Born of Water: John 3:1-8, Part 3

BaptismofJesus2c. Although Leon Morris found no evidence that “water” was used as a metaphor for birth in koine Greek, he found plenty of evidence that “water” is used as a metaphor for conception.

“Water” may be connected with procreation. This conception is quite foreign to us and we find it difficult at first to make sense of it. But Odeberg has gathered an impressive array of passages from rabbinic, Mandaean, and Hermetic sources to show that terms like “water,” “rain,” “dew,” and “drop” were often used of the male semen. If “water” has this meaning here, there are two possibilities. Being born “of water” may point to natural birth, which must then be followed by being born “of the Spirit,” that is spiritual regeneration. Or better, we may take “water” and “Spirit” closely together to give a meaning like “spiritual seed.” In this case being born “of water and the Spirit” will not differ greatly from being born “of the Spirit.”[9]

The Greek word translated “born” means “conceived” when the father is in mind,[10] and the ESV translates the same word as “conceived” or the like in Mat 1:2-16 (“was the father of” or KJV: “begat”), Mat 1:20 (“is conceived”), Acts 7:8, 29, 13:33 (quoting Psa 2:7), 1 Cor 4:15, Phile 1:10, Heb 1:5 (Psa 2:7 again), 5:5 (again). 1 John 3:9 speaks of being “born again” because “God’s seed abides in him,” and so the reference is really to conception (“seed” is a metaphor for semen[11]).

In fact, given that Jesus was literally conceived by the Holy Spirit, and we are to be transformed into his image, it makes quite a lot of sense to speak of Christians being “conceived again” of the Spirit – like Jesus. And so this is a very likely translation of John 3:5. After all, Jesus is not likely to be thinking of God or the Spirit as the Christian’s spiritual mother. God is referred to as “Father” nearly 100 times in John’s Gospel.

The primary objection is Nicodemus’s reference to returning to his mother’s womb, but literal re-conception would also require a return to the womb. Jesus’ words are perfectly ambiguous as to whether he has birth or conception in mind, but several factors should point us toward the meaning “conception”: Jesus’ own conception (it was more precisely a virgin conception rather than a virgin birth, right?); John’s reference to the Spirit as “God’s seed” in 1 John 3:9; the countless references to God as a Christian’s “Father”; and the many references to Jesus as “only begotten” Son, based on Psa 2:7, which speaks of conception, not birth.[12] Hence, we might take “water” as an allusion to “seed” or the Spirit as means of re-conceiving Christians or causing them to be newly begotten, just as Jesus was.

The hendiadys thus becomes “spiritual seed” or “spiritual semen.” I recognize that “semen” is a bit graphic for American tastes, but it’s the language we find in 1 Pet 1:23 and 1 John 3:9. Where the translators use “seed” to translate sperma, it’s a euphemism for God’s semen or sperm.

d. If Jesus’ point in saying that Nicodemus “must be born of the water and Spirit” was that baptism is essential for salvation, how could he (or John[13]) say in the same discourse,

(John 3:16-18 ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Any interpretation of John 3:5 that contradicts John 3:16-18 is surely in error.

In short, it’s not nearly as easy or as clear a question as many would argue. There are strong arguments on both sides. And if Jesus meant to say that salvation comes only by baptism, he sure found an odd context in which to say it (just before saying that everyone with faith will be saved) to an oddly chosen person (Nicodemus did not respond by asking for baptism but for a return to his mother’s womb) at an oddly chosen time (Jesus began his baptismal ministry afterwards (v. 22)) and in an oddly chosen location (Jesus wasn’t near the Jordan, where he would begin his baptismal ministry (v. 22)). Had Nicodemus desired baptism, he presumably would have had to follow Jesus down to Jericho along a very dangerous road, some considerable distance from Jerusalem – not because there was no water in Jerusalem but because Jesus didn’t baptize anyone until he left Jerusalem, most likely to baptize in the Jordan.[14]

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[10] BDAG, gennaō.

[11] Sperma can refer to literally semen, to inherited characteristics from the father, or descendants. But conception is always part of the picture. BDAG.

[12] Several passages that translate gennaō as “born” clearly intend to refer to conception. For example –

(1 Pet 1:23 ESV) since you have been born [conceived] again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

Again, “seed” refers to semen or the male element of conception, and so “born again” should be translated “conceived again” or “begotten again” or even “re-fathered.”

Equally plain is –

(1 John 3:9 ESV) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born [conceived] of God.

