Saturday, August 28, 2010

Be Baptized for the Forgiveness of Sins

In my podcast, episodes 2 and 4, I've demonstrated from Scripture that water baptism is not what saves you, but rather that baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, saves you. And this happened to both the Apostles at Pentecost, and the Gentiles in Acts 10, before water baptism. This, in my opinion, disproves the case made by the Churches of Christ and Catholics--among others--that the forgiveness of sins happens at the time of water baptism.

I'll admit, however, that one verse has been a proverbial pea under my mattress, and I haven't until moments ago felt satisfied by my own response.


37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:37-38)

Peter says, "be baptized...for the forgiveness of your sins." This seems, on the surface, to suggest that forgiveness is the result or consequence of water baptism in Christ's name. Because of the enormous volume of biblical evidence to the contrary, however, I've accepted that even though I don't have a satisfactory answer, nevertheless I can trust that it doesn't mean what it seems to mean.

Today, however, I stumbled upon what I think is the answer I've been looking for. The structure of Peter's words in the Greek are as follows: "βαπτισθήτω [be baptized]...εἰς [for] ἄφεσιν [remission] ἁμαρτιῶν [sins]." Now, in Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist says, "I baptize you with water for repentance" (Matthew 3:11). The Greek reads, "βαπτίζω [baptize]...εἰς [for] μετάνοιαν [repentance]."

Notice that in both cases the word "for" is the same. Peter said the Jews should be baptized "for" forgiveness; John told those he baptized that it was "for" repentance. Now, think about this carefully. Were those baptized by John repentent because they were baptized? In other words, did their baptism in water cause or result in their repentance? Of course not. It was the other way around. Their repentance resulted in their baptism.

There are other instances in which the Greek word εἰς is used in a similar way. Consider Matthew 12:41 where we read, "The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at [εἰς] the preaching of Jonah." Whereas John spoke of being baptized "for" repentance, here Jesus speaks of the Ninevites repenting "at" Jonah's preaching. In the same way that those who were baptized by John were immersed because they repented, and not the other way around, so, too, did the people of Ninevah repent because they were preached to, and not the other way around.

I like the explanation given at under the Greek Lexicon entry for this word:

"For" (as used in Acts 2:38 "for the forgiveness...") could have twomeanings. If you saw a poster saying "Jesse James wanted forrobbery", "for" could mean Jesse is wanted so he can commit arobbery, or is wanted because he has committed a robbery. The latersense is the correct one. So too in this passage, the word "for"signifies an action in the past. Otherwise, it would violate theentire tenor of the NT teaching on salvation by grace and not by works.

When John baptized "for" repentance, he was baptizing those who were repentant. Baptism in water was an outward sign, a confession that one was repentant. In the same way, when Peter tells the Jews to be baptized "for" the forgiveness of sins, he means they should be baptized if they've been forgiven of their sins through faith in Jesus Christ. It was an outward sign, one with which they should confess that they were forgiven through the blood of the Messiah.


  1. Great post, and thanks for your comment over at Tweb. I am looking forward to listening to your podcast. Please visit my site @

  2. You missed a verse. (Matt 26:28) This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. That phrase "for the forgiveness of sins" in Greek is exactly the same in both verses. Now, was Jesus blood shed because are sins are already forgiven or was it shed in order to forgive our sins?

  3. Hi, Terry. Thanks for accepting my invitation.

    The point is that the word can be used in either fashion. And John's words, by virtue of speaking of baptism, are more relevant to the passage in Acts 2. Do you acknowledge that John baptized on account of, and not in order to result in, repentance?

  4. As I mentioned in the other thread, please let's have the debate here, in one central location. That would help me a lot.

    One thing you did point out, though, is this:

    "One could argue believing, repenting, praying Jesus into your heart, coming forward at an altar call, confessing with your lips Jesus is Lord, that those are things we do therefore they are all works, and things we could boast about.

    John 6:28-29 even says belief is a work!"

    That's right, and Paul says that even that faith is a gift from God, not of oneself. So yes, even faith itself is a work, apart from which we are saves according to Paul. He says salvation is by grace alone, through faith, a faith He gives us.

    As Augustine explained centuries later, all works--faith, baptism, repentance, etc.--are the result of salvation, not the other way around.

  5. That having been said, I don't want to debate predestination on this thread. Let's focus on baptism. In episodes 2 and 4 I address virtually all of the evidence raised by proponents of baptismal regeneration, and I believe I explain how none of them supports their case. If you'd like, we can discuss them one at a time. Feel free to offer up your first.

  6. OK, we'll try John 3:5

    born of water = washing of regeneration
    born of spirt = renewal by the HS
    (see also: Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the parched ground and cause streams to flow on the dry land. I will pour my spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your children)
    Titus 3:5 washing of regeneration and renewal of the holy spirit.

    let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

    Acts 2:38 be baptized and you will receive the holy spirit

    all of those verses speak of water and spirit

    the historical record speaks of no other meaning for born of water other than baptism(33 AD - 1533 AD)

  7. I could add, the water of noah prefigured baptism today........Moses was baptized in the Red Sea

  8. I hope my readers don't take my delayed response as evidence that I'm finding it difficult to do so. I've been on the road, and though I could publish your comments from my phone, I could not type up a response.

    My listeners will recall that I addressed each of these passages in episodes 2 and 4 (in fact I cited them in the positive case I gave for your position), but for the sake of those reading this who have not yet listened, I'll respond again in writing.

    I'll answer each of these points in an hour or so, but I have to take my son to meet his new teacher, so it'll have to wait until I return. Additionally, I would ask that you wait until I've responded fully before you respond in turn; I'll let you know when I'm finished. Until then...

  9. Alright, so let's look at John 3:5, first. The interpretation that it is referring to water baptism is not just unwarranted, but it is highly problematic. Nicodemus would not have by any stretch of the imagination interpreted in that way, for two reasons.

    First, baptism in Christ's name wasn't even happening yet, and wouldn't for some time. And John's baptism cannot be in view since the Gentiles in Acts 19 were baptized into John's baptism and were rebaptized in Christ's name. So neither baptism fits what is in view here.

    Second, he wouldn't have understood "born of water" to be a reference to physical water. The Jews had many washings in water; see Mark 7:2-5,15 where the same word used in Hebrews 6 is used to refer to washings in water. Yet, the Jews knew that their physical washings did not wash away sin. Your citation from Isaiah and Ezekiel 36:25-27 demonstrate that the Jews expected a cleansing of sin, likened unto water. But they did not expect God to pour physical water out; water was a symbol of the future true cleansing of sin.

    This leaves us with two possibilities. One, advanced by some theologians, is that it is a reference to physical birth. While I am sympathetic to this argument, I think it more likely that being "born again" or "born from above" in water and in Spirit is an appeal to these prophets. It is not two separate acts, but one and the same: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit resulting in the cleansing of sin.

    As I demonstrate in episode 4, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the same thing as baptism in the Holy Spirit, which the Apostles received without baptism in Christ's name, and which the Gentile Godfearers in Acts 10 received before water baptism. Both groups were saved and cleansed of sin with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit before/without water baptism. In John 7, Jesus likens this to coming to Him and drinking, resulting in streams of living water, which happens to "He who believes in Me."

    So water is a symbol for the cleansing of sin from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is what the Jews looked forward to, not some physical washing, something which they already knew didn't cleanse them from sin. (Continued...)

  10. As for Titus 3:5, there is no warrant for eisegeting water baptism into the text. The "washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit" is the cleansing of sin resulting from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, likened unto water by the prophets.

    The uncited quote from Hebrews 10 is one I admittedly hadn't seen before, but it does no damage to my position. The whole point of this passage is that it is the blood of Christ which once and for all cleanses us from sin. Verse 22 says let us have our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, so the "sprinkling" of water in Ezekiel, then, is not physical water, but a symbol of the cleansing blood of Christ.

