Q & A with Dr. Warren Vanhetloo

Compiled from Dr. Warren VanHetloo’s “Cogitations,” October, 2010.

Question

Dr. Van, I have a question about the origin of Baptism. I’ve always been taught it pictured the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But according to Matthew 3, John was baptizing before Jesus died, even before he had even met Jesus. It then appears that believers (Jews?) displayed their faith in God by getting baptized. Any conjecture on why John seemed to come up with this idea at a time when it doesn’t mean what it means today?

Answer

No need for conjecture, there is enough in Scripture. There are several answers, and all are important.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight . and all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luke 3:4-6).

First, God chose John to introduce something entirely new and different from the nation-centered dispensation of the Old Testament era. “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). John was sent to bear advance witness of a once-for-all-time revelation of the Light which lights every man who enters this world (John 1:3-9). Second, his water immersion was intended to prepare for a spiritual immersion to follow shortly (John 1:25-27): “I immerse with water, but…the same is He who immerses with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26, 33).

It is important to emphasize that God called and sent John to proclaim the greater work about to be revealed. His ministry had been predicted in the OT: “As it is written in the prophets, Behold I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight” (Mark 1:2-3, Mal 3:1, Isa 40:3). Thus, John immersed in the wilderness and preached the immersion of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3).

Judaism had known ceremonial sprinklings and some forms of soaking and self-immersion, but prior to John there is no record of an immerser. Repentance was an inner thing. Immersion was an individual’s outward declaration of an inner change. Immersion gave a vague picture of drowning, of death, and as well of a coming forth to a changed life. The meaning of the symbolism was perhaps not clear until after the death and resurrection of Jesus. God chose the mode, not John. God used it as a picture which became more clear after what it portrayed became history.

Question

Dear Dr. Van, I am somewhat confused by your statement that “opposing a bully is a civil matter, not a religious.” Since when are Christians supposed to make a distinction between the two? Is not everything we do “religious,” in that our entire lifestyle should be conformed to the leadership of Christ? Perhaps I have misunderstood you; if so, I apologize. But I strongly suggest that we not compartmentalize the Christian life into “religious” and “civil” and have different standards for each.

Answer

Be subject to principalities and powers, obey magistrates, be ready to every good work (Titus 3:1).

When I typed that item, I considered putting a verse in parenthesis but did not. It is sure to get more attention this way, and so it might be that God thought it better to have greater attention drown to it. “Jesus said to them, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21, Mark 12:17).

My answer to “Since when?” is, “At least since Jesus so clearly taught the two separate areas of responsibility.” Also, it seems obvious to me that all through the OT period God taught that believers have primary responsibility to their Creator and secondary obligations to fellowmen. Jesus clearly paid taxes to the Roman government. He and others did not hesitate to call to account rulers who had disobeyed the standards of morality and conduct expected by God. Separation of church and state was not first developed in the American colonies.

Christians make a distinction between the two (religious vs. civil) because God does. The command “render” (not merely a suggestion) surely indicates that we are to fulfill our civic responsibilities toward civil authorities. These are not the same as what God instructs believers to do in relation to their leaders in a local church. The two are kept distinct, and God’s commands for us are clear for each. We all are citizens or subjects of a nation. We consider that such persons are equal in many ways and that all have privileges and responsibilities. If we are believers, we also have instructions and responsibilities in relation to other believers. We should not ignore civic obligations.

For different relationships of our civil life, God gives a believer specific instruction. Standards for wives (Eph. 5:22-24, Col. 3:18) do not apply to the unmarried. What God expects of husbands in the civil realm has been the same since before the fall (Eph. 5:25-33, Col. 3:19). God expects those in a family relationship to act differently (Eph. 6:1-4, Col. 3:20-12). Servants have a separate status (Eph. 6:5-8, Col. 3:22, Titus 2:9-10), as do masters (Eph. 6:9, Col 4:1). We do not compartmentalize different areas of life in this fashion; God did. Standards are different for different realms.

Note especially: “I exhort therefore that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). God may answer those prayers in many ways, but I doubt that that means that we are to aid or encourage those who would deprive us of an undisturbed existence. I expect that God would want us to do (speak, vote, even take up arms) what is consistent with what we ask Him to accomplish.

Question

Dr. Van, I am currently reading through the minor prophets in my personal devotions and find I am puzzled by Bible Chronology. In Haggai, God exhorts the Jews to rebuild the temple. But the command to rebuild the temple seems to be given by Cyrus way back “earlier” in Chronicles and Ezra. A chart in one of my Bible study books shows that the events in Ezra actually happened after Haggai. Could you please give your thoughts on how Bible chronology fits together and how to factor it into one’s study? It is so ingrained in me that most books are strictly chronologically arranged (like history books, novels, etc.) that I keep making the same assumption about the Bible. Thanks.

