The truth about water baptism.
It is most commonly believed by the vast majority of Christians today that it is a requirement for all Christians.to be water baptised. There are however those that further claim that it is not just required it is actually necessary for salvation.
The verse most often used as proof of this is Acts 2-38.
Acts 2-38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Peter most certainly did preach water baptism for the remission of sins, in order to receive the holy spirit.
But does this verse actually prove that water baptism is required. On face value, this verse most certainly does seem to state this. We know that 3,000 people did indeed get baptised the day that Peter preached those very words.
Acts 2-41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
But is there actually more to water baptism than what Acts 2-38 would seem to state. Does this verse actually teach that water baptism is essential or actually even required when not taken on its own, when it is put back into context and some understanding is applied to it….along with the rest of the Bible.
In order to correctly understand this water baptism we first need to understand a little about Jewish culture and Jewish law.
Unlike what some do think, John did not start water “baptism”.
Cleansing with water was not actually a new practice brought about by John. Water baptism or rather immersion in water had long been part of the customs of the Jewish people. In fact it was included as part of the law of Moses.
Ritual cleansing was a part of being a priest under the law. The priests had to wash their hands and their feet before entering into the tabernacle, as stated in the book of Exodus.
Exodus 30-17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 18Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also ofbrass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. 19For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: 20When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: 21So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations
Cleansing with water was also required as part of the law when a person had become unclean. A person could become unclean for many different reasons such as touching a dead body or after a woman had had her menstrual cycle, just a couple of examples. Those people would then be unclean and would require being cleansed in water. Unlike Christian baptism, which is performed just once, The Jews would regularly, for the many reasons stated in the law, cleanse themselves with water.
The Jewish people would cleanse themselves in a “mikveh”.
According to the Babylonian Talmud there were 6 different types of mikva’ot (plural of mikveh) that went up in level of desirability.
 Tractate Mivaoth, Babylonian Talmud, Mishnah 1-8
There are six degrees of gatherings of water, each superior to the other.
The water of pits… The same rules apply to the water of pits, the water of cisterns, the water of ditches, the water of caverns, the water of rain drippings which have stopped, and mikwehs of less than forty se’ahs: they are all clean during the time of rain; when the rain has stopped those near to a city or to a road are unclean, and those distant remain clean until the majority of people pass [that way].
Superior to such [water] is the water of rain drippings which have not stopped.
Superior to such [water] is [the water of] the mikveh containing forty se’ahs, for in it persons may immerse themselves and immerse others.
Superior again is [the water of] a fountain whose own water is little but has been increased by a greater quantity of drawn water; it is equivalent to the mikveh inasmuch as it may render clean by standing water, and to an [ordinary] fountain in as much as one may immerse in it whatever the quantity of its contents.
There have been many mikva’ot found near the site of the temple.
The word Mikveh can be found in the Bible itself. Such as in the book of Jeremiah where is is translated as HOPE.
Jeremiah 17-13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
The HOPE or miqveh מַקְוֶה of Israel is the LORD. He is the fountain of living waters.
So Jewish immersion or cleansing in water was actually nothing new. John was fully acting within Jewish custom and law but as just demonstrated John did not start water baptism.
However there was something different about John’s baptism, his cleansing. John’s baptism was not for cleansing as per the law of Moses. John’s baptism was for the cleansing of a person from their sin.
It was THIS baptism, Water Baptism for the remission of sins that was indeed first preached and carried out by John the Baptist to the Jews, and again, ONLY to the Jews and many Jews were indeed water Baptised by John for the remission of sins.
Matthew 3- 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Mark 1-4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
This is very important to understanding the truth about water baptism and what it was for. John specifically stated exactly what his baptism was for.
Matthew 3- 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
We are told that John baptised in repentance for the remission of sins.
Mark 1- 4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Luke 3-3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
John stated that HE baptized the baptism of repentance and for the remission of sins.
And indeed those that were baptised did confess their sins
Mark 1- 5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
Matthew 1- 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
It was THIS baptism, the baptism with water for the remission of sins that the Pharisees had asked him by what authority did he do such a thing.
John was causing somewhat of a stir. The Jews had sent the priests to ask who John was.