    Yes, we should in response have our bodies washed with pure water--if, in fact, water baptism is what's in view here--but this verse does not suggest that baptism results in the cleansing of sin by the blood of Christ. It merely says let us do both. (Continued...)

  11. As for Acts 2:38, you didn't answer my question earlier. Did John's baptism result in repentance? If not, then why should the Greek in Acts 2:38 be read any differently, despite that in most places eis is used it means "into" or "in order that?" John's use is not unheard of; the preaching of Jonah did not result from the repentance of the Ninevites, it was the other way around. Since the passage in Matthew 3:11 speaks of baptism eis something, that is the use of eis most relevant to Acts 2:38, in which it should be read accordingly.

    Now, Peter does say to repent and be baptized and you will receive the Holy Spirit, but nothing in the text suggests that the latter results from the former. Furthermore, the logical fallacy of denying the antecedent precludes us from assuming that just because if A is true B is true, that therefore if A is not true B is not true. If I said, "If a person is breathing, he is alive," I couldn't say, "If a person is not breathing, he is not alive." Such a person may be holding his breath, and still be alive.

    If, like John, Peter was telling the Jews to be baptized as a sign of something already true of them, that they receive forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, they would, indeed, receive the Holy Spirit, whether that happens at water baptism or not. (Continued...)

  12. As for Noah's flood prefiguring the baptism spoken of in 1 Peter 3, that proves nothing. We've already seen that the cleansing of sin resulting from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is likened unto water. Water was a symbol thereof.

    1 Peter 3 tells us only that the water of the flood symbolized the baptism which saves us. In no way does that suggest that water baptism in view. Quite the contrary, Peter says that the baptism in view is not the cleansing of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience. (Continued...)

  13. Finally, your claim that "the historical record speaks of no other meaning for born of water other than baptism(33 AD - 1533 AD)" is a bald assertion. Nothing in the first century fathers lends support to this view, and despite your claim to the contrary in commenting at my podcast site, the words of Polycarp were, "provided only they believe." Faith alone. And at most the words of the second century fathers suggest an increased emphasis on water baptism. The view that water baptism is a prerequisite for salvation does not appear until the third century or later, so far as I can tell.

    So please lend support for your assertion that from 33 A.D. "born of water" is a reference to water baptism in the name of Christ. Your biblical arguments certainly don't do so.

    I am finished responding to your opening argument.

  14. 1)First, baptism in Christ's name wasn't even happening yet, and wouldn't for some time.

    1) what is your point? receiving the indwelling of the holy spirit wasn't even happening yet either, and wouldn't for some time

    2)Second, he wouldn't have understood "born of water" to be a reference to physical water

    2)he had no idea what Jesus meant by being born of the spirit either, so again what is your point?

    3)having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water
    3) by that I did mean hearts sprinkled to refer to the holy spirit and bodies washed with water to refer to baptism - again water and spirit

    4)you didn't answer my question earlier. Did John's baptism result in repentance

    4)Several things were required of those submitting to John’s immersion, in order for the rite to have validity.

    First, the candidate must possess a confidence in the Messianic message of the Old Testament and hence “believe on him that should come after him [John], that is on Jesus” (Acts 19:4).

    Second, the baptism was one “of repentance” (Mk. 1:4), i.e., characterized by repentance – motivated by a radical change in disposition. Too, it was a baptism “unto” [eis – towards] repentance (Mt. 3:11), i.e., resulting in a reformation of life. William Hendriksen rendered the phrase in Matthew 3:11 as “with a view to conversion” (207). The preposition eis has its usual prospective thrust.

    Third, John’s baptism involved a “confession” of sin (Mt. 3:6).

    Finally, the purpose of the prophet’s immersion rite was “for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4).
    Luke's record reveals the dire consequences of rejecting John’s baptism. “And all the people when they heard, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, being not baptized of him” (7:29-30).

    Two words in this text are key. Submitting to John’s baptism was described as “justifying” God, i.e., “by receiving the baptism [they] declared that it had been prescribed by God rightly”

    5)1 Peter 3 tells us only that the water of the flood symbolized the baptism which saves us. In no way does that suggest that water baptism is in view. Quite the contrary, Peter says that the baptism in view is not the cleansing of dirt from the flesh

    5)Peter plainly says, baptism now saves you, he then goes on to say what it isn't, not the removal of dirt from the body, he then goes on to say what it is, an appeal to God for a good conscience.

    6)the words of Polycarp were, "provided only they believe."
    6)He didn't mention repentance, does that mean it is not required, obviously not, so that proves nothing. Salvation is more than mere mental ascent.

    7)So please lend support for your assertion that from 33 A.D. "born of water" is a reference to water baptism in the name of Christ.

    not enough space for this be continued............

  15. Regarding points 1 and 2, Nicodemus most certainly had an idea of what was meant by being born of water and Spirit. As we've both already noted, he was familiar with Isaiah 44 and Ezekiel 36, the pouring forth of God's Spirit. In Acts 2, Peter links this also to Joel 2, which foretold of a time in which the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all believers, not just a select few, as was the case when these prophecies were originally written. So Nicodemus not only expected baptism in the Holy Spirit, he was familiar with its existence in the past.

    The very notion of "pouring out" is an allusion to water, and Jesus likens it to living water in John 7. Again, Nicodemus and the rest of the Jews understood that the sprinkling of clean water was a symbol for the pouring forth of God's Spirit resulting in the cleansing of sin. This is how Nicodemus would have understood Jesus' words. He would not have understood them as referring to physical water baptism. (Continued...)

  16. As for point 4, the idea that Mark 1 depicts John baptizing people unto repentance resulting in the forgiveness of sins seems problematic to me. Are you suggesting that his baptism resulted in the forgiveness of sins? If it were, then why were the Gentiles in Acts 19 who had been baptized into John's baptism baptized again?

    The better understanding of Mark 1, it seems to me, particularly given verse 7 in which the same word "preaching"/"proclaiming" is used, is that he was proclaiming the baptism in the Holy Spirit which would follow his own. He baptized with water "for [eis] repentance," as in Matthew 3:11, a baptism which did not result in repentance but followed it, but he pointed forward to Jesus' baptism in the Holy Spirit which results in repentance unto the forgiveness of sins.

    The words in Luke 7 bear no weight on this discussion. All it says is that the people acknowledged that God's will was that they be baptized by John, and the Pharisees and lawyers rejected God's will. (Continued...)

  17. As for point 5, you are eisegeting water baptism into the text. I proved in episode 4 that baptism in the Holy Spirit is different from baptism in water, and the Apostles received the former without the latter (baptism in Christ's name, anyway), and the Godfearers in Acts 10 received baptism in the Holy Spirit before water baptism. So in Peter we cannot simply assume, as you are doing, that water baptism is what's in view. Since baptism in the Holy Spirit is demonstrably the same thing as the saving indwelling of the Holy Spirit resulting in the forgiveness of sins, that baptism is the one in view in Peter.

    As for point 6, to "repent" means to "change one's mind," to turn to God, which, it seems to me, is to have faith. So when Polycarp says "provided only they believe," he proves my point: the earliest Church Fathers did not view water baptism is a prerequisite for salvation, but instead saw it as being through faith alone, resulting in works.

    And as for point 7, as I explained at the podcast website, you can post your quotes in multiple comments.

  18. Points 1 & 2, Look at John 3:9 Nic still had no clue what Jesus was talking about. He did not understand the holy spirit either. Right after Jesus's long discussion it says he and the disciples went baptizing in water.(which was pointing to a future event, baptism in Jesus name and renewal of the HS).

    point 4, the people came confessing their sins and were baptized. God declared Abraham righteous. Jesus forgave peoples sins. This was all prior to the outpouring of the HS. Are we to think God looked down on those who were repenting and confessing sins and just said, "that's nice, but I can't forgive you until after Jesus is killed & resurrected", that seems problematic also. Also, what would have been the consequence to the Jewish leaders who refused John's baptism?

