch. (5) The eunuch went on his way rejoicing.
Why is this clear?
This is the mirror image of what we read in Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..." This also mirrors Matthew 28:19, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
There is one thing in the passage that makes little sense. If Philip didn't mention baptism to the eunuch, according to the original author's premise, what prompted the eunuch to ask for it? Why did Philip make the baptism conditional on the eunuch's affirming his belief? Why did the Holy Spirit record all the details of the actual baptism?
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48a).
This text is often called upon by baptismal regenerationalists to show that
baptism is necessary for salvation. But certainly there is nothing inherent in
it which proves this. We all agree that we are commanded to be baptized, and
that neglect or rejection of baptism is sin. But some hold this sin to be
unforgivable, since one cannot be saved unless one is baptized. I will contend,
on the other hand, that this is not the "unforgivable sin," and that the one who
commits it, while yet having faith in Christ, is forgiven of this sin and saved
First, the mere fact that we are commanded to be baptized, and that is all
this verse says, cannot show that baptism is necessary for salvation. We are
also commanded not to sin. Does that mean that if we sin, we cannot be saved?
But this would be nonsense since in Christ we have forgiveness of our sins.
Therefore it is possible to disobey commands of the Lord and yet be saved.
It is an assumption of many in the religious world that once one "accepts" Christ one is saved and cannot be lost because "in Christ we have forgiveness of our sins." We have the forgiveness of sins as long as we meet two conditions - we have to be "in Christ" and we have to live a particular way. In Romans 8:1 (KJV) we read, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." I John 1:7 says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
And then there is Hebrews 10:26 (KJV), "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins," These verses and others show forgiveness is conditional. Unrepented willful disobedience is not forgivable.
Forgiveness of sins is only found in Christ. As scripture has pointed out several times, initial and future conditional forgiveness occurs when one is "in Christ." One is baptized into Christ according to Romans 6:3. To refuse baptism is to refuse being in Christ.
Now what makes this command from the Lord any different from the general
command not to sin, or the commands specifically not to lie, covet, etc., so
that disobedience to this command cannot be forgiven while those can? There is
nothing in the text which makes that difference, and there is nothing anywhere
else where baptism is spoken of that makes that difference. The command which we
cannot disobey and yet be forgiven is the command to believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ (Mark 16:16b; John 8:24; Acts 16:31). But the whole point of believing on
the Lord Jesus Christ is that it is obedience to this very command which brings
forgiveness for disobedience to any other command (Colossians 1:14; I John
1:7-2:2). True faith in the true Christ brings immediate justification (Romans
3:1-5, 23-28), and justification is an absolute guarantee of salvation (Romans
The original author leaves out other verses in Romans that apply. Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (KJV)
"Therefore" means, "based upon what has been said before, here is the conclusion." What has been said before in the Roman letter is we have gone from being under God's wrath to free from wrath. There are however, two conditions one must meet to be free from condemnation. One is to be "in Christ" and the other is to "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Romans 6:3 says, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (KJV) When I ask those who dismiss the necessity of baptism how THEY got into Christ they invariably answer something along the lines of, "When I asked Jesus to come into my heart." They tell me how Christ got into them rather than how they got into Christ.
Here are some passages about the blood of Christ...
In Matthew 26:28 Jesus says, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (KJV) In Ephesians 1:7 Paul says, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;" (KJV) Colossians 1:14 (KJV), "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:" "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." Hebrews 9:22 (KJV) I John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (KJV) "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," Revelation 1:5 (KJV)
In these verse we find that Christ's blood redeems and remits sins. Where was that blood shed? In his death. How do we come into contact with that sin washing blood? We are "baptized into his death." Romans 6:3
It is after we are baptized that we then come under the "no condemnation" of Romans 8:1. Baptism is our access to Christ and his blood. Until we have access to his blood there is no remission of ANY sin including disobedience to baptism for the remission of sins Acts 2:38 (KJV)
Baptism is the initial cleansing of sin, walking after the Spirit is the continued cleansing of sin.
Acts 10:48a, then, does prove that we are commanded to be baptized. It does
not prove, however, that baptism is necessary for salvation.
There is another reason for rejecting this verse as a "proof" of the necessity of baptism for salvation. Those who claim that it is such a proof must ignore or seriously misconstrue the context. Peter was speaking to Cornelius and his friends, and then he turned to the other Christians around and said:
Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? (verse 47)
Peter said that this group of people had received the Holy Spirit "just
as we have." He acknowledged that these people were already saved. Just
as truly as Peter and the Christians with him had received the Holy Spirit, so
Cornelius and his friends had received the Holy Spirit. Having received the Holy
Spirit was proof that they were already saved, as Romans 8:9-16 shows.
Those who have received the Holy Spirit are the children of God. They are
"born of the Spirit." They are "born again." They
are guaranteed their inheritance (Romans 8:1 1; II Corinthians 1:22, 5:5;
Ephesians 1:14). They are, in fact, saved. Cornelius and his friends were saved
before Peter commanded them to be baptized.