Answer

Scripture is given by inspiration of God…that the man of God may be mature, complete in all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Biblical chronology is confusing in part because so many “authorities” speak authoritatively without telling the reader that there is another view of authorship and chronology. Books and charts often include just one set of results without telling the reader about the “other” view.

Roughly, the two sets of views are the ones by those who accept the inspiration of Scripture and the ones by others who think of the Bible as only a human product. A quick clue to differentiate the two is the date used for the Exodus from Egypt: 1446 for literalists against 1200s from the reconstructionists. Those using the later date crowd together and mix up much that should not be confused. It is best to use reliable charts and explanations. In my Zondervan NASB Study Bible, I have a clear chart at the beginning and discussion at each book head.

The ancients often connected events and completed telling of a matter (which thus happened later) and then returned to the narration. They seemed to concentrate on God’s prophecies and fulfillment of those more than on chronological sequence. It is admittedly confusing at times, but seeming conflicts are being worked out and becoming more established. Using a dependable chart and introductions to the various books will be of great help.

Building and rebuilding the temple were not six-month projects. Although much of the historic tent of the tabernacle did not survive, the service and much of the detail was continued in Jerusalem, and the “open air” meetings were called God’s house. David wanted to build a sturdy reliable structure, but God assigned that project to Solomon. The “house” that had been in a tent and then in open air finally had a stone structure. Rebuilding of the temple (which is what you’re studying) took stages. Once again, God’s house was open air with much of the ritual restored but no solid building. Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was the first important project, and safeguarded temple activity. During reconstruction, opposition disrupted work such that work was done for a while and then delayed for a period.

When scrolls were assembled into a definite sequence, the grouping was literary (law, history, poetry, prophecy) and also by length (shorter combined). Don’t be disappointed if you don’t keep all the chronology straight the first time through. Refer often to charts and summaries. If dates seem to conflict, let them rest. God will clear them up, perhaps in your lifetime. God’s work with people is much more important than people’s work with stone and clay.

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Jack Hampton's picture

Warren Vanhetloo wrote:
First, God choose John to introduce something entirely new and different from the nation-centered dispensation of the Old Testament era. "The kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). John was sent to bear advance witness of a once-for-all-time revelation of the Light which lights every man who enters this world (John 1:3-9). Second, his water immersion was intended to prepare for a spiritual immersion to follow shortly (John 1:25-27): "I immerse with water, but...the same is He who immerses with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26, 33).

Dr. Vanhetloo,

Are the following words of the Lord Jesus in reference to the same baptism with the Holy Spirit that you quoted at Mark 1:8?:

"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:4-5).

The Lord Jesus certainly seems to tie "the Promise of the Father" to the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Is this the "promise" which the Lord Jesus was making reference?:

"And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Lk.24:49).

That certainly seems to be the case since here the Lord Jesus ties "power" to the baptism with the Holy Spirit:

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Isn't the power that resulted when the believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit the ability to speak in tongues?:

"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4).

Therefore it appears to me that the baptism with the Holy Spirit to which the Lord Jesus made reference is in regard to believers receiving the power to speak in tongues.

What happened was a direct fulfillment of the following prophecy which speaks of a baptism with the Spirit:

"For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:15-17).

Do not these verses refer to the baptism with the Holy Spirit of which the Lord Jesus spoke?

Alex K.'s picture

Warren Vanhetloo wrote:

Question

Dr. Van, I have a question about the origin of Baptism. I've always been taught it pictured the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But according to Matthew 3, John was baptizing before Jesus died, even before he had even met Jesus. It then appears that believers (Jews?) displayed their faith in God by getting baptized. Any conjecture on why John seemed to come up with this idea at a time when it doesn't mean what it means today?

Answer

No need for conjecture, there is enough in Scripture. There are several answers, and all are important.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight . and all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luke 3:4-6).

First, God choose John to introduce something entirely new and different from the nation-centered dispensation of the Old Testament era. "The kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). John was sent to bear advance witness of a once-for-all-time revelation of the Light which lights every man who enters this world (John 1:3-9). Second, his water immersion was intended to prepare for a spiritual immersion to follow shortly (John 1:25-27): "I immerse with water, but...the same is He who immerses with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26, 33).