    Peter 3:21 How could receiving the HS from God also be an appeal back to Him? That doesn't make sense.

    All of the above aside..........
    I think in alot of this discussion what probably is the key is this. Is salvation a one time event or is it a process?
    I think we both agree we are initially saved by Grace alone, and by the blood of Jesus alone.
    The question then becomes, how is one connected to his blood and incorporated into His body.
    If He is the vine and we are the branches, we first must be grafted onto the vine. But then, how do we keep from being cut off from the vine and thrown into the fire.

    Also, if you define baptism as a work, that is problematic and naturally changes the potential meaning of many verses.

    Also, the phrase "faith alone" is problematic as it is found nowhere in the Bible(except of course where it says not by).
    Romans 3:28 Paul could have used the word alone, but he didn't. Same as Acts 16:31, Galations 5:6 and Eph 2:8.

    In Corinthians Paul says, "if I have faith that can move mountains but do not have love I am nothing" He also says of faith, hope & charity that the greatest is charity, not faith.
    If faith - love = nothing, I don't think we are saved by nothing.

    One last question. If you believe in 1 peter & Romans 6 & the other verses you quoted that the Bible is talking of HS baptism and not water, obviously you are not the first to have that interpretation. Someone who came before you must have as well. I am curious if you know when was the first time in recorded history that another Christian had that same view?

  19. The Early Fathers:

    Now let us see if the Lord has been at any pains to give us a foreshadowing of the waters of Baptism and of the cross. Regarding the former, we have the evidence of Scripture that Israel would refuse to accept the washing which confers the remission of sins and would set up a substitution of their own instead [Jer 22:13; Isa 16:1-2; 33:16-18; Psalm 1:3-6].


    "‘I have heard, sir,’ said I [to the Shepherd], ‘from some teacher, that there is no other repentance except that which took place when we went down into the water and obtained the remission of our former sins.’ He said to me, ‘You have heard rightly, for so it is’" (The Shepherd 4:3:1–2 [A.D. 80]).

  20. Hermas
    They had need [the Shepherd said] to come up through the water, so that they might be made alive; for they could not otherwise enter into the kingdom of God, except by putting away the mortality of their former life. These also, then, who had fallen asleep, received the seal of the Son of God, and entered into the kingdom of God. For, [he said,] before a man bears the name of the Son of God, he is dead. But when he receives the seal, he puts mortality aside and again receives life. The seal, therefore, is the water. They go down into the water dead [in sin], and come out of it alive. (ibid 9:16:2-4)

    Justin Martyr

    "As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly . . . are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Except you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:3]" (First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]).

    Moreover, those things which were created from the waters were blessed by God, so that this might also be a sign that men would at a future time receive repentance and remission of sins through water and the bath of regeneration -- all who proceed to the truth and are born again and receive a blessing from God. (To Autolycus 2:16)


    "‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’" (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).

  21. ST. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (ante A.D. 202)
    When we are baptized, we are enlightened. Being enlightened, we are adopted as sons. Adopted as sons, we are made perfect. Made perfect, we become immortal...."and sons all of the Most High" [Psalm 82:6]. This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection, and washing. It is a washing by which we are cleansed of sins; a gift of grace by which the punishments due our sins are remitted; an illumination by which we behold that holy light of salvation -- that is, by which we see God clearly; and we call that perfection which leaves nothing lacking. Indeed, if a man know God, what more does he need? Certainly it were out of place to call that which is not complete a true gift of God's grace. Because God is perfect, the gifts He bestows are perfect. (The Instructor of Children 1:6:26:1)


    "Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life. . . . [But] a viper of the [Gnostic] Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism—which is quite in accordance with nature, for vipers and.asps . . . themselves generally do live in arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes after the example of our [Great] Fish, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes—by taking them away from the water!" (Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).

  22. Hippolytus

    "[P]erhaps someone will ask, ‘What does it conduce unto piety to be baptized?’ In the first place, that you may do what has seemed good to God; in the next place, being born again by water unto God so that you change your first birth, which was from concupiscence, and are able to attain salvation, which would otherwise be impossible. For thus the [prophet] has sworn to us: ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you are born again with living water, into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Therefore, fly to the water, for this alone can extinguish the fire. He who will not come to the water still carries around with him the spirit of insanity for the sake of which he will not come to the living water for his own salvation" (Homilies 11:26 [A.D. 217]).

    Council of Carthage VII

    "And in the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with his divine voice, saying, ‘Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ . . . Unless therefore they receive saving baptism in the Universal Church, which is one, they cannot be saved, but will be condemned with the carnal in the judgment of the Lord Christ" (Seventh Carthage [A.D. 256]).

    APHRAATES THE PERSION SAGE (inter A.D. 336-345)
    For from Baptism we receive the Spirit of Christ. At that same moment in which the priests invoke the Spirit, heaven opens, and He descends and rests upon the waters; and those who are baptized are clothed in Him. For the Spirit is absent from all those who are born of the flesh, until they come to the water of re-birth; and then they receive the Holy the second birth, that through Baptism, they receive the Holy Spirit. (Treatises 6:14)

  23. Basil the Great

    "This then is what it means to be ‘born again of water and Spirit’: Just as our dying is effected in the water [Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12–13], our living is wrought through the Spirit. In three immersions and an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water, but from the Spirit’s presence there" (The Holy Spirit 15:35 [A.D. 375]).

    Ambrose of Milan

    "Although we are baptized with water and the Spirit, the latter is much superior to the former, and is not therefore to be separated from the Father and the Son. There are, however, many who, because we are baptized with water and the Spirit, think that there is no difference in the offices of water and the Spirit, and therefore think that they do not differ in nature. Nor do they observe that we are buried in the element of water that we may rise again renewed by the Spirit. For in the water is the representation of death, in the Spirit is the pledge of life, that the body of sin may die through the water, which encloses the body as it were in a kind of tomb, that we, by the power of the Spirit, may be renewed from the death of sin, being born again in God" (The Holy Spirit 1:6[75–76] [A.D. 381]).

    "The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ’s blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:11–12)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the sacrament of baptism.
    . . . ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’" (Abraham 2:11:79–84 [A.D. 387]).

    "You have read, therefore, that the three witnesses in baptism are one: water, blood, and the Spirit (1 John 5:8): And if you withdraw any one of these, the sacrament of baptism is not valid. For what is the water without the cross of Christ? A common element with no sacramental effect. Nor on the other hand is there any mystery of regeneration without water, for ‘unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’" (The Mysteries 4:20 [A.D. 390]).

  24. Nicodemus' response does not necessarily indicate that he had no clue as to what Jesus had just said. He simply asks how one becomes born again/from above in the way Jesus had said. He might be asking, How does on receive the Holy Spirit? Jesus goes on to explain how: "whoever [a]believes will (V)in Him have eternal life" and "whoever (Z)believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life".

    As for point 4, I'll concede that you're right, the penitent were forgiven, so long as it was through the looking forward to the coming Messiah. Still, the point is that in Matthew 3:11 John baptizes [eis] repentance, and repentance is not what followed his baptism; it was what moved them to be baptized. And forgiveness of sins resulted from such repentance. It wasn't the baptism that resulted in the forgiveness of sins, it was the repentance which moved them to be baptized.

    As for 1 Peter 3:21, of course God inside us appeals to God above. See Romans 8:26-27. The regeneration of the heart by the Holy Spirit results in our appeal to God for a clean conscience. (Continued...)

  25. As for salvation being a one-time event or a process, we can debate eternal security elsewhere.

    As for baptism being a work, if you can demonstrate how that is problematic and changes the nature of many verses, I welcome you to do so.