Acts 10:48, therefore, does not prove that baptism is necessary for salvation.
The original author states it is a fact that Cornelius and his friends were saved before baptism in Acts 10. Let's look at Peter's account in Acts 11 after his return to Jerusalem...
"And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved." (Acts 11:13-14 KJV)
It was Peter's words that saved the house of Cornelius. The falling of the Holy Spirit was to show God's acceptance of the Gentiles just as its falling in Acts 2 was to show the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28. In Acts 10 Peter preached the gospel. It was the preaching of the gospel and its obedience that saved Cornelius' and his household.
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).
Baptismal regenerationists often refer to this verse as proof that baptism is necessary for "washing away" sin, that is, for regeneration, for remission of sin. There are several reasons why this cannot be the case.
First, a careful study of the Greek text shows that "wash away"
is coordinated with "calling." That is, it is by "calling on
the name of the Lord" that Paul was to "wash away" his
sins, not by being baptized.
Even the English does not say, "be baptized washing away your sins," or "wash
away your sins being baptized," but rather "be baptized, and wash away
your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." This shows that washing
away the sins and being baptized were separate acts, and that the washing away
of the sins was done by calling on the name of the Lord.
Second, being baptized was not a part of the Gospel which Paul preached. We know this for two reasons. First, Paul carefully distinguished baptizing from preaching the Gospel in I Corinthians, chapter one. There he wrote:
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel... (verses 14-17a)
Baptism, then, cannot be part of the Gospel. The Gospel is the "power
of God to salvation" (Romans 1:16). It tells us what is necessary to
know in order to be saved. Paul left baptism out of the Gospel. Therefore Paul
did not consider baptism necessary to salvation.
Secondly, Acts 22:15 says that Paul was chosen to be Christ's "witness
to all men of what [he had] seen and heard." Paul,
however, did not preach baptism as part of the Gospel.
Hence we must see Acts 22:16 as telling us simply of an historical fact.
Ananias told Paul he should be baptized, and Paul was therefore baptized. But
the grammar does not support the idea that his baptism was the washing away of
his sin. It shows instead that his calling on the name of the Lord brought
forgiveness (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10). Baptism was not incorporated into what
Paul considered to be the Gospel. Therefore Acts 22:16 does not prove the
necessity of baptism for salvation.
A.T. Robertson admitted the grammatical possibility that this verse could be interpreted as teaching baptismal regeneration, or baptismal remission.  But grammatical possibility is far from actuality. There is also the grammatical possibility, and a stronger one in fact, that the washing away of sin is accomplished by calling on the name of the Lord. The grammar alone, therefore, cannot settle it, and discussions such as those above are necessary to clarify the matter. Robertson wrote:
It is possible... to take these words as teaching baptismal remission or salvation by means of baptism, but to do so in my opinion is a complete subversion of Paul's vivid and picturesque language. As in Romans 6:4-6 where baptism is the picture of death, burial, and resurrection, so here baptism pictures the change that had already taken place when Paul surrendered to Jesus on the way (verse 10). Baptism here pictures the washing away of sins by the blood of Christ. 
It is possible, by isolating this verse from its context and from other New
Testament teaching on the subject, to take this as teaching baptismal
regeneration. But again, this is only one way to understand it. It has already
been shown that this would not fit the context, it does not fit the most clear
understanding of the grammar, and most importantly, it is contrary to Paul's
entire teaching of what the Gospel is (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10; I Corinthians
1:17; Galatians 1:11-12). Possibility must not be confused with either
probability or actuality.
Acts 22:16 does not teach the necessity of baptism for salvation.
Once again the author relies on 1 Corinthians 1:17 where Paul writes "Christ sent me not to baptize" as evidence baptism is not necessary for salvation. As I pointed out earlier when this was first submitted, previous verses in 1 Corinthians 1 show that he DID baptize. Was he doing something other than what Christ sent him to do? The context shows they were following after the baptizer rather than Christ. Again, baptism is a crucial part of Matthew 28:18-19...
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Notice the order, first comes teaching, then baptism, then more teaching. This is what Paul was relating in 1 Corinthians 1.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).
Some insist that this passage teaches that water baptism is the means of
getting into Christ.  But does it really teach this? There are several
reasons why it does not.
And his reasons follow, but first let's look at the Romans 6:3 rendering in just a few translations...
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (King James Version)
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (New International Version)
"Or do you not know that all of us who have been (A)baptized into (B)Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" (New American Standard Bible)
"Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (American Standard Version)
"Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?" (New Living Translation)
It is important that we notice the consistency in the translations of Romans 6:3 from the original Greek. The compilers of ALL these versions, as well as a good number of others, concluded the verse says what it says.
This is the point at which it has come to me to follow Brother Keeble's example and sit down.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).
