Hebrews Lesson 60 July 20, 2006
NKJ Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
We need a little review because last week I was asked a question after class and this week I was asked a question before class both of which indicated that there needed to be some review just to make sure that we understand what I was trying to get to last week.
In Ephesians 4 Paul says there is…
NKJ Ephesians 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
The question is - what baptism does that refer to? The baptism that refers to is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That is what distinguishes the Church Age from every other dispensation in history. There is no baptism by means of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. There is no baptism by means of the Holy Spirit in the Tribulation. It is unique to this era. Therefore it is the baptism by the Holy Spirit that marks off the Church Age dispensation. It is the outstanding characteristic of the believer. The believer in the Church Age is identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. As a result of going through the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit the believer is placed in Christ. It is in Christ that we have all of the privileges and assets that we have as Church Age believers. It distinguishes us from everything else so this is a crucial doctrine to understand. So we have to go back to look at these passages. I was pointing out last time that in these baptismal statements there are certain prepositions that are used in the Greek that are not consistently translated over into the English that indicate certain features of baptism.
Let me just break it down for you. First of all you have the verb to be baptized in the English. That is the verb in the Greek baptizo. That verb can be either an active voice verb or a passive voice verb just to keep it simple. Active voice means that the grammatical subject of the sentence performs the act of baptism.
John the Baptist says…
NKJ Matthew 3:11 "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
The subject of the verb is the pronoun I, the first person singular I. He is the one who performs the baptism.
And so in that construction the one who comes later (which of course refers to the Lord Jesus Christ) is the one who performs the baptism, the subject of the verb. But what happens in some cases is that a passive voice is used. So there is a reversal of subject, but now the term that is used to describe the performer of the action in a passive sentence is called the agent. The agent is the one who performs the action of the verb. It's not a grammatical term. It's not the same as the grammatical subject.
I know it has been a long time since the sixth grade when you studied this. But that is how you have to understand the Scripture. And if you are from a certain generation where you went through high school in the 70's and you were taught transformational grammar, then if you even know what a grammatical subject is be thankful to some teacher who didn't do what the State of Texas said they were supposed to do.
When I went through college and majored in English that is the grammar that we had to take. I had no clue what it was about. It wasn't any grammar I had ever studied. It was one of those postmodern attempts to introduce structural relativism into grammar.
Okay this is the key verse on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
There we have the Greek preposition en used.
The verb there is in the aorist passive indicative. Now I stressed the passive voice. The subject receives the action. So what is the grammatical subject of "we were all baptized"? The grammatical subject is the first person plural pronoun we. "We" is the subject of the verb baptized, but baptized is in a passive verb construction. So "we" doesn't perform the action; "we" receives the action. Who performs the action? It is not stated in that verse. Now this is really important to understand because for years there has been debate (for at least a century) over this particular verse primarily coming from Pentecostal theology that argued that there were two different baptisms. There was a baptism by the Holy Spirit that was performed by Christ based on Matthew 3:11 and a baptism by the Holy Spirit based on I Corinthians 12:13. One happened at salvation. One happened subsequent to salvation when you get the gift of speaking in tongues or healing or the second blessing.
Now I was reading a hyper dispensationalist this last week on baptism to try to understand what their arguments were. This particular dispensational theology was written by a hyper dispensationalist. For those of you who don't know, a hyper dispensationalist believes that the Church Age didn't begin until sometime later in Acts. Some put it in Acts 9. Some put it when Paul was saved. Some put it at Acts 19. Some put it at the end of Acts. So they argue that all of Acts is transitional. It doesn't matter; they would not make the demarcation (this is important) the baptism by of the Holy Spirit. That is the distinguishing characteristic of the Church Age believer. We will have a look at that as we go through our lesson this evening.
In I Corinthians 12:13 we are told that we (all believers) were all baptized into one body. The Greek preposition eis is used for into. There is a difference in the Greek preposition eis and the Greek preposition en. En pneumati from pneuma meaning the spirit in the dative construction indicates instrumentality.
You do something by something. En can also express location. Here it is really instrumentality and I will show you that again. We went through it last week. To understand all of these we have to go through them step by step.
