It is written:
Mark 1:4-John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Luke 3:3-And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
The baptism of John was “for the remission of sins.”
What does “for the remission of sins” mean?
Let’s study some New Testament Greek.
Years ago, J.W. Shepherd created a huge reference work on the subject of baptism. The following lengthy testimony is from that book (J.W. Shepherd’s work, Handbook On Baptism, 339-341; Indianapolis, Indiana; Faith And Facts Press). The reproduced section contains a detailed study in which the author amassed a tremendous amount of scholarly information regarding how the phrase “for the remission of sins” as used in Acts 2:38 (and in other passages such as the ones we are studying) should be understood.
“ABBOTT. —For the remission of sins, is not merely, as Dr. Hackett, “in order to the forgiveness of sins,” but for the putting away of sins, the entire cleansing the heart from actual sin, as well as the pardon of those that are past.—Com. on Acts, ii. 38. ALEXANDER.—The beneficial end to which all this led was the remission of sins. The first Greek noun (aphesin), derived from a verb (aphimi) which means to let go, is applied by Plutarch to divorce, by Demosthenes to legal discharge from the obligation of a bond, by Plato to the emancipation of a slave, and to exemption from punishment, which last is its constant use in the New Testament. The whole phrase, to (or towards) remission of sins, describes this as the end to which the question of the multitude had reference, and which therefore must be contemplated also in the answer.—Commentary on Acts, ii. 38, Vol. I., p. 85. ARMITAGE.—Peter offered them salvation through the blood of Jesus for the sin of shedding it, and urged them to leave the wicked hierarchy, and enter the new kingdom by faith and baptism. — Hist, of the Baptists, p. 73. AXTELL.—The preposition eis in Acts ii. 38 may be rendered by several prepositions, or prepositional phrases, as for instance; unto, for, in order to, with a view to. The noun which it governs denotes the object or end toward which the action expressed by the predicate verbs was to be directed; or to state it from the other point of view, the result which he would attain who should repent and be baptized.—Letter to the Author, Oct. 20, 1893. BENSON.—For the remission of sins—Which you may obtain, through Christ crucified, in this way, and can obtain in no other. Repent of your sins, and they shall not be your ruin; believe in Jesus, and be baptized in that faith, and you shall be justified.—Com. on the Bible, on Acts ii. 38. BICKERSTETH.—Remission of sins is a special blessing connected in the holy scriptures with baptism. Thus St. Peter, in his first public address to the Jews, charges them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Acts ii. 38. The address of Ananias to Saul on his conversion, conveys a similar truth: Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts xxii. 16. While the uncleanness of the body is removed by water, the sins of the soul are washed away in a free forgiveness. —Treatise on Baptism, pp. 84, 85. BLOOMFIELD.—In all such cases the preposition denotes dependence on, devotedness to, and obedience to, (as in 1 Cor. x. 2), and should be rendered, not into, but unto, implying, however, the into as referred to the benefits and bless- ings thereby imparted.—Greek Test., Note on Acts ii. 38. BONET-MAURY.—Qu. “What is the literal translation of Acts ii. 38, and the design of Baptism as indicated by the prep. eis?” Ans. “Be baptized every one of you, in (epi) the name of Jesus Christ unto (eis) the remission of your sins,” i. e. that the sinners who believe give up the world and its pomps and seductions and call on=believe in Christ as the only Savior, get all their sins washed away by the baptism.—Letter to the Author, May 8, 1893. BUTCHER.—The words in Acts ii. 38 eis aphesin hamartion occur also in Matt. xxvi. 28 to aima . . . to peri pollon ekchunomenon eis aphesin hamartion; and Luke iii. 3 kerussan baptisma eis aphesin hamartion. In each passage the preposition eis seems to express the end towards which the action tends, the result which it is designed to bring about. Baptism in the passage of Acts, as in Luke iii. 3, is spoken of as an act which is at least on the road to forgiveness. Apart from theological controversy this appears to me the undoubted linguistic force of the word.—Letter to the Author, Jan. 13,1894. BYWATER.—As far as I can see, the preposition eis in Acts ii. 38 expresses the end or purpose to be attained: compare Moulton’s ‘Winer,’ ed. 3 p. 495 and Thayer’s ‘Grimm,’ p. 185. The translation, I suppose, is ‘with a view to the remission of your sins,’ or ‘to the end that your sins may be remitted.’ The form of expression is closely parallel to that in Acts iii. 19 metanoesate . . . eis to exaleiphthenai humon tas hamartias. i. e. ‘Repent, to the end that your sins may be blotted out.’—Letter to the Author, Dec. 29,1893. CAMERON.—The preposition eis in Acts ii. 38 is evi-dently used in its final sense, and the phrase is clearly connected with metanoesate kai baptistheti [repent and be baptized] as the end to which repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ led. The conviction of sin in the crucifixion of Jesus, who was both Lord and Christ, led the multitude to inquire of the Apostles, “What shall we do?” “Do” for what purpose? Evidently “for the remission of sins” as is shown in the answer of the Apostles. They thought only of the sin against Christ, which, since his advent is the essence of sin (” of sin because they believe not on me “); but the Apostle makes the matter more general,—”remission of sins “—The term aphesis [remission], except in the quotation from Isaiah (Luke iv. 18), has but one signification in the N. T. This then was the object contemplated both in the question and the answer and to which eis points. Trusting that this hasty note which does not enter into the question of baptism, or of its relation to salvation, or even of the meaning of the expression epi to onomati [in the name], is a sufficient answer to your inquiries, I remain yours truly.—Letter to S. T. Mathews, March 7, 1876. CLARKE, ADAM.—For remission of sins] Eis aphesin hamartion, In reference to the remission or removal of sins.— Com. on Acts, ii. 38. CRANMER.—In baptism our sins be forgiven us, as saint Peter witnesseth, saying, Let every one of you be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins.—Catechism, p. 186. CYRIL.—Thus spake Peter to the three thousand who came to him; and they the crucifiers of the Lord, when they asked and said, Men and brethren what shall we do? for great is our wound; thou hast turned our thoughts, O Peter, to our fall, in saying, Ye have killed the Prince of life. What salve is there for so great a wound? What cleansing for so great pollution? What salvation for so great a death? to them I say, Peter saith, Repent, and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. O unspeakable loving-kindness of God! they look not for salvation, and they are vouchsafed the Holy Ghost. Behold the power of Baptism! If any of you hath by blasphemous words crucified Christ; if any of you through ignorance denied Him before men; if any of you, through wicked works, hath led to the doctrines being evil spoken of, let him be of good hope in repenting, for the same grace is also now present.—Catechetical Lectures, Lect. III., Para. XV., p. 32. DILL.—To your question, I reply briefly as follows:—. (1). Eis, in its original and strictly local sense, signifies “in-to;” that is, “to a. position in.” As eis hudor, into the water. (2). Sometimes, the preposition is diverted from its strictly logical sense, and may be applied, not to material objects, but to abstract ideas. The use is then nec- essarily figurative. Sometimes, however, the analogy is so plain that” into” may still be employed to render it into English; as, “Lead us not into (eis) temptation.” The substantive then presents a state or condition, “into” which the mind fears or desires to enter. (3). “To” may be employed, when in strict propriety, “into” is implied; or “unto” may be used as the antiquated synonyme of “to,” characteristic of scriptural language: as, “The goodness of God leadeth to (eis, unto) repentance.” (4). The entrance “into” a state or condition may be presented to the mind as the purpose or end of our actions. Thus in Rom. iii. 25, eis endeizin tes dikaiosunes auton, literally rendered, “into a showing of his righteousness,” is freely rendered by an infinitive clause of purpose both in the revised and the common version, “to declare (R. V. to show) his own righteousness.” (5). Eis may be employed to express other relations not so easily defined; so that forty-five different renderings have been resorted to in the New Testament. In reference to the passage referred to, I would not depart from the literal meaning any farther than the usage presented as case (4). I would express the relation implied, by the prepositional phrase “with a view to.” Repentance and baptism are plainly expressed, and faith in Jesus Christ is distinctly implied as the conditions on which the sinner may hope to enter “into” that state of freedom from the penalty of sins implied in “the remission of your sins.” “For” in the common version, I think, implies this; while “unto,” equal to “to,” in the revised, does not express the relation with sufficient precision to determine whether to class the usage under case (3) or (4).