We're baptized into Christ. If you haven't been, you are outside of Christ. If I can be of assistance to you, call on me. Questions, comments or suggestions
First, the Greek word here translated "into" would be translated better "in" or "unto." Thus Robertson wrote regarding Romans 6:3:
Better, "were baptized unto Christ or in Christ." The translation "into" makes Paul say that the union with Christ was brought to pass by means of baptism, which is not his idea, for Paul was not a sacramentarian.... Baptism is the public proclamation of one's inward spiritual relation to Christ attained before the baptism. See Galatians 3:27 where it is like putting on an outward garment or uniform. "Into his death"... So here "unto his death," "in relation to his death," which relation Paul proceeds to explain by the symbolism of the ordinance. 
Therefore we see that the Greek grammar itself does not teach that the
baptism here spoken of is actually the means of getting "into Christ."
Second, Paul is speaking in figures and symbols throughout the first half of
this chapter. Would the proponents of baptismal regeneration take verse 6
("our old man was crucified with Him") literally, or will they
recognize it as symbolic? It is symbolic, and it paints a vivid picture of dying
to self and being alive to Christ. But this gives us precedent to interpret
"baptism" in this passage as symbolic, too.
Another key to the fact that this passage is to be interpreted symbolically is verse 11, which reads:
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
All along, it is this "reckoning" that is emphasized. The
"also" tells us that we reckon ourselves not only dead to sin, but
also reckon other things of ourselves. These are expressed in the two symbols of
being baptized in Christ and being crucified with Him (verses 3, 4, 6).
Thus Paul is simply using baptism as a symbol to paint a vivid picture of
what happens when one is identified with Christ: that is, when one has
"put on Christ," and has been "born again." Baptism
gives an excellent picture of what it is to become a Christian, for it pictures
the burial and resurrection. But the baptism itself is not that burial or
resurrection. As Robertson put it, "[A] symbol is not the reality, but the
picture of the reality."  Baptism, therefore, symbolized identification with
Third, that baptism symbolizes identification can be shown by two studies. In I Corinthians 10:2-4, Paul wrote of the Israelites:
All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
This clearly shows that "baptism into Moses was a symbolic way
of speaking of their identification with him: they ate the same meat, and drank
the same drink: they were identified with him.
Furthermore, a careful reading of Romans 5:12-6:11 shows clearly that
identification with Christ, on the one side, or with Adam, on the other, was
Paul's theme. It is by our identification with Adam that death passed upon all
men (5:12); it is through his offense that the many are dead (5:15); and by the
judgment of him that all stand condemned (5:16); and because of his offense
death reigns over all men (5:17) until they are saved (7:25, 8:1); by his
offense judgment came on all (5:18); by his disobedience many were made sinners
(5:19). But on the other hand, it is by our identification with Christ that we
have life: Adam pre-figured Christ in this sense, that identification with him
brings on us the things which apply to him, and identification with Christ
brings on us the things which apply to Him (5:14). Yet the benefits of
identification with Christ far outweigh the tragedies of identification with
Adam (5:15); by identification with Him God's grace abounds to those who are
identified with Him (5:15); by identification with Him the gift of justification
comes to us (5:16); identification with Christ brings abundant righteousness in
life (5:17); identification with Him brings justification and righteousness unto
life (5:18); identification with Him applies His obedience to us (5:19).
Paul uses baptism often as a symbol of identification. He does it in 1 Corinthians 10:2. He follows the tremendous passage on identification with Christ on the one hand and with Adam on the other with a more in-depth passage on identification with Christ (Romans 6:1-11). As Christ died for our sins, and "became sin for us" (II Corinthians 5:21), so He died to sin because He had taken on our sins (Romans 6:10). Thus when we are identified with Him, we too are "dead to sin" (Romans 6:2); we are identified with His death (verse 3), with His burial and resurrection (verse 4), with His newness of life because of this resurrection (verses 4-5), in His crucifixion (verse 6), in living with Him (verse 8), and in dominion over death forevermore (verse 9). Paul concluded this line of thought by writing:
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (verses 10-11).
The entire passage of Romans 5:12-6:11 is concerned with our identification
first and naturally with Adam, and second and by spiritual rebirth with Christ
(John 3:3-6). It is correct, therefore, especially in the light of Paul's usage
of the term in I Corinthians 10:2, to understand "baptism" in
Romans 6 as symbolic of identification. Therefore it is not water baptism which
actually puts us "Into Christ" or is necessary for our salvation,
but identification with Christ: dying with Him to sin, rising with Him to life,
living with Him to dominion over death and sin.
Romans 6:3-4, therefore, does not prove the necessity of baptism for salvation.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13).