Matthew 3:11 says …
NKJ Matthew 3:11 "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Who is speaking? John the Baptist.
It is an active voice verb. I, John the Baptist, am the subject of the verb baptize and I am the agent performing the baptism.
In water - en hudati. There you have the same preposition en indicating the instrument that is used to bring about the baptism. I pointed out that baptism has the meaning of dip, plunge, or immerse. It has this idea primarily of dipping, like taking cloth and dipping it into dye. It is not just immersing it because immerse means to put it in and not take it out. There is some confusion over that where some people go to strange places doctrinally. I don't know if we will go down those rabbit trails or not. I don't want to confuse you, I just want to clarify and make sure that you understand what this is saying.
Water is the instrument for the purpose or towards the goal of repentance.
By means of the Spirit, en pneumati. So there is a parallel drawn between the Holy Spirit and water. This is very important to understand. As John used water to picture the cleansing that was taking place to the converts that came to him, so Jesus is pictured here as using the Holy Spirit in the same way. The Holy Spirit is actually the real agent of cleansing, not water. That is what the I Peter 3 passage indicates – not the removal of dirt from the flesh. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit who positionally and absolutely cleanses us from all sin at the instant of our salvation.
So Jesus will baptize. That is a future tense. It's not happening yet. It is still in the indeterminate future as far as John was concerned. This was at the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
Now in Acts 1:5 Jesus comes along and is on the verge of the ascension. He is going to ascend in verses 9 and 10. He is reminding the disciples of what John had said and what He had said. He is telling them that not many days from now that is going to occur. So He is talking about that baptism by means of the Spirit that John talked about.
NKJ Acts 1:5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
John is the subject of the verb. It is an active voice verb. John is the grammatical subject.
It is still future at the time of the ascension of Christ. Baptism by means of the Holy Spirit hadn't happened yet. It is still future.
We have the same preposition again. Notice the consistency in every one of these phrases. The en indicates the instrumental means and the eis indicates the direction. Eis isn't the direction or the ultimate goal. That is not part of the passage. Not every element is there.
So what happens about 10 days later? You have the Holy Spirit descend at Pentecost. That is when this is fulfilled. This is the demarcation point. Everything else points to this event – to the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit.
Now I will use the English examples on this.
John hit the ball with the bat.
Now when we use that English phrase 'with'… English prepositions are really funky as far as their use with Greek prepositions. The Greek preposition en can be translated by the English preposition with, for or by. So what happened also in this passage is that if you go back to Acts 1:5 and Matthew 3:11 where it says that you will be baptized with the Spirit, in the English it uses the preposition "with"; but notice that the Greek preposition is still en. The King James translated it "with the Spirit".
Now watch this. I want to go back to I Corinthians 12:13. I Corinthians 12:13 translated that same phrase en pneumati with the preposition by the Spirit. Do you see why the English got everybody confused? You have a "by" the Spirit and a "with" the Spirit in Acts 1:5.
"Ah," they thought. "Two different baptisms."
But in the both places it uses the same Greek construction which indicates that there are not two different baptisms. There is only one baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the means of the baptism, never the agent who performs the baptism. The prophecy in Matthew 3:11 was that Christ would baptize by means of the Spirit. In Acts 1:5 he says, "You will be baptized by means of the Spirit."
Then when you get to I Corinthians, "You have been baptized by means of the Spirit."
Who is performing the baptism? Jesus Christ is performing the baptism.
For years you have probably heard that the baptism of the Holy Spirit places you into Christ. What does that do? That makes the Holy Spirit the grammatical subject and the agent of the verb. But that is not what these texts say, is it? The texts all say that Christ is the subject and performer of the action, not the Holy Spirit. He is the means. He is what the Son uses to identify the believer with Himself just as John the Baptist used water as a symbol of the converts cleansing and identification with the new state of repentance.
So back to our English example. When we take an English sentence such as "John hit the ball with or by means of the bat" (the bat being the instrument to hit the ball), John is the grammatical subject. Hit is the active voice verb. John is the subject who performs the act of hitting.
Now when we change that to a passive voice construction…
The ball was hit by John with the bat.