    As for faith alone, actually Paul says by grace alone through a faith which God grants you. And a faith without love is an inanimate faith, a false one, not genuine faith.

    So as for your final question, I think it's an excellent one. I concur with Dee Dee Warren when she says, "Theological novelty is not a good thing." I'll get back to you on this point but it will have to wait, as I'll be away from a computer for a while here very shortly. But as Michael pointed out at TWeb, I am not a Romanist, or a Mormon, or a Jehovah's Witness, so the authority against which the fathers must be tested is Scripture, and not the other way around.

  26. I'll address each of your historical references, starting with Barnabas.

    There is no indication that the author of Barnabas is referring to the physical act of water baptism. The author quotes the prophet as saying God would be a living fountain, so the water in view corresponds to the "living water" spoken of by Jesus, who John records in chapter 7 as speaking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which He said is received by those who believe in Him. This corresponds to Isaiah 33 which the author of Barnabas then quotes, in which the water there is water which is drunk, not bathed in, contrasted with bread immediately prior. There simply is no evidence that the water in view in Barnabas is the water of physical baptism. Rather, what is in view is the symbol of water as typologically prefiguring the cleansing of sin through baptism in the Holy Spirit.

    Keep in mind, too, that in the previous chapters the author of Barnabas talks about physical things that symbolize spiritual realities. In chapters 7 and 8 the scapegoat and the red heifer are said to have symbolized Christ. In chapter 9 the act of physical circumcision is said to prefigure spiritual circumcision of the heart. In chapter 10 prohibited foods are said to have symbolized wicked men. Food, then, is a symbol of a spiritual reality, serving as further evidence that the water in view immediately thereafter symbolizes immersion in the Spirit.

    So no, Barnabas does not support your case, and instead supports mine.

  27. The Shepherd of Hermas does not support your case. It appears you visited one of the numerous websites that pulls this quote from its context. This is the record of a vision and its explanation. In the vision, six men summon a multitude of men to bulid a tower above a gate. The six men order ten stones to come up from the deep, and then virgins take the ten stones to the multitude who begin to build the tower's foundation using them. Then 25 more stones come up out of the deep, then 35, and then another 40 stones, all used to build the foundation of the tower. Then, the six men order stones to be taken from the mountains for the building of the tower, stones of various colors, shaped by men, and when placed into the building with the previous stones which had come up from the deep (rather than the mountains), they all turn white. Some other stones brought in did not become bright, having not been brought in through the gate by the virgins, and these stones are therefore removed from the tower.

    Now, the Shepherd explains that the original 10 stones are the first generation, the next 25 are the second, the 35 are said to be God's prophets and His ministers, and the forty are the apostles and teachers of the preaching of the Son of God. Now, making sense of the explanation of this vision is somewhat difficult for me, but what's important to note is that the stones from the mountains never went into or came out of the water:

    17[94]:3 "First, Sir," say I, "show me this, why the mountains being so various, yet, when their stones were set into the building, became bright and of one color, just like the stones that had come up from the deep."

    17[94]:4 "Because," saith he, "all the nations that dwell under heaven, when they heard and believed, were called by the one name of [the Son of] God. So having received the seal, they had one understanding and one mind, and one faith became theirs and [one] love, and they bore the spirits of the virgins along with the Name; therefore the building of the tower became of one color, even bright as the sun.

    So, Terry, the water in view here cannot be water baptism, for that would mean that it ended with the apostles, and the rest of the Church is unbaptized.

  28. As for Justin Martyr, before we look at the text you cited, I point you and my readers to chapters 12 through 14 of his Dialogue with Trypho, in which he wrote,

    "The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure...For Isaiah did not send you to a bath, there to wash away murder and other sins, which not even all the water of the sea were sufficient to purge; but, as might have been expected, this was that saving bath of the olden time which followed those who repented, and who no longer were purified by the blood of goats and of sheep, or by the ashes of an heifer, or by the offerings of fine flour, but by faith through the blood of Christ, and through His death, who died for this very reason...By reason, therefore, of this laver of repentance and knowledge of God, which has been ordained on account of the transgression of God's people, as Isaiah cries, we have believed, and testify that that very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented; and this is the water of life. But the cisterns which you have dug for yourselves are broken and profitless to you. For what is the use of that baptism which cleanses the flesh and body alone? Baptize the soul from wrath and from covetousness, from envy, and from hatred; and, lo! The body is pure."

    Now, what Justin is saying is that sabbath, circumcision and washings were typological of spiritual realities. He goes so far as to say explicitly that "Isaiah did not send you to a bath" but rather to the "water of life" which is faith through the blood of Christ, "this laver of repentance and knowledge of God." So the water in view here is symbolic of the washing away of defilement resulting from faith in Christ. (Continued...)

  29. (Sorry, been busy...)

    So anyway, while I admittedly don't have an answer to The Apology, I'm not inclined to read too much into it given that Justin calls the cleansing blood of Christ the washing laver of repentance in Trypho, and besides, at best you've demonstrated only that such a view of baptism began to appear in the latter half of the second century.

    And as for Theophilus of Antioch, there's no evidence that water baptism is in view, given that baptism in the Holy Spirit--the saving, indwelling of the Holy Spirit--is likened unto water. This is particularly the case given the symbolic nature of his argument, that the creatures coming forth from the water symbolize the kind of remission through water he's talking about. He certainly may have been referring to water baptism, but there's no evidence thereof.

  30. The same can be said of Irenaeus' fragment. He's pointing back to a physical baptism which resulted in a physical purification. He then says we are lepers in sin, made clean by the sacred water. If the physical purification came from a physical cleansing, the natural parallel would seem to me to be that a spiritual purification would come through a spiritual cleansing, one likened unto water. I therefore don't think Irenaeus' words are as clear as you claim.

  31. We come to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, and it's at this point that I'm inclined to agree with the historical record. So we see in the first century, teachers like Polycarp saying salvation is given "provided only we believe," and teachers like the author of the Epistle of Barnabas saying we're saved through the cleansing of sin by the Holy Spirit likened unto water. And the Shepherd of Hermas is utterly irrelevant, and its being repeatedly cited is evidence that defenders of your view are reaching uncritically for historical support.

    Then we come to the middle of the second century, and teachers like Justin Martyr confirm what was taught by Barnabas, that the cleansing of sin by the Holy Spirit through the blood of Christ is likened unto water. But then he also writes words that could be taken to mean that regeneration happens at water baptism. And sure enough, we see in the 3rd century and beyond this view that regeneration does, in fact, happen at water baptism.

    This definitely seems to me to be a view which developed over time, and whether that's the case or not, the case is far from conclusive, and I'm inclined to go to the God-breathed Word of God for the answer.

  32. Sorry, I meant "I'm inclined to agree [concerning] the historical record."

  33. Iranaeus

    If the physical purification came from a physical cleansing, the natural parallel would seem to me to be that a spiritual purification would come through a spiritual cleansing,

    I agree 100%
    the sacred water(the word water has to be taken literally) and the invocation of the Lord(in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit) this fits perfectly with Matthew 28, the great commission.
    and also with Col 2:10-12 the circumcision done by Christ(spiritual) having been buried with Him in baptism.

  34. Look closer at the story of Namaan. He dipped himself in the water 7 times(agreed that was physical) and he was healed(that was physical) but what actually healed him? The water didn't heal him. There is nothing magical about the water. GOD healed him and God is spirit. But, Namaan had to obey, or he would not have been healed. If he would have only dipped himself 5 times and said oh that's enough, God would not have healed him. It was because he obeyed God completely that he was healed. It really had nothing to do with the water itself. It had everything to do with the spirit of God.

  35. I agree that God is Who healed him. My point is that the physical healing was done through or in physical water, and correspondingly the parallel, I think, is that spiritual healing is done through spiritual water, or "living water," as Jesus put it in John 7, which is baptism in the Holy Spirit.