—Letter to the Author, Oct. 18, 1893. DIODATI.—In the Name] not only for a sign of the profession of Christians, but also to participate of his spiritual virtue in the washing away of your sins with which he accomplisheth, and ratifieth the external ceremony of those who are his.—Annotat., on Acts ii. 38. DITZLER.—No; neither repentance nor baptism is for remission, but conditions precedent to doing that which is for remission.— Wilkes-Ditzler Debate, p. 295. His criticism on the preposition eis is the best he ever made, if he did get it from myself. Eis is always prospective, and never retrospective. He never said a better thing in his life, or put a criticism in a better form. The Baptists are all wrong on eis—making it retrospective— “in consequence of.”—Ibid., p. 307. DODDRIDGE.—They are not only called here to repent, a submission also to the ordinance of baptism is required of them, in order to the forgiveness of their sins.—Family Expositor, Acts ii. 38, Vol. III., p. 27. D’OOGE.—In reply to your inquiry I would say that in my judgment the preposition eis in the verse referred to expresses the relation of aim, or end in view, answering the question eis ti [for what?], and to be translated by unto, in order to, for. This sense of eis, as you doubtless know, is recognized by Liddell and Scott for classical, by Winer for New Testament usage. I cannot with those give eis nearly the same force in the phrase, baptize into the name, but understand it then to be used in the sense of in reference to, in relation to.— Letter to It. T. Mathews, Feb. 12, 1876. Du VEIL.—And be baptized, &c. That is, according to the command of Christ, let every one of you, struck with a real sorrow for his sins, be plunged in water; because that sacred immersion has been instituted by Christ, like a certain signet, diploma, or patent, by which he confirms the remission and utter defacing of their sins to all those who seek to him with an unfeigned faith, as the only Physician of their souls; so that their sins shall never more be remembered or imputed to them.—Com. on Acts, ii. 38, p. 58. FLAGG.—In answer to your enquiry about the force of the preposition eis in the passage of the New Testament to which you refer (Acts ii. 38), I should say that it denoted intention or purpose: “with a view to,” much as if it had been written “so as to obtain remission of sins.” I speak, however, wholly from the standpoint of classic Greek, not being familiar with the changes introduced by the Hellenistic. As to any theological bearing that the subject may have, I am wholly indifferent.—Letter to E. T. Mathews, Feb. 15, 1876. FOSTER.—Without a special examination of the passage in connection with others in which like expressions occur, I should say that the word here has the force of “unto,” “in order to,” “for the sake of”—indicating a result to be attained, and that it connects the phrase aphesin hamartion with both the foregoing imperative verbs, alike — grammatically considered — though, on other grounds, I should say, specially with the first, since pardon is nowhere offered on condition of baptism alone, while it is, on that of repentance.—Letter to It. T. Mathews, Feb. 23,1876. FULLERTON.—Eis may be used … to describe ideal relation when it denotes aim or end more or less distinctly. In Acts ii. 38 it is probably to be translated into or unto remission of sins, conveying there the idea of purpose; i. e. the aim or end of baptism, is remission of sins.—Letter to the Author, Nov. 3,1893. GALE.—Baptism, I grant, is of great necessity; and though I dare fix no limits to the infinite goodness and mercy of God, which I am confident he will give mighty proofs of, in great instances of kindness towards all sin- cere, though mistaken men; however the gospel rule is, according to the doctrine of the apostle, to repent, and be baptized, for the remission of sins. We should be very cautious therefore of making any change in these things, lest we deprive ourselves, through our presumption, of that title to pardon, without which there is no salvation. —Reflections on Wall’s Hist, of Inf. Bap., Vol. II., p. 52. GLOAG.—Baptism in the adult, except in the peculiar case of our Lord, was accompanied by a confession of sin, and was a sign of its remission; hence called baptism in order to the forgiveness of sins (Acts ii. 38).— Com. on Acts, xxii. 16, Vol. II., p. 294. GODET.