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

Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Tue, 28 May 1996 23:48:04 -0700 (PDT)

In order to prove your point that baptism is required for the forgiveness
of sins you must show Scripture that affirms the negation, that if a man
is not baptized, then his sins are not forgiven. An if and only if
statement (as you say is found in Acts 2:38) is made up of both the
conditional (If A and B, then C) and its negation (If not A and B, then
not C, which in Acts 2:38 converts into "If A and not B, then not C").
But, Acts 2:38 does not affirm the negation. Therefore, a bi-conditional
thought does not exist there. This logic can not be denied.

Mark 16:16 is an interesting parallel. There the conditional is "if one
believes and is baptized, then he shall be saved." The negation of
belief is affirmed in the second half of the verse, "he who believes not
is condemned already." According to your logic the second half of the
verse is superfluous. But it is not. With it a biconditional concept is
formed: if and only if a man believes then he shall be saved. The
negation of baptism, however, is not stated here, nor elsewhere.

The requirement of baptism for forgiveness can not stand the test. It
can not be demonstrated. Rather, plenty of verses affirm that on the
simple condition of faith, then salvation results. The thief on the
cross was certainly assured of his salvation but certainly did not
receive baptism.

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

On Tue, 28 May 1996 wrote:

> Paul S. Dixon wrote:
> 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.
> Don Partain replies:
> So, according to your logic, when the Jews cried out, "Brethren, what shall
> we do?" (to be forgiven of our sins, Acts 2:37), Peter, in effect stated,
> "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ--or, if you would rather
> not, you can still be forgiven by doing something else." And Acts 3:19
> ("Repent and return, that your sins may be wiped away") actually means, "Or,
> on the other hand, you do not really need to repent and return--there are
> other options for having your sins wiped away."
> The fallacy with such treatment of Acts 2:38 is that it attempts to convert a
> command into an "if-then" statement, when, in reality the command converts
> into an "if and only if" statement. In other words, "repent and be baptized"
> in terms of a conditional statement would be "if and only if you repent and
> are baptized, you are forgiven." Peter was not simply stating two
> possibilities or options among many that would appropriate forgiveness of
> sins to us. Rather, he was stating two necessary conditions for forgiveness.
> And, the context is clear that these Jews understood that both repentance
> and baptism were indeed necessary: 3,000 of them were baptized that very
> day--and as they were, they were being saved (vss.40,41,47). This also
> explains the urgency in other cases of conversion: the Ethiopian eunuch's
> being baptized immediately after Philip "preached Jesus" to him (Acts
> 8:35,36); and the Philippian jailer's being baptized "immediately" (even
> though it was midnight) after submitting to the gospel. Clearly, they did
> not regard either repentance or baptism as mere options.
> Nor dare we.
> Don Partain
> 1316 Murray
> Missoula, MT 59802