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

Date: Tue May 28 1996 - 19:47:18 EDT

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

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