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Is Baptism Required for Salvation?

Part One    Part Two    Part Three    Part Four    Part Five    Part Six


Introduction

In Part One of this series we defined what "proper faith" in Jesus means, and we saw that the outward actions of confessing our sins, saying a "sinner's prayer," calling on the Name of the Lord, confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, making Jesus the Lord of our life, obeying all of Jesus' commands, and speaking in tongues, are not necessary for salvation. This leaves us with two possibilities. Either salvation is based on proper faith alone (the "faith-alone" view), or else salvation is based on proper faith followed by water baptism (the "faith-plus-baptism" view). One of these views is right, and the other view is wrong. One of these views harmonizes with the rest of the New Testament, and the other view does not. This makes it very easy to see which view is right. We saw that only one view harmonizes perfectly with Scripture using every approach that we examined. The faith-alone view is the right view of salvation.

In Part Two we examined dozens of passages which say that faith is the only requirement for salvation. We also saw that a number of people in the New Testament were baptized after they received salvation, and therefore baptism cannot be required for salvation.

In Part Three we saw that the faith-plus-baptism interpretation of Mark 16:16a creates a contradiction in Scripture, and it makes a wrong assumption based on a logical fallacy, and it misses the fact that Mark 16:16a supports both the faith-plus-baptism view and the faith-alone view, and it wrongly assumes that each individual element in Mark 16:16a is necessary for salvation.

We also saw in Part Three that the faith-plus-baptism interpretation of Acts 2:38a creates a contradiction in Scripture, and it makes a wrong assumption based on a logical fallacy, and it misses the fact that the Greek word eis ("for") cannot be used to prove anything about baptism, and it misses the fact that the singular and plural terms in the Greek support the faith-alone view of salvation, not the faith-plus-baptism view.

In this article we will look at Acts 22:16, another one of the main passages which some people use as evidence that baptism is a requirement for salvation. We will also look at Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 5:26, and Titus 3:5.


Acts 22:16

In Acts 22:16, a Christian named Ananias visited Saul of Tarsus (later to be known as the apostle Paul) and told him:
Acts 22:16: "Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name"
According to the faith-plus-baptism view, Saul was still "in his sins" at this point because he still had sins that needed to be "washed away." When he was baptized, his sins were washed away and he received salvation, according to that view.

Recall that Saul was a zealous Pharisee doing all that was possible to oppose the Name of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 9:1-2, 22:3-5, 26:4-11). On his way to Damascus, Saul had a supernatural encounter with Christ:
Acts 9:3: "As he [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him."
Acts 9:4: "He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?""
Acts 9:5: ""Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied."
Acts 9:6: ""Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.""
Acts 9:7: "The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone."
Acts 9:8: "Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus."
Acts 9:9: "For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything."

Acts 22:6: ""About noon as I [Saul] came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me."
Acts 22:7: "I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'"
Acts 22:8: ""'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. "'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied."
Acts 22:9: "My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me."
Acts 22:10: ""'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. "'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'"
Acts 22:11: "My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me."

Acts 26:12: ""On one of these journeys I [Saul] was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests."
Acts 26:13: "About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions."
Acts 26:14: "We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'"
Acts 26:15: ""Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' "'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied."
Acts 26:16: "'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you."
Acts 26:17: "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them"
Acts 26:18: "to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"
Acts 26:19: ""So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven."
Acts 26:20: "First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds."
Notice what happened to Saul on the road to Damascus. First, a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shone around Saul and his companions (Acts 9:3, 22:6, 26:12-13, above), and they fell to the ground (Acts 9:4, 22:7, 26:14, above). Then a voice (which they all heard but which only Saul was able to understand) said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4, 22:7, 26:14, above). Saul responded by asking, "Who are you, Lord?" (Acts 9:5, 22:8, 26:15, above). According to Bible scholars and Greek dictionaries, the Greek word for "Lord" here (kurios) can mean "Lord" in the divine sense, or it can mean "sir" in the human sense.

