Is water baptism required for salvation Part 5

I have been discussing a number of Bible passages which are used by some individuals, churches, and denominations to support the mistaken doctrine of baptismal regeneration or baptismal remission of sin.

Acts 22:16 is another such passage:

Act 22:16  And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

I dealt with this passage in my Bible study resource, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, with special reference to the mode of Christian water baptism. Many Christians, churches, and denominations assume that whenever the word “baptize” appears in the New Testament, it always has  reference to immersion. A careful study of how the word is actually used in the Greek text of the New Testament actually would show that the word “baptizo” which underlies our English word “baptism” and “baptize” is a non-modal word. That is, it tells what was done but does not tell how it was done. Context determines how it was done. That is a linguistic fact.

So, when I placed the following note in my book, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, I wrote the note with the subject of the mode of Christian baptism in mind:

arise. or, standing, he was baptized (2 aorist active participle, nominative singular masculine). Paul was water baptized in a standing position in a Jewish home. Nothing in this record or the parallel accounts suggests Paul went to a place where there was sufficient water for immersion. Jewish households had no provision for immersions, and even the six waterpots at the wedding of Cana would be insufficient for such a purpose (Joh 2:6 note). +*Act 2:38; +Act 8:12; +Act 8:26; +Act 9:6; +#Act 9:18, 1Ch 22:19, **Rom 6:3; **Rom 6:4, *1Co 6:11; **1Co 12:13, **Gal 3:27, *Tit 3:5, **Heb 10:22, 1Pe 3:21.

It ought to be clear that even if Acts 22:16 is a reference to ritual water baptism (which it absolutely is not) that the mode of baptism referred to could not be immersion.

When I created my latest and much expanded Bible study resource, The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury, I included the following new note to stress that carefully considered, Acts 22:16 is actually a reference to “real baptism,” not “ritual water baptism”:

and be baptized. or, you baptize yourself. The verb is in the middle voice, implying that he had his part to do in connexion with baptism, ’get baptized’ (Walker). You baptize yourself is a middle voice imperative, not passive; you wash away is a middle voice imperative; having called on the name of the Lord shows how the imperatives were carried out—by prayer! Thus the middle voice shows Paul as acting on himself by means of prayer, having nothing to do with water (see LNT, fn u). This baptism cannot possibly be with water, by man. There is not a drop of water here. Here is a baptism that had the power to wash away sins, was effected by prayer and by the subject acting upon himself, and not being passively acted upon by a baptizer with water (see Malcolm Lavender, The Fallacy of the ’Sinning Christian,’ p. 112). On the middle voice, see Act 2:41 note; Rom 9:22 note; Rom 10:13 note. +Act 2:38 note, Act 2:41 note. Act 6:3-4 note. +Act 8:12, *1Co 1:17, Col 2:12 note, Col 2:13 note. 1Pe 3:20, 21, 22.

Does water baptism wash away our sins? Not according to a proper understanding of Scripture. I placed the following note at Acts 22:16 in the New Treasury and retained it in The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury:

away thy sins. It was not the ritual water of literal baptism that washed away Paul’s sins, but the blood of Christ. This is certain from Scripture, for **Rev 1:5 asserts that the blood of Christ has washed us from our sins. Now if we ask the question, “Which washing is the real, and which the symbolic, washing of our sins?” the only answer possible is that the blood cleansing is real, the water symbolic. Ritual baptism symbolizes the washing away of sins by the blood of Christ. This is the basis for asserting that ritual baptism symbolizes what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit in real baptism (Act 1:5 note). See related notes (Act 1:5 note. **Act 2:38 note, Act 2:41 note. Act 8:36 note, Act 8:38 note, Act 8:39 note. Act 10:47 note, **Act 10:48 note. Act 11:17 note. Act 16:14 note, Act 16:15 note, *Act 16:33 note. **Mar 16:16 note. %**Rom 6:4 note. Col 2:11 note, Col 2:12 note). +Act 2:38, Psa 51:2, Mat 3:6, Mar 1:4, Luk 3:3, Joh 19:34, *Rom 4:11, 1Co 6:11, +**Heb 10:22, 1Pe 3:21, **1Jn 1:7, *Rev 1:5.