Williams and Dykes call on this verse as a proof that baptism is the means by
which we get into the Body, or Church, of Christ.  There are several reasons
to reject this teaching. They teach that this refers to water baptism. But there
is nothing in the context to make us think this. The Bible makes reference to
baptism in water (Acts 10:48), in fire (Matthew 3:11), in the Holy Spirit
(Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5), and in Christ (Romans 6:3-4). It is therefore not
necessary that we understand I Corinthians 12:13 as referring to water
Certainly it is by being baptized by the Holy Spirit that we get "into the
body of Christ," but there is nothing to identify this baptism by the Holy
Spirit with water baptism. Indeed, the language of Paul both in this verse and
elsewhere in this epistle to the Corinthians makes it highly improbable that he
meant that this was baptism in water.
First, Paul goes on after saying that we are baptized by the Spirit into the
body of Christ to say that we also all drink of one Spirit. If we are going to
insist on a literal interpretation of "baptism" in the first half
of the verse, we have a right to insist on consistency and interpret the
"drinking" of the second half literally. But this would be nonsense. If we take
"drinking" in the second half figuratively, we have a right to take "baptism" in
the first half figuratively.
Second, when considering Paul's words in I Corinthians 1:12-17, it is highly
unlikely that Paul would identify baptism by the Spirit into the Body of Christ
with baptism by any man. Being baptized by Paul caused some Corinthians to say
they were "of Paul"; being baptized by Apollos caused some to say
they were "of Apollos"; or by Cephas (Peter) caused some to say
they were "of Cephas"; and some retorted arrogantly, "Well, I am
simply of Christ." Since this was the case with the Corinthians, it is
inconceivable that in writing to them Paul would intend for them to understand
baptism by the Spirit as water baptism by a man or men.
Thirdly, the context of I Corinthians 12:13 is figurative language. Even the
word "body" is used figuratively to describe the unity of the
believers in Christ. Verses 7-11 all speak of a spiritual, not a physical,
working by the Holy Spirit. Verses 12-31 all speak figuratively of their various
topics. Therefore we have good reason to believe that "baptism in
verse 13 is used figuratively of a spiritual, not physical, act of the Holy
The baptism spoken of in I Corinthians 12:13 is figurative, referring to
identification. It is done spiritually by the Holy Spirit, not through any
physical means, and involves regeneration, the act of making the believer a
"new creation" (II Corinthians 5:17). It does not refer to water
I Corinthians 12:13, therefore, does not prove the necessity of water baptism for salvation.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27).
Williams and Dyke  argue that this verse proves the necessity of water
baptism for salvation, because it is by such that one gets "into
Christ." But there are several reasons why this is not the case.
First, we have already seen that Paul often used "baptism" as a
symbol for identification. This usage here would fit the meaning of the text. If
it is symbolic of "identification," the meaning would be as follows: "For as
many of you as have been identified in Christ have put on Christ." We have good
reason from Paul's other writing, as shown previously, to take this
figuratively, and it fits the context that way. Therefore the figurative is the
most likely meaning.
Second, the verb in Greek translated "put on" has the meaning of putting on a badge or uniform of service like that of a soldier. According to A.T. Robertson:
This verb is common in the sense of putting on garments (literally and metaphorically as here). See further in Paul (Romans 13:14; Colossians 3:9f; Ephesians 4:22-24, 6:11, 14). In I Thessalonians 5:8 Paul speaks of "putting on the breastplate of righteousness." He does not here mean that one enters into Christ and so is saved by means of baptism after the teaching of the mystery religions, but just the opposite. We are justified by faith in Christ, not by circumcision or by baptism. But baptism was the public profession and pledge, the soldier's sacramentum, oath of fealty to Christ, taking one's stand with Christ, the symbolic picture of the change wrought by faith already (Romans 6:4-6). 
In other words, even if "baptism" is taken as referring to water baptism, the
language which Paul uses shows it to be an outward sign of something that has
already happened inwardly. The baptizing itself then would be an entirely
outward event, with no spiritual effect, but only a spiritual
significance. Hebrews 9:13ff reminds us that no outward ceremony
has a real effect on the heart.
Third, the word "into" in the King James Version
would, again by Robertson's principle quoted earlier, be better translated "in"
or "unto," meaning "in reference to" Christ, thus showing that the baptism
itself is not the means of getting to be "in Christ."
Fourth, Galatia stood in the middle of an area infested with the mystery
religions, and these bodies made much of outward acts. Paul was refuting the
teachings of these religions, and so there is the initial probability that he
did not want "baptism" in Galatians 3:27 to be taken as the
literal, outward act. Baptism in water was a common initiatory rite in the
mystery religions, and Paul knew that from his own travels in the area. It would
be extremely unlikely that he would speak of it in the same way they did.
Fifth, it is by the receiving of the Holy Spirit that we know we are saved.
In fact, those who have received Him are saved (Romans 8:1-16). But Paul in
Galatians 3:2-3 points out specifically that it is by faith that the Galatians
received the Holy Spirit. To say then that Galatians 3:27 teaches baptism as the
means of regeneration would make it contradict verses 2 and 3.