  36. I went back and listened to episode 2 again.
    That some of the fathers did not mention baptism does not really prove anything. You said they emphasize "faith alone", yet you never quote them ever using the word 'alone' Polycarp never actually said 'faith alone'. When quoting Ignatius - he purified the water - life begins and ends with faith, you went on to say baptism, "a work", well that is your assumption that baptism is a work. In fact throughout your talk you kept saying the "physical act of baptism" trying to imply it is some kind of work we do. You quote Augustine and say any work, which would include baptism(again your assumption) he did not actually say that.
    You quoted Romans 3:28 which is cleary contrasting faith and works of law, not just any works. John 3:16 in the original Greek is really translated "that whoever is believing in Him" which conveys the idea of an ongoing trust in Him, not just a one time event. This is true of John 20:31 as well.

  37. You quote Acts 16:30 and say no mention of baptism. We actually do not know what Paul said in verse 32, the word of the Lord could very well have included 'repent & be baptized', which would explain why the Jailer was immediately immersed, if he was just told to.

    Titus 3:5 The entire paragraph around that never mentions the phrase faith alone, yet he is clearly talking about salvation. You always point out when baptism is never mentioned in a verse yet do not do the same when either faith, belief or repentance is not mentioned.

    There is nothing in the Bible to say that water baptism is not the laver of regeneration if at that point in time you are recieving the indwelling of the HS.

    It is my understanding that baptism and recieving the HS are two sides of the same coin.
    You can't separate the two. If in water baptism you are connecting with the blood of Jesus and being washed by the holy spirit and being regenerated at that point, that is a spiritual event. Why deny God the ability to use a physical means to convey a spiritual reality.


  38. Why did they rush to be baptized, you said that that was how Jesus instructed them to do it. Well then why would that not apply for us today as well?

    Ephesians says there is ONE baptism. This is probably your biggest downfall. Is it the baptism in the HS or is it the one baptism "commanded" by Jesus in the Great Commission. It has to be the one in Matthew 28.

    In my way of looking at the Bible, I don't have to decide which one it is, because water baptism and being born of the spirit are the same event.
    Thus I do not have to explain away difficult verses because they are not difficult.

  39. I mentioned in an earlier post, about salvation being an event or process. (this has nothing to do with an eternal security debate). Paul often speaks of salvation in the past, present, and future tenses.
    That is very key. If you can understand the idea of I am saved, I am being saved, and I will finally be saved on the day of Judgement, that begins to change how you interpret not only the Bible, but especially the quotes of the Early church fathers. They speak of salvation often by only mentioning faith, but in what aspect of salvation are the speaking?

  40. I listened to your episode 4 again as well.

    I noticed you never mentioned the verse in Ephesians that says one Lord, one faith, ONE baptism.

    You said in Col 2:10-12 that "in the previous verse it speaks of a spirtual circum. symbolized by a physical circum and then something about a spiritual circum symbolized by physical water baptism. That is not there at all, (actually after replaying it many times, I am not sure what you meant) you are making a huge assumption.

    As to the Apostles, Jesus breathed on them and said recieve the HS. You responded, so what he breathed on them, does it say they actually recieved it. Are you kidding!! Look at the next verse, He gives them the power to bind and loose sins. If He said recieve it, how could they not.

    I could make the same argument with Cornelius. It says they spoke in tongues but it does not actually say they are saved or had their sins forgiven.

    Paul came face to face with Jesus, they spoke, he spends 3 days fasting and praying, after all that he was still told, what are you waiting for have your sins washed away.

    Lydia responded to the message by being baptized, and then after that she says, if you consider me a beleiver, come stay at my house.
    (the acknowledgement she is a Christian comes after her baptsim) Just like with Cornelius, after his baptism, he asks Peter to stay 10:48, and the Jewish Christians accept them as brothers in Christ 11:18

    Back to Col 2:12 if one regards water baptism as when you receive the HS, then that verse makes perfect sense. Not with a circum done by hands of men, but a spiritual circumcises done by Christ(water baptism being the spiritual act, the appeal of a good conscience) having been buried with him in baptism(when we are under the water God spiritually applies the blood of Jesus and circumcises our heart).

    What verse in the Bible says that baptism is a work or that it is a symbol of something or that it represents something?? It just is not there.

  41. Hey, Terry. I appreciate your continued input in the discussion. I'm limited in time today, and you've said a lot, so it may take me some time to respond to everything. Rest assured, however, that I will. I'll let you know when I've finished. Thanks!

  42. First, the easy stuff, and then I'll have time to address that which requires a more lengthy response tomorrow.

    Ephesians 4:1-7 which says there is "one baptism" is in a particular context: unity. The point of the text is not that there is only one kind of baptism for the Christian. Such would outright contradict Acts 10:44-48 which, as I demonstrate in episode 4, depicts the Gentile Godfearers first receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and because of that are then given water baptism. You say, "You can't separate the two," but plainly and simply, this passage depicts two baptisms: the first which saved them by virtue of being the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which, as I demonstrate in episode 4, is a seal and promise that they were children of God; and the second which is given on account of the first.

    You said, speaking of Cornelius, "It says they spoke in tongues but it does not actually say they are saved or had their sins forgiven." As I demonstrated in episode 4, tongues and other gifts are manifestations of the saving, indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Cornelius most certainly was saved, his sins forgiven, prior to being baptized in water. (Continued...)

  43. You ask, "Why did they rush to be baptized, you said that that was how Jesus instructed them to do it. Well then why would that not apply for us today as well?" When have I said that it does not? When have I said that the Christian has no responsibility to be baptized in water?

    What I said about Colossians 2:10-12 is that it speaks of a spiritual circumcision symbolized a physical circumcision," which undoubtedly it does. After all, physical circumcision is most certainly not "made without hands." And since the emphasis on this passage is the spiritual reality symbolized by the physical act, therefore the baptism spoken of immediately thereafter is likely referring to the spiritual reality of baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Continued...)

  44. As for the Apostles being breathed on by Christ and told to "receive the Holy Spirit," there is no special "power" given them thereafter. They are given a kind of authority. There is no indication, whatsoever, that they receive the Holy Spirit at this point. Quite the contrary, other texts make it undeniably clear--if one accepts what the Bible teaches, that is--that they would not receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost.

    These events in John 20 are recorded somewhat differently by Luke in chapter 24, and whereas John depicts Jesus as saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit," Luke records Him as saying, "I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." So John's record of Jesus' words is not saying the apostles received the Holy Spirit at that time; rather, it is saying, as Luke makes clear, that they would receive the Holy Spirit. They were promised the Holy Spirit. (Continued...)

  45. You say "Paul came face to face with Jesus, they spoke, he spends 3 days fasting and praying, after all that he was still told, what are you waiting for have your sins washed away." Ok, and? Jesus doesn't deliver to Saul the gospel when He meets him on the road. He sends Ananias to him, and Paul records in Acts 22 what Ananias said: "The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." So during those 3 days of fasting and praying, Saul had not called on Jesus' name. (Continued...)

  46. Finally (regarding the replies I'm going to give tonight, but will respond to the rest tomorrow), you say, "Lydia responded to the message by being baptized, and then after that she says, if you consider me a beleiver, come stay at my house. (the acknowledgement she is a Christian comes after her baptsim)." If this passage bears any weight on this debate, it is in my favor, for prior to being baptized in water, "the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul." The regeneration of the heart comes prior to water baptism.

    Now, as far as faith and works, and Polycarp and the Church Fathers, I'll get to all that tomorrow.