A scholarly discussion of Acts 22:16 may be found in James W. Dale, Christic and Patristic Baptism, on the following indicated pages (these references are not given in the index on page 646):

Alexander Campbell, President of Bethany College Page 105
Ἀναστὰς βάπτισαι καὶ ἀπόλουσαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου, ἐπικαλεσάμενος τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου.—ACTS 22:16.

Alexander Campbell, President of Bethany College Page 105
Acts 22:12–16 differs from that passage now examined as being more full in statement, and with material variety in phraseology.

Speaking with Tongues and Prophesying Page 114
It is not stated that he prayed, but doubtless he did as is stated in Acts 8:15, and Acts 22:16, in the case of his own baptism.

Λουτρόν Page 379
Acts 22:16: “Wash away (ἀπόλουσαι) thy sins calling upon the name of the Lord.” Prayer will wash away sin; water will not.

Brief Examination of These Views Pages 427–428
And Acts 22:16, “Baptize thyself, and wash away thy sins (ἐπικαλεσάμενος) calling upon the name of the Lord,” is a crushing, ad hominem, argument against the doctrine.

Dale, J. W. (1874). An Inquiry Into the Usage of ΒΑΠΤΙΖΩ and the Nature of Christic and Patristic Baptism (pp. 105–428). Wm. Rutter & Co.

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5 Responses to Is water baptism required for salvation Part 5

  1. ken sagely says:

    hello jerry this is a blessed verse i found 4 cross refs that enlighten this vs to me. Acts 2.21 And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved. 1 Corinthians 6.11 And such were some of you; but ye are washed,but ye are sanctified,but ye are juatified in the name of the Lord Jesus,and by the Spirit of our God.Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death,that as Christ was raised from dead by the glory of the Father,even so we also shall walk in newness of Life Acts 8:12 But when they believed philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ,they were baptized both men and women.

  2. Jerry says:

    Those are good verses, Ken. I always appreciate it when you participate here with your comments and verses.

  3. I don’t think there is anywhere to go with this debate, if you are now directly contradicting even your own reasoning in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, where, no doubt, you were “absolutely sure” that Acts 22:16 referred to water baptism (non-regenerative and non-sacramental, of course, and accomplishing nothing), whereas now you have done a complete about-face and think that Acts 22:16 “absolutely is not” referring to water baptism.

    I’m quite certain that you felt just as confident in your past position as you do with yours now. But this is the problem with Protestantism itself: this sort of purely subjective supposed “assurance” utterly disconnected from 2,000-year-old unbroken Christian theological tradition. This is what caused even Martin Luther to bitterly complain, “there are as many sects as there are heads.”

    How do you know you’re right? Well, because “the Bible says so” is always the Protestant answer. But the Bible “said” something different in your own past reference work, so that you not only massively contradict other Christians, but also your own “biblical” reasoning of so many years ago.

  4. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    I think it would be helpful for your greater understanding to go back and read more carefully what I wrote in this post.

    I did not contradict myself.

    I did not change my mind about what Acts 22:16 means.

    I explained very carefully that when I first addressed the issue of baptism in my New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge comment, I focused upon the mode of Christian baptism.

    I explained that when I developed my Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury I added notes that addressed the distinction between ritual water baptism and real baptism. Ritual water baptism is not saving. Real baptism, accomplished by the Holy Spirit, is saving.

    And in terms of our ongoing discussions here, I believe I have proved that ritual water baptism is not necessary for salvation. I have proved that real baptism accomplished by the Holy Spirit when a person truly places faith for their salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for us is what is required for salvation.

    Somehow, I see you remarking about what you understand is the “Protestant answer,” which is fine, but you have not yet addressed the argument which I have presented about the Biblical distinction between “ritual water baptism” and “real baptism.”

  5. I have addressed it. I don’t see anywhere else to go with this. It’s one thing to deny baptismal regeneration, but you have now claimed that many passages — where probably 99% of commentaries would say are referring to water baptism –, as doing no such thing.

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