Re: baptism and forgiveness with EIS--Acts 2:38 context

Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Tue, 28 May 1996 13:50:47 -0700 (PDT)

The problem with most interpretations of Acts 2:38 is a logical one. The
conditional thought behind the verse is simply this:
If you repent and are baptized, then your sins will be forgiven.

It is invalid to deduce the negation, that is, "if you repent and are not
baptized, then your sins will not be forgiven." That simply does not
follow logically. Technically, "If A and B, then C" means simply on the
condition of both A and B, then C follows. It does not imply "if not (A
and B), then not C." This is the negation. One of the ways the negation
exists here is, "if A and not B, then not C." This is the form of Acts
2:38. We do not have to resort to fancy exegetical gymnastics in order
to show baptism is not required. It is not, because logic forbids it
here. Baptism would be required only if such a statement as "if a man
is not baptized, then his sins are not forgiven" can be found.
Fortunately, none can be found in Scripture.

On the contrary, the negation for belief and/or repentance is found in
numerous passages (Jn 8:24, Mk 16:16b).

Let us not abuse the logic of the conditional thoughts in Scripture.

Dr. Paul S. Dixon, Pastor
Ladd Hill Bible Church
Wilsonville, Oregon

On Tue, 28 May 1996 wrote:

> The context of Acts 2:38 points to "in order to obtain the forgiveness of
> sins" as the meaning of EIS APHESIN hAMARTIWN. Facing thousands of Jews who,
> only recently, had cried out for Jesus to be crucified, Peter proclaimed that
> God had sent to them Jesus of Nazareth and had shown Him to be the Son of God
> through miraculous powers. Yet, they had "by the hands of godless men, put
> Him to death." But, according to prophecy, the Father had then raised Jesus
> from the dead and then seated Him at the Father's right hand. Thus, the Jews
> were to understand that the very Jesus they had sinned against by crucifying
> Him had been made both Lord and Christ.
> "Pierced to the heart," the Jews then responded by crying out, "Brethren,
> what shall we do?" Thus, these Jews realized the sins they had committed,
> and they now wanted to know...what? What to do now that they were already
> forgiven? Or, aren't they wanting to know what to do in order to be
> forgiven? If eis aphesin hamartiwn means "because you have already been
> forgiven," then these Jews were already in a forgiven state--even as they
> cried out, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
> In other words, in Acts 2:38, is Peter telling _already-forgiven_ people what
> to do now that they have been forgiven? Or, isn't he instead--in answer to
> their question--telling them they need to repent and be baptized in the name
> of Jesus Christ _in order to be forgiven_?
> Don Partain
> 1316 Murray
> Missoula, MT 59802