—Eis aphesin——Acts ii. 38 must necessarily design the aim (purpose) of baptisthenai. The difficulty is only that, in all the New Testament pardon is granted to Faith and not to Baptism. But here, Baptism is so much the immediate consequence of Faith that the two make one. It is very clear that Baptism without Faith would not insure pardon to those to whom S. Peter is speaking. According to Rom. vi. 1 seq. the relation between Faith and Baptism is the same as that between death and burial. Death is the condition of burial: faith that of baptism: at least where there is question of adults, of whom St. Paul, Rom. vi., is evidently speaking.—Letter to the Author, June 8,1893. GOODELL.—In reply to your question with regard to the preposition eis in Acts ii. 38 I do not know that I can do better than quote the rendering in Thayer’s Lexicon to the New Testament under eis, namely, “to obtain the forgiveness of sins.” All that the words in themselves contain is the thought that repentance and baptism aim at, are believed in some way to lead to, aphesis ton hamartion, remission or forgiveness of sins. The method of operation, the way in which the aphesis ton hamartion results so far as I can see, is not any more nearly defined in the passage.—Letter to the Author, Sept. 11,1893. GOODWIN.—I think eis in Acts ii. 38 expresses purpose or tendency and is rightly translated for or unto (in the sense of for).—Letter to the Author, July 27, 1893. HACKETT. — In order to the forgiveness of sins (Matt. xxvi. 28; Luke iii. 3) we connect naturally with both the preceding verbs. This clause states the motive or object which should induce them to repent and be baptized. It enforces the entire exhortation, not one part of it to the exclusion of the other.—Com. on Acts, ii. 38, p. 54. HALLEY.—Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (eis aphesin hamartion.) Acts ii. 38. The syntax is here, if possible, more decided. Not only does the preposition eis refer to the future and prospective relation of the remission of sins, but it does so with the same dependence on baptism as on repentance. The signification of eis must correspond in its relation to both words, “repent” and “be baptized.” In what sense does the apostle use the preposition, when he says, “Repent” “for the remission of sins “? The remission of sins is obviously represented, not as preceding repentance, but as subsequent to it. The preposition has its meaning clearly defined by its relation to the word “repent.” Used only once, it cannot have two interpreta-tions thrust upon it. It must connect the remission of sins with both words, “repent” and “be baptized,” by one and the same relation. If it be, “repent for the remission of sins,” it must also be, “be baptized for the remission of sins.” Let those who deny this, say by what canon of syntax they can construe the passage, so as to obtain the interpretation, Repent for the remission of sins, and be baptized after their remission.—Cong. Lectures, Vol. XV., p. 117. HAMMOND.—And Peter answered them, that there was now but one possible way left, and that was with true contrition, and acknowledgment of their sin, to hasten out of their infidelity, and with a sincere and thorough change to come as proselytes to Christ, and enter upon Christian profession with a vow of never falling off from it, and so to receive baptism from the apostles, that sacrament, wherein Christ enabled them to bestow, or convey from him, remission of sins to all true penitents.— Paraphrase, on Acts ii. 38. HARKNESS.—In my opinion eis in Acts ii. 38 denotes purpose and maybe rendered in order to, or for the purpose of receiving, or as in our English version for: Eis aphesin hamartion suggests the motive or object contemplated in the action of the two preceding verbs.—Letter to JJ. T. Mathews, Feb. 24, 1876. HARMAN.—In reply to your inquiry respecting eis in Acts ii. 38,1 would say that eis has the force of “for,” the object to be obtained, to the end that. I would thus translate the passage: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for (that ye may obtain) the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repentance and baptism are necessary for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. One might bitterly repent with- out surrendering himself to Christ and entering upon the Christian profession; but this is done in baptism, hence repentance and baptism are both necessary to for- giveness as expressed by Peter.—Letter to the Author, Oct. 23,1893. HARPER.—In answer to your letter I would say that the preposition eis is to be translated “unto” i. e. “in order to secure.” The preposition indicates that remission of sins is the end to be aimed at in the actions expressed by the predicates repent and be baptized. The phrase is telic.—Letter to the Author, April 22, 1893. HOGUE.