The subject now is the ball. The verb is "was hit", but John is still the one hitting the ball. But now it is in a passive voice construction so it is the ball was hit by John. In English we use the preposition "by" to indicate the agent of the verb. That is why we get confused in I Corinthians 12:12 when it says, "by one Spirit". By in English indicates the performer in a passive voice construction. So we think that the Spirit is the one who performs the action. But actually the Greek uses the preposition hupo or dia to indicate the agent of the action in a passive voice construction, not the preposition en which is what we have in I Corinthians 12:13. Is that becoming a little clearer to everybody?
This is so crucial to tighten our focus on just exactly what this means. When we get into our lesson this evening on the believer's baptism, the real issue in water baptism or ritual baptism is what it depicts. It is nothing more that a picture, a training aid, for understanding this abstract and invisible non-experiential reality called the baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit.
John En hudati Eis metantian
Matt 3:11 In water For repentance
Jesus En hudati unstated there
By the Spirit
Unstated En nephele En Mosen
I Cor 10:2 En thalasse Into Moses
In Matthew 3:11, John is the one who performs the action. He uses water (by means of water) to affect a new state of repentance. He is compared to Jesus who in the future will use the Spirit in the same way John uses water. It is a parallel construction to affect a new state. It is not stated there. It is stated in other passages like I Corinthians 12:13 – that it is into His body.
I Corinthians 10:2 used the same type of construction. That's the baptism by Moses by means of the cloud and by means of the sea. Sea and cloud are the instruments used to affect the new state – identification with Moses and his faith. I Corinthians 10:13 doesn't state who performs the action. The Spirit is the instrument and the goal is into the body.
There is only one baptism that is important for the Church Age. That is the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. That is what we call a real baptism. It is not experiential. That means when it happens at the instant that you put your faith alone in Christ alone you don't experience anything. You don't have a warm rush through your body. You don't get flushed. You don't get the joy of the Spirit all of a sudden. Those things might happen, but not because you got baptized by the Holy Spirit. It is because you are saved and all of a sudden you realize what that means. It is non-experiential. The only way we learn about it is to go to the Scripture. We study the Scripture and the Scripture tells us what the happened and this is what He provided for us.
Now let's go over to our lesson tonight as we go beyond this to find out just what is going on with the ritual baptism of the New Testament. I pointed out last time that there are three ritual baptisms in the New Testament. The first is the baptism by John the Baptist. John baptized individuals in the Jordan for the purpose of indicating their repentance and identification with his message, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." So they were baptized for repentance. That was one ritual baptism.
The second ritual baptism had to do with Jesus' baptism. It was a unique baptism. It was done by John and to the casual observer it looked like anybody else's baptism. But there was a difference because Jesus was not a sinner. He did not need to repent. So He wasn't repenting. It was a unique baptism indicating the beginning or the initiation of his public ministry. When John baptized Him in the Jordan there is an affirmation from God. You hear the voice of God the Father from heaven.
NKJ Matthew 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
The Holy Spirit is pictured as a dove descending upon Jesus. That is the beginning of His ministry.
So you have the baptism by John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus, and then you have believer's baptism.
Sometimes you will hear Baptist preachers say, "We need to follow Jesus in baptism."
Well there is an error there because the baptism of the believer in the Church Age is distinct from the baptism of Jesus. So we are not following Jesus in baptism. It is a different baptism. You have to make these distinctions.
When we discussed this I ran across a great quote from Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer, the founder and president of Dallas Seminary, in the 7th volume of his Systematic theology.
In approaching the theme of ritual baptism it is recognized that over this subject the most bitter divisions have been allowed to arise in the church – divisions and exclusions for which it is difficult to account in the light of two facts: (1) the great majority of those who are given to separations confess that there is no saving value in the ordinance and (2) all who look into it with freedom from prejudice recognize that fruitful, spiritual Christians are to be found on each side of the controversy
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 7:34
Notice that he doesn't call it a sacrament. You don't receive grace or anything through ritual baptism. So everybody recognizes that you don't get saved by it and you don't get sanctified by it. There are subgroups that believe all that. The Church of Christ believes that if you aren't baptized, you aren't saved. It is part of their dogma. There are other groups that teach that if you aren't baptized you don't' get saved. There are even some groups that teach that if an infant dies between birth and infant baptism then it doesn't get saved. But these are not what I would call normative positions among Protestants. Whether you hold to infant baptism or whether you hold to believer's baptism everybody would say for the most part that baptism doesn't save and it doesn't sanctify.
So there are good learned men that argue. What he argues primarily is the mode of baptism - whether it is sprinkling or immersion. Dr. Chafer did not argue about whether or not there should be baptism. He was recognizing the debate over mode - whether it is by sprinkling or immersion. Remember that Dr. Chafer was an ordained Southern Presbyterian minister. Presbyterians practice infant baptism. Dr. Walvoord who was his successor as President of Dallas Seminary baptized each of his children as infants. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister. These are little facts that most people don't know about. Don't get all wrapped around the axle whether you agree or disagree with what I say tonight. You have to understand that this is not something that you go into battle over.
The foundational verse for the believer's baptism is given in the passage known as the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. This is actually stated several different ways in each of the gospels excluding John and in the book of Acts. Jesus several times gave marching orders to His disciples. They are not just different ways of presenting what he said at one time. He gave these marching orders several times.
NKJ Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
NKJ Matthew 28:20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
The hyper-dispensationalist that I read today said that this was connected to the kingdom message. No, there is nothing in Matthew 28 talking about the kingdom. This was the marching orders to the disciples.
Let's exegete it a little bit so that we understand just what is going on here. First of all we have the word "go". The word "go" in English sounds like a mandate.
And you will often hear preachers preach on how important it is to go. It is a participle in the original. It is not an imperative. It is a participle, but a participle can sometimes have an imperatival force especially if the participle precedes an imperative verb. It picks up the command impact of the verb because it is right there in front of it. The more I have studied this over the years, the more I have come to understand this participle has an imperatival force in front of it. Some people say it is an imperatival force of time or manner such as while you were going. That's legitimate as well.
Jesus has recognized that you are going to go. When I get through and say amen tonight, y'all are going to go. You are going to go home. You are going to go out to eat. But everybody is going to go. What Jesus would be saying if you take it as a temporal participle is while you are going – while you are going to work, while you are with friends, while you are engaged as a parent you should be engaged in making disciples. So you can understand it either way. I do think that there are legitimate grammatical grounds for understanding it with an imperatival force, but it can go either way.
To make disciples is your main verb. The controlling verb is to make disciples. It is an aorist active imperative. Now an aorist imperative is a stress point. This is bold faced. A present imperative indicates standard operating procedure. It is usually used for something that is an ongoing characteristic.
When an aorist imperative is used the writer is simply punching it up. This is a high priority. This is vital. This is important. Do this. And so the command here is to make disciples. A disciple is one of those words that gets used, abused and overused in Christianity today. You have all kinds of people talking about discipleship. Nobody really understands what a disciple is. The term mathetes basically means a learner or a student. And it can be in any kind of context. Jesus, for the purposes of what he was going to do in laying the foundation of the church, chose 12 men to teach them and to make them students and they were to be the foundation for the church (minus Judas Iscariot of course who was not a believer).
In this structure Jesus now only says to make disciples of all nations, but he follows the mandate with two participles. Now what is important here is to understand the connection of these two participles to the main verb. He is not just saying make disciples period. He is saying to make disciples a certain way.
It is sort of like if I was out with some guys or ladies (some ladies here are excellent shots) on the shooting range and popping caps. Somebody is a really good shot.
Then I pullout my Colt 1851 Navy cap and ball revolver and say, "Okay, let's see how you can do. Hit the target with this."
Notice that I didn't say hit the target, I said to hit the target with this. It is not only the mandate to hit the target, but to shoot the target with a particular gun. You are not fulfilling the request if you shoot the target with a 45 automatic. You are not fulfilling the request if you hit the target with a 30 ought 6 with a scope on it. It is hit the target with the 1851 Navy Colt.
So that is how this works. You have got two participles here that are participles of either manner or means. Those concepts are close together. What they do is describe how the mandate is to be fulfilled. You are to make disciples by baptizing and by teaching. You are not supposed to make disciples by going out to Papadeaux's and having crawfish for dinner. You see it tells you how you are to make disciples. He restricts it with these participles of means. You do it by baptizing and by teaching. They are not connected by a conjunction here, which is interesting. So they pile up on top of each other. You make disciples by baptizing, by teaching. So it's added together. Now the baptizing here is said to be baptizing them - that is the disciples in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit indicating that there is identification with the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
NKJ Matthew 28:20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Notice this last phrase. It is one that I find overlooked. That sets the context for this entire statement – to be until the end of the age. It is not saying until the age begins. You see there is this view that baptism only meant things to the Jews so it is only operative in the early transitional period of the book of Acts. But you see that it is connected to a statement that Jesus is making when he says…
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
This mandate to make disciples extends all the way through the end of the age. Right? Otherwise let's stop and go home. Look at the second part of it. It is making disciples by teaching. That is what we do – Sunday morning, Tuesday night, and Thursday night. This is biblical discipleship – teaching the Word of God so that you can grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Teaching is linked just as much to the command as the baptism is in this particular construction. And the temporal boundary is the end of the age. What age are we talking about? The Church Age.
What I want to do now is look briefly at the parallels to this Great Commission.
NKJ Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
It doesn't say anything about teaching or baptism. It summarizes it with the Greek word kerusso, to proclaim the gospel.
NKJ Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Now you are going to run into folks who say, "Look. Look. You have to be baptized to be saved. See what it says!"
Yeah, but in the second half of the construction it says…
he who does not believe will be condemned.
The point is that the person who does not believe is not saved. Baptism was the result. It is what you expected a convert to do. It doesn't bring salvation.
The reason it doesn't say "he who has not believed and wasn't baptized shall be condemned. The only factor in salvation is faith alone in Christ alone.
Then we have the Luke account.
NKJ Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
NKJ Luke 24:47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
NKJ Luke 24:48 "And you are witnesses of these things.
NKJ Luke 24:49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
That is the Holy Spirit. You are to stay in the city.
Now when Luke picks up his pen and writes part 2, which is the book of Acts, he has Jesus reiterate this in the beginning of Acts. Part of this we have already done.
NKJ Acts 1:5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Jesus expands on this.
NKJ Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
That is Pentecost.
In sum what we see is that the essence of this commission to the apostles which lays the foundation of the church is that they are supposed to be witnesses of what Jesus Christ taught. They are to go out and carry out this mission to make students of believers. That involves two things – baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to do all that "I have observed."
Matthew 28:19-20 are the two most explicit of the various passages. That is why most people go to Matthew 28:19-20 rather than these others.
Now the next question we ask is, "How do we understand this – baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? What did he mean by that?"
He doesn't say in the passage to baptize by water. Water isn't mentioned there. The question that some people ask (and should be asked) is - which baptism is this? Ritual baptism? Is this a circumlocution? Are we talking about baptism by means of the Holy Spirit? Which is it?
The way we answer this question is to go to the book of Acts to take it step-by-step and see how the apostles understood and implemented that from Peter all the way through Paul. So that is what I want to do. Let's turn over to Acts 2.
Acts 2 contains the account of the day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descends upon the 12. Now it is important to realize who is involved here.
NKJ Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
You will see pictures of the day of Pentecost. They will have 120 people out on the steps of the temple when the Holy Spirit descended. There is a problem with that. The only time you have a 120 people mentioned is earlier in Acts when 120 believers gathered together in verse 15 for the selection of Mathias.
They gathered in the Upper Room. Now let's just think about that for a minute.
Number 1 you wouldn't have 120 people staying together in one room for ten days. It gets a little crowded. It is in the early summer. It's in June. There is no air conditioning. It is a little rough having that many people in that small of a space for very long.
Number two is that in the practice of Judaism at that particular time whenever you had mixed company (men were on one side and women were on the other side) men and women were kept separate. You would not have all of these men and women spending time in the same room 24-7 or a long period of time. From a common sense point of view you would recognize that you were not going to have 120 people hanging around for a long time.
But then we have a grammatical argument. Remember in the original Greek text there are no verses and no chapters. So when you read verse one of chapter 2, the "they" is a pronoun. The rule in grammar is that you look for the nearest plural noun prior to this. That is the antecedent or the reference for this pronoun. The last verse of chapter one says…
NKJ Acts 1:26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles
"They" refers to the 11 apostles. It doesn't refer to the 120. As a matter of fact if you go through and trace out the use of the third person plural pronoun in chapter 1 except for a small number of verses around 15 and 16 where it refers to the 120 once or twice, the rest of the chapter it always refers to the eleven. So it is the eleven that are gathered together. The Holy Spirit descends on them. Why? Because they are the foundation of the church. That is Ephesians 4. It is not the 120 that are the foundation of the church. It is the eleven apostles who are the foundation. They are the first ones that get the Holy Spirit. There is unity here.
NKJ Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
It is all grounded on the foundation which is based on the 11 apostles. So it doesn't happen to everybody else. Everybody else in Acts who gets the Holy Spirit and the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit and speaks in tongues does it only at the hand of one of the apostles. That is to show that there is not this split in the body of Christ. You don't have a Jewish body of Christ, a Samaritan body of Christ, and a Gentile body of Christ. You only have one body of Christ. It is grounded on the eleven apostles. So they are the ones who receive the initial pouring out of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. I have been told by those who know a lot more languages than I do that there are only 11 language groups, even though you have several geographical and ethnic groups listed. I think there are 15 or 16 in verses 8-12. Actually, there are 11 language groups. Actually in my research I think there are only 5 or 6. It does not minimize the miracle speaking in languages, but it is not like they are speaking 120 languages. They are only speaking four or 5. You have Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and maybe a few dialects such as Coptic and other dialects. Those were all provinces in Asia Minor. They had been overrun for over 300 years. Greek was the language that everybody spoke as the common language up in Asia Minor and Turkey.
So that is the back ground for Peter's sermon in Acts 2. At the conclusion of that sermon (we just want to look at what happens at the end) in Acts 2:38 he gives a command.
NKJ Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When I was young I liked to get involved in some good theological wrangling with people at times. I used to love to go to the Texas State Fair. I wasn't the only one. This is one of those things that theological students like to sharpen the edge of their thinking on. There was always a booth at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas set up by the Church of Christ. They would have these little square boxes with about 5 Bible questions. You would have some kind of electrical connection in there. You would poke in there what you thought the answer was to the multiple-choice question, A, B, C, or D. A light would come off and you got to test your Bible knowledge. We would go down there and test our Bible knowledge and they would try to explain it to us. They always used Acts 2:38 to show us we needed to be baptized in order to be saved.
They would argue that you have to be baptized in order to get the gift of the Holy Spirit. You have got to go to the Greek there. This is an extremely complex Greek construction in this passage. And, it is poorly translated in the English. It makes this phrase in the middle "let each of you be baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" as if that is a second command after repent. Actually repent is a second person plural imperative. That means – y'all repent.
Do you see in that last phrase? That is a second person plural. Am I making myself clear? The "you" in the middle - what do you think that "you" is? That is a singular you. It starts with a second person plural (repent). Then it goes to a second person singular; then it goes back to a second person plural. To make it a little clearer in the English it is…
Literal translation: Repent and each of you will receive the Holy Spirit. Then be baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit on the account of the forgiveness of your sins.
That is how it should be understood. It has the idea of on the account or because of the forgiveness of your sin. We receive forgiveness when we put our faith in Christ. That is what Peter is saying here by repent. He is indicating changing your mind about who Jesus is. He just got finished talking to the Jews about how they crucified Jesus as the Messiah and rejected Him. Now they need to change their minds and accept Jesus as their Savior. As a result of that they too would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit just as they did and then subsequent to that "let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ."
This is where we see the connection. Remember that the only precedent that you have to this is back in Matthew 18:19-20. That is the only thing that gives any meaning to this.
Now does it mention water? No, it doesn't mention water at all in this passage. But it is not talking about receiving the Holy Spirit because it is repent and you will receive the Holy Spirit. Then, be baptized. We are not talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit here. We are talking about another form of baptism. So this is properly understood to be ritual baptism. It becomes a little clearer later on. It doesn't mention water in every passage because this is understood. If you remember, last week I showed you a picture of the miqvote outside the gate at the entry of the temple. There were at least 30 different places for ritual washing outside the entry way to the temple. So when the 11 apostles are gathered outside the temple and have 3,000 converts, they were all baptized right then and there because they had these pools for ritual washings (30 of them) right there. So they could take 11 of them and then run an assembly line. They could easily baptize 3,000 people in one day.
NKJ Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
So that took place right there on the steps of the temple.
Now the next place that we have the mention of baptism is in Acts 8. This involves two different episodes. It doesn't involve an apostle. It involves Phillip who was one of the 7 chosen in Acts 6 to assist the apostles. In Acts 8 starting in verse 4 talking about what is going on in Samaria. Phillip went down. That is because he is going from a higher elevation in Jerusalem down to Samaria.
NKJ Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
NKJ Acts 8:6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
NKJ Acts 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
These were miracles that attested to His message.
NKJ Acts 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.
NKJ Acts 8:9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,
Then we have the story about Simon. Skip down to verse 12
NKJ Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Actually I think it is an imperative verb here. It isn't a process. It is "they were baptized". Again we see that baptism follows immediately upon conversion.
NKJ Acts 8:13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
So we have Phillip going to Samaria. There were many converts and they were immediately baptized.
Then in Acts 8:16… skip down.
Phillip the evangelist isn't an apostle. They haven't experienced everything yet. They have been baptized (ritual water baptism) but they haven't received the Holy Spirit.
NKJ Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
That is a synonym for believing the gospel.
NKJ Acts 8:15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
So here is the order. They trust in Christ. They go through ritual baptism then they receive the Holy Spirit when John and Peter come to them.
NKJ Acts 8:16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
He is the Holy Spirit.
So we have to trace this phrase through Acts. Every time we see baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus, it is talking about water baptism. We see that most clearly in the latter part of this chapter when the angel of the Lord (not the pre-incarnate Christ the Old Testament angel of the Lord, but an angel) spoke to Phillip and told him to go to the Negev to a road down from Jerusalem to Gaza.
NKJ Acts 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert.
Sound familiar? The same Gaza that we hear about on the news in the Gaza Strip. Those towns have been around for a long time. So, on the road that went from Jerusalem to Gaza he went. Note that this is desert.
NKJ Acts 8:27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,
He goes up to him.
NKJ Acts 8:28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
Phillip comes to him and asks him in verse 30…
NKJ Acts 8:30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
NKJ Acts 8:31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
He read Isaiah 53:7-8.
NKJ Acts 8:32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
NKJ Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
NKJ Isaiah 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
So basically Phillip explains the gospel to him. He trusts Christ as His savior. As they go down the road, they came to some water in verse 36.
NKJ Acts 8:36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"
So here is the connection. It is clearly a water baptism, ritual baptism.
NKJ Acts 8:38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
The Ethiopian eunuch is well-grounded in Old Testament theology. Most of these people are well-grounded in the Old Testament. They are getting baptized immediately. Personally, I think people need a little time because they need to be instructed about what all this about. Most people today are ignorant of the Old Testament. Most of the people we have seen so far are very knowledgeable about Old Testament doctrine.
Now we see that it is immediate and that it is water baptism. It is not with a Jew; it is with an Ethiopian, a gentile.
Then in Acts 9 we have the episode with Paul's baptism after Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was blinded by the bright light and he went on to Damascus.
NKJ Acts 9:10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
He was instructed to go to Saul and to pray for him and heal his blindness and to baptize him.
In Acts 9:18 we read…
NKJ Acts 9:18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
It doesn't mention water. It is not baptism of the Holy Spirit. That has already happened at the instant of his conversion.
Peter takes the gospel to the Gentiles at Caesarea by the Sea. He reports on it in Acts 10. Notice that Peter is there. This is a new group of gentiles. We have seen Jewish converts in Acts 2, Samaritans in Acts 8, and now Gentiles under Peter, an apostle. So Peter is involved in each of these. Peter on the day of Pentecost, Peter in Samaria with John, and Peter here in Acts 10 – tying in all together.