It is important to emphasize that God called and sent John to proclaim the greater work about to be revealed. His ministry had been predicted in the OT: "As it is written in the prophets, Behold I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight" (Mark 1:2-3, Mal 3:1, Isa 40:3). Thus, John immersed in the wilderness and preached the immersion of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3).

Judaism had known ceremonial sprinklings and some forms of soaking and self-immersion, but prior to John there is no record of an immerser. Repentance was an inner thing. Immersion was an individual's outward declaration of an inner change. Immersion gave a vague picture of drowning, of death, and as well of a coming forth to a changed life. The meaning of the symbolism was perhaps not clear until after the death and resurrection of Jesus. God chose the mode, not John. God used it as a picture which became more clear after what it portrayed became history.

baptism was not new. the Israelites wilderness wanderings had two instances of "baptism". the death, burial, and resurrection could be seen by the dead Egyptians on the shore of the first while the "baptized" sang a song of deliverance. the Israelites were looking for "The Prophet like Moses" so they could obey Him.

Give to the wise and they will be wiser. Instruct the righteous and they will increase their learning. Proverbs 9:9

Alex K.'s picture

to clarify my previous post: the main reason why the Red Sea crossing and Jordan crossing showed death, burial, and resurrection was probably the depth of the water as an illustration. the dead Egyptians sort of showed the natural consequences.

Give to the wise and they will be wiser. Instruct the righteous and they will increase their learning. Proverbs 9:9

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Alex K. wrote:
to clarify my previous post: the main reason why the Red Sea crossing and Jordan crossing showed death, burial, and resurrection was probably the depth of the water as an illustration. the dead Egyptians sort of showed the natural consequences.

The post comments on that here..
Vanhetloo wrote:
Judaism had known ceremonial sprinklings and some forms of soaking and self-immersion, but prior to John there is no record of an immerser.

I had actually not heard this before and it's an interesting idea. I've always viewed John's baptism as having overlapping but not identical significance to Christian baptism. Some of the differences are pretty obvious. In John's day there is no church to identify with and initially no Jesus to identify with either.
I think we neglect the cleansing idea that is pictured in baptism as well.... perhaps because we are overreacting a bit to errors that identify cleansing in the act. I'm inclined to think that John's baptism especially would have been understood as representative of cleansing more than of anything else.

Alex K.'s picture

hi Aaron,

the problem i have with the cleansing aspect is that the sacrificial system already provided cleansing.

innovation was never prescribed either in God's call to the Jews: "return to the Lord" Dr. Van says it was something new, this baptism.

let me give you my source for this idea since he will present it better than i ever could: Rikk E. Watts in "Mark", Commentary on the New Testament Use in the Old Testament (Beale & Carson editors)

Give to the wise and they will be wiser. Instruct the righteous and they will increase their learning. Proverbs 9:9

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer ][quote=Alex K. wrote:
I've always viewed John's baptism as having overlapping but not identical significance to Christian baptism.

I agree with you that they could be said to be "overlapping. Both were baptisms "of repentance for the remission of sins." Let us look at Peter's words in regard to this baptism:

"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 Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The baptism which Peter preached on the day of Pentecost had an added element than the one the Baptist preached--those who submitted to the rite of water baptism received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The words "gift of the Holy Spirit" refer to a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit:

" Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit...For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues" (1 Cor.12:4,8-10).

Quote:
I think we neglect the cleansing idea that is pictured in baptism as well.... perhaps because we are overreacting a bit to errors that identify cleansing in the act. I'm inclined to think that John's baptism especially would have been understood as representative of cleansing more than of anything else.

I agree with you. Let us look at Peter's words on the day of Pentecost again:

"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 Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The Greek word translated "remission" means "to send off or away." This is its fundamental meaning--to separate the sin from the sinner.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack,

The remission of sins here is not tied to the baptism but to the repentance. If the baptism is providing remission in any way, you end up with baptismal regeneration.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
The remission of sins here is not tied to the baptism but to the repentance. If the baptism is providing remission in any way, you end up with baptismal regeneration.