—(1) I should translate eis in Acts ii. 38 by “for,” i. e., “with a view to.” (2) The connection established by m between metanoesate kai baptistheto (repent and be baptized) I take to be a relation of purpose, as if he had said: hina aphethosin ai hamartia humon (to the end that your sins might be forgiven).—Letter to the Author, Oct. 28,1893. HOVEY.—”Repent and be baptized every one of you in (or, upon) the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission (or, forgiveness) of your sins” Acts ii. 38. Rev. Ver.) Here repentance and baptism are represented as leading to the forgiveness of sins.—Com. on John, Appendix, p. 420. HUNTINGDON. —The preposition eis which means into in its local and primary signification, means also with reference to. In Acts ii. 38 it undoubtedly means, as I am compelled to think, for the purpose of receiving, in order that you may receive &c. It is connected with both of the preceding verbs, not with be baptized alone, but with repent also,—repent and be baptized, for the remission of your sins, unto, with reference to, this result, namely, the remission, &c.—Letter to the Author, April 20,1893. LECHLER.—Baptism is not merely a confessional act on the part of man, but also an act of God by which He effects and imparts forgiveness of sin (Acts ii. 38), and with which the gift of the Spirit is connected.—The Apostolic and Post- Apostolic Times, Vol. I., p. 277. MEYER.—Baptiz. is only here used with epi; but comp. the analogous expressions, Luke xxi. 8; xxiv. 47; Acts v. 28, 40; Matt. xxiv. 5; al.—eis denotes the object of the baptism, which is the remission of the guilt contracted in the state before metanoia. Comp. xxii. 16; 1 Cor. vi. 11.—Com. on Acts, ii. 38, pp. 66, 67. McLEAN.—It represents to the repenting believer the remission or washing away of his sins in the blood of Christ. Accordingly, Peter exhorts the convicted Jews, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Ananias, in his address to Paul, expresses this still stronger: “And now, why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” This manner of speaking will appear very extravagant to many now-a-days, who look upon baptism as a mere empty rite or arbitrary precept. To be baptized for the remission or washing away of sins plainly imports that in baptism the remission of sins is represented as really conferred upon the believer. The gospel promise in general is, “that through Christ’s name, whosoever believ-eth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Baptism applies this promise, and represents its actual accomplishment to an individual believer; assuring him that all his past sins are now as really washed away in the blood of Christ as his body is washed in water.— Works, Vol. L, pp. 132, 133. McCLINTOCK.—In these cases [Matt, xxviii. 19; Rom. vi. 3; 1 Cor. x. 2; xii. 13; Acts ii. 38] eis retains its proper significancy, as indicating the terminus ad quern, and tropically, that for which, or with a view to which the thing is done, . . . to be baptized for the remission of sins means to be baptized with a view to receiving this.— Art. Bap., McClintock & Strong’s Cyclop., Vol. L, p. 640. PACKARD.—Your letter of inquiry as to the meaning of eis in Acts ii. 38 was handed to me this morning. I do not suppose it is possible to determine from classical or patristic usage a necessary meaning for such a word which can be applied in any new case. It is so frequent a word, has so many various meanings, and expressing only relation depends so entirely on context for its determination, that each case must be decided mainly by itself. Here it seems to be connected with both verbs. With baptize alone it has a special New Testament use, as to the meaning of which scholars are somewhat divided. My own impression—to give it for what it is worth—is that I should translate it, if these words occurred in Plato, for instance, to the end of remission of sins. It would then make aphesin hamartion as an object aimed at or a result attained by the acts denoted by the verbs.—Letter to E. T. Mathews, Feb. 12,1876. PAINE.—Eis in Acts ii. 38 means in order to or with a view to the remission of sins, but it is to be connected with both the previous verbs, repent and be baptized.— Letter to the Author, April 15, 1893. POPE.—We may find many references to the specific blessings which are exhibited and pledged to the believer in his baptism. Foremost is justification or the forgiveness of sins: St. Peter cries, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and Ananias to Paul, Be baptized, and wash away thy sins.—Christian Theology, Vol. III., p. 315. PROCTOR, J. C.