[forthright] Does Acts 2:38 Mean What it Says? (Part One)/Give Me a Bump, Lord

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 13:54:53 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Square One

Does Acts 2:38 Mean What it Says? (Part One)
by Richard Mansel

The first gospel sermon is presented in Acts 2.
Peter stands to preach and tells the Jews
assembled in Jerusalem that they had crucified
Jesus, the Son of God. Cut to the heart, they ask,
"Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37,
NKJV). Peter answers, "Repent, and let everyone 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" (Acts 2:38).

Simply stated, one must repent and be baptized in
order to have their sins forgiven (cf. Acts
22:16). While plain and uncomplicated, controversy
nonetheless swirls around this verse. The charge
is made that it means we should be baptized
because we are already saved, that baptism is an
outward evidence of an inward grace.

The argument revolves around the definition of the
word "for" ("eis" in Greek) in the phrase "for the
remission of sins." Those who teach this doctrine
claim that "for" means "because of." Hence, they
claim that baptism is necessary only after we have
been saved. We shall examine why this doctrine
cannot be true.

First, it violates what the translators and Greek
scholars have written. "Eis" is used over 1,700
times in the New Testament and never is it
translated "because of." /1  The word "eis" means
"in order to, with a view to." /2  Joseph Thayer
defines "eis" as, "denoting entrance into, or
direction and limit: into, to, towards, for." /3
Bauer translates it as "into, toward." /4 In fact,
it is difficult to find any Greek scholar who will
translate "eis" as "because of."

A. T. Robertson is one such scholar who does argue
that it should read "because of." He said, "After
all is done, instances remain where syntax
(language, RM) cannot say the last word, where
theological bias will inevitably determine how one
interprets the Greek idiom (natural use of
language, RM)." /5 He also said, "When the
grammarian has finished, the theologian steps in,
and sometimes before the grammarian is through."
/6  But, contrary to his opinions, we must not
take our beliefs and force Scripture to say what
we want it to say. /7

Those who argue that "eis" means "because of" in
Acts 2:38 have a challenge with translations of
the Bible. As Phil Sanders has said, "So far as
this author knows, there is no major, credible
version that has ever translated Acts 2:38 with
the words 'because of.'"/8 Certainly if "eis"
meant "because of" there would be many
translations that reflected that fact. Yet, it is
not true. /9

There is a term used in philosophy called Ockham's
razor. "This rule is interpreted to mean that the
simplest of two or more competing theories is
preferable."/10 Or, the simplest explanation is
the best.

Applying this rule to Acts 2:38, we come to the
following conclusions: First, a simple English
reading of Acts 2:38 says baptism is for the
remission of sins. Second, a simple review of all
major translations of the New Testament finds that
none translate "eis" as "because of." Third, a
simple review of what Greek scholars have written
on this verse shows that "eis" does not mean
"because of."

To deny this evidence and still maintain the
opinion that Acts 2:38 means we should be baptized
"because" we are already saved is to be defeated
by Ockham's razor.

1/ http://tinyurl.com/8aaqm
2/ A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek NT in
Light of Historical Research, p. 389.
3/ Ibid
4/ William D. Mounce, The Analytical Lexicon to
the Greek New Testament, p. 165.
5/ Joseph Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament, p. 183.
6/ Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the
New Testament, p. 228.
7/ http://tinyurl.com/84d7c
8/ http://tinyurl.com/bjcfj
9/ I have a listing of nearly 50 translations and
none say "because of."
10/ http://tinyurl.com/8qs68    

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COLUMN: Oliver's Twist

Give Me a Bump, Lord
by Barbara Oliver

I got too close.  No other explanation for it.
The bees were flying, I was nosy, and I got in
their flight path.  So several of the girls
reminded me to keep my distance with a little
head-butt.  They had no intention of stinging me,
just giving me a friendly warning, which I heeded
by moving to the side of the hive and backing up a
little.  If I had persisted, they would have stung
me, no question.

Wouldn't it be great if the Lord did that for us
every time we got too close to sin?  Just reach
down and give us a little bump, a little warning
that we were getting ready to be stung by Satan?
Then again, maybe he does and we just don't pay
attention.

If you ask me if I knew that I was getting too
close to the hive, I have to admit to you that,
yes, I did know.  I was just ... testing.  Just
seeing how close I could get before -- dare I
admit it? -- I got stung.  Fortunately for me, the
bees had more sense than I did.

Do we know when we are getting too close to sin?
Oh, yes.  Most of the time, I think we do.  We can
see it coming a mile away.  But we keep getting
closer and closer.  We just want to see how close
we can get.  Unfortunately, most of the time, the
world will not give us any warning when we get to
that invisible line of no return.  Satan comes
swarming down on us, and the stings are so
painful, and we are so sorry.  And we open our
mouths to say, "I didn't know."  But that only
compounds the sin with a lie.  We say, "If I had
only known where this would lead ..."  But we did
know, really.  Little warning bells were
constantly going off in our heads.  We just chose
to ignore them.  We were just testing ...  

We all know to "submit to God. Resist the devil
and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). How many
times do we fall into disaster because we don't
heed the gentle bumps the Lord gives us when we
are tempted? When we see sin coming down the road,
looking so appealing, so fun, so satisfying,
remember that it packs a wallop of a sting.

Pay attention when the Lord gives you a bump!

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