NKJ Acts 10:47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
So they haven't been baptized by water yet (ritual baptism), but they have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. He ordered them to be baptized.
NKJ Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
How? In the name of Jesus Christ.
I just want to hit a couple of more.
This is when Lydia and her family are saved in Philippi. This happens right after the Philippian jailer is saved.
NKJ Acts 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
That is, the jailer did.
So the Philippian jailer says to Paul and Silas while they are in prison….
NKJ Acts 16:30 And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
NKJ Acts 16:31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Earlier in Acts 16:15 we have a verse about Lydia when she and her household had been baptized.
NKJ Acts 16:15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.
So Lydia was baptized. When Paul comes to Corinth toward the end of his second missionary journey (52-53 AD)…
NKJ Acts 18:8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
Now when we get in to I Corinthians, 1 Paul said that he baptized just a few.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
When Paul writes this in I Corinthians 1, it is about 54-55 AD which is the same time he is in Ephesus in Acts 19. Luke records that there were many of the Corinthians who believed and were baptized. If Paul baptized three households, who did the rest of it? His assistants.
I remember a few years ago I was in south central Los Angels at a large Baptist church. I went through one of the longest Sunday morning services I have ever gone through in my life. If it was one minute it was three hours. It went forever. There was singing. There were testimonials. There was an infant dedication. Then there was more singing and special music. Finally after and a half they got to the preacher. So I got up and I taught for about 45 minutes. Then I finished. Then we sang some more. Then there were some more testimonies. And then there were 3 or 4 baptisms. Then we sang some more. Then we finished. I was exhausted. By the time it was over with I forgot what I spoke on. What was interesting is that the pastor stood down at the pulpit and talked about what baptism signified while the assistant pastors were in the baptistery doing the baptism work. So he didn't get wet. Not like an unfortunate pastor in Waco a few years ago that had a cordless mike with him and electrocuted himself in the baptistery. It was a horrible situation. But that is what Paul did. Paul did not have the time to fulfill his apostolic mission to take care of these administrative the details. That is what he meant when he said he wasn't commissioned to baptize. His assistants did that. Some people have said that Paul wasn't sent to baptize; he was sent to preach the gospel. If Paul wasn't supposed to baptize at all (which is what people try to make that mean) he wouldn't have baptized Stephanas, Gaius, or Crispus. Paul didn't do what he wasn't supposed to do at all. He wouldn't have baptized three or four families if he wasn't supposed to baptize at all. That twists the meaning of the statement. His primary mission as an apostle was to proclaim the gospel and his assistants carried out the administrative aspects.
At the same time he says that in Acts 19, "If I Corinthians 1 means that I am not supposed to baptize at all", then why at the same time that he writes I Corinthians 1 do you have the situation in Acts 19 where he discovers in Ephesus these converts of John the Baptist – Old Testament saints who have never heard of the baptism of the Holy Spirit or that there is a Holy Spirit? They have been baptized only into John's baptism.
NKJ Acts 19:3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism."
NKJ Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
NKJ Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
So we keep seeing the same phraseology. Jesus said that we were to make disciples by baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When we see this phraseology "baptizing in the name of the Lord Jesus" all the way through Acts, it is always associated with this immediate ritual baptism. Why? The ritual water baptism doesn't do anything. It is a picture though of what happens in the baptism of the Holy Spirit that in non-experiential and nobody feels or experiences or sees. It is a picture of that.
We will come back and do some more next time, wrap this up and tie it all together on the baptism of the Holy Spirit so that we have a clear understanding of what this is and deal with some misconceptions as well as what it doesn't do and what it does. It doesn't save. It doesn't sanctify. It is a visual aid just like the Lord's Table.
In case you don't make it back for part 2, every time I perform a baptism and every time I see someone get baptized (It is the same thing when I perform a wedding or I am observing a wedding." You see people up there saying their vows and you realize you did that too.) It is a reminder of what you have done and what has happened to you. Just as at the Lord's table, we do it we remember who Jesus is every time we see some body get baptized it is a reminder of everything that Jesus did for us at the instant of salvation.
It is that ongoing training aid.