Sixth, in verse 6 Paul quotes the fact that Abraham was justified when he
believed God: that is, when he had faith. But Genesis 15:6 shows that this
justification came before any physical act, specifically that of circumcision.
Now the fact that Abraham was justified by faith without works is proof that he
was saved (Romans 8:29-30; cf. Romans 3:1-5, 28). Circumcision is the Old
Testament counterpart to baptism in the New Testament (see discussion of
Colossians 2:12 later). Therefore we can be saved before and even completely
without being baptized in water. (The use of Abraham as an example of the manner
of our justification is supported in Galatians 3-28-29, and by Paul's whole
argument in Romans 3-4).
Baptism in Galatians 3:27 does not refer to physical baptism in water, but is
figurative of our identification with Christ which is achieved by faith (John
1:12-13), as was the case in I Corinthians 12:13 and Romans 6:3-4. It cannot be
used as proof that baptism is necessary for salvation. But even if it did refer
to water baptism, it would not prove the necessity of baptism for salvation, for
it specifically speaks of it as an outward sign. We know that outward signs do
not affect the heart's relation to God, and we know that there are those who
were saved before they were baptized in water (Cornelius and his friends, Acts
10) or were circumcised (Abraham, Genesis 15).
Galatians 3:27, therefore, does not prove the necessity of water baptism for salvation.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing Of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-26).
There is no mention of baptism here, but simply "the washing of water
by the word." It was shown in the discussion of John 3:5 that
"water" does not always refer to baptism, even when it is used in
the context of washing or regeneration. It more often refers to the Holy
If this were physical baptism, then 1) this would mean that Christ physically
baptizes the Church as a whole, not just individual members of it. That of
course is absurd. 2) This would mean that, following Christ's example with the
Church, the husband should baptize his wife in water (and somehow, he should do
this by "the word"!).
The text says plainly that this "washing of water" is to be done "by the word." John 8:31-32 says:
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
The Word is the key to this. The "washing" is to be accomplished by leading the wife (as Christ led the Church) into the Word. Psalm 119:9 shows clearly that cleansing is accomplished by the Word of God in a person's heart:
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
This, coupled with the fact that "water" here certainly need
not refer to baptism in water, is sufficient reason to reject the idea that this
verse teaches the doctrine of baptism for cleansing from sin.
The context shows that this "washing of water by the word" is
an inner cleansing (verse 27), a making holy of the Church on the one hand by
Christ, and the wife on the other hand by the husband. But Hebrews 9:13ff shows
that outward ceremonies do not actually cleanse the heart from sin.
Ephesians 5:25-27, therefore, does not prove the necessity of water baptism for salvation.
. . . [B]uried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead(Colossians 2:12).
The previous discussions of Romans 6:3-4, I Corinthians 12:13, and Galatians
3:27 should show clearly that this does not prove the necessity of baptism for
salvation. But there is need for discussion anyway.
First, the verse is frequently quoted out of context. The entire context runs from verse 10 through verse 17:
. . . You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
This context shows that baptism is presented as the New Testament counterpart
of circumcision in the Old Testament. They are presented in a careful parallel
to each other. The one who is "in Christ" is circumcised with a
circumcision made "without hands." The parallel usage of
circumcision and baptism demands that we understand the "baptism"
to be made "without hands" also. Therefore, this cannot be a
reference to literal water baptism, but rather a usage of the figure of
"baptism" as a picture of dying and rising with Christ, as in
Second, since baptism is shown to be the New Testament counterpart to
circumcision in the Old Testament, we know that those relations of circumcision
to salvation in the Old Testament apply to the relation of baptism to salvation
in the New Testament. Circumcision was not necessary for salvation in the Old
Testament, for Abraham was saved before he was circumcised (Genesis 15:6).
Furthermore, Romans 2:28-29 shows clearly that it is not physical circumcision
(that "made with hands") but spiritual circumcision which makes
one truly a Jew and one of Abraham's children.
Since baptism is the New Testament counterpart to circumcision in the Old Testament, we may therefore understand Romans 2:28-29 to have the same meaning in relation to baptism that it has in relation to circumcision:
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from God.
This can also be understood in relation to baptism. To paraphrase the above
passage, baptism is therefore not that which is outward in the flesh, but is
that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter. This is precisely what
was shown in my discussion of Romans 6:3-4, I Corinthians 12:13, and Galatians
3:27. The use of "baptism" by Paul as a symbol for identification
thus makes perfect sense, for circumcision in the Old Testament was a means of
identification with the nation of Israel. But whereas physical circumcision
identified one with the physical, outward Church, spiritual baptism is that
which identifies one with the spiritual Body of Christ.
The use of "baptism" in Colossians 2:12 is figurative, as was
the use of it by Paul in Romans 6:3-4, I Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27,
etc., and refers to a spiritual baptism "made without hands," an
identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is
accomplished by a direct spiritual act of the Holy Spirit, not by a physical act
done by man.
