A lot of Baptist will talk about the Greek word “Eis” in Acts 2:38. They say it means because of. How do I explain that to them?
When Baptists teach that salvation is by faith only and that there is nothing a person can or must do to be saved, they contradict very clear passages of Scripture.
Must a person believe in order to be saved? (Heb. 11:6).
Must a person repent of sin in order to be saved? (Luke 13:3-5).
Must a person be baptized for the remission of sins in order to be saved? (Acts 2:37-38).
Someone answering from an unbiased point of reference would say yes, yes, and yes. Because it is clearly what the Bible says. However, a good Baptist will reply yes, yes, and no. Because they are answering from the biased reference point of denominational doctrine. And, when they are called on to explain why they would say that baptism is not essential to a person’s salvation, they twist and squirm their way through the very clear teaching of Scripture, making up all manner of nonsensical and illogical explanations. Their use, or misuse, of the word eis is just one example of this.
The most quoted source that Baptists use is Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament. On Acts 2:38, and eis, Robertson says this:
In themselves the words can express aim or purpose …. But then another usage exists which is just as good Greek as the use of [eis] for aim or purpose. It is seen in Matt. 10:41 in three examples … where it cannot be purpose or aim, but rather the basis or ground, on the basis of the name of prophet, righteous man, disciple, because one is, etc. It is seen again in Matt. 12:41 about the preaching of Jonah …. They repented because of (or at) the preaching of Jonah. The illustrations of both usages are numerous in the N.T. and the Koiné generally (Robertson, Grammar, p. 592). One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission [emp. mine, NSF]. So I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had already received (Robertson, A. (1997). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Ac 2:38). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems).
So, Robertson admits here that the reason he takes the word eis to mean “because of” is because of his biased view toward the doctrine of baptism. He is not being honest with the word itself or the doctrine of Christ in general. Why would he have this biased view toward the doctrine of baptism? Maybe this opening to his biography on “Christians Classic Ethereal Library” (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/robertson_at), will help answer the question. “Archibald Thomas Robertson was born near Chatham, Virginia, but grew up on a farm in North Carolina. In 1876, he was baptized and began his lifelong loyalty to the Southern Baptist Church [emp. mine, NSF].” He couldn’t rightly interpret eis in Acts 2:38 and maintain “his lifelong loyalty to the Southern Baptist Church.”
When you look up the word eis in a dictionary, instead of a commentary, the meaning is given as:
1519. eis; prep. governing the acc. with the primary idea of motion into any place or thing; also of motion or direction to, toward or upon any place, thing. The antithesis is expressed by ek (1537), out of (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers).
Though Baptists insist that the word eis in Acts 2:38 should be translated “because of,” I cannot find an English translation of the Bible that so translates the word! The American Standard Version of 1901, widely considered the most accurate and literal translation of the Greek New Testament, says this:
“And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, 1901 ASV)
Maybe now we know why denominationalists have abandoned the ASV! It’s too accurate for them.
The RSV says, “so that your sins may be forgiven.” Even the very liberal “God’s Word Translation” says, “you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven.” Young’s Literal Translation says, “to remission of sins.” I have 22 different translation and not a single one translate eis in Acts 2:38 as “because of.”
What about the passages Robertson gives as so-called examples of where the word eis means “because of”? He uses Matt. 10:41 and 12:41 as examples. However, neither of these shows that eis means “because of.” In the first passage, does “receives a prophet in (eis) the name of a prophet mean that he is to be received “because” he is a prophet? Or does it mean he is to be received into the proper respect and fellowship that he is due? Notice that Jesus says receiving them “in the name of…” brings the same reward that they receive. That reward wouldn’t come simply by receiving them because they are a prophet or righteous person. That reward would come from receiving them into fellowship of like precious faith (2 Pet. 1:1). So, eis doesn’t mean “because of.”
In the second example, Matt. 12:41, it is said that Nineveh repented “because of” the preaching of Jonah. However, the reason they would “rise up in the judgment with [that] generation and condemn it,” was because when they heard the preaching of God’s word they did what it said. In other words, they repented into the preaching of Jonah. They took what Jonah preached and they put it into practice in their lives. That is the significance of the word eis in that passage. Again, it does not mean “because of.”
So, respected Greek Lexicons, Word Studies, and Grammars agree that eis means into, unto, toward, upon, etc. The vast majority of English translations agree that eis is to be translated to, for, into, at, etc. never because of!
Even if you allow them their unwarranted use of eis to mean because of in certain instances, which there is no good evidence that you should, but even if you did allow for it, Robertson says “One will decide the use here [Acts 2:38] according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not.” So let’s see how the word eis is used in connection with baptism and/or the remission of sins.
Acts 2:38 says, eis aphesin ton hamartion [into sending off of the sins]. In Matthew 26:28, Jesus says His blood was shed eis aphesin hamartion [into sending off of sin]. In English, baptism is for the remission of sins and the blood of Christ is for the remission of sins. The wording in the Greek is nearly identical! So, if for the remission of sins in Acts 2:38 means because of the remission of sins, why doesn’t it mean because of the remission of sins in Matt. 26:28? If baptism is because of the remission of sins then the blood of Christ is because of the remission of sins. If not, why not? And, if the Baptists will say that baptism is because of the remission of sins means that baptism is not essential to salvation then neither would the blood of Christ be essential for salvation! The Baptists treatment of the Greek in Acts 2:38 actually has them denying the essentiality of the blood of Christ for our salvation!
When we see the connection that baptism has to the blood of Christ it is easy to see how both the blood of Christ could be said to be for the remission of sins and baptism could be said to be for the remission of sins. Paul said that he was baptized to have his sins washed away (Acts 22:16) and Rev. 1:5 says Christ is the one who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. Paul recognized the point at which he was washed in the blood of Christ as being the point of his baptism. That is what he wrote in Rom. 6:3-5.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into [eis] Christ Jesus were baptized into [eis] His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into [eis] death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (Romans 6:3–5, NKJV)
When we humbly submit to the doctrine of Christ in baptism we are emulating the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We are buried with Him through baptism and raised with Him in newness of life. Christ shed His blood for [eis, Matt. 26:28] the remission of our sins in His death on the Cross. We contact that redeeming blood when we are baptized into that death. In other words, His death pays the price for our sins when we are baptized into that death. Where is newness of life in this passage, before or after baptism? One is baptized into Christ, into His death, then raised with Him to walk in newness of life.
There are numerous passages revealing the essential nature of baptism to salvation: Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21; et. al. Yet Baptists, and others, vainly attempt to explain away each one instead of simply humbly submitting to the doctrine of Christ.