And there are verses that speak of God as conceiving a Christian without explicit reference to God’s seed –

(John 1:12-13 ESV) 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born [conceived], not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Since the reference is to a child coming into being due to the will of the Father, conception is in mind, not birth.

(1 John 2:29 ESV) If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born [conceived] of him.

Again, the reference is to being “born” of God – our Father. Conception is the thought, not birth. This is yet another passage that associates re-conception with the Spirit (referred to as the Anointing in 1 John 2:27).

The ancients did not understand conception as the joining of egg with sperm. Rather, they thought of semen as “seed” that was “planted” in a “fertile” woman. Hence, inheritance generally passed via the sons, as only the sons could pass along the “seed” of their fathers. To be begotten of God would thus not only make one an heir of God but also take on his characteristics by inheritance. Being “born” of God would accomplish neither as no one inherited from his or her mother.

First Century and earlier Judaism had no practice of adoption. There was no Hebrew word for “adopt” until the 20th Century. Barbara T. Blank, “Jewish Adoption in America,” My Jewish Learning. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-adoption-in-america/

Hence, in Psa 2:7, when God declares that he has become the Father of the Messiah, he speaks in terms of having “begotten” him. The Romans practiced adoption, considering adoption to make one an entirely new person in the eyes of the law, so that even the son’s old debts would be forgiven when he was adopted. Thus, to a Hellenistic or Roman audience, Paul can use adoption as a metaphor for salvation. Among Jews, salvation is pictured as gaining a new father by being re-begotten, based on Psa 2:7 and our likeness to Jesus in his being re-begotten by the Spirit.

[13] Translators differ as to whether Jesus said these words or Jesus’ discourse ended earlier and these are the words of John. They are just as inspired either way, and if it’s John speaking, he’s commenting on what Jesus had just said to Nicodemus.

[14] The text says Jesus was in the Judean countryside. Jerusalem sits atop Mounts Zion and Moriah. There’d be very few places suitable for baptisms between Jerusalem and the Jordan River to the east. To the north was Samaria, where Jews usually did not travel. To the south is desert. Jesus might have gone to the west, to the fertile coastal plains. But the symbolism of the Jordan River would have been powerful, as this was the entry into the Promised Land. 3:26 tells of a disciple complaining to John the Baptist about Jesus’ baptizing, while John was in Aenon, near the Jordan, to the north of Jerusalem. It would have been very natural for a disciple of John to travel along the Jordan and so come across Jesus on his way to see John if Jesus was baptizing in the Jordan. Moreover, the Jordan is on the way to Galilee, Jesus’ next stop (4:3), as Jews normally walked around Samaria along the Jordan when traveling between Galilee and Jerusalem.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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35 Responses to Born of Water: John 3:1-8, Part 3

  1. I guess I have trouble putting baptism as part of salvation and salvation of all who believe into an unresolvable conflict. I’ve never been convinced by the arguments that claim that “belief” and “faith” in the New Testament are merely intellectual. If someone doesn’t put their convictions into action, they haven’t really believed. They don’t really have faith.

    Neither can I accept the idea that God is limited from saving someone who hasn’t been baptized. The Bible wasn’t written to tell God what he can and cannot do. Just as God relented from destroying Nineveh after announcing the destruction of the city, so God can show mercy on whom he would show mercy. If in the final judgment, God chooses to forgive those who have not been baptized, I will not tell him he can’t do that.

  2. Price Futrell says:

    @ Tim.. The way I resolve it… A person with true faith will do their best to follow through with the command to be baptized…Assuming they are properly taught about it. I think we sometimes fail to remember that not all persons who come to a saving faith in Jesus went to church 3 times a week…The faith, not necessarily the action, is recognized by God (see Rom 4)… But a person without faith who is baptized is just taking a bath…So, apart from faith, baptism saves no one.

    Quick Question Jay…. Were the disciples of Christ baptizing in the same manner as JTB and his disciples ? If so, wasn’t that baptism just an outward expression of a repentance.. changing of their ways ? Seems so. How else could baptism for salvation be augmented into the Old Law when Jesus said not one thing would be altered ? And, was this salvation only to those that were fortunate enough to hear this new teaching ?

  3. Dwight says:

    Tim, I believe your concept of faith is correct in that in the OT we don’t hear about faith, but we hear about action and then in the NT we are told their actions were based on faith. Faith, although based on belief, is different in that it has trust involved and this trust argues for action or response on the one we are trusting in. Even in Acts 2 faith isn’t mentioned, but assumed through their repentance and baptism. Faith exposes itself in action. This is why James argues for the concept that “works make faith complete”. Not all works is of course by faith, but all faith works.

