Re: Acts 2:38

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Mon Oct 13 1997 - 15:36:01 EDT

On Mon, 13 Oct 1997 13:08:11 +0400 (Carlton
Winbery) writes:
>Paul Dixon wrote;
>>At least in my thinking, there is a technical difference between
>>"must" and "should." The former seems to imply that if you don't obey
>>imperative, then the stated results will not happen. As related to
>>the discussion in Acts 2:38 and BAPTISQHTW, if we opt for "must be
>>baptized," then if one is not baptized, then his sins are not forgiven
and/or he
>>does not receive the Holy Spirit. If this is the force of the
>>imperative, then so be it. But, I don't think such can be derived
>>from it. Is this what some are trying to suggest?
>In English, yes, there is a difference in suggested implications. My
>thought in using those two English words was that there is likely a
>strong sense of "oughtness" in the imperative even in 3rd person and not
>permission. Hence, I get the impression that baptism is not just an
>option here. (Of course, the decision that leads to it is a voluntary

Yes, I agree there is a strong sense of "oughtness" here. Yet, if there
is a difference in the suggested implications of the English "must" and
"should," as you seem to appreciate, and if both terms carry the
"oughtness" concept, then "should" seems not only adequate, but safe.
Associated with its usage is not the implication associated with the use
of "must," to wit, that if the imperative is not heeded, then the results
do not follow (sorry for the somewhat awkward way of stating this, but I
can't think of a better way).

I think this is an important point, for obvious reasons (for most,
perhaps not for all). I honestly would like to know what the basis is
for thinking that if BAPTISQHTW is not heeded, then some or none of the
results will follow, which is implied by the "must" rendering. We are
not getting this from the 3rd person imperative, are we? If so, I would
appreciate a clearer defense of that. Are we getting it from the
context? If so, how? The question being asked is, TI POIHSWMEN, not TI
DEI ... (as in Acts 16:31). Is it because of the unique situation at
hand whereby we are compelled to deduce that unless these Israelites made
a clean break with Judaism and submitted to baptism, then they could not
be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit? If so, where do we get this?
Also, what then do we do with Mark 16:16 (assuming, for the sake of
argument, the long ending of Mark) where we have a similar thought and
where the negation for belief is affirmed, but not the negation for
baptism (16:16b)?

It seems that if Peter had meant to communicate that baptism was a "must"
or a requirement, then he could easily have communicated that by saying
something like DEI, or by affirming the negation, as in Mk 16:16. That
would have settled it categorically.

Thanks for your response. I hope we can pursue this.

Paul Dixon


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