Chip, the remission of sins of which Peter made reference was in regard to "fellowship" with the Lord and not to "salvation." Submission to baptism served the same purpose as did the various offerings under the Law. Philip W. Grossman writes:

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly that 'the law of animal sacrifices,' in the words of Dr. Chafer, 'was the divinely appointed means for a Jew in the Old Testament—one who was already in a covenant relation with God—to be restored to a fellowship which had been broken by sin.' In other words, these ceremonial sacrifices performed by the priests teach what we may call restoration truth, not salvation truth. Just as 1 Jn. 1:9 does not teach salvation but tells how a saved person, a Christian whose fellowship with God has been interrupted by sin, may have that fellowship restored by confessing, so also the Jew who was one of God's own could be brought back to the place of fellowship, after he had wandered away, and that by bringing the appropriate sacrifice. Thus while we can see today that the blood of bulls and goats was a figure of the blood of Jesus Christ which is able to 'cleanse us from all unrighteousness,' the ministries of the priest had a present purpose for the Jew other than that as serving as a figure of the saving work of Christ" [emphasis added ] (Grossman, "Jewish Anticipation of the Cross," Bibliotheca Sacra, [July 1949, Vol. 106, #423 ], 367-368).

Let us look at Peter's words in the context:

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 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 Spirit" (Acts 2:36-38).

Peter used the facts of the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in order to prove that Jesus is Israel's promised Messiah (Acts 2: 23-35). And then he summed up his argument by saying:

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2: 36).

Those who believed these facts concerning the identity of Jesus were born of God before a drop of water even touched them:

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God...Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 Jn. 5:1,5).

The purpose of water baptism was in regard to fellowship and service, not salvation. The Baptist said that his mission was to "make ready a people prepared for ther Lord" (Lk.1:17). If the Jews were to serve the Lord then they must first be cleansed from the defilement which was caused by their sins:

"The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life" (Lk.1:73-75).

In the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society David R. Anderson writes:

"We are suggesting that John the Baptist, Jesus, and Peter had dual ministries. One was to call the nation of Israel back into fellowship with Yahweh. The covenant relationship had long since been established. The nation of Israel did not need a new relationship with God. But they were sorely lacking in fellowship...John the Baptist, Jesus, and Peter were all trying to persuade Israel to repentance and turning that would bring them back to a refreshing fellowship with God...Now as a nation they needed to repent and turn (Acts 3:19) in order to have fellowship with God" [emphasis added ] (Anderson, "The National Repentance of Israel", Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1998, Volume 11:21).

It is a mistake to assume that the "remission of sins" of which Peter spoke was in regard to "salvation" and not "fellowship" and "service."

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack - you seem to be taking both sides of the argument. First you wrote:

Quote:
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 Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The Greek word translated "remission" means "to send off or away." This is its fundamental meaning--to separate the sin from the sinner.

Then you wrote:

Quote:
It is a mistake to assume that the "remission of sins" of which Peter spoke was in regard to "salvation" and not "fellowship" and "service."

So is it to send away or draw near. What do you see the baptism doing here?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
So is it to send away or draw near. What do you see the baptism doing here?

Chip, I have already said that it was to send away sins. The result of that cleansing from sin is to restore fellowship with the Lord. Let me ask you a question. Do you believe that on the day of Pentecost that those who believed what Peter preached were "born of God" the moment that they believed? If your answer is "yes" then you know that the "remission of sins" that was commected with baptism was not in regard to salvation. Instead, it was in regard to the following aspect of the taking away of sins, a taking away of sins for those who are already saved:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn.1:9).

Again. this speaks of a remission of sins for those who are already saved. Philip Gross man said that "1 Jn. 1:9 does not teach salvation but tells how a saved person, a Christian whose fellowship with God has been interrupted by sin, may have that fellowship restored by confessing."

Peter's words in regard to baptism were directed to those who had already been born of God. However, they had had their fellowship with the Lord interrupted by sin and by submitting to the rite they were confessing that they were in need of being cleansed of their sins. The following is describing events of those who were baptized by John the Baptist:

"Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Mt.3:5-6).

The Baptist was sent to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk.1:17). If the people were going to serve the Lord in "holiness and righteousness" it was necessary that they be cleansed from the defilement which their sins caused. Therefore the baptism was for that very purpose--for the remission of sins.

Chip, do you think that those who were baptized with water at Acts 2:41 were "born of God" and saved before they were baptized?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Just to be clear, when I said the cleansing idea is neglected I did mean that there is any cleansing actually going on when a baptism occurs. Not now and not in John's day. It's always been about symbolism.
There is no need for complex theories that give baptism some kind of efficacy that is not saving but yet somehow restoring.

Chip... thanks for debating Jack on this. Care to continue? I don't have time right now.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Quote:
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 Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

My original point was that the remission is tied to the repentance (salvation) not to the baptism. Everywhere in Scripture, remission of sins is tied to repentance (salvation). Nowhere in Scripture is the church's ordinance of baptism tied to anything other than symbolism. This is borne out here by the word usage.

