Deluge of Baptism Questions -tmp(Acts 1-22)

We left off in our study on baptism performing an
examination on one of the key proof-texts by supporters of baptismal salvation.
In our brief overview of that section we experimented with big fancy words: differential diagnosis. Realizing that all it meant was having all the
details and drawing different conclusions based on those details we now move
forward in our study spending a short time questioning baptisms in the book of

{{Acts 8:12}}
Philip proclaims Christ in Samaria. The crowds pay attention to Philip’s
preaching and to the (miraculous) signs which he performs. The people
proclaimed that “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” Probably
the first big revival since Jesus visited in {{John 4}} occurs as the people
(1) believed the good news about the Kingdom
of God and the name of
Jesus Christ (2) and were baptized. Even a certain sorcerer by the name of
Simon believed and was baptized. Word reached Jerusalem about their reception of the Word
of God and Peter and John came up to pray for them that they might receive the
Holy Spirit for He had not fallen upon them. The text specifically stating that
“they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” ({{Acts 8:16}}).
They began to receive the Holy Spirit via the laying on of the apostle’s hands.
Simon, wanting the Holy Spirit tried to pay cash and he was called on as being
in the bondage of iniquity. Was he saved? Don’t know…Luke doesn’t give us more
details but the words are pretty condemning. Where was regeneration in this
scenario? Was it at the baptismal waters? Was it on the laying on of hands?
Were they already regenerated and now receiving the Holy Spirit in power? When
were the people saved?

{{Acts 9:18}} and {{Acts 22:16}}
Young Saul, an up and coming Pharisee is found zealously
persecuting the Christians. At one point even holding the coats of murderers.
With some highly charged letters in hand and the power to start arresting the
Christians within his grasp, he is met by the resurrected Lord. After revealing
to Saul that he was actually persecuting God, Jesus Christ sends him to
continue to Damascus
to meet a certain Ananias. Instead of going to the synagogue he goes to Ananias
who tells him of God’s plan for his life as well as a message of the filling of
the Holy Spirit plus the return of sight({{Acts 9:17}}). The message also
consisted of a command which was to “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your
sins, calling on His name.” ({{Acts 22:16}}) After regaining his sight he got
up and was baptized. When was the Holy Spirit received? When he regained sight
or after his baptism by water? What did Ananias mean by “wash away your sins”
in conjunction with “be baptized” or are they two separate thoughts? And could
Paul actually wash away the sin of persecuting the risen Lord? Was that even
his call?

{{Acts 10:47}}
I spoke about this peripherally in my other articles.
Basically, after a series of miraculous visions, Peter winds up preaching the
gospel starting first with “the man who fears [God] and does what is right is
welcome to Him”({{Acts 10:34}}) and climaxing with Jesus of whom the prophets
testified “that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives
forgiveness of sins ({{Acts 10:43}}). The Holy Spirit decides to prove the
point as Peter is still speaking and falls upon those who are listening to the
message. All the circumcised believers who are with Peter are amazed at what is
going on. Peter, realizing how these Gentiles were speaking in tongues and
exalting God and remembering the word of the Lord (who said “John baptized with
water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” {{Acts 11:16}}) requests
some water to baptize them in the name of Jesus Christ. He readily acknowledges
that He could not stand in the way of God but specifies that this Spirit was
given to them after believing in Jesus Christ ({{Acts 11:17}}). When