—It is my opinion that eis is to be connected with both the predicates and that it denotes an object or end in view. I am inclined to think the phrase, “in the name of Jesus Christ,” though grammatically limiting only baptistheti, does in thought modify the connection of eis, the ideas standing logically in the following order, viz:—Having been shown your ill behavior against the Messiah (vs. 37), put faith in (the name of) Christ on the basis of that faith repent and (confess) be baptized, and then be forgiven: eis connecting aphesis not only with the two predicates separately, but with the whole preceding part of the sentence. I have first and last given a good deal of attention to this point, but cannot yet speak more confidently than I have done above. If you enjoy this study as I do, I congratulate you most cordially. I establish few doctrines as such but the divine word is more and more a sustenance and solace.—Letter to R. T. Mathews, March 23, 1876. PURVES.—I would translate eis in Acts ii. 38 by “unto” and understand it to express the object sought to be at- tained by baptism. “Remission of sins” is conceived of as that benefit into the enjoyment of which the baptized penitent will come. The preceding “repent” shows that only on the condition of a truly ethical change of mind would the ordinance be efficacious with those to whom the apostle was speaking: nor does this sentence throw any light on the mode of baptism since “baptistheto” is used as a technical term. The apostle thus states the necessary precedent (Repent), the act (baptism), the faith in which it was to be done (in the name of Jesus Christ) and the end or object to be attained and unto which therefore it was done. Baptizein eis, denoting the end to be attained or object sought, may be found in Matt. iii. 11; Acts xix. 3; 1 Cor. x. 2,—in each case, of course, with special modifications of the thought.—Letter to the Author, Oct. 24,1893. SADLER.—Acts ii. 38: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (to be saved). “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” So that, in the first Christian sermon ever preached, Remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, are made to depend upon repentance joined with baptism. —Church Doctrine—Bible Truth, p. 56. SALE.—The preposition eis in Acts ii. 38 can only be used in one of two senses: (1) expressing the purpose or object; (2) expressing the result of the act of submitting to “baptism.” “So as to obtain remission of sins” is the nearest translation I can suggest—and this translation will suit either of the above meanings.—Letter to the Author, Sept. 14, 1889. SCHAFF.—He called upon his hearers to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus, as the founder and head of the heavenly kingdom, that even they, though they had crucified him, the Lord and the Messiah, might receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, whose wonderful workings they saw and heard in the disciples.—Hist. of the Christ. Church, Vol. I., pp. 233, 234. SCOTT, JOHN.—St. Peter exhorts his Converts to Repent and be Baptized for the Remission of Sins, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. From whence it is evident, that Baptism, as well as Repentance, has a great influence on our Remission of Sins, and our Communication of the Holy Ghost.—Works, Vol. I., p. 447. SCOTT, THOMAS.—To this the apostle replied, by exhorting them to repent of that, and all their other sins; and openly to avow their firm belief, that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, by being baptized in his name. In thus professing their faith in him, all who truly believed would receive a full remission of their sins for his sake. —Commentary, on Acts ii. 38. SITTERLY.—The preposition eis in Acts ii. 38 may be translated “for,” “unto,” and “in order to.” In the clause eis aphesin hamartion Peter states the reason or motive that should induce to repentance and baptism, referring not to one but to both verbs preceding. According to Winer 549. c. “Eis is here used tropically to denote the purpose or end in view.”—Letter to the Author, April 20,1893. STRONG.—I would say in brief, that in my opinion, eis n Acts ii. 38, can only have its natural and usual causal force of in order to, as the design and result of the act on the part of those addressed; but observe that the release or pardon of sin is there predicated upon the two-fold condition of repentance and baptism, just as everywhere else in Scripture (e. g. especially on faith (which alone can spring from true repentance) and baptism in our Lord’s own declaration, Mark xvi. 16; where it is NOT said per contra that he who is not baptized shall be condemned).—Letter to the Author, April 15, 1893. THAYER.—I accept the rendering of the revised version “unto the remission of your sins” (the eis expressing the end aimed at and secured by ‘repentance and baptism’ just previously enjoined).