The word "for" can mean "in order to" as in the sentence: "I got a ticket for the ball game." Here, "for" means the ticket was acquired in order to attend the ball game.

However, the word "for" can also mean "because of" as in the sentence: "I got a ticket for speeding." Here, "for" means the ticket was received as a result of the preceding event.

In Acts 2:38, the grammar could allow either usage of the word "for". However, only one usage is compatible with the rest Scripture. With the second meaning in mind, Peter was saying: "Repent, and [then ] be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ [because of ] the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).

The Baptism is a result of the remission, having no part in the remission.

The same grammar follows for the final phrase. The Holy Spirit is received as a result of repentance, not baptism. Everything in the verse- baptism, remission, receiving the Spirit - comes as a result of the repentance.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I appreciate your explanation, Bro. Emmerick. Sometimes I bookmark posts like this to read to my kids during Bible class- ya'll'd probably be surprised by how helpful this site is and how it is used. Smile

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
My original point was that the remission is tied to the repentance (salvation) not to the baptism. Everywhere in Scripture, remission of sins is tied to repentance (salvation). Nowhere in Scripture is the church's ordinance of baptism tied to anything other than symbolism. This is borne out here by the word usage.

Chip, in regard to Peter's words at Acts 2:38 what translation of the Bible can you quote that supports you idea?

Besides that, you failed to answer my question. Perhaps this time you will not ignore what I asked. Here is the question again:

"Do you believe that on the day of Pentecost that those who believed what Peter preached were "born of God" the moment that they believed?"

Before a sinner could be baptized he first had to "believe," as witnessed by the following exchange between Philip and the Ethiopian treasurer:

"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:36-37).

The eunuch believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing that resulted in salvation for him just like it does today. The Apostle John wrote:

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn.20:30-31).

I believe that those who believed what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost were "born of God" the very second that they believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God:

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him...whosoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 Jn.5:1,4,5).

Now I will ask you to answer my question.

Thanks!

Alex K.'s picture

though i had this quibble on John's Baptism with Dr. Van, i have always admired his scholarship and exposition.

promotion to glory-Hallelujah

Give to the wise and they will be wiser. Instruct the righteous and they will increase their learning. Proverbs 9:9

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'll bat for Chip a little here... he didn't ask, so he might correct me but....

Jack Hampton wrote:
Chip, in regard to Peter's words at Acts 2:38 what translation of the Bible can you quote that supports you idea?

A better question would be whether he's right about the grammatical possibilities and likelihoods. Translators can have a bunch of reasons for choosing a particular option where a preposition is ambiguous... especially if a bunch of them are, say, Anglican (the translators, that is--not the prepositions)

JH wrote:
Here is the question again:
"Do you believe that on the day of Pentecost that those who believed what Peter preached were "born of God" the moment that they believed?"

Before a sinner could be baptized he first had to "believe," ...
The eunuch ...
I believe that those who believed what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost were "born of God" the very second that they believed...

I don't think any of this is in dispute. I'm pretty sure Chip's answer would be yes, they first had to believe. He's already made that pretty clear, since the view that baptism is undertaken as a result of remission of sins would pretty much require this.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

1. Any translation that uses the word "for" in Acts 2:38

2. You were the one changing the subject, leaving the verse under discussion and turning to new passages. However, the answer to your secondary question:

Quote:
"Do you believe that on the day of Pentecost that those who believed what Peter preached were "born of God" the moment that they believed?"

Yes - not that it has anything to do with your assertion that baptism in some way cleanses or restores fellowship between God and man.

This has nothing to do with Acts 2:38 - the discussion we were having before you jumped elsewhere. The remission is not tied to baptism, nor is it tied to baptism anywhere else in Scripture. The remission of sin is solely tied to the repentance. Baptism is commanded as a result of the repentance.

To the main point of the discussion: the NT ordinance of baptism does nothing to wash away sin or restore fellowship between sinful man and God - it has no cleansing power whatsoever. It is purely a symbolic act of obedience.

Furthermore, baptism does not correlate to OT sacrifice. Rather, Christ, the perfect substitutionary sacrifice correlates to the OT sacrifice. The reason it was repeated in the OT was because it was insufficient to provide true "remission of sins." All that was received was an atonement, a temporary postponement of judgement in faithful expectation of a true substitutionary sacrifice yet to come.

There are several other secondary issues in your statements I do not have time to deal with now. But this is the crux of the discussion.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
[The word "for" can mean "in order to" as in the sentence: "I got a ticket for the ball game." Here, "for" means the ticket was acquired in order to attend the ball game.

