RE: baptism and forgiveness with EIS--Ac

Anthony Lawson (
Wed, 29 May 1996 09:18:56 -0400

On May 28, 1996 Don Partain 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_?

My problem with what you have said is that you are attempting to justify
a doctrine based upon the possible translation of a preposition. This is
very shaky ground to build it upon. Actually, EIS is probably better
understood as "in reference to" or "in regards to", as a pointer to
salvation without necessarily indicating "in order to" or even "because
of". But in order to prove your case you would need to build a theology
of baptism which would clearly demonstrate that baptism is a precondition
to salvation. This would be best addressed on the Theology list.

Understanding that this isn't the theology list, but when you attempt to
justify your doctrine of baptism, keep in mind that the book of Acts is a
record of transition, thus not everything that is said or occurs in it is
normative. You claim that Acts 2:38 teaches that baptism precedes
salvation, but a few chapters away we have a record where baptism was
AFTER the reception of the Holy Spirit, note Acts 10:45-48 (KJV):

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many
as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the
gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then
answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which
have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then
prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Also, note 1 Cor. 1:13-17 (KJV), where Paul distinguishes baptism and the

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in
the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not
whether I baptized any other.
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not
with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none

My apologies to the list for theologizing on b-greek, but I think the
case in point illustrates how ones theology can affect ones translation.

Anthony Lawson