It is written:
Mark 16:15-16-And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Having seen that the text of Mark 16:9-20 is authentic and part of Mark’s Gospel, let’s turn our attention to carefully study Mark 16:15-16 and see what it teaches us about the subject of baptism.
After having commissioned His Apostles to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, Jesus discusses the person who will be saved and the ones who will be condemned.
First, let’s notice what exactly the “salvation” is in these passages. When we compare the account here with Matthew’s and Luke’s, we see that the “salvation” has reference to forgiveness of sins. Notice:
Luke 24:46-47-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, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Jesus is clear that only certain ones will receive this salvation.
Second, who are the ones that Jesus says will be saved?
The English is very clear about the matter. Jesus provides two conditions in the first part of the verse which the subject must meet in order to receive the future blessing attached to the conditions. What are the two conditions? Believing (int the Gospel, verse 15); and being baptized.
Further, the two conditional statements are joined together by the coordinating conjunction “and,” which serves to join together clauses of like equal significance.
So, who is the one that will receive the blessing of being “saved?” Very simply, the one who “believes” AND the one who is “baptized.”
My friends, language could not be more plain.
However, the Greek of the text is also powerful and emphatic.
In his debate with Baptist preacher Ben Bogard, N.B. Hardeman tells us of the Greek of this passage:
“‘He that believeth and is baptized’-note just what is said about it. Now then, the next statement, ‘shall be saved.’ That’s the statement of God’s word, and I beg Dr. Bogard to note carefully. I want to insist that this is the scripture and applies to sinners. Boys and girls, and young men attending the ‘Missionary Baptist Institute;’ your, professors and all, I challenge you to find a single error in the analysis of that sentence. Here it is: That is a complex, declarative sentence, of which ‘he that believeth and is baptized’ is the complex subject. ‘He’ is the simple subject, modified by a limiting and restrictive clause, ‘that believeth and is baptized,’ a simple, adjective element of the third class; but this is also a partial compound, subordinate declarative sentence, of which ‘that’ is the simple subject unmodified, of which subordinate sentence also ‘believeth and is baptized’ is the compound predicate; of which principal sentence ‘shall be saved’ is the simple predicate unmodified. Christ Jesus our Lord has such to say regarding some men. ‘He shall be saved,’ that’s the principal sentence. Now, what he? Had there been no modifying qualifications, any ‘he’ could share the promise. But not so! Christ Jesus offered salvation. And not here, it is the restricted king, it is limited; not any he shall be saved, but a certain he. Now, describe your man, Lord. ‘He that’s believeth and is baptized.’ Lord, did you say, ‘He that believeth shall be saved?’ No. Did you say, ‘He that is baptized shall be saved?’ No. Well, what did you say? I said, ‘He that believeth and’-what does ‘and’ mean? ‘And’ is copulative, coupling, additional, not just one thing, but the additional part. ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ Therefore, Jesus Christ predicates salvation to a certain character. And who is the character? Well, it’s a ‘he,’ and the he, usually masculine gender, is now common. Hence, any person. Well, ‘what kind’ of a person? Any person accountable and responsible unto God, that believeth and is baptized-that’s the man that ‘shall be saved’ as Jesus Christ thus declared.” (N.B. Hardenman & Ben Bogard, Hardeman-Bogard debate 86-87 (Kindle Edition, downloaded from http://www.djmarko53.wixsite.com/churchbooks/debates); Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company)
Third, who is the “he” in the passage? As Hardeman noted, the word “he” is often used in the Bible to refer to all mankind.
“The primary meaning of the Greek word is “person,” not “man.” (We get the English word anthropology—the study of human beings—from this word.) Greek has other words, such as (“ man”) and (“ male”), which more commonly refer to males. Of course the NIV’s translation is not “wrong,” since the original translators intended “man” to be understood generically, that is, referring to people in general….“With reference to persons, grammatical gender usually coincides with biological gender. The most common Greek word for “man” is masculine, while the word for “woman” is feminine. In other cases, however, grammatical and biological gender are at odds. The Greek word for a child (teknon) is neuter; yet we do not refer to a child as “it.” In German the word for a young woman is a neuter word. Nor are generic words always masculine. In Spanish, the word for “person” is feminine (la persona). The same is true in German (die Person). In Greek the word is masculine (). Does this mean Spanish and German persons are feminine while Greeks are masculine? No, it means that this is a grammatical category that has nothing to do with biological gender. Our favorite example is from German, where the word for “masculinity”—die Männlichkeit—is feminine!” (Gordon D. Fee & Mark L. Strauss, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions, 1554-1578 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
So, any sinner (male or female) who believes (the Gospel of Christ) and is baptized will be saved (forgiven of their sins).
Isn’t that simple?
Fourth, the “baptism” in this passage is undoubtedly a reference to baptism in water. This is true for several reasons. One, the word baptism in Jewish and Christian literature normally automatically meant immersion in water (as has been demonstrated in previous articles). Second, the baptism here is parallel to Matthew 28:19-20, where humans do the baptizing. Third, the baptizing of this passage has to do with forgiveness of sins, and other passages discussing baptism and forgiveness make it clear that water baptism is the medium being expressed (cf. Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:20-21).
Friends, Jesus places belief and baptism before salvation.
Some object, “Why doesn’t Jesus say in the second part of the verse that the one who isn’t baptized will be condemned?”
Those who make such an argument are not thinking clearly. Nothing Jesus says in the second part of the verse will somehow remove the significance of what He had just said in the same breath!
Furthermore, why would a person who doesn’t believe in Jesus consider being baptized?
Cottrell has well written:
“Some may be reluctant to draw the obvious conclusion from this passage because the second (negative) part of the statement omits any reference to baptism: “He who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” If baptism is a condition for salvation, why does this not read, “He who has disbelieved and has not been baptized shall be condemned”? Whatever the reason, this omission cannot legitimately be used to negate the force of the first clause. If there is not an intimate relation between baptism and salvation, then the inclusion of baptism in the statement at all is unnecessary and even misleading. Why, then, the omission? Two reasons have been suggested, both involving the inherent priority of faith in the salvation process. First, when compared with anything else the sinner can or must do to receive salvation, faith is basic in the sense that it has a fundamental chronological priority. The person who does not believe will probably not even seek baptism in the first place; and even if he does, it will be meaningless without faith. Thus there is no need to mention both faith and baptism in the negative clause, since the efficacy of baptism presupposes the presence of faith (see Colossians 2: 12). The following statement is comparable: “He who turns on his TV and tunes in to channel 5 will see the program; he who refuses to turn on his TV will miss the program.” Since turning on the TV is basic to everything else, there is no need to mention the channel in the second clause. Likewise, even if he tunes in to channel 5 but does not turn on his TV, he will still miss the program. This is the most reasonable explanation for the omission of baptism in the second clause, which would most likely be understood in this way by anyone seeing the statement for the first time and without theological bias.” (Jack Cottrell, Baptism: A Biblical Study, 317-332 (Kindle Edition); Joplin, Missouri; College Press Publishing Company)
It is also worth noting here that the passage implicitly excludes the idea of infant baptism, since faith in Christ is as necessary for salvation as is baptism.
Those who deny that baptism is not part of God’s plan of redemption are at odds with what Jesus clearly says in Mark 16;15-16.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.