However, the word "for" can also mean "because of" as in the sentence: "I got a ticket for speeding." Here, "for" means the ticket was received as a result of the preceding event.


That might be the case in the English usage of the word "for." But let us look at the Greek:

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (eis) the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38);

The primary meaning of eis is "into, unto, to, towards, for, among" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

There is no meaning given for that word which is "because" or "as a result of." As a matter of fact, in the KJV that word is translated more than fifteen hundred times and it is never translated as "because" or "as a result of."

If Acts 2:38 is saying "be baptized...because of the remission of sins" then another Greek word would have been used:

"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because (epei) thou desiredst me" (Mt.18:32).

"And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because (epei) it is the price of blood" (Mt.27:6).

The primary meaning of the Greek word epei is "of cause: since, seeing that, because" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

So if we take the normal understanding of the verse in question then there is only one meaning--those who submitted to the baptism which Peter preached received a remission of sins as a result of that submission. And since those who believed had their sins taken away at the very moment when they believed (Acts 10:43) the "remission of sins" that came as a result of this submission was not in regard to salvation.

You have not provided even one translation of Acts 2:38 which supoorts your interpretation.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

As you do so frequently, you simply disagree and disregard anything you do not like Jack.

Quote:
There is no meaning given for that word which is "because" or "as a result of." As a matter of fact, in the KJV that word is translated more than fifteen hundred times and it is never translated as "because" or "as a result of."

By your own definition, eis can mean "for" - which is the KJV translation of eis 140 times! As I have already written, the English word "for" can mean "because of" or "in order to." You simply repeat and support EXACTLY what I said! The translators did not need to translate eis as "because of" since they accurately conveyed that very thought by using the word "for."

Your explanation of the passage is diametrically opposed to the normal understanding of the passage in every way. You fly in the face of grammar, context and everything Scripture says about baptism in order to try to make your convoluted reasoning stand up.

What you are proposing, baptismal washing, is so far removed from orthodox Christianity as to approach rank heresy.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
By your own definition, eis can mean "for" - which is the KJV translation of eis 140 times! As I have already written, the English word "for" can mean "because of" or "in order to." You simply repeat and support EXACTLY what I said! The translators did not need to translate eis as "because of" since they accurately conveyed that very thought by using the word "for."

Here is the primary meaning given for the Greek word eis:

"A Prep. governing the Accusative and denoting entrance into, or direction and limit: into, to, towards, for, among" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

The meaning of the word "for" is limited to the sense where it denotes "entrance into, or direction and limit." The word "for" in this sense cannot and does not mean "because" or "as a result of."

We can see it used that way here:

"I indeed baptize you with water unto (eis) repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Mt.3:11).

Here it is impossible that the translators were conveying the idea that John was baptizing "because" of repentance because there is no way that the word "unto" means "because." I cannot find even one translation that says "baptize you with water because of repentance."

That completely eliminates the idea that the word eis in this instance can mean "because" or "as a result of." If that was one of the meanings of eis then that meaning would be given. But it is not.

Quote:
Your explanation of the passage is diametrically opposed to the normal understanding of the passage in every way. You fly in the face of grammar, context and everything Scripture says about baptism in order to try to make your convoluted reasoning stand up.

It is your idea that is opposed to the normal understanding of the Greek word eis. It is you who is using convoluted reasoning in your attempt to make the Greek word eis mean something that it does not mean.
Quote:
What you are proposing, baptismal washing, is so far removed from orthodox Christianity as to approach rank heresy.

Please get you facts straight. I am not saying anything about baptismal washing. I am saying that those who submitted to the rite of water baptism had their sins taken away. The water was symbolic.

Today the Christian receives the remission of sins when he confesses to his sin:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn.1:9).

Those who submitted to the rite of water baptism also confessed their sins and received the remission of sins:

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins" (Mk.1:4-5).

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack, let me see if I can simplify it enough for you to follow what I am saying. Still dealing with the NT ordinance of baptism in Acts 2:38. Lets try and stay focused on one passage (and one activity) at a time.

eis = for (one of many possible translations which will vary from context to context)

for = because of (one of multiple possible meanings which will vary from context to context)

Despite writing the words yourself, you still will not admit the grammatical possibility that eis can mean for and for often means because of. Instead you confuse the matter by reaching back to John the Baptist, certainly not practicing the same NT ordinance found in Acts 22:38.

Now you are even beginning to contradict yourself.

Post 12

Quote:
Chip Van Emmerik wrote: What do you see the baptism doing here?

Jack Hampton wrote: Chip, I have already said that it was to send away sins.