John 1- 19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
After John had stated he was not the Christ, they asked him if he was Elias or the prophet. To which John again answered no. John stated he was the one that came before the Messiah.
John 1-20And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
The priests then asked John if he was not the Messiah then why did he baptise.
John 1- 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
John however clearly stated that HE baptised with water BUT the one that would come after him, Jesus, would baptise with the Holy Ghost.
John 1-26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
Mark 1-7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Interestingly John also told the Jews to make offerings, fruits of repentance before being baptised
Matthew 3- 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Luke 3- 10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 11He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. 12Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?13And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. 14And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
This is something that advocates of water baptism rarely if ever actually preach.
Johns water Baptism included offering “fruits” of repentance, confessing sins and being washed clean by water for the remission of sins.
John was preparing the Jews for the coming of the Messiah . To ready them, to cleanse them of their SINS for the Kingdom that the Messiah was to set up. The Kingdom of heaven. The kingdom that the Jews were expecting the Messiah to establish on earth, a physical kingdom.
Matthew 3-2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
John stated that the reason he baptized with water was to manifest the Messiah, Jesus, to Israel.
John 1- 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
Now we know Jesus himself was water baptized by John.
Matthew 3- 13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
It is often argued that Jesus was baptised as an example to us and so we should also be baptised. Well Jesus also lived as a Jewish man under the Jewish law, so I guess, using the exact same argument we must also live as Jews under the Jewish law. But we are not under the law in the NT just as we are not meant to be baptised by water.
Jesus was also sinless. He had no sin to be cleansed of. He had no need of repentance.
He stated his baptism was to fulfill all righteousness.
Matthew 3-14But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
So he fulfilled all righteousness and was manifest, he was made known to be the Messiah through his baptism.
Now it must be noted as it is rather important that there are actually many different baptisms in the Bible. Moses baptised the people with a cloud and the sea
1 Corinthians 10-2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
Moses didn’t wash the people with the sea, they were baptised unto Moses when they followed him through the parted sea and then followed the cloud through the wilderness.
John also preached that one would come that would baptise with the holy ghost and FIRE.
Matthew 3-11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
It is often taught that this fire is the power of the holy ghost, I’m sure you have heard I am on fire for the Lord. However you really don’t want to be Baptised by Jesus with fire.
John himself explains what the fire baptism is in the very next verse.
Matthew 3-12Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
also in Luke.
Luke 3- 9And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Revelation 20- 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Baptism of fire is the 2nd death in the lake of fire.
So let’s get back to water baptism. Jesus himself declared that John baptised with water.
acts 1-5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Jesus just as John did, very clearly used the word BUT, before then declaring a baptism with the holy spirit. This word BUT is mostly, and rather disingenuously ignored by most advocates of water baptism. Actually it is a word of significant importance. Both Jesus and John clearly distinguished between the baptism of water which was declared by John and the baptism of the holy spirit which Jesus and John stated Jesus would baptise with.
The disciples and importantly NOT Jesus, water baptized, under the authority of Jesus
John 4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
Here again it is important to know that this was only Jews, Before his death and resurrection Jesus told the disciples not to go to the gentiles
matthew 10-5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
This was before the death of Jesus and before the spirit was given. The kingdom of heaven was still being preached. The Messiah was still alive. The blood had not been shed. The Jews were still able to accept their Messiah and would have needed to have been cleansed to be ready for the kingdom of the Messiah.
What is clear, John did water baptize for the remission of sins.
This was before the death of Jesus and therefore before his blood, so before Jesus died his blood could not be used for the remission of sins. We are told that John first preached the baptism of repentance before the coming of Jesus.
Acts 13-24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
Jesus even states that until he went away the comforter, the Holy spirit would not come.
John 16-7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
The water baptism of John was for the Jews and the Jews alone, before the death of Jesus so they could accept the kingdom (be clean for) of the Messiah. Since Jesus was rejected the water baptism for the kingdom is no more as the kingdom of heaven didn’t come at this time.
Baptism is the Greek baptizó βαπτίζω and means properly, “submerge” or “immersed”.
we are now “immersed” in the blood. The blood of Jesus is now used to cleanse believers of sin instead of the water that was used BEFORE his blood.