  47. regarding Lydia,
    The text does not say anything about reg of her heart. It only says that her response to the message was that she got baptised. Which is my point, why would she have the response of getting baptized unless it was included in the message. Why after hearing the good news about Jesus was the Eunich's immediate reaction, 'look hear is water', unless it was part of the message. Why was the Jailer IMMEDIATELY baptized after hearing the word of the Lord unless it was part of the message. Why in Acts 19:1 when they said they didn't know there was a HS, why was the immediate question, what baptism did you receive? (unless that is how one recieves the HS) Why was Cornelius "ordered" to be baptized if it was of so little importance? Why not just wait until the next day, have friends over and make a public expression of his faith?
    If recieviing the HS by faith alone is so important, why when asked what shall we do, is the fourth word out of Peter's mouth be bapized? Why didn't he just say. pray Jesus into your heart? The same with Paul, why didn't Ananias just say, pray Jesus into your heart to avoid any confusion?
    The Samaritans, if they had accepted the word of the Lord and they had been baptized, it makes no sense that they were not saved yet.
    There is a clear and distinct urgency to get baptized in water in all of these passages, yet in churches today, it is just a symbol which can be put off until another time. That makes no sense. And as you said in one of your episodes, Jesus or the Apostles give no clear teaching of what baptism is or what it is for, which when considering it was a command of the Great Commission, really makes no sense.

  48. It is false to say that "The text...only says that her response to the message was that she got baptised." What it says is, "the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul." Or, "the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying." Or, "the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul." Regeneration of the heart, as I and the Reformed faith understand the Bible teaching, is just that: God opening your heart to believe in Him.

    I don't deny that baptism in water was part of the Apostles' message. And yet again you've falsely implied that I believe baptism is "of little importance." I hope you'll be more careful in the future. But in Acts 19, the question, "Into what then were you baptized?" may not have been for the reason you assert. Your claim is that it must have come from the assumption that water baptism and Spirit baptism happen at the same time, but this outright contradicts Acts 10 in which baptism in the Holy Spirit came first, and water baptism followed because of the Spirit baptism which preceded it. (Continued...)

  49. As for the Samaritans, as I explained in episode 4, baptism in the Holy Spirit was given by God to an increasingly broader scope of people, for the purpose of showing the Apostles that salvation is for everyone. First, in Acts 2, it is Jews (and proselytes, converts to Judaism). Then, in Acts 8, the scope of the Spirit is broadened to Samaritans (Jews by descent but outside the Israelite community). Then, in Acts 10, the scope of the Spirit is broadened further to Gentile Godfearers (Gentile followers of certain aspects of Judaism). Finally, in Acts 19, the scope is still further broadened to Gentile non-Godfearers.

    So why did the Samaritans not receive the Spirit until the Apostles came? Because God chose to wait until the Apostles arrived, so they would see that salvation had been broadened to a larger people group than just the God-following Jews. But we see from a host of Scriptures that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is, in fact, that which saves us: the seal that we are children of God. (Continued...)

  50. Now, I agree with you that the modern evangelical Church often places too little emphasis on baptism. However, I do think there are legitimate reasons a saved believer may postpone his or her baptism. And we can talk about those. But I would agree that an ongoing, rebellious refusal to be baptized is disobedience to the risen Christ one claims to serve.

  51. So why did the Samaritans not receive the Spirit until the Apostles came? Because God chose to wait until the Apostles arrived, so they would see that salvation had been broadened to a larger people group than just the God-following Jews.

    You have been very consistent in your audio episodes and your written debate that all one needs to do is believe in Jesus & have faith in His shed blood and you receive the HS.
    So if the Samaratins believed in Jesus and were baptized as a symbol to show their union with Him yet did not yet have the HS, you have just totally contradicted yourself.

    You did make a good point though. You said, "God CHOSE to wait until the Apostles arrived".
    Which is exactly my contention with the house of Cornelius. God CHOSE to give them the HS to show the Jewish Christians that He was opening up the Gospel to the Gentiles so that (Act 11:18)
    they may have the opportunity to repent and be saved.

    Notice the only time the HS "fell upon" someone in the NT was given directly from Jesus. At pentecost & Cornelius' home. Every other time the HS spirit was given that resulted in prophesying was through the laying on of hands by the Apostles.
    That shows that at Pentecost & Cornelius' home it was delivered in a unique way and never repeated. That hints at the fact that there are different outpourings of the HS.

    If we believe God is sovereign, He can do as He pleases. If He chose to give the HS to someone yet unsaved, who are we to argue with God.

    One might also ask...
    When the Spirit came upon Balaam to prophesy concerning Israel, did it save him? Num 24:2
    When the Spirit came upon Saul to prophesy, did it save him? 1Sa 19:20-24
    When Caiaphas prophesied, was he saved? - Jn 11:49-52
    When the donkey spoke to Balaam, was the donkey saved? Num 22:27-30

  52. We really need to clarify what Justin Martyr actually said:

    1)a Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water

    1)b Clearly "brought by us where there is water" is talking about taking someone to a place where there is physical water, i.e. a pool, river, baptistry font, etc. Clearly the next verse he is referring to Matthew 28, baptize in the name of father, son & holy spirit. The last phrase, "washing with water", I doubt very much if you can quote me just one biblical scholar or historian who interprets that as holy spirit baptism.

    2)a And for this rite we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe

    2)b Obviously a "rite" refers to a ceremony, ritual or sacrament. That has to be water baptism. Then the next verse he says, "in the water the remission of sins". What Christian rite does someone do in water? So in that paragraph you have a rite, in water, for the remissions of sins, and repentence of sins. Notice he does not even mention the Holy Spirit.

    Let me emphasize this is cryatal clear, no ambiguity.

    Then Justin goes on to speak of the Communion meal:
    And this food is called among us Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration.
    That clearly refers to Titus 3:5. Notice he says the washing that is "FOR the remission of sins". So if we go back to your intrerpretation of eis in Acts 2:38, he would be saying washed because of the remission of sins. So if washing is the HS, then he is saying you were washed with the HS because your sins have already been forgiven.
    So, this actually proves that Justin Martyr interpreted Acts 2:38 using my view and not yours.

  53. I did not contradict myself.

    First, I've distinguished between genuine faith, and a mere professed one which is not and therefore does not produce fruit. One doesn't say that a tree is an apple tree as a result of bearing apples; one says a tree bears apples as a result of being an apple tree. Likewise, fruit comes from a genuine, saving faith, and it is possible to claim one believes but not truly believe. We can't know that the kind of faith which the Samaritans exercised was a genuine, saving faith.

    Second, it also matters precisely what we believe. The Samaritans believe Philip's preaching, but we don't know precisely the full extent of that which Philip preached to them. We know he preached, and they believed, "the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ," but we don't know precisely what that entailed. We can't know that the Samaritans precisely believed that they are sinners doomed to hell until they place their saving trust in Jesus Christ as the propitiation for their sins, and that they would one die rise physically from their graves, and so forth.

    However, we do know that the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is the saving indwelling of the Holy Spirit that seals as children of God, means we're saved. So the fact that the Samaritans don't receive it until the Apostles pray before them and lay hands on them means it is at least possible that the Samaritans did not truly exercise saving faith until that happened. (Continued...)

  54. Still, you're missing my point. Throughout Acts, God chose to progressively broaden the scope of baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Samaritans may, in fact, have been justified through the faith which led them to be baptized before receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, because until that point only Jewish believers were given that gift. The reason, then, that God does not give them the Holy Spirit until the Apostles arrive is so that they are witness to God's broadening the boundaries of the Christian community from just Jewish believers to Samaritan believers as well. Later, the gift is still further expanded to Gentile Godfearers, and later still further to all Gentile believers. Then, in 1 Corinthians 12, we see that all saved Christians have the gift.

    The point is, the fact that the Samaritans do not receive the Holy Spirit until the Apostles arrive to lay hands on them does not prove they weren't saved before then (although they might not have been), it only shows that God waited to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit until the Apostles arrived so they would be witness to God's broadening of the Christian community. (Continued...)