Colossians 2:12, therefore, does not prove the necessity of water baptism for'salvation.
. . . [N]ot by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. . . (Titus 3:5)
This verse is sometimes referred to as proof that baptism is the means of
regeneration. However, it does not mention baptism, and our discussion of
Hebrews 10:22 will show that the regeneration, the cleansing of the evil
conscience, is accomplished by washing, or sprinkling in the blood of Christ.
Revelation 1:5 makes it perfectly clear that the washing from sin is done in the
blood of Christ, not in the waters of baptism.
Furthermore, there is good grammatical cause to believe that "washing
of regeneration" means "washing which is regeneration."
This is argued for by Charles Hodge, who notes that this would be the meaning as
a "genitive of apposition," identifying "washing" with
"regeneration." Thus Hodge writes, "We are saved by that washing
which is regeneration, namely, the renewing of the Holy Ghost." 
Titus 3:5 does not actually refer to baptism in water. It refers to washing
of regeneration which is done in the blood of Christ which was shed to cleanse
us from sin. It cannot be used to prove that baptism in water is necessary for
Furthermore, even if baptism is not seen as a work of the law, it is a work
of righteousness. It is something which we do: therefore it is a work. It is
right for us to do: therefore it is a work of righteousness. But this very verse
says that it is not by any works of righteousness which we have done that we are
saved. Therefore it cannot be by baptism that we are saved (the apparent
contradiction between this and I Peter 3:21 will be handled below).
Titus 3:5, therefore, does not prove the necessity of baptism in water for salvation.
[L]et 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 (Hebrews 10:22).
Reference to this verse as proving regeneration, or the new birth, by water
baptism ignores the point of the contrasting of that sprinkling which affects
the heart, removing from it an evil conscience, and that washing of the body
with pure water. It is the sprinkling (with the Blood of Christ- Hebrews 9:14; I
Peter 1:2) which touches the heart. The washing of pure water affects the
Paul was careful to distinguish between an outward holiness or circumcision,
which was of the flesh (Romans 2:28-29) and an inward holiness, which was of the
heart. The true Jew, the true child of Abraham (and therefore the true
Christian) has the inward circumcision of the heart, not only the outward, and
this is accomplished by the "sprinkling of the blood of Christ" (I
Peter 1:2), not by a washing in water in the sacrament of baptism (I Peter
As was previously pointed out, the writer of Hebrews shows us that no outward
ceremony affects the heart (Hebrews 9:13ff.). He would not, and does not
contradict himself here by teaching that the washing of the body in pure water
accomplishes an inward cleansing.
The sprinkling with the Blood of Christ has reference to the Old Testament
figure of this with the priests, who had to be sprinkled with the blood of
sacrifices before ministering (Leviticus 8:22) and the sprinkling of the blood
of the sacrifices upon the people (Hebrews 9:19; cf. Exodus 24:8) as symbols of
that cleansing of the heart which would be effected by the Blood of the Messiah
(Isaiah 53), the Lamb of God (Genesis 22:8). The washing in water has reference
to the washing of the priests before entering service at the altar (Leviticus
8:6). The former is inward and spiritual, "of the heart" (Romans
2:28-29), and the latter is outward and physical, or "of the
flesh" (Romans 2:28-29). 
The washing of the body in pure water spoken of in Hebrews 10:22 does refer
to water baptism, but does not present it as the means of the cleansing or
purifying of the heart. The verse clearly shows that baptism is not this means:
sprinkling with the Blood of Christ is, and water baptism is expressly
distinguished from sprinkling with the Blood of Christ. Since water baptism is
not the means of purifying the heart from sin, it is not the means of
regeneration, and it is not necessary for salvation.
Hebrews 10:22, therefore, does not prove the necessity of water baptism for salvation.
. . . [B]eing put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also [Christ] went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely 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 . . . (I Peter 3:18b-21)
Beside Acts 2:38, this is the next text most strongly depended on by those in
favor of the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation. The reason is
obvious. This text includes the striking phrase, "an antitype which now
saves us, namely baptism." In reference to baptism Paul writes,
"Not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good
conscience toward God." Now the physical baptism is "the removal
of filth of the flesh" (cf. Hebrews 10:22). But what actually saves is
"the answer of a good conscience toward God."
This shows the close examination between this verse and Hebrews 10:22. That
there is another careful distinction between outward cleansing of the body in
pure water, and inward cleansing of the conscience. The same distinction is made
here in II Peter 3:21, and shows that it is not the outward act which saves but
the inward change which is signified by the outward act. Thus Peter refers
briefly to the sign of clear conscience, the submitting to baptism, as a short
way of referring to the actual thing, the clear conscience. But then for
clarification he explains that it is not the sign which saves, but the thing
signified: the clear conscience saves, not the physical baptism.