1 John 1-7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Revelation 7-14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Ephesians 1-7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Romans 3-22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.Paul says he was sent by God not to baptise but to preach the gospel of Grace
Romans 5-9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
To state that a person requires water baptism is to state that water does what has already been done by the blood of Jesus.
But it has to be noted that Peter’s preaching of baptism for the remission of sins in acts 2-38 was AFTER Jesus had died, so if water baptism was no longer required why would Peter preach that it was even after the death of Jesus.
If we put this verse back into context we will see that Peter,a Jew, was preaching to devout Jews and ONLY to Jews.
Acts 2- 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Acts 2-14But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words.
Water Baptism for the remission of sins was first preached and carried out by John the Baptist to the Jews ONLY and many Jews were indeed water Baptised by John for the remission of sins.
Peter was the apostle to the Jews.
Galatians 2- 7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
In acts 2-35 and 36 Peter tells the Jews that they have crucified the Messiah
Acts 2-35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
The Jews response having realised this was WHAT SHALL WE DO? NOT what shall we do to be saved.
Acts 2-37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
The Jews were asking what shall they do now after the realisation that they had killed their Messiah.
Then Peter tells the JEWS what they needed to do in order to be ready for the kingdom and the return of Jesus.
Peter also makes a very important statement at the end of Acts 2-38 after he has preached repent and be baptism in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins , Peter then states “ and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. “
Acts 2-38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
Peter declared that in order to receive the Holy Ghost, a person had to repent and be baptised for the remission of sins. This still was for the Jews only. There was a short period after the death of Jesus that the Jews were still able to accept their Messiah, BEFORE the message went out to the Gentiles. Later Peter himself would acknowledge that there had been a change in the way a person could receive the spirit after he himself would preach to the gentiles.
We already know that it is the blood of Jesus that now gives remission of sins not water.
This was something Peter was to learn. He was still in his Jewish understanding and still preaching the kingdom to Jews.
When Jesus was washing the feet of his disciples Peter asked Jesus why he was doing it
John 13-5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus told him that he didn’t understand yet but he would
John 13- 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash him but Jesus explained that he needed to do so
John 13- 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Peter then asked to be totally washed with water to be clean
John 13- . 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
To which Jesus replied
John 13- 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
Jesus was explaining that the disciples didn’t need to be washed with water, or baptised with water as they were going to be washed with his blood. They believed on him. This is why Jesus said you don’t know know but you will know after.
Jesus did command Baptism after his death in the great commission
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
However this time it was after the death ,resurrection and the blood shed of Jesus, just before Jesus ascended to heaven. Jesus was now preaching baptism by the spirit that could now come. It is that blood that now cleans a person. Washed in his blood not water. In order for this to be water baptism John the baptist and the very words of Jesus have to be ignored regarding being baptized with the spirit and not water. Jesus told them to baptize in the name of the father son and holy ghost there is no mention of water the command was not baptise in water in the name of the father son and holy ghost. That is human interpretation of his words that have ignored or misunderstood what being baptized in the name means,
There is NO command here to baptise in WATER.
Although Peter was a disciple of Jesus, he was in essence still a Jew. When Peter water baptized the Jews in Acts 2-38 His command to preach to the Gentiles had not been given. He was still preaching the kingdom to the Jews.
The door to kingdom was shut in acts 7 with the stoning of Stephen
Stephen had been preaching Jesus to the Sanhedrin.
But they chose to reject this and cast Stephen out before stoning him.
Stephen saw Jesus STANDING not sitting at the right hand of God…Jesus was ready to return. But they did not believe him and chose to kill Stephen instead.
Acts 7-54When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
The kingdom was shut and the time of the Gentiles started.
After this Saul (Paul) Was chosen by God to become a disciple and go out and preach to the Gentiles. (acts 8)
Peter himself was told by God 3 times that he could now preach to the gentiles before he actually understood that he could.
Peter telling the Jewish council about his command by God.
Acts 11- 8But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
Peter eventually did preach the gospel to the gentiles. In acts 10
Acts 10- 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
Then something happened that Peter had previously believed and stated in Acts 2-38 would happen only AFTER repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. The Gentiles received the holy Ghost ,which astounded them of the circumcision (the Jews).
