Friday, March 8, 2013

Acts 2:38: Are you baptized because you are already forgiven?

This is an expansion of my previous article on Acts 2:38
Arguments refuted in this article are
1) The false claim that: That eis in Acts 2:38 means "because of"
 a) By showing this would mean you repent because you have already been forgiven
 b) By showing that the same Greek phrase "for the forgiveness of sins" when used by Jesus at the Last supper would have to mean that Jesus' blood was shed "because of the forgiveness of sins" meaning He died for nothing since since were already forgiven, making the atonement meaningless.
c)By claiming that "eis" in Matthew 12:41 is proof that it means "because of."
2) The false claim that: That baptism here does not refer to water baptism, but a separate, dry Holy Spirit baptism.
3) The false claim that: Remission does not mean forgiveness.
Saving Baptism from the Baptists:
Baptismal regeneration is taught in Acts 2:38

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.--Acts 2:38 KJV
Argument 1a: Some Protestants, especially Baptists (and similar groups like Calvary chapel, pentecostal etc) that deny baptismal regeneration will offer a rebuttal to this argument trying to draw on the ambiguity of the term "eis" in Greek, which the KJV and most Bible translate as "for" or "into," they will argue that it here REALLY means "because of," despite the lack of bible translations that use this! Before we look at the word "eis"'s meaning in the New Testament let's change the verse to say "because of" instead of "for."

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.--Acts 2:38 "theoretical" and non existent translation

 Now, this theoretically rendering would mean something more than just saying you are "baptized because you ALREADY have the remission of sins." It means you "repent" for the same reason--that you were ALREADY forgiven! that is: "Repent... because of the remission of sins." No one outside of some Calvinists would agree with this statement that repentance comes AFTER forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 tells us the opposite order occurs: repent->forgiven not forgiven ->repent!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.-1 John 1:9 KJV
So clearly the word "eis" cannot mean "because of" otherwise it would contradict 1 John 1:9 that says repentance causes forgiveness!

Argument 1b: Now let's say someone is obstinant and insists Acts 2:38 still means "because of" in regards to baptism. We know this cannot be case because an identical phrase is used in the gospels in both Greek and English. Let us see (the relevant phrase is in red:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.--Acts 2:38 KJV
Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· Μετανοήσατε, καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν, καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος·-Acts 2:38 *(as found in the Textus Receptus and the Majority of Byzantine texts)

compare with:

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.-Matthew 26:28 KJV

 τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν τὸ αἷμά μου τὸ τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης τὸ περὶ πολλῶν ἐκχυνόμενον εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν-Matthew 26:28 * (as found in the Textus Receptus and the Majority of Byzantine texts)

The other 2 usages of "for the remission of sins" "εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν" are Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3, but since they are about John the Baptist's "preaching of baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" I omit them since they are of a similar nature to Acts 2:38, which would bring no clarity to the subject.
Looking at Matthew 26:28's "for the remission of sins" "εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν" does it make sense to translate the verse here as:

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many because of the remission of sins.-Matthew 26:28 (theoretical baptist translation)

certainly not! Since such rendering is a rejection of the atonment! It would have to mean Jesus' blood was shed because sin was ALREADY forgiven which is blasphemous nonesense! So why should we translate "eis" differently in Acts 2:38?

Argument 1c: Some Protestants in recent years, as part of their desperate attempt to reject baptismal regeneration have concocted the claim "eis" means "because of" in Matthew 12:41 in reference to Jonah:

The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.--Matthew 12:41 KJV

 ἄνδρες Νινευῖται ἀναστήσονται ἐν τῇ κρίσει μετὰ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης καὶ κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτήν: ὅτι μετενόησαν εἰς τὸ κήρυγμα Ἰωνᾶ, καὶ ἰδοὺ πλεῖον Ἰωνᾶ ὧδε. --Matthew 12:41 All Greek texts
One thing to first note is that NO translation that I have looked at translates "eis" here as "because of. Looking at the lexicon of "eis" it means "into" and not "because of." Essentially, it means they "repented INTO the preaching of Jonah," its not saying they repented "because of" or "in order to." Here is a Protestant website that quote two Protestant professors who both reject baptismal regeneration--the later is a Baptist:
Professor Daniel Wallace is associated with the Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas. From a personal theological perspective, he does not believe that baptism is required as a condition for the remission of sins. This is important to keep in mind. Dr. Wallace is the author of the highly acclaimed work, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. Therein he has a discussion of the so-called causal use of eis. He contends that studies have shown that “the linguistic evidence for a causal eis” falls short of proof. He stingingly calls this misguided twisting of the preposition an “ingenious solution” that “lacks conviction” (1996, 370-371).
 The celebrated Baptist scholar, H.B. Hackett, rendered the Greek phrase, eis aphesin hamartion in Acts 2:38, as “in order to the forgiveness of sins,” and referenced Matthew 26:28 and Luke 3:3 as parallel texts (1879, 54)--
The same article I just cited also claims the word that would have been used to express because of it "dia"--through! That is the people "repented through the preaching of Jonah." So eis does not mean "because of" there either.
Argument 2: Now, for the second argument that Acts 2:38 is about a separate Holy Spirit baptism.  It makes you wonder why Act's uses the phrase in several other verses EXCEPT here. The authorize themselves to declare any reference to simply "baptism" to be "Holy Spirit baptism" based on their own theological bias. By even making this argument they are making St Luke, the writer of Acts (writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) negligent by refering to "baptism with the Holy Spirit" as simply "baptism," when elsewhere like in Acts 1, Acts 11. Acts frequently uses the term "Holy Spirit" and "baptism" and certainly St Peter, who was one of the 12, and was familiar with John the baptist and his reference to baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:16), then it must be asked if St Peter in Acts 2:38 was refering to a dry "Holy Spirit baptism" then why doesn't Acts or St Peter simply STATE "be baptized with the Holy Spirit." Furthermore, we have a number of verses in Acts were baptism is simply used and it undeniably refers to immersion in water, does this mean these people never received the Holy Spirit baptism, or that Acts did not care to report if they did? And if the people in Acts 2:38 receieved a "Holy Spirit baptism" then why is there no reference to their baptism in water?
In short, this claim that Acts 2:38 is a dry baptism relies on reading assumptions into the text!
Argument 3: For the third claim, that "remission" is like "cancer in remission" this claim I refuted in another article see question 7. The word in the Greek text for remission and forgiveness is actually the exact same word and historically in the English speaking Christian church was used interchangably.
The word remission can mean both forgiveness and the alternate meaning. However, forgiveness/pardon is the meaning when dealing with sins. Here is the origin of the word remission itself:

early 13c., "forgiveness or pardon (of sins)," from O.Fr. remission, from L. remissionem (nom. remissio) "relaxation, a sending back," from remiss-, pp. stem of remittere "slacken, let go, abate" (see remit). Used of diseases since c.1400.
But, this is not so helpful since this is just a translation of the Greek. The Greek word used in Acts 2:38 that bibles like the King James Version and the Douay Rheims for what the translation as "remission" is λήμψεσθε. λήμψεσθε simple means to let something go. Mark 3:29 uses this Greek word in the sense the eternal sin can never be "forgiven" it would not make much sense if this eternal sin were only suppressed or whatever other secondary sense exist in English. In fact the King James Version translates λήμψεσθε as "forgiven" a few times Acts 5:31, 13:38, 26:18, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14. It means forgiven.



  1. Good find!
    What's that Greek word search tool you're using?

  2. Interlinear Scripture Analyzer at and

  3. I've lost track of the number of times that a Baptist or evangelical has told me that Acts 2:38 was mistranslated; that the "for" in that passage of God's Holy Word should be removed and replaced with "because of".

    It doesn't matter to them that every English translation of the Bible translates this word in Acts 2:38 as "for" or "into" and never "because of", because these Christians know in their hearts that God would never, ever say that baptism has anything to do with the forgiveness of sins.

    Below is an excellent article by Lutheran pastor, Matt Richards on this subject:

    1. Baptists are good at fabricating excuses why "for" means because of when referring to baptism, but does mean because of when referring to "repent". Generally, they refuse to admit to this absurdity.

  4. "Eis": Why has EVERY Bible translator gotten this little Greek word wrong?

    One of the principle reasons that Baptists and evangelicals refuse to believe that Baptism is God's act of saving sinners and forgiving sins is based on the translation in the Bible of one, little, Greek word: "eis"

    Baptists and evangelicals believe that this Greek word has two principle English translations, and that the context of the Bible passage determines which meaning should be translated into English as the true Word of God. Here are these two English translation options:

    1. for, unto
    2. because of

    Now, as we will see shortly, these two English translations can give the translated sentence in question a completely different meaning...depending on which translation you choose.

    Let's look at Acts 2:38 translating "eis" using each English option:

    Repent and be baptized...for the forgiveness of sins.
    Repent and be baptized...because of the forgiveness of sins.

    HUGE difference in meaning, isn't there?

    So how many English translations of the Holy Bible translate Acts 2:38 using "because of"?

    Answer: not a single one!

    Find out why not: