Re: Acts 2:38

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Fri Oct 10 1997 - 01:55:44 EDT

On Thu, 9 Oct 1997 20:00:50 +0400 Carlton Winbery
<> writes:
>Dale Wheeler wrote;

>> I think that you will find that many of the modern translations have
>>started to go to "must", or "should" for this impvs, which seems to
>>work for me (I'd be interested to know how Carl, Edward, Edgar, and
>>Carlton "feel" about this). So in this case you would have:
>>[further ?] said, 'Each of you must be baptized--...'"
>James Brooks and I contend in the _Syntax of NT Greek_ p. 129, "It
>must not be thought that every imperative in the third person is an
>of permission because the word "let" or "permit" is usually used in the
>translation. These words are used because of the necessity of
>employing a periphrastic translation for something which has no direct
>equivalent, not because of the idea of permission in the use of the
>We then cite the eg. of James 1:19, "you should be quick to hear and . .
>I do not think that Luke intended to imply that baptism was an option
>for Peter.

Well put. Furthermore, it does seem the third person imperative
BAPTISQHTW must be taken in parallel with the second person imperative
METANOHSATE, the only reason for the third person change being that
baptism is not normally something one does to himself, but is done by a
third party. How else could Peter have commanded them to get baptized?

I like your carefully worded, "I do not think that Luke intended to
imply that baptism was an option." But, an option for what?
Technically, forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (EIS
AFESIN ...PNEUMATOS) could be caused by any one of the following three:
1) repentance, 2) baptism, or 3) repentance and baptism. Most people
automatically assume #3, but it does not follow.

Elsewhere In the same book we have a similar question asked, and a very
different answer given. In Acts 16:30 the Philippian jailor asks, "What
must (DEI) I do to be saved?" Paul's answer is, "PISTEUSON EPI TON
KUPION IHSOUN KAI SWQHSHi SU." In a direct answer to a question about
what must be done in order to be saved, Paul says nothing about baptism.
Rather, the command to believe on the Lord Jesus may be synonymous with
the command to repent, since saving belief always includes repentance,
and conversely, genuine repentance implies saving faith.

While Peter may not have intended to imply that baptism was an option (in
2:38), it may be it was not an option for them according to the question
they asked, TI POIHSWMEN? The answer very well may be, repent (which
brings forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit), and get baptized.


Paul Dixon

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