In this context, then, "baptism" is used metaphorically to symbolize a
conscience clear before God. It is not said that it is the outward, physical act
of baptism which saves, but that it is the good conscience which baptism
signifies which saves. This good conscience is achieved by the washing of the
conscience by the Blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:22; Titus 3:5; I John 1:7;
Revelation 1:5), and is acquired entirely by faith (Romans 3:28; Ephesians
2:8-10) before baptism in water is practiced as a sign of that
good conscience (Romans 4:8-11, remembering that baptism is the New Testament
counterpart to circumcision; Colossians 2:11-12).
Thus we see that it is deceiving to refer simply to the phrase "[baptism]
now saves us" without taking it in context with the very careful
explanatory phrase which Peter uses, that is, that it is not the outward and
physical act which saves, but the inward testimony of a cleansed and good
conscience before God, which saves (cf. I John 3:21).
I Peter 3:21, therefore, does not prove the necessity of water baptism for
This concludes the commentary on texts purported to support the doctrine that baptism in water is necessary for salvation. It has been shown that there is no text in the Scripture which proves the necessity of baptism for salvation. We should be careful not to fall prey to the old argument, "Well, no one of them proves it, but if you look at them all together, if you take them in combination, they give such strong evidence of the fact that you really cannot deny it." This is the old "leaky bucket" argument. What it really says is, "Well, if one leaky bucket will not do the job, let us use ten!" But of course ten leaky buckets will carry water no further than one. If none of the texts prove the doctrine, then all of the texts do not prove the doctrine. Water baptism is not necessary for salvation. Period.
Baptism is the New Testament counterpart to circumcision (Colossians
2:11-12). Circumcision is a sign and seal of the covenant relation of the Old
Testament believer to God: the relation of justification, of forgiveness of
sins, of regeneration, in short, salvation (Romans 4:8-12). Simply physical
circumcision did not cause that relation to God (Romans 2:28-29). The one who
entered that relation was commanded to be circumcised as a sip of it (Romans
Therefore baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant relation of the New Testament believer to God: the relation of justification, of forgiveness of sins, of regeneration, in short of salvation (Romans 6:1-5; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21). It signifies the identification of the believer with Christ in His death to sin (Romans 6:10-11), in His burial (Romans 6:3-4), and in His resurrection to victorious life (Romans 6:4-5). Simply physical baptism does not cause that relation to God (Romans 2:28-29; Simon Magus was baptized, but did not have or receive that relation- Acts 8:10-24; Romans 9:13ff- which proves that an outward ceremony does not affect the relation of the heart to God); the one who is baptized but does not have faith is not by the mere baptism placed in the relation to God which we call salvation. The one who enters the relation of justification, of forgiveness of sins, of regeneration, that is, of salvation is commanded to be baptized (Acts 10:48) as a sign and seal of his relation to God (Romans 4:11, 6:3-11; Galatians 3:27). Not being baptized does not prevent salvation (Acts 10:47-48; Cornelius and friends were saved before baptism), even though it is a sin not to be baptized.
Of course baptism is important! It is commanded by our Lord (Matthew 28:19)
and by Peter (Acts 2:38), and disobedience to this command is sin. This aspect
is the primary aspect of its importance: if we do not get baptized, we disobey
Christ, and that is sin. The second aspect of its importance is that baptism is
the primary sign and seal of the covenant relation between the believer and God:
it tells the world that (in the case of adults) the person is a believer, and it
tells the Church the same. Thus baptism has this twofold importance. But its
third aspect of importance is more inward and personal: it is the way for the
believer to most formally express his faith (other than sharing in the Lord's
Supper), and this has personal as well as community benefits.
Baptism, then, is important for three reasons: it is commanded, and neglect
of it is sin; it is the means of showing the world and the Church that one
professes to be a member of God's covenant community (and indeed when it is done
in truth it positively shows the person to be a believer); and it expresses
faith in Christ, thus having personal and community benefits.
But regardless of this great importance of baptism, we do find that the Scriptures teach that baptism is not necessary to salvation. Like any sin except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (which, in the long run, is a life-long rejection of Christ, and therefore a life-long rejection of the Gospel; this topic is far aside from our present one, and cannot be discussed here), the sin of failing to be baptized is forgiven because of the shed Blood of Jesus Christ applied to the believer (Colossians 1:14; I John 1:7). This is not a suggestion that Christians should not be baptized: I believe they should be. But it is simply a recognition that failure to be baptized does not prevent one from being saved.
It seems almost incredible that this question needs to be asked, in the face
of the massive biblical testimony on the point. The question amounts to the same
thing the Philippian jailor asked: "Sirs, what must I do to be
saved?" And Paul and Silas give the simple answer, "Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31-32).
We are saved solely by God's sovereign grace, through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing we must do to gain salvation:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law (Romans 3:28).