Post 23

Quote:
Jack Hampton wrote: Please get you facts straight. I am not saying anything about baptismal washing. I am saying that those who submitted to the rite of water baptism had their sins taken away. The water was symbolic.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Jack, let me see if I can simplify it enough for you to follow what I am saying. Still dealing with the NT ordinance of baptism in Acts 2:38. Lets try and stay focused on one passage (and one activity) at a time.

eis = for (one of many possible translations which will vary from context to context)


Chip, you have made it too simple and you have missed the whole point. I will repeat what I said and this time perhaps you can grasp what the Greek experts say:

Here is the primary meaning given for the Greek word eis:

"A Prep. governing the Accusative and denoting entrance into, or direction and limit: into, to, towards, for, among" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

The meaning of the word "for" is limited to the sense where it denotes "entrance into, or direction and limit." The word "for" in this sense cannot and does not mean "because" or "as a result of."

Despite this your whole interpretation of Acts 2:38 depends on you being able to give the Greek word eis a meaning that goes way beyond its actual meaning. But you do not seem to care. You are determined to put a meaning on it that is not in accordance with what the experts in the Greek language say.

Also, from what you are saying you must not believe that the baptism which John preached had anything to do with the one Peter preached--despite the fact that they were both baptisms in regard to "repentance" and they were both in regard to "the remission of sins." By denying that the were similiar baptisms you do not have to deal with the language in the following verse:

"I indeed baptize you with water unto (eis) repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Mt.3:11).

Here it is impossible that the translators were conveying the idea that John was baptizing "because" of repentance because there is no way that the word "unto" means "because." I cannot find even one translation that says "baptize you with water because of repentance."

But for you the baptism which John preached was totally unrelated to the one which Peter preached despite the fact that they were both related to "repentance" and they were both related to "the remission of sins."

Do you believe that the "remission of sins" which John preached were in regard to "salvation"? If your answer is "yes" then tell me what those who were baptized had a change of mind (repent) about that brought them salvation?

And how are we to understand the following words?:

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mt.1:4).

Are we to understand that it is saying that:

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach baptism because of repentance for the remission of sins."

or

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance because of the remission of sins."

I say that the baptism of John was the same baptism which Peter preached except Peter's had an added element. Those who were baptized with water received a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Quote:
Jack Hampton wrote: I say that the baptism of John was the same baptism which Peter preached except Peter's had an added element. Those who were baptized with water received a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit.

You continue to contradict yourself, Jack. Now you are saying they are both the same, except that they are different.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
You continue to contradict yourself, Jack. Now you are saying they are both the same, except that they are different.

I said that they were the same baptism EXCEPT there was an added element.

But of course you do not want to deal with John's baptism. And it is not difficult to understand why. I will repeat what I said earlier and this time perhaps you will actually deal with what is said:

Despite this your whole interpretation of Acts 2:38 depends on you being able to give the Greek word eis a meaning that goes way beyond its actual meaning. But you do not seem to care. You are determined to put a meaning on it that is not in accordance with what the experts in the Greek language say.

Also, from what you are saying you must not believe that the baptism which John preached had anything to do with the one Peter preached--despite the fact that they were both baptisms in regard to "repentance" and they were both in regard to "the remission of sins." By denying that the were similiar baptisms you do not have to deal with the language in the following verse:

"I indeed baptize you with water unto (eis) repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Mt.3:11).

Here it is impossible that the translators were conveying the idea that John was baptizing "because" of repentance because there is no way that the word "unto" means "because." I cannot find even one translation that says "baptize you with water because of repentance."

But for you the baptism which John preached was totally unrelated to the one which Peter preached despite the fact that they were both related to "repentance" and they were both related to "the remission of sins."

Do you believe that the "remission of sins" which John preached were in regard to "salvation"? If your answer is "yes" then tell me what those who were baptized had a change of mind (repent) about that brought them salvation?

And how are we to understand the following words?:

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mt.1:4).

Are we to understand that it is saying that:

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach baptism because of repentance for the remission of sins."

or

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance because of the remission of sins."

I say that the baptism of John was the same baptism which Peter preached except Peter's had an added element. Those who were baptized with water received a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit.
.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I've always viewed John's baptism as having overlapping but not identical significance to Christian baptism. Some of the differences are pretty obvious. In John's day there is no church to identify with and initially no Jesus to identify with either.

I agree that the the baptism of John and the baptism which Peter spoke of were overlapping.

Let us look at John's baptism:

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mt.1:4).