  55. You say the gift of the Holy Spirit was received apart from the laying on of hands in only two cases, Pentecost and Cornelius' home, and that every other time it was through the laying on of hands. This is rather silly, for there are only two or three other places where the Word says it was given through the laying on of hands. To suggest that two occurrences are exceptions to the rule established by three occurrences is ludicrous.

    You also say God can give the Holy Spirit to those who are unsaved, but that contradicts the Word of God which says that in the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit seals us as children of God and is a guarantee of redemption and resurrection unto eternal life. No, the Gentiles in Acts 10 were sealed in Christ as children of God, promised redemption and resurrection, and thus were saved--all before being baptized in water. The same is true of the Apostles. If you want to insist that those two are exceptions to a rule established by two or three other occurrences, you can go ahead and do so, but you are unjustified in doing so. (Continued...)

  56. Finally, all of the examples you gave of recipients of the Holy Spirit are irrelevant. Numbers 22 and 24, and 1 Samuel 19, all come before the New Covenant, in which it was prophesied the Holy Spirit would operate differently in God's community than it had before. John 11 likewise takes place before the Holy Spirit is given to operate in the New Covenant way.

    As I explained above and in episode 4, baptism in the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant seals us as children of God and promises us redemption and resurrection. His operation prior to the New Covenant is irrelevant.

  57. As for Justin Martyr, I am inclined at this point to agree with you. I will correct myself in a future episode, and acknowledge that you have evidence that this view of baptism may have arisen as early as the mid-second century.

  58. As for Irenaeus, perhaps this may clear up his meaning as well. If one puts all three of these works together, it should be clear he speaks of "water" baptism.

    And when we come to refute them, we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian] faith. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book One, Ch. 21)

    For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: “Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Ibid., Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus, Ch. 34)

    Neither, for a like reason, would he have given them baptism so readily, had he not heard them prophesying when the Holy Ghost rested upon them. And therefore did he exclaim, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” He persuaded, at the same time, those that were with him, and pointed out that, unless the Holy Ghost had rested upon them, there might have been some one who would have raised objections to their baptism. (Ibid., Against Heresies, Book Three, Chapter 12)

  59. When the Holy Spirit came at pentecost, there was a rush of wind & tongues of fire. Jesus said you will recieve "power" when the HS comes upon you and will be my witnesses. It was a very miraculous event. Then when it came on Cornelius, notice Peter remembered that it came on them the same way it came on us "at the beginning". He had to go all the way back to Pentecost(which at this point was years prior) to remember the HS coming in such a way. I noticed what he did not say, he did not say the HS came on Cornelius the same way it came on all the other people we converted.
    Not that I am coming to any conclusion yet, but it was very unusual the way the HS came 1st to the Jews, and then 2nd to the Gentiles. In Pauls epistles he speaks of the gospel coming 1st to the Jews & then to the Gentiles. I am just "hinting" at the fact that perhaps there are different outpourings of the HS, and specific things it is trying to accomplish.

    The apostles recieved power to preach and be a witness and at Cornelius home it showed the Jews God was accepting the Gentiles. (which in context was a huge hurdle for them to get over).
    Again nothing conclusive, but the unique ways the HS was distributed is worth looking into as opposed to just saying it was poured out for everyone, that's it, no big deal.

  60. How is it that in nearly EVERY other usage of εἰς [for]it is understood to mean 'into' and in this one single instance, when it completely disagrees with your corrupted view it does not mean 'into'? The answer is that someone has led you (among others) away from the truth held within the scriptures, that we must be baptized in water in order to be saved.

    And it sounds like Terry holds the same view of truth, which the scripture clearly explains.

    Well stated Terry, So far I think I agree with what you are understanding.

  61. Hi, Aaron. Thanks for joining in the conversation. However, you must not have read the original post that spawned these comments, since I demonstrated in that post that εἰς is used in this way both by John speaking of his baptism, as well as by Jesus speaking of the repentance of the Ninevites in response to Jonah's preaching.

    Let me ask you: Are you saying people repented as a consequence of having been baptized by John? Are you saying that Jonah preached as a consequence of the Ninevites' repentance?

    Incidentally, I thought we've been over the hostile rhetoric in the past, and I hope you'll avoid it moving forward. I think you and I are friends.

  62. As for Irenaeus, Terry, I'm willing to concede that he, writing after Justin Martyr, shared his view of baptismal regeneration. As I said, I think you've demonstrated that the view appeared as early as the mid-second century.

    Like I said, I will correct myself in a future episode concerning both Irenaeus and Martyr.

  63. The fact that Peter remembered how it came upon them "at the beginning" does not imply that this was a unique outpouring to which they were not accustomed. Peter is simply recognizing that the same thing that happened to them and the Jews had just happened to the Gentiles: namely, they were indwelt through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And that was proof that Gentiles were welcome into the Christian community.

    What made the Apostles' experience like the Gentiles was speaking in tongues. But as I demonstrate in episode 4, tongues are just one of many gifts manifested by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as described in 1 Corinthians 12. Tongues are one of the more visible, miraculous gifts, but there are other more mundane, less obvious gifts. As such, it makes sense that He would manifest Himself through tongues in Cornelius' household, for that was the visible proof to Peter that Gentiles could be saved.

  64. I know you are not real enthralled with the Shepherd of Hermas, but I did find two interesting articles.

    1) The first is written by an Eastern Orthodox adherent with a PHD. Very good paper with lots of sources listed. If you go to bottom of page 7 & paragraph 3 of page 19, it cuts to the chase:

    2) The second is a quote I found on Wiki. They must have gotten the idea from somewhere.

    "in Similitude 9 it is clearly pointed out that all the baptized are included, though they may be cast out for grave sins, and can be readmitted only after penance."

    (I simply typed in shepherd of herman wiki)

  65. Okay, so even if there are only two instances of this usage, the point is that what you have 'stumbled upon' is someones find that merely fits with their own supposition and not what the scripture clearly teaches. So, again, I ask, why in all the other instances does this usage of εἰς mean 'into' and here it must mean because of? Are we not baptized into Christs death?

    Another point regarding our previous discussions is that everyone has been given the Holy Spirit, but how are we to know that they have it? Is it simply by their faith? Or is it maybe by their deeds? Or is it by their Love for one another? Baptism is a commitment to God that what he has told us is what we will do. If we are not baptized, we cannot be counted as saved. Even a child can understand this, but it takes expert training to deny this truth and one must go to great lengths to read out baptism from salvation.

  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. Terry, you have already seen that after the first four generations of stones, the rest from the mountainside do not descend into the water or come up out of it. I appreciate you linking to these resources, and I'll check them out, but this quote that is given all over the internet is clearly used inappropriately.

  68. The point about εἰς is that in the passage that most closely parallels Acts 2:38, the word is used as "on account of," so we're justified in positing that meaning here. And rather that finding what merely fits our suppositions, like you, we are trying to reconcile all Scripture together, since it is all God-breathed and thus non-contradictory.

    As for knowing who has the Holy Spirit, we don't. Even the Apostles did not know in many cases, which is why they said there were those who, had they been "of us", would still be "of us." The Godfearers in Acts 10, Peter knew they had the Holy Spirit because they manifested the gift of tongues. But not all spiritual gifts are obvious and miraculous.

    But yes, faith, baptism, repentance and deeds are all evidence of a saving faith--none of us are denying that. But all of these are fruits. You don't say a tree is an apple tree as a result of bearing fruit; you say a tree bears apples as a result of being an apple tree.

    As for the assertion that "if we are not baptized, we cannot be counted as saved," this goes contrary to Acts 10, as we've discussed.

  69. You seem to be hung up on the fact that certain stones did or did not go into the water. This is just my understanding of the story, but the "symbolism" is that the tower being built above the water is to "represent" that the church is built on the "foundation" of baptism. Jesus is the gate, so all stones brought in from other mountains must go through the gate to be added to the tower. It would seem to be implied that Jesus would baptize them as they enter through the gate. Again, that is just my personal take. It reads like a parable(perhaps that is a bad analogy) and not every minute detail is probably meant to be taken literally.

  70. Even assuming that to be the case, baptismal regeneration proponents need to seriously change how they present this as "proof" of early belief in the doctrine. The quote you originally provided, and that one finds scattered all over the internet, is inappropriate, as we've seen and I hope you'd agree. And, I would posit, any proper application of this vision or parable to the debate will, at best, be arguable, and as such can't be used as proof that the earliest Church believed water baptism to be essential for salvation.

    That having been said, I'm definitely interested in the links you gave me, and I will give them a look. Just because I don't view Hermas as authoritative does not mean I don't regard it as being of any import. If it turns out that it does, in fact, teach the essentiality of water baptism for salvation, I would have to acknowledge that this doctrine, if not from the Apostles themselves, at least developed very early.

  71. As to special gifts of the HS:

    "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized" (Acts 9:17-18) Then notice in 22:16, "get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name."

    Here is another example of somone receiving gifts of the HS prior to salvation. Paul needed the HS for empowerment and to get his sight back.
    Saul, the Samaritans, the disciples near Ephesus received the HS by someone placing there hands on them. The apostles received it with wind and tongues of fire, Cornelius recieved it directly from heaven as a witness to the Jewish Christians. As with Jesus the HS came down as a dove. They all recieved "special gifts" upon baptism in the HS for either tongues or power to witness or power for ministry.

    There is no account of Christians recieving tongues just by simply believing. The 3000 at Pentecost, the jailer, Lydia, eunich, Samaritans, Simon, Titius Justus, Crispus, the Corinthians, they all simply believed and were baptized, no miraculous gifts.

    There is no mention of miraculous gifts in Romans 6:3, or Galations 3:27, or Titus 3:5 or 1 Peter 3:21, just salvation.

  72. Acts 9 is in no way an example of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit before salvation. He was healed. That in no way demonstrates he received the Holy Spirit before salvation. Nonsense.

    As for the "miraculous gifts" non-argument, as I proved in episode 4, so-called "miraculous gifts" are merely some of many gifts which are the manifestation of the saving indwelling of the Holy Spirit experienced by every Christian. It is utterly unbiblical to suggest that the Apostles, the Samaritans, the Godfearers and the Ephesian non-Godfearers received something that the other saved Christians did not.

  73. Acts 9

    It clearly states in verse 17, PLACING HIS HANDS ON SAUL he said, "the Lord sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the HS", after which he (got up) and was baptized and called on the name of the Lord to have his sins forgiven.

  74. But it doesn't say he was filled with the Holy Spirit at the same time he was healed. He came so that Paul may X and Y; it doesn't say they happen concurrently.

  75. Why is that unbiblical, Corinthians clearly states not all receive the same gifts. Also note in verse 12:10 "the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues and the ability to interpret". These tongues are eccstatic utterances which need an interpreter.(see 14:1-2) The apostles and the Gentiles spoke known languages, again showing it is a different kind of gift.

  76. Likewise it does not specifically say Cornelius had his sins forgiven upon receiving the HS.
    However, it does say Peter recounted the story precisely as it happened! That they received the HS as he BEGAN to speak. Remember, they were to recieve a message through which they would be saved, and they were there to listen to EVERYTHING the Lord COMMANDED Peter to tell them.

  77. Yes, Corinthians says not all receive the same gifts. But it says all gifts are manifestations of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that unites Christians into one body.

    As for "ecstatic utterances," you are reading an assumption into the text, namely that the kind of tongues spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 are different from those spoken by the Apostles and the Godfearers. I agree that the Apostles spoke human languages, and I agree the Godfearers did, too. However, the case for "ecstatic utterances" which are not human languages is weak and fails.

    The ability to speak in tongues in 1 Corinthians 12 is the same ability demonstrated by the Apostles in Acts 2 and the Godfearers in Acts 10: that is, the speaking of a human language you have not learned. The ability to interpret tongues is the ability to understand human languages you have not learned.

    There is no difference between the gifts of the Apostles and the gifts of the Godfearers.

  78. What the text explicitly says is that they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit before water baptism, and as I've demonstrated it is absolutely clear that this was the saving indwelling of the Holy Spirit Who manifests Himself in every Christian through gifts, some miraculous others not so much, and that He is a seal that we are children of God, a promise of redemption and resurrection. And as I demonstrated for Steve in the other thread, no other understanding of what they experienced would justify Peter's assumption that Gentiles were therefore welcome into the New Covenant community.

    Whatever your view of baptism, you are demonstrably and clearly wrong about the Godfearers in Acts 10. Once you acknowledge they were saved before being baptized in water, we can discuss what impact this may have on the debate over baptism.

  79. To Chris: Hi. I just left a very well known "faith alone" "non-denominational" denomination. For many months, I fought/resisted/denied the solid proof that was presented to me from the Bible that it is God's intention for water baptism to play a significant role in having our sins forgiven, salvation..... and therefore conversion. Are you letting your pride get the best of you.... or, are you honestly just not seeing the truth that this guy tbolson76 is patiently trying to teach you? 2 Tim 3:16 & 4:2

    I plead with you that you openly correct your teachings on this very important issue (salvation), and if this is your website... correct the errors. You don't want to be guilty of misguiding people about eternity, and, you need to know and practice the truth yourself.

    Mark 12:28-34

    Tony A.

  80. Chris, by the way, I read each and every entry (from all sides) on this topic prior to posting my previous comment. Thanks.


  81. Thanks for your feedback, Tony, and for checking out my blog and/or listening to my podcast.

    I agree with you that soteriology is a very important issue. That's why I preach against the heresies promulgated by visitors to my blog that man is not born sinful (Pelagianism) and that works contribute to our salvation.

    I will keep you in my prayers, and would ask that you'd do the same for me. Thanks, Tony!

  82. First of all, no one is suggesting that works contribute to "initial" salvation. I think we all agree that we are saved by Grace Alone, and nothing on our part can merit or earn initial salvation, it is totally a gift and work of God.

    However, when reformers say baptism is a work of man and others say it is God at work in us, not only are we in disagreement, we aren't even speaking the same language.

    Is it possible to examine the "life" of a saved, born again Christian who has the indwelling Holy Spirit, and not see evidence of good works and obedience to God. No, it is not possible. Therefore good works are necessary. If they are not present we conclude the person is not saved. How hard is that to understand?

    If works do not contribute to our salvation then Jesus discourse on separating the sheep & goats, Pauls exhortation to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and Romans 2:6-7 make absolutely no sense.

    Second, how could God ask Cain "if you do what is right will you not be accepted" if he was totally depraved. He was told he must master sin.

    Noah was a righteous man who walked with God. How so if he was totlly depraved?

    Heb 11:8, (referring to Gen. 12) says Abraham had faith and obeyed God. How so if he was totally depraved?

    Job walked upright and blameless. How so if he was totally depraved?

    Ezekiel 28:15 you were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until wickedness was found in you.

    Jesus welcomed children to himself and taught His disciples that one must "receive the kingdom of God like a child" (Lk. 18:15-17; Mt. 18:1-6). If we are born in sin, why would He use children as examples of what we should become?

    Cornelius was devout & God-fearing, his prayers and gifts to the poor came up as a remembrance before God. How so if he was totally depraved?

  83. by the to anonymous.... I am extremely curious what famous denomination you came from and went to...if you wish to remain anonymous, fine.....or shoot me an email at and say hi!!

  84. There are other instances in which the Greek word εἰς is used in a similar way. Consider Matthew 12:41 where we read, "The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at [εἰς] the preaching of Jonah."