  4. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight… We do hear of faith in the OT.. Hebrews 11 is very specific about faith during those former days.

  5. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    We are often not quite as far apart on faith & baptism as it seems. Listen to this sermon by Francis Chan at the Tulsa workshop:
    http://www.wwjdtoday.com/Tulsa2013/35_ExperienceThePowerOfGod%281%29_Francis%20Chan_Tulsa2013_58m23s.mp3

    If you ask Chan about someone being a Christian and refusing to be baptized, he readily admits that he is not so sure. See the 25:00 to 27:00 minute time-frame.

  6. Price Futrell says:

    I guess I’m not very familiar with folks who are Christians who “refuse” to be baptized. I’ve known plenty who planned the event at a future date so they could invite family members and friends who they wanted to be there to be a witness and celebrate the occasion with them.. Heck, even the jailer decided to take the time to wash and treat the wounds of Paul and Barnabas before going and getting his family and being baptized.. Paul didn’t seem to mind…

    Is there any passage that says you are not saved, contrary to the 50 some odd passages that say that you are, unless your nose breaks through the water’s surface ?

  7. Dwight says:

    Price, this was my point in that Hebrews 11 gives us an insight into faith in the OT, even when it is not mentioned in the OT. The word faith is hardly there, but the word faithful is all over the place and is usually associated with when they did something in their faithfulness. In the OT we aren’t told of Noah’s faith, Abraham’s faith, Samson’s faith and in fact the word faith doesn’t show up in their narratives and yet it is evident in their response and actions according to Hebrews 11. In the OT we read of what they did and the Jews repeated these stories, but God saw why they did it and the Jews should have taken notice of this.

  8. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight…Thumbs up..

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    Very interesting question. Next two posts will answer — as best I can.

  10. Dwight says:

    In the past, among the coC, people were encouraged to wait until they were called to the front at the end of service during the invitation. And even though the invitation is ritually pronounced, despite people coming forward and the audience being 99% full of saints (and children), many today don’t wait and will seek to be baptized with a smaller audience not during “church hours”.
    I don’t know if I have ever heard of someone refusing to be baptized either or even anybody teaching that even among those who argue faith along saves.

  11. Price Futrell says:

    Jay, I guess I need to quit asking those “quick questions.” But thanks.. 🙂

  12. Ray Downen says:

    What is clear is that the new birth of water and spirit is NOT done by the Holy Spirit. Apostles make clear in words which can’t be misunderstood that the Spirit-gift FOLLOWS hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel by turning to Jesus as LORD and being baptized as He commands is to be done for every new believer. So these truths will not be contradicted by other passages which deal with the same subject or any subject.

    The Spirit helps us tell others about Jesus and His offer of salvation. The Spirit is not involved in creating faith or in any way saving sinners. Jesus is Savior. It’s NOT Jesus AND the Spirit. The Spirit is given to newly baptized believers in JESUS. The gospel is all about JESUS and His offer of life to sinners. Salvation does not come by action of the Spirit. It comes by turning to JESUS and obeying JESUS.

  13. Price Futrell says:

    Ray, that may be the normal process but the text is clear that the Disciples received the Holy Spirit without water….exactly as Jesus had told them. Then Peter says that the large Cornelius group had the same thing happen to them… The inaugural indwelling of the HS by Jews and then Gentiles was done sans water… That’s odd don’t you think when water is supposed to be the only method by which we can be saved ? And, of course the receipt of the Spirit is the seal of our salvation… The text is so bothersome some times.

  14. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    And then there is the differentiation between receiving the HS and receiving a miraculous manifestation of the HS. I am not entirely certain that all endowments of the HS indicated that the person was saved. Even Caiaphas prophesied, albeit without complete understanding of the significance, which is not at all surprising given how many OT prophets lacked understanding of the things in which they spoke.

    One can make a plausible argument that Cornelius and his household were not saved at the point in which the HS fell on them. In Acts 12:15, Peter seems to be a bit more specific as to when the HS fell, which may indicate that the HS was a miraculous sign for the Jews to accept Gentiles as fellow saints rather than a sign that Cornelius was saved at that exact moment.

  15. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    From the far right wing of our fellowship in an essay titled, “Fatal error about the Holy Spirit” by Gary W. Summers (CFTF Mar/Apr 2016):

    The remainder of this essay delves into examples of what are matters of obligation and matters of option. Also enumerated are six errors regarding the Holy Spirit that would be fatal to the Christian if he believed them.