Do you berlieve that the "repentance" referred to in this verse speaks of "a change of mind" in regard to something that brought salvation? If your answer is "yes" then please tell me what it was that they had a change of mind about.

Had all those who went out to John in the wildernees of Judea already experienced a change of mind that brought salvation before they were baptized?:

"Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Mt.3:5-6).

Thanks!

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack, you continue to say they are the same except where they are different.

Furthermore, you are dealing with different dispensations. I could sacrifice a lamb today, but it would not mean the same thing it did in the OT. John's Baptism, whatever it was (not discussing that point right now) was not Peter's baptism.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack, the following documentation is found at http://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-Acts-2-38.html

[iWhile both the meanings of the Greek word eis are seen in different passages of Scripture, such noted Greek scholars as A.T. Robertson and J.R. Mantey have maintained that the Greek preposition eis in Acts 2:38 should be translated “because of” or “in view of,” and not “in order to,” or “for the purpose of.”

One example of how this preposition is used in other Scriptures is seen in Matthew 12:41 where the word eis communicates the “result” of an action. In this case it is said that the people of Nineveh “repented at the preaching of Jonah” (the word translated “at” is the same Greek word eis).

In addition to Acts 2:38, there are three other verses where the Greek word eis is used in conjunction with the word “baptize” or “baptism.” The first of these is Matthew 3:11, “baptize you with water for repentance.” Clearly the Greek word eis cannot mean “in order to get” in this passage. They were not baptized “in order to get repentance,” but were “baptized because they had repented.” The second passage is Romans 6:3 where we have the phrase “baptized into (eis) His death.” This again fits with the meaning “because of” or in "regard to." The third and final passage is 1 Corinthians 10:2 and the phrase “baptized into (eis) Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” Again, eis cannot mean “in order to get” in this passage because the Israelites were not baptized in order to get Moses to be their leader, but because he was their leader and had led them out of Egypt. If one is consistent with the way the preposition eis is used in conjunction with baptism, we must conclude that Acts 2:38 is indeed referring to their being baptized “because” they had received forgiveness of their sins. Some other verses where the Greek preposition eis does not mean “in order to obtain” are Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 19:3; 1 Corinthians 1:15; and 12:13.

The grammatical evidence surrounding this verse and the preposition eis are clear that while both views on this verse are well within the context and the range of possible meanings of the passage, the majority of the evidence is in favor that the best possible definition of the word “for” in this context is either “because of” or “in regard to” and not “in order to get.”

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack, you can read more on this here http://www.biblefood.com/eis.html

Thayer's Greek Lexicon does not list the specific meaning "because of" for "eis". Just because we do not find something in a Greek Lexicon cannot be considered "proof" that a meaning does not exist. As noted above, the Thayer's Lexicon missed the meaning "because of" in Matt 3:11, 12:41, and Rom 4:20, as well as Acts 2:38.

Kenneth Wuest notes that:

a. The work of Dana & Mantey in the Greek papyri find the use of "eis" as "because of", and demonstrate this usage in the N.T. examples also of Matt 12:41, where the men of Ninevah repented at (eis = because of) the preaching of Jonah, and Rom 4:20, where Abraham did not staggar at (eis = because of) the promise of God.

b. That "because of" is the correct translation of "eis" in the context of baptism and Acts 2:38 is demonstrated by Matt 3:11, where John said "I indeed baptize you with water unto (eis = because of) repentance". John himself, in Matt 3:7&8 told the unbelieving Pharisees and Sadducees that came to see his baptism, that they needed to produce works that demonstrated repentance. He did not tell them that his baptism would produce repentance. Repentance first, then baptism.

c. Add to this the testimony of the Jewish historian Josephus, who lived during the time of Christ and wrote about what he saw. Josephus wrote in his book "Antiquities of the Jews", in Book XVIII, chapter V, paragraph 2, that John only baptized men AFTER they had repented: John "commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water ] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away, [or the remission ] of some sins [only ], but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness".

2. What did the King James Version translators intend "for the remission of sins" to mean, when they translated Acts 2:38? The W.W. Skeat Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1879, only lists ONE definition of the English word "for", and that is "in place of". Skeat, being a dictionary of the English language of the middle 1800's, is very close to the language of William Shakespeare and the King James translators. So, even the King James translators apparently intended to translate the Greek word "eis" with the meaning "in the place of", meaning that baptism is a visible picture of the forgiveness of sins that God had already granted. The problem sometimes is that we are trying to understand language written many years ago using our MODERN understanding of the English language! Our modern dictionaries now list as many as 21 different meanings for the English word "for"!

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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