Now, imagine the scene. Saul was persecuting the followers of a dead man named Jesus, when suddenly Jesus revealed Himself to Saul. Because of this supernatural event, Saul realized that Jesus had been resurrected, and Saul immediately made a dramatic turnaround in his life. He responded in faith to this revelation of Jesus by asking, "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts 22:10, above). Is it reasonable to claim that Saul was using the word "Lord" (kurios) in the merely human sense at this point? After all, Saul had suddenly come face to face with the realization that his former religious views were fundamentally wrong, and he humbly submitted in faith to the Lordship of Christ. Saul went through a radical change of mind and a radical change of direction at the moment when Jesus revealed Himself on the road to Damascus, and he immediately became a person who had been completely converted to Jesus Christ. This is the very essence of salvation. Saul received salvation on the road to Damascus.

Sometimes people argue that when Saul asked, "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts 22:10, above), he was actually asking, "What shall I do for salvation, Lord?" They also argue that when Jesus said, "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do" (Acts 9:6, above), Jesus was actually saying, "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do in order to become saved." The conclusion of this argument is that Saul was told to be baptized for the purpose of washing away his sins and receiving salvation (Acts 22:16, below). However, one problem in this line of reasoning is that Saul was a zealous Pharisee who would have assumed that he was going to heaven. Therefore, it would never have occurred to him to ask what he needed to do for salvation. A second problem is that Saul did not ask, "What shall I do for salvation, Lord?," and Jesus did not say, "you will be told what you must do in order to become saved" (look closely at Acts 22:10 and 9:6, above). These are interpretations which people are reading into Scripture because of their belief that baptism is necessary for salvation. A third problem is that Scripture specifically tells us what Saul was told to do:
Acts 26:16: "'Now get up and stand on your feet. I [Jesus] have appeared to you [Saul] to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you."
Acts 26:17: "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending [apostello] you to them"
Acts 26:18: "to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"
Jesus told Saul what he must do in his ministry as an apostle. Jesus was not sending a non-Christian out into ministry, He was sending a Christian out into ministry.

Not only did Saul receive salvation on the road to Damascus, but he was also commissioned as an apostle at that time because Jesus sent him on his mission. One condition for apostleship is having seen Jesus (e.g. Acts 1:22, 1 Corinthians 9:1), and it is easy to demonstrate that Saul (the apostle Paul) saw Jesus on the road to Damascus:
Acts 26:16: [on the road to Damascus] "'Now get up and stand on your feet. I [Jesus] have appeared to you [Saul] to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you."

1 Corinthians 15:8: "and last of all he [Jesus] appeared to me [Saul] also, as to one abnormally born."
So Saul witnessed the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and he immediately submitted in faith to the Lord. Then the Lord appointed Saul as a witness, and said that He was sending Saul out to carry the Gospel to the world (Acts 26:17-18, above). This is where the apostle Paul received his commission as an apostle. The Greek word apostello ("sending") in Acts 26:17 means, "(by implication) to send out (properly on a mission)" (Strong's Greek Dictionary). Two similar Greek words are derived from apostello:

  • apostole - "apostleship" (Strong's Greek Dictionary)
  • apostolos - "apostle, messenger, he that is sent" (Strong's Greek Dictionary)
These words describe a person who has been commissioned by Christ as an apostle, which is what happened to Saul (the apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:16-18 (above).

When Jesus commissioned Saul as an apostle, notice what Jesus said and notice how Saul responded:
Acts 26:16: "'Now get up and stand on your feet. I [Jesus] have appeared to you [Saul] to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you."
Acts 26:17: "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending [apostello] you to them"
Acts 26:18: "to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"
Acts 26:19: ""So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven."
Acts 26:20: "First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds."
In verses 17 and 18 (above), Jesus said that He was sending Saul out to carry the Gospel to the world, "so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." Saul pointed out that he was not disobedient to the vision from heaven (Acts 26:19, above), which tells us that he had responded in faith and obedience to the Lordship of Christ on the road to Damascus. Saul soon began carrying out his apostolic commission, going around and preaching that people "should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds" (Acts 26:20, above). This perfectly describes salvation by faith alone, and Saul (the apostle Paul) didn't teach that people need to be baptized for salvation.