—Letter to the Author, May 5,1893. TURRENTINE.—I venture to give you my opinion concerning the matter required by you. (1) Translation of eis (Acts ii. 38),—for, or unto; (2) relation expressed,— object, or aim.—Letter to the Author, Oct. 30,1893. TYLER.—I shall translate Acts ii. 38 literally thus: Repent and let every one of you be baptized in (or on) the name of Jesus Christ unto remission of sins. The preposition eis seems to denote the object and end of the two verbs which precede in the imperative. In other words remission of sins is the object and end (or result) of repentance and baptism. The meaning may perhaps be more defi- nitely and unequivocally expressed thus: Repent and let every one of you be baptized to the end that your sins may be forgiven. The passage does not necessarily imply that repentance and baptism stand in just the same moral, religious, essential or formal relation to forgiveness, any more than believing and being baptized stand in the same relation to being saved in Mark xvi. 16; or being born of water and of the Spirit stand in the same relation to entering into the kingdom of God in John Hi. 5. The result is fully realized in each of these cases only when both the outward and the inward conditions are fulfilled. But that the outward condition is less essential to the result is clearly indicated by its omission in the negative and condemnatory part of Mark xvi. 16. He that believeth not shall be damned. I do not know that I have met the precise point and object of your inquiries, I have only touched the points of chief interest and importance as they present themselves to my own mind.—Letter to R. T. Mathews, Feb. 12, 1876. WEISS.—Peter promises to those who suffer themselves to be baptized, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit (ii. 38).—Biblical Theology, Vol. I., p. 187. WILLMARTH.—It is feared that if we give to eis its natural and obvious meaning, undue importance will be ascribed to Baptism, the Atonement will be undervalued, and the work of the Holy Spirit disparaged. Especially is it asserted that here is the vital issue between Baptists and Campbellites. We are gravely told that if we render eis in Acts ii. 38 in order to, we give up the battle, and must forthwith become Campbellites; whereas if we translate it on account of, or in token of, it will yet be possible for us to remain Baptists. Such methods of interpretation are unworthy of Christian scholars. It is our business, simply and honestly, to ascertain the exact meaning of the inspired originals, as the sacred penman intended to convey it to the mind of the contemporary reader. Away with the question— “What ought Peter to have said in the interest of orthodoxy?” The real question is, “What did Peter say, and what did he mean, when he spoke on the Day of Pentecost, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?” But having entered this caveat, as a lawyer might say, it may do no harm to show that dogmatic dangers here exist only in imagination. The natural and obvious interpretation cannot give undue importance to Baptism, for Baptism is here united with Repentance and Faith. It cannot undervalue the Atonement, for Baptism is one resting upon, and deriving all its value from, the name of the Lamb of God; and this is distinctly understood by the person baptized, who submits to the rite as a believer in that name. It cannot disparage the work of the Spirit, since he alone effectually calls men to Repentance and Faith; and it is by (Greek en, in, with the influence of) one Spirit that we are all baptized into one body, i. e., the Spirit leads the penitent sinner to Baptism and blesses the rite. And as to Campbellism, that specter which haunts many good men and terrifies them into a good deal of bad interpretation, shall we gain anything by maintaining a false translation and allowing the Campbellites to be champions of the true, with the world’s scholarship on their side, as against us? Whoever carries the weight of our controversy with the Campbellite upon the eis will break through—there is no footing there for the evolutions of the theological skater. Shall we never learn that Truth has nothing to fear from a true interpretation of any part of God’s word, and nothing to gain from a false one? The truth will suffer nothing by giving to eis its true signification. When Campbellites translate in order to in Acts ii. 38 they translate correctly. Is a translation false because Campbellite endorse it?—Bapt. and Remission, in Bapt. Quarterly, July, 1877, pp. 304, 305.” (End Quotations)
Clearly, the baptism of John existed so that people (by undergoing such baptism) could obtain the forgiveness of their sins.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.