The "believing" spoken of in Scripture should not be confused with mere
intellectual assent. True belief always meant trust, complete trust. As
intellectual assent, belief is bogus (James 2:19). But as true belief, belief
always results in the fruit of good works, though it is the faith through which
God saves, not the works (James 2:14-26).
For further scriptural teaching on the way of salvation, the reader is invited to study the following passages: John 3:16; Romans 1:16-17, 3:20-28, 4:1-8, 13-16, 23, 25, 5:1, 6:23, 8:30; Galatians 2:16, 21, 3:2-3, 10ff, 24; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5-7; I Peter 1:2-9.
We are saved, then, by grace through faith. We are justified by faith without the works of the law, and by God's grace those who are justified are all saved, without exception (Romans 8:30; I Peter 1:9).
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).
The conclusion of this study must be that baptismal regeneration teaches
"another gospel" by adding a requirement for salvation which
Scripture does not teach. But does this mean that all members of groups teaching
baptismal regeneration are "accursed" (Galatians 1:8-9)? No. Those
who, though they now believe otherwise, began by believing that they were saved
entirely by grace through faith remain saved (John 10:27-29; I Peter 1:4-9).
They are simply in error.
However, those who have always believed that baptism is necessary for
salvation have missed the Gospel and are depending on their own works of
righteousness to be saved, contrary to Titus 3:5. They must be prayed for and
witnessed to in the hope that they will see the foolishness of trying to be
saved by the works of the law or their works of righteousness (Romans 8:1-4;
Galatians 3:1ff), and then turn to Christ in full and absolute trust in Him and
His grace to forgive and save them utterly.
It is my belief that most people in groups teaching baptismal regeneration
originally believed that they were saved simply by grace through faith, and did
not depend on themselves at all. But the others must be shown, lovingly and
sensitively, the way to true salvation through the Gospel. Those who once
believed the Gospel, but who now have been led to believe otherwise, must be
shown how to return to the true Gospel, as Paul showed the Galatians in chapters
Let us give all thanks and glory to the Author and Finisher of our faith, who
will continue to keep us by the word of His power, unto salvation, the result of
our faith which was given us by Him (John 6:29; Ephesians 2:8-10; I Peter 1:5,
 AT. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Broadman Press, 1933), Volume I, p. 245; see also AT. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Broadman Press, 1934), p. 593.
 Reference: Ernest Clevenger, Jr., A Pocket Bible Ready Reference for Personal Workers (Parchment Press, rev. ed., 1970).
 Reference: A.C. Williams and J. Harvey Dykes, Ready Answers to Religious Errors (Williams and Dykes, 1973; 1st edition, 1946).
 It might be objected that if "born of water" were figurative, then the verse would have an unnecessary repetition. This objection is brought by Williams and Dykes in Ready Answers (p. 33), where they write that if "born of water" is understood as symbolic of "born of the Spirit," then the verse would read, "born of the spirit and of the Spirit," which is nonsense. But William and Dykes arrive at this by neglecting one of the meanings of the Greek word used there for "and" (kai). Kai not only may mean "and," but can be used as an explicative word to join something unclear to something clear. When it is used in this sense, it can be translated "namely," or "indeed." Thus the verse would read, "born of water, namely, of the Spirit," or perhaps better yet, "born of water, that is, of the Spirit." That this usage is permissible, is seen in Joseph Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, under kai (see. 1.3). It therefore would not be nonsense to see "born of water as figurative for "born of the Spirit."
 W.C. Johnson, Let the Bible Speak About Baptism (W.C. Johnson, 1971), p. 8.
 Reference: James Hastings, editor, "Baptism," A Dictionary of the Bible (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905); Gerhard Kittel, editor, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1976); Everett F. Harrison, editor, Baker's Dictionary of Theology (Baker Book House, 1975).
 AT. Robertson, Word Pictures, Volume III, pp. 391-392.
 AT. Robertson, ibid.
 W. C. Johnson, Let the Bible Speak, p. 8.
 AT. Robertson, Word Pictures, Volume IV, pp. 361-362; see also his Grammar, pp. 591, 593.
 AT. Robertson, Word Pictures, Volume IV, p. 362.
 A.C. Williams and J. Harvey Dykes, Ready Answers, p. 32.
 A.C. Williams and J. Harvey Dykes, Ready Answers, p. 32.
 A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures, Volume IV, p. 298.
 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1993), Volume III, p. 596.
 For a complete discussion of the various possible interpretations of this passage, see Franz Delitzsch's Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (T&T Clark, 1882), Volume II, pp.174-179. Certainly the washing of the body in pure water here refers to water baptism- only a few commentators have thought otherwise, and the evidence is against them. But that does not mean that it is the means of regeneration. It is outward, and is not the means of our being sprinkled with the Blood of Christ.
 The question of circumcision of infants is not related here. See J. Barton Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament, pp. 392ff for a discussion of that subject. Not being circumcised did not prevent salvation (Romans 4:10).
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