Saul spent three days in Damascus after he saw Jesus (Acts 9:3-9, above). Here's what happened next:
Acts 9:10: "In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered."
Acts 9:11: "The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying."
Acts 9:12: "In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.""
Acts 9:13: ""Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem."
Acts 9:14: "And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.""
Acts 9:15: "But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel."
Acts 9:16: "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.""
Acts 9:17: "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.""
Acts 9:18: "Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,"
Acts 9:19: "and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus."
Acts 9:20: "At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God."
Acts 9:21: "All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?""
In Acts 9:10-12 (above), the Lord told a disciple named Ananias where to find Saul. Saul had already received salvation (as we saw above), so Ananias did not need to preach the Gospel to Saul. Notice that the Lord did not tell Ananias to lead Saul to salvation, but instead He told Ananias to heal Saul.

In Acts 9:13-14 (above), Ananias told the Lord that Saul was a dangerous enemy of the Church. The Lord replied that Saul was God's chosen instrument for the Gentiles and the people of Israel (Acts 9:15-16, above).

In Acts 9:17 (above), notice that Ananias greeted Saul as "Brother Saul." Ananias understood that Saul was no longer an enemy to be feared, but instead Saul was a brother in the Lord. Next, Ananias referred to Jesus as "the Lord," acknowledging that Jesus was Saul's Lord, whom Saul had seen and spoken to on the road to Damascus. Ananias treated Saul as a Christian brother.

In Acts 9:17 (above), Ananias explained that Jesus had sent him to Saul for two reasons: "so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Once again we see that Ananias was not sent to lead Saul to salvation. Saul was already saved and had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (according to Galatians 3:2, 5, Ephesians 1:13-14), but Ananias pointed out that he needed to be "filled with" the Holy Spirit. For example, here are some places where the apostles were "filled with" the Holy Spirit:
Acts 4:8: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people!"

Acts 4:23: "On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them." ...
Acts 4:31: "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."

Acts 13:9: "Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said,"
Acts 13:10: ""You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?"
So Ananias was not sent to lead Saul to salvation, but instead he was sent so that Saul would be healed and be "filled with" the Holy Spirit. As all of the evidence shows, Saul had already received salvation and his commission as an apostle before he was baptized in water (Acts 9:18, above).

In Acts 9:21 (above), Christians are referred to as "those who call on this name," which implies that "calling on His Name" was a repeated or continuing action that they did (not just a one-time action like a "sinner's prayer"). A few verses earlier, Ananias referred to Christians as "all who call on your name" (Acts 9:14, above), which again implies more than just a one-time action. With that in mind, here is Acts 22:16:
Acts 22:12: ""A man named Ananias came to see me [Saul]. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there."
Acts 22:13: "He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him."
Acts 22:14: ""Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth."
Acts 22:15: "You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard."
Acts 22:16: "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'"
When Ananias spoke to the Lord in Acts 9:13-14 (above), he referred to Christians as those who "call on" His Name. The Greek word for "call on" means "to invoke, pray to, worship" (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.628). In Acts 9:10-11 (above), Saul was praying to (i.e. "calling on") the Lord before he met Ananias, and Ananias knew that Saul had already been "calling on" His Name because Jesus specifically told Ananias about it (Acts 9:10-11, above). Therefore, when Ananias spoke to Saul about "calling on his name" in Acts 22:16 (above), this does not imply that Saul needed to be saved. Remember, Ananias already knew that Saul was saved, and Ananias had previously referred to Christians as those who "call on" His Name. So it would be reasonable for Ananias to tell Saul to be baptized "since you have already called on His Name" (past tense). This is consistent with the original Greek, as these Bible scholars point out:
"Unfortunately, the KJV, NASB, and NIV translate it "calling on," instead of "having called" or "since you called upon" His name" (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.232, emphasis added)

"The Greek aorist participle, epikalesamenos, translated calling on His name refers either to action which is simultaneous with or before that of the main verb. Here Paul's calling on Christ's name (for salvation) preceded his water baptism. The participle may be translated, "having called on His name." (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.418, emphasis added)

"calling on the name of the Lord--rather, "having called," that is, after having done so; referring to the confession of Christ which preceded baptism, as Acts 8:37." (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary Offsite Link, emphasis added)
So in Acts 22:16 (above) Ananias was not telling Saul to "get baptized in order to receive salvation," since he knew that Saul was already saved. A more consistent interpretation would be something like, "And now, what are you waiting for? Since your sins have been forgiven, let's go wash those sins away." This is a figurative expression, like when Pontius Pilate "washed" his hands of responsibility for Jesus (Matthew 27:24). If we claim that Ananias literally meant that Saul was not saved until he was baptized, then this would contradict all of the evidence (above) which shows that Ananias knew that Saul had received salvation on the road to Damascus.

For further proof that Saul's baptism was not for the purpose of his salvation, here are some things that Saul (the apostle Paul) said concerning how to receive salvation:
Acts 16:29: "The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas."
Acts 16:30: "He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?""
Acts 16:31: "They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household.""

Acts 20:20: "You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house."
Acts 20:21: "I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus."
In Acts 16:29-31 (above), a jailer asked what he must do in order to be saved. Paul said that he must believe in the Lord Jesus, and that by believing he would be saved. Paul said nothing about baptism. In Acts 20:20-21 (above), Paul said that he had not hesitated to preach anything that might be helpful. What did he specifically preach? He preached that Jews and Greeks must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. Again, Paul did not preach that baptism is a requirement for salvation, so Paul did not believe that he himself had received salvation through faith plus baptism. Paul received salvation on the road to Damascus before he was baptized.

For all of these reasons, Acts 22:16 supports the faith-alone view of salvation, not the faith-plus-baptism view.


Galatians 3:27

According to the faith-plus-baptism view, we have not been "clothed with Christ" (i.e. we have not received salvation) until we have been baptized in water:
Galatians 3:27: "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
The faith-plus-baptism view assumes that this verse is referring to water baptism, but Bible scholars are not in agreement on this point. Some scholars believe that Paul was talking about water baptism, and other scholars believe that he was referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
"Gal 3:27 - As many of you as have been baptized into Christ - All of you who have believed in Christ as the promised Messiah, and received baptism as a public proof that ye had received Christ as your Lord and Savior, have put on Christ" (Clarke, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, emphasis added)

"The exalted position of "sons of God" is explained in verse 27 to involve a living union with Christ brought about by being baptized into Christ. This is the baptism of (or in) the Holy Spirit, which according to Paul (1 Cor. 12:12-13) joins all believers to Christ and unites them within the church, Christ's body. This union with Him means being clothed with Christ. In the Roman society when a youth came of age he was given a special toga which admitted him to the full rights of the family and state and indicated he was a grown-up son." (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.600, emphasis added)
So Bible scholars have different opinions about whether Paul was referring to water baptism or whether he was referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and there is nothing in the context of Galatians 3:27 (above) which proves the issue one way or the other. So when people use this verse to argue that water baptism is necessary for receiving salvation, their argument is based on nothing more than an assumption. Notice that we can't honestly use this verse to prove that water baptism is necessary for salvation if we can't even prove that this verse is talking about water baptism in the first place!

For the sake of discussion, let's pretend that Galatians 3:27 (above) is referring to water baptism. When Paul spoke of being "clothed" with Christ in Galatians 3:27, the faith-plus-baptism view assumes that this refers to salvation. But is that an accurate assumption?

The Greek word for "clothed" in Galatians 3:27 is enduo, and Paul used this same Greek word when he told the Roman Christians to "clothe" themselves with Christ in Romans 13:14:
Romans 13:12: "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
Romans 13:13: "Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy."
Romans 13:14: "Rather, clothe yourselves [enduo] with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
The context of the above passage shows that Paul was writing to Christians, which means that he was writing to people who had already received salvation. In verse 14 (above), notice that Paul told them to "clothe" themselves with Christ, using the same Greek word that he used in Galatians 3:27 when he referred to being "clothed" with Christ. Since Paul was writing to people who had already received salvation, clearly he was not telling them to receive salvation.

So we can't prove that Galatians 3:27 (above) is referring to water baptism, and we can't prove that it's referring to salvation. Therefore, Galatians 3:27 (above) does not prove that water baptism is necessary for salvation.


Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5

Notice that these two verses make a reference to "washing":
Ephesians 5:26: "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,"

Titus 3:5: "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,"
Sometimes people use the above verses to argue that the "washing" of baptism is necessary for receiving salvation. However, Bible scholars are not in agreement about whether or not the above verses are referring to water baptism:
"With the washing of water - Baptism, accompanied by the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit." (Clarke, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Ephesians 5:26, emphasis added)

"with the washing of water; not baptism, which is never expressed by washing; nor does it purify or cleanse from sin; nor is it the means of sanctification and regeneration, which ought to be before it; nor the grace of the Spirit, though that is often compared to water, and regeneration and sanctification are owing to it; yet the saints are not so cleansed from sin by it, as to be without spot or wrinkle; but the blood of Christ, which is the fountain to wash in, and which cleanses from all sin" (Gill, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Ephesians 5:26, emphasis added)

"By the washing of regeneration - Δια λουτρου παλιγγενεσιας· Undoubtedly the apostle here means baptism" (Clarke, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Titus 3:5, emphasis added)

"by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; by the former is meant, not the ordinance of water baptism; for that is never expressed by washing, nor is it the cause or means of regeneration; the cause being the Spirit of God, and the means the word of God: and besides, persons ought to be regenerated before they are baptized; and they may be baptized, and yet not regenerated, as Simon Magus" (Gill, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Titus 3:5, emphasis added)
As some of the above quotes point out, the New Testament passages which refer to water baptism never describe baptism as a "washing." In fact, the idea of "washing" does not always imply water. Notice how salvation is pictured in this verse:
Revelation 7:14: "I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
In the above verse, people's robes were "washed" in the blood of Jesus (i.e. they received forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ). Notice that the same thing is implied in the following verse:
Revelation 22:14: ""Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."
The following verse says that we were washed, sanctified, and justified by the Holy Spirit:
1 Corinthians 6:11: "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
The above verse specifically says that we are washed, sanctified, and justified by the Spirit (not by water baptism). Notice that there is no mention of water and no mention of baptism in the above verse.

With that in mind, let's look again at Ephesians 5:26:
Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her"
Ephesians 5:26: "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,"
Ephesians 5:27: "and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
Notice that the above passage doesn't say that individual Christians have been baptized with water, but instead it says that the Church has been cleansed "through the Word." The "washing with water" is not physical, but instead it is done by the living water of the Holy Spirit. The above passage also says that all of the "stains," etc., have been washed away from the Church. These stains and wrinkles and blemishes are not referring to our human bodies, they are spiritual stains and wrinkles and blemishes. This is indicated by the fact that when these things are washed away by the Holy Spirit (through the process of sanctification), then the Church is left "radiant" and "holy and blameless" (verse 27, above). The "washing" is not external and physical, it is internal and spiritual.

Similarly, in Titus 3:5 we can see that the "washing" is not external and physical, it is internal and spiritual:
Titus 3:4: "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,"
Titus 3:5: "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,"
Titus 3:6: "whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,"
In the above passage, notice that we receive the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (not by water baptism). It is a spiritual "washing," not a physical "washing."

Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5 are talking about an internal and spiritual "washing," not an external and physical "washing."


Conclusion

In the context of Acts 22:16, we saw that Saul (the apostle Paul) received salvation and his commission as an apostle on the road to Damascus, before he was baptized in water. Therefore, water baptism cannot be a requirement for salvation. We saw that Acts 22:16 supports the faith-alone view of salvation, not the faith-plus-baptism view.

In Galatians 3:27, we saw that we can't prove that it's referring to water baptism, and we can't prove that it's referring to salvation. Therefore, Galatians 3:27 does not prove that water baptism is necessary for salvation.

In Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5, we saw that those verses are talking about an internal and spiritual "washing," not an external and physical "washing."


All for Your glory, Lord Jesus!


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  Modification History  
 
 

  • 11/04/2008 - Re-wrote this article. Renamed this article from "Part Three" to "Part Four."
  • 01/11/2006 - Added a Conclusion section.
  • 12/05/2005 - Added Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 5:26, and Titus 3:5.
  • 07/31/2003 - Modified some of the wording.
  • 03/20/2003 - Deleted most of the first paragraph in the section on Acts 22:16.
  • 02/23/2003 - Modified the paragraph which discusses Acts 22:16.
  • 02/08/2003 - New article.