    I am so thankful that I no longer adhere to the false teachings of this journal. I still peruse it just as a reminder to think for myself. If you can move past the extensive use of the passive voice (like nails on a chalkboard for me), a couple of things immediately stand out:
    -the term “fatal error” is not in the Bible.
    -I can’t find a single comment in all of the NT judgement and damnation passages where Christ judges us on perfect knowledge.
    -We not only damn others for what they teach, now we damn others for what they believe. An impossible, impossible standard. Does that mean that Mr. Summers has never changed his mind on anything at all with respect to the Bible? Nothing?
    -CFTF folks have added to the Gospel. Christ and the Gospel are not enough: you have to have perfect knowledge. Ostensibly from the moment you become a Christian. Better not obey the Gospel prior to having perfect knowledge…if you do, it would have been better had you never known the Way.

  16. Price Futrell says:

    @ Kevin… Except that the text says they received THe Spirit.. Not some manifestation.. And Peter said they received THE Spirit just like they (disciples) did in the beginning… Exception ? Maybe. But the text says what it says.

  17. Dwight says:

    The difference is that the receiving of the HS of the 12 and Cornelius was different than the multitude upon baptism and receiving the HS didn’t indicate salvation.
    Cornelius and his household still had to be baptized, which according to Acts 2:37-38 was for salvation. While Cornelius did receive the HS just like Peter did, this didn’t indicate salvation, but that God considered them worthy of salvation…a sign.
    Even those in Acts 2:38 were to receive the HS after they were saved (repented and baptized), so why didn’t they get it before like the 12 apostles?
    In Acts 19 Paul ask if the people if they had received the HS to which they replied that had not, then he ask into who they were baptized and they said John, then Paul re-baptized them, but into Christ and laid his hands on them, then the HS came upon them.
    We have to follow the order of the scriptures in some things. The HS didn’t act on everyone in the same way and it wasn’t to save, but to indicate something important.

  18. Price Futrell says:

    @ Dwight.. The text however tells a different story regarding Cornelius. It was immediately after Peter said this that they received the Holy Spirit…. [Act 10:43 ESV] 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Peter did not say, although many want to harken back to Acts 2, that they needed to be baptized to receive forgiveness of sin or the Holy Spirit… It was only afterward that they were baptized and even then, the text does not indicate that it was done in order to be forgiven of sin.. Otherwise, it would be interesting to know how that the HS would indwell the large group with Cornelius if they were unrepentant and unbelievers… Paul said the HS was the “seal of our salvation.” Peter said they (Cornelius, et al) received THE Spirit just as they had in the beginning… The only way that I see to reconcile the passages is that they were saved by faith in Jesus…and that they submitted in humility to the public declaration of that faith in baptism… Otherwise, we have to rewrite the text to fit our theology.

  19. Dwight says:

    Price, and yet this was still the HS in the way the 12 apostles received and yet they still had to be baptized according to Acts 2:37-38 for salvation sake. Otherwise baptism was moot at the point they received the HS.
    There is no indication that receiving the HS saved a person and the scriptures never point this way. If so can you find it?
    The HS before or after baptism was for a sign.
    Repentance and baptism for salvation. All signs point this way.
    Then we have the Ethiopian eunuch who was baptized and didn’t appear to speak in tongues or have an experience like the apostles or Cornelius, so was he saved? But he was baptized.
    In fact if Mark 16:16 is real, then Jesus is telling them to preach belief and baptism for salvation, but funny he didn’t mention receiving the HS.
    The account of the 12 apostles and Cornelius was a unique happening that showed that God’s power in the absence of Jesus could come to man, first the Jews, then the gentiles. We don’t have that experience duplicated beyond these two points, but we do have people being baptized and receiving the HS such as in Acts 2:38 and In Cor.in Ephesus in mass.

  20. Price Futrell says:

    A) if the disciples weren’t saved prior to immersion in water post resurrection, then the words spoken and recorded in Acts are by men who were unsaved. I find that an incredible suggestion. Jesus told them He would baptize them with the Spirit INSTEAD of water as John had baptized. Peter said the Cornelius group received THE Spirit the same way. To suggest that this was done in order to convince Peter and the group that they were worthy of salvation is to add to the text. Whether or not the Eunuch received the HS is to question the new covenant. Whether or not he received any “gift” is to deny what Paul said that we each receive a gift… What is was isn’t recorded…. so ? The entire group that was baptized in Acts 2 weren’t recorded as having received any specific gifts either.. And then we have Acts 3 where Peter forgot his sermon notes and forgot to include any mention to another group of folks about the necessity of baptism for salvation.. And yet the conclusion of this narrative in Acts 4 said they were added by faith.. That’s what the text actually says. Trying to fit in baptism into the disciples and the Cornelius group to receive the HS doesn’t work unless one adds to the text. It might not be normal but that’s what happened.