Acts-10 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45And 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,
The Gentiles who the Jews didn’t even know could received the Holy spirit, received it WITHOUT water Baptism.
BUT Peter also then commanded that they be water baptised even AFTER they had already received the holy ghost.
Acts 10-47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
But Peter was incorrect in his understanding. He was still partly in his Jewish mindset and was trying to bring the Gentiles INTO the Jewish traditions and the works of the law.
Something that Paul confronted him about.
Galatians 2-11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Paul continued on
Galatians 2- 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified
All the gentiles had to do was to believe on Jesus. There was no need to be water baptized for the remission of sins as the blood of Jesus already did that.
At the council Peter recalls to the Jewish council that he remembered the words of Jesus regarding baptism.
Acts 11- 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Peter now understanding this declared this himself when certain pharisees said the gentiles should be commanded to join the circumcision and keep the law of Moses
Acts 15- 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Peter said that they should not, that they were saved by believing and even declared that the Jews were also saved in the same way.
Acts 15- 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Acts 11- 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
In his first epistle Peter likens baptism to the saving by water of Noah and his family
1 Peter 3-20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
1 Peter 3-21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
These 2 verses are very often used to prove water baptism. However when we actually look at these verses Peter is not describing water baptism at all.
Peter starts verse 20 talking about disobedience. The disobedience while Noah built the ark. Noah actually preached repentance during this time but he was ignored and so only he and his family were saved by water. It is this term BY water that confuses people and is used to say how we are saved BY water through baptism . But remember we are saved by the BLOOD. Noah and his family technically were saved FROM the water. It was their OBEDIENCE that saved them. They believed and followed God. Then in verse 21 Peter likens this to baptism that saves. NOT by putting away the filth of the flesh, NOT by having your flesh body washed but by having a good conscience towards God. By being OBEDIENT like Noah and his family. Following God. And this NEW cleansing is done BY the resurrection of Christ. When Christ was crucified his blood washed us and through his resurrection, when we believe that God raised him from the dead we enter into the new covenant.
Faith in his BLOOD……
Romans 3-25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
to be declared righteousness and the remissions of sins which John preached through water baptism but is now through the BLOOD.
Jesus stated at the last supper that his BLOOD was shed for the remission of sins.
Matthew 26-28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Again in Revelation we are told that we are washed from our sins by his BLOOD.
revelation 1-5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
BLOOD not water. HIS BLOOD. It is our faith in the BLOOD of Jesus, that Jesus died and was resurrected by God by which we are saved. There is NO water.
Jesus started the NEW covenant with his death
Hebrews 9-16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
Through this baptism we put off the old man and are renewed in the spirit and put on the new man.
Ephesians 4- : 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Notice that it is the renewal of the spirit OF YOUR MIND…..water cannot renew your mind.
Philip baptized a Eunuch in water
Acts 8- 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
However there are some important things to understand about the baptism of the eunuch.
The eunuch was preached the gospel, Jesus, this was something the Jews at the time of John the baptist were not, they were preached the coming of the Messiah. The eunuch asked what prevented him being water baptized to which Philip replied that he must believe with all his heart and the eunuch declared the belief that Jesus was the son of God. So the eunuch believed on Jesus, again this was different than the Jews at the time of John who were being baptized for the coming kingdom. The most important thing to notice is that it was the eunuch that asked about water baptism. Philip did not state that the eunuch should be water baptized. Philip did not state that it wasn’t needed but if it was needed then it would have been Philip who would have told the eunuch to be water baptized. There was also no repenting and Philip did not state it was for the remission of sins.The eunuch offered no “fruit” for repentance. Again this is before the message was being spread by Paul to the gentiles.
Philip may well have baptized with water but it was on the declaration that Jesus was the son of God and it was at the request of the eunuch. It was after salvation it did not form part of that salvation. The Bible doesn’t give any more information about the Eunuch and only states Philip was found in Azotus preaching in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
The thief on the cross was not water baptized yet was saved.
Luke 23- 39And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
It can be argued that a special exception but this is not stated in the Bible it is only assumed. If special exceptions are made where does this start and where does it stop, this leaves upon a door for all types of exceptions which can only be man interpreted. This argument is simply not biblical.
After Peter had water baptised the Gentiles in Acts 10, water baptism is never mentioned again.
Paul never once baptised in water. He most certainly did Baptise but always in the name(authority) never in water.
In act 16 Paul and Silas were in prison and through divine intervention were released. They however did not leave and saved a prison guard.
He asked them what he needed to do to be saved
Acts 16- 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
The answer was simple
Acts 16- 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
No water baptism. No repentance for the remission of sins.
The guard was saved through belief , he was baptised through hearing
Acts 16- 33And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
In Ephesus the people had been baptized with the Baptism of John (water baptism) But had NOT received the Holy spirit.
Acts 19- 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Acts 19- 3And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
Despite having been baptized into John’s baptism they didn’t even know that there was such a thing as the holy spirit let alone received it as they had not yet been preached the true gospel.
Paul told them of the true gospel. Belief in Jesus Christ
Acts 19- 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
They were then baptized in the name ( authority) of the Lord Jesus. It was by being told the gospel that they were baptised. They were not re-water baptized, Paul did not say they were being baptised for the remission of sins. There is no mention of confessing sins and they offered no “fruit” for repentance, and yet they received the holy spirit.
Acts 19- 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7And all the men were about twelve.
It was the belief that Jesus was the Christ that they were baptized with the holy spirit.
In acts we see Apollos who was instructed in the way of the Lord only knew the Baptism of John.
Acts 18- 24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
Paul in fact thanked God that he did not baptize many so that people couldn’t accuse him of doing this in his own name and that he wasn’t sent to baptize but to preach the gospel.
1 corinthians 1- 14I 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. 16And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 17For 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 effect.
We are now baptized WITH the spirit as John and Jesus BOTH declared.
which Paul reiterated.
BY ONE SPIRIT are we baptized, spiritual baptism, not water baptism.
1 corinthians 12-13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Ephesians 4- 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
If we must be baptised with water and the spirit then this is two baptisms not one.
The Israelites were told clearly how to be cleaned. In Psalm 119 the question is asked how can a man cleanse his ways? The answer according to the WORD. A man would cleanse his way by the word of God
Psalms 119-9 BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
Jesus tells us that the it is the spirit that quickeneth, quickeneth is the Greek ζῳοποιέω zóopoieó , to make alive. So it is the spirit that makes alive. Jesus then states that the WORDS that he spoke were spirit, the WORDS were life.
John 6-63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
The words that Jesus spoke were the fathers.
John 12-49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
So the words Jesus spoke were the words of God the father by which being spirit would give life.
So when Jesus said go into the world and teach the gospel, baptising them in the name of the father son and Holy Spirit
Matthew 28-19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
This means to baptise with the spirit which is by the word by teaching the gospel in the authority of the father, son and Holy Spirit.
In Mark this is shown again
Mark 16-15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Spiritual baptism comes from hearing the gospel
Ephesians 1-13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
and believing comes from hearing
Romans 10-17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We are told that husbands should love their wives like Jesus loves his church.
Ephesians 5-25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Sanctifying it and cleansing it by washing it with WATER…..BY THE WORD.
Ephesians 5-26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
This is not literal water but the water of the word. Being cleansed by the word being likened to washing by water. The word cleansing and washing.
Jesus tells his disciples that they are clean through the word that he had spoken to them
John 15-3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Sanctified by the truth, the WORD is truth.
John 17-7 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
So in order to be baptised in the spirit a person needs to hear the Gospel, batptsied by the word. A person to be saved must also accept and believe the gospel. Accepting Jesus as their saviour. That is spirit baptism, A person is saved when they believe.
Just as shown In acts 16 and 19 where the word, the gospel was preached.
Water baptism isn’t part of salvation or a requirement for believers in Jesus. It was a specific baptism for a specific time for a specific reason. It was for Jews alone before the blood of Jesus.
We are saved through faith alone and NOT through works of the law which included cleansing.
Ephesians 2-8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast
There was a time when water baptism was preached and carried out. This was before the blood of Jesus. Today it is that blood that washes us clean of sin. We are baptised not of water but of spirit.
Those that preach water baptism are stuck in acts 2-38 and preaching a baptism that is no longer required or effective. It is not about water and who Jesus was but the blood and what Jesus did.