  21. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Price,

    I am just not there. The text is not at all clear in my opinion. Peter said, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?””

    It’s not at all clear to me exactly what Peter is saying. Is he saying that Cornelius was saved and thus baptized with the HS? Or was he saying that the Cornelius was baptized with the HS as a visible, miraculous sign that the Gospel is for the Gentiles?

    I think the latter is more consistent with the text.

  22. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Two Key Passages:
    Acts 10:44 – While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
    Acts 11:15 – “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning…”
    Based on Luke’s narrative in Acts 10, we don’t really know when the HS fell on Cornelius…sometime between the statement as recorded between v10:34-43. Not enough evidence to hang out hat on; although one would assume it was later in the quote.
    In 11:15 though, Peter is very specific..as I began to speak, which would indicate more towards v10:34 or sooner. This can’t be discounted lightly.
    Based on my reading of the text, the HS fell before Cornelius heard the Gospel, much less believed the Gospel. Thus, it would seem that the HS was a sign to all the Jews that salvation was open to the Gentiles. What’s more, the Jews, who were fiercely racist and nationalistic, NEEDED a divine sign in order to accept the Gentiles. To me, this fits better with the overall narrative in Acts and the broader scriptures.
    W

  23. Price Futrell says:

    Kevin… may be.. but the text doesn’t say that… [Act 11:15 ESV] 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning….that’s what caused him to remember what Jesus had told them…[Act 1:5 ESV] 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

  24. Price Futrell says:

    @ kevin.. Not sure what to make of the differences…. Peter in Acts 10 obviously has been speaking to him specifically about the good news of Jesus and the conversation is more detailed than the summary given in Acts 11…. The question I would have is why, after having a major vision in which God shows Peter to go to Cornelius and not show partiality and literally speaks to Peter, did Peter need any more convincing…?? It was as a result of this incredible experience that Peter goes with the folks to meet with the Cornelius group…Seems he was more than convinced… He of all folks knew the limitations imposed on Jews and Gentiles and he ended up having to explain himself….And, if Cornelius wasn’t saved prior to baptism then neither were the Apostles who as far as anyone knows from the text itself were never baptized. Are the words recorded by Luke of Peter speaking in Acts 2 that of an unsaved person who just happened to be filled with the Holy Spirit… I find that highly unlikely… It appears from the text that the inauguration of the new covenant with both the Jews and Gentiles was done without water to receive the HS…But that may have been a coincidence… I think it’s a statement on faith but what do I know.

  25. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Price…doesn’t say what? Not sure what you mean.

    The question I would have is why, after having a major vision in which God shows Peter to go to Cornelius and not show partiality and literally speaks to Peter, did Peter need any more convincing…??

    Good question. I don’t think Peter necessarily needed additional convincing; although, he seems to have been a bit confused as per Acts 10:19…still mulling everything over from the vision.

    Peter had the good sense to take witnesses with him to Cornelius (Acts 10:24).
    I think the sign was less for Peter and more for the witnesses and Jewish Christians everywhere.

    Why were the witnesses necessary, given Peter’s standing as an Apostle and an inner-circle member during Christ’s ministry? Why couldn’t Jerusalem just take Peter’s word for it? Well, the Jerusalem church roundly criticized Peter (Acts 11:2) when they learned that Peter had fraternized with Gentiles, great Apostle notwithstanding. He was called onto the carpet. When Peter recounted the events, he started with his vision, which was personal and couldn’t be verified. But then he is careful to note the six brothers/witnesses that accompanied him (Acts 11:12). The witnesses and the HS seem to have been the tipping point (Acts 11:18).

  26. Larry Cheek says:

    Would anyone want to attempt to say that Cornelius and family was not baptized as soon as Peter made the statement. In another words the time lapse from reception of the Spirit to baptism was definitely shorter than 1 day. Considering that how many hours or days would you feel safe in saying that an individual who felt they had received The Spirit should delay their baptism? Even beyond that what would make anyone believe that the individual would never need baptism?

  27. Price Futrell says:

    Would anyone attempt to say that Cornelius and the large group that was with them were not believers and full of faith before they were baptized ? For those of us who believe that we are saved by grace through faith it is clear that the indwelling HS responds to the command to be baptized in this instance…in fact in every instance those who have been saved by grace by accepting Jesus as Lord through faith ALWAYS are baptized… Except the Apostles… there seems to be an exception made for them or they did it sometime later and the HS didn’t think it was important enough to have any of the writers record it.

  28. Larry Cheek says:

    Price,
    What evidence can you present which would securely identify that the Apostles had not been baptized with JTB baptism. Do we not believe that JTB baptism which was authorized by God and Christ was valid for salvation until Jesus died on the cross? Jesus’s blood flowed both ways from the cross, even back to the creation of man, were those who obeyed Johns message from God any different than those who were saved who had obeyed God and were now dead, even Abraham, Issac, and Jacob did not save themselves, It was Jesus’ blood. The only men who were found after The Day of Pentecost who were baptized by JTB baptism were baptized after The Day of Pentecost when baptism was changed into baptism being into Christ. Think about that for a while, for at least 6 months prior to Jesus entering into his mission JTB had baptized a great multitude (evidenced by the area in which they were coming), and even after Jesus started his mission John was still baptizing until he was thrown into prison. Yet only 12 of all those who were baptized by JTB baptism were baptized again stating that there was a difference between the two. Many of those who were in attendance on Pentecost could have been individuals who had been baptized by JTB and been baptized again into Jesus baptism. Would we assume only 12 missed that event and no others who had been baptized were absent? Is it not confirmed that there was several years between Johns death and The Day of Pentecost after Jesus resurrection, what would keep all of those who had been baptized by JTB together until The Pentecost baptisms?

  29. Price Futrell says:

    Larry, I think you answer your own question… Why would it be necessary to be baptized again if JTB baptism was sufficient ? Jesus said He would baptize the disciples with the Spirit as opposed to water that John used…. Even JTB baptist said Jesus would baptize with the Spirit… The Ephesians Paul spoke to said that they had been baptized by JTB’s baptism and had not heard of the Holy Spirit… Paul, didn’t think that was sufficient. Why would we ? If JTB’s baptism wasn’t sufficent why would we think it was ? And, if the baptism in the Spirit was sufficient why would we think that baptism in water corrected it ?

  30. Larry Cheek says:

    Price,
    That appears to be saying that the baptism of JTB was useless to those who were not at Pentecost. If you are attempting to say that Jesus cannot baptize by the Spirit except through water baptism, I believe there several examples which would counter that concept. In fact Cornelius would be the major one. Peter was there and verified the action as well as those who accompanied him, then they had the experience of explaining the event to The Elders at Jerusalem. Now I need to carry this very important point into further detail. Many believe that Cornelius was saved as he received the Spirit, and that could be true, but the use of that event to attempt to identify that anyone who seems to have received the Spirit and has not been baptized is saved without baptism in water is totally false. Peter and the Jews that were with him and those whom they reported to in Jerusalem would be a testimony that baptism was required of those even after receiving a very powerful measure of the Spirit equal to the one Peter and the other Apostles experienced. Cornelius’s conversion cannot be offered as an example that baptism in water is not necessary even if the Spirit has already been received.
    Then we also have those who assume that The Apostles were not baptized in water, just because they cannot find a record that it was done. Of course, many will also exclaim that Jesus saved and forgave several while he was alive in his ministry on earth. I have never heard an individual make a statement which said that those who were saved by Jesus were not baptized at Pentecost with the believers there.
    Think about that, and attempt to confirm that those who Jesus saved did not submit to baptism in that event. If we could believe that all of those were saved into the future from Jesus Words then there would have not been a need for him to die on the cross for those. His total purpose in stating that these were forgiven and even saved was not so they would not be a accountable to the instructions given at Pentecost and thereafter, it was to portray that he had the power and authority to grant what no man before him could do, because he was The Son of God, The Messiah. Would anyone attempt to identify that those whom he pronounced salvation and forgiveness to would never sin thereafter? In his death he fulfilled the action which removed the sins for all those who had been faithful throughout creation and provided the extension of grace for sinners into the future. Never before had anyone been forgiven for sins that they would commit into the future with the only stipulation that they will not turn their back upon him. If you turn your back, and go back into the world, any salvation or forgiveness that was granted becomes void.

  31. Price Futrell says:

    Larry… let’s deal with what we DO know… The Ephesians Paul met said they were baptized by JTB but had not received the HS because they hadn’t even heard of Him. Apparently, at least with these folks, JTB wasn’t baptizing in the name of the HS much less teaching folks about Him. There is no text to suggest otherwise.

    Was JTB’s baptism of no benefit to those at Petecost ? I believe, and perhaps me only, that the folks that were baptized by JTB had submitted to baptism out of a sense of repentance and looking forward to the coming Messiah that he was preaching about… All of Israel had been hearing of this day for generations and according to JTB is was upon them… I don’t know if their sins were forgiven or that Mark and Luke intended to communicate they were looking forward to their sins and perhaps the sin of the nation being forgiven. I doubt it was of no significance at the moment but I would doubt it was very effective post resurrection. Saying Jesus COULD do something isn’t the same as the Text saying that He did.. What Peter did not do is tell the folks at Pentecost to form two lines… one for water immersion and to receive the HS and the other line for those that had already been baptized by John. He made no exceptions for any of these people knowing full well that many had probably been baptized by John. He told them to be baptized.

    Regarding the Apostles… We can assume that they were not baptized post resurrection easily by just noting that the text does not tell us about any of them being immersed.. But, why would they? Jesus said He was going to baptize them with the Spirit instead of water like John used.. We don’t even know if they baptized each other prior to Pentecost of went to JTB.. The absence of any text concerning baptism of the Apostles is telling… The only reason one would assume that they were is to fill the void of the necessity one has placed upon it. If it were absolutely necessary to salvation and receipt of the Spirit why isn’t the text crystal clear ? Why, for any reason, would the plan of salvation be deviated from with the Apostles and the Cornelius contingent to inaugurate the new covenant that would otherwise require a precise 5 step plan ? Why would Peter totally forget to mention baptism in Acts 3 and Luke record that many were added by faith ? Odd statement for the water sacrament people to deal with but it;s there. Maybe they all were baptized and the text just didn’t think it was important enough to mention ? That would be something, huh ? I personally assume that they probably at some point were as a proper response to proper teaching… I don’t however for a moment believe that God put them into a special category of Yet to Be Saved Until Immersed… Or as some would believe, Still Damned until Immersed… Cornelius et al, is clear that God, on His own authority, can save a person of faith and give the HS to anyone He chooses to indicate that they are saved by their faith in Jesus as Lord as the prophets of old said and Peter proclaimed. Doesn’t mean they are exempt from other teachings and commands like baptism.. Just means that God doesn’t discount but rather holds highly above any action, the faith of the individual.. IMO

  32. Larry Cheek says:

    Price,
    There are several false teachings which are blocking your view about the Apostles baptisms. I now for certain because I was there also. You said, “We can assume that they were not baptized post resurrection easily by just noting that the text does not tell us about any of them being immersed.. But, why would they?” I am sure that you don’t have enough evidence to prove that they were not baptized otherwise you would have provided it rather than using the word (assume). Assume is always used when an individuals thoughts have been lead to a conclusion. Now, I will explain what has been to me a very powerful affirmation that The Apostles had been baptized. It is contained in the story of Cornelius. Read it one more time and I’ll point out the portion that is very convincing.
    Act 10:43-48 ESV To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (44) While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. (45) And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. (46) For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, (47) “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
    Verses 47 and 48 are the key, Peter says, ” that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have”. Then men today apply that they have been (saved) by God, but that is a total assumption because the scriptures do not say that. We’ll delve into that deeper in a minute, but for now you need to concentrate on the response of Peter to this event. Peter definitely identified that the Spirit was the exact same as they had received, Peter did not accept that action as a verification that baptism was not to be administered. In fact notice that he (commanded) them to be baptized.
    Now, here is where your conclusion fails. If The Apostles had not been baptized after their reception of The Spirit he would not have applied baptism to Cornelius and family, and the reception by them would have been exactly like The Apostles. Peter said the receiving was just like The Apostles but the fact that he demanded that they be baptized would complete the action which they had done also. Without baptism they had not followed the same pattern of The Apostles. Now I will throw out my own assumption concerning the concept that you have expressed. If Peter and those with him had known that The Apostles had not been baptized then all who were present demanded something more from Cornelius and family than The Apostles had committed to, not only that if any of those at Jerusalem who listened to the narration had known that The Apostles had not been baptized they would also have questioned why Peter demanded Cornelius to be baptized.
    Therefore, we are told The Apostles were baptized by the narration of the events but not in a direct written comment. God has used narrations all throughout history to give us directives to which he demanded us to follow, many times there just was not a direct situation in the lives of the followers of God to direct a written word to address. Example, has God addressed how Christians should deal with the state lotteries, you know, the proceeds are to supposed to be given to the school system, therefore, being this is a good cause it is fully acceptable for Christians to play and donate to education. To be sure that it is not gambling, a Christian must understand that he is not playing expecting a win, or desiring a winning. You see it is only a donation for education. If a Christian than plays, and anxiously uncovers the numbers on a card hoping to win a reward (is not sinning)?
    We’ll so much for that, I would be very interested if any one can produce evidence that reception of the Spirit as in the event of Cornelius is equal to (salvation). The text has not made that statement, men have concluded and taught it so powerfully most all believe it to be true. As Jay has stated many men in history in the scriptures received God’s Spirit but were never pronounced as saved.

  33. Price Futrell says:

    Come on Larry…. there is absolutely nothing in the text itself that indicates the Apostles were baptized post resurrection.. Nothing… If one reads the text then one notes that on the day of Pentecost they were baptized with the Spirit just as Jesus had said (without water)… Are you saying these men were yet to be saved ? That would as I said earlier mean that the words they spoke and were canonized were that of an unsaved person.. I find that without merit…. And Peter says 3 times that Cornelius and the group that was with him received the HS just as they had in the beginning… (without water) that is to say at Pentecost… Cornelius and the group were no less saved than Peter and John…. The fact that they were baptized after does not indicate that they were unsaved before.. That’s just a baptismal sacrament point of view that is forced into the text. Paul says that the HS is the “seal of our salvation.” Hard to misunderstand that. Peter says Cornelius, etal, received THE SPIRIT just as they had… They were saved as saved could be…

    And yet, the were baptized as per the command and practice of all in the church… Doesn’t mean they weren’t saved before they were baptized.. Any person of true faith that has been correctly taught about baptism will be baptized.. To divide congregations, assemblies, denominations over the timing of one’s salvation is absurd… Let God be God and teach baptism and let Him save whom He saves.. And leave the false teaching claims at the door…

  34. Dwight says:

    Price, according to prevalent thought Abraham only worshipped God a couple of times in his life as recorded…when he was told to go by God (maybe) and when he went up to sacrifice his son in which he declared ” I will go up to worship…” in Exodus, but the reality is that we miss the fact that Abraham was a worshipper of God and God accepted Abraham and Abraham did what God wanted in between these “instances”. In Acts 2 the apostles are telling the people that are asking to be saved to repent and be baptized, so it is not out of the question and very likely that they too went this direction. Ironically Jesus was baptized, even though he didn’t need repentance or salvation. Just because the text doesn’t say they weren’t baptized for salvation, doesn’t mean they weren’t and if they were going to be an example, they probably were. The scriptures never say Jesus slept, but we are assured by his humanity that he did. We would expect the apostles to submit to the same command they make for the people around them in regards to salvation.
    And to Larry’s point there is no place where it says that receiving the HS (before repentance/baptism), saved a person or even after repentance/baptism. All of the evidence points to repentance and baptism for salvation. Even Cornelius was baptized after they received the HS (for a sign). It is strange that the apostles would baptize Cornelius for salvation, when they were already saved.

  35. Price Futrell says:

    Dwight, Paul said this…. [Eph 1:13 ESV] 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,…(Heard the good news, believed, sealed with the HS)

    And this… [2Co 1:22 ESV] 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (guarantee of what ?)

    And this… [Rom 8:9 ESV] 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

    Pretty clear to me….

    It’s difficult for me to try and form a theology based on what the text of scripture does not say… Nor can I imagine trying to equate the value that you place on baptism to salvation with sleeping.. If baptism is a physical and public declaration of repentance and faith, then the disciples likely were already baptized in water.. Jesus excludes water in HIS baptism.. Acts 1…

    I’ve said that scripture teaches one should be baptized.. so be baptized.. but I believe it’s crystal clear that we are saved by grace through faith.

    Rom 4 teaches us what God values… faith.. not works… works are not an action for which God is required to pay us for. The whole chapter speaks to faith as what God has decided that He values and the sincerity of which only He can know. Does a true and sincere faith produce actions and obedience consistent with scriptural instruction.. Yes.. Imperfectly.. Yes… Do we do enough to earn our salvation.. No.

    For me.. God, through His tremendous love for us…does everything to save us.. I like what Max Lucado once wrote… “The only thing I contribute to my salvation…. is my sin.”

    Believe.. be baptized.. Let God decide when and whom He saves… Besides one could fake it and we’d never know… He would. So, a fake Christian who gets baptized in water… isn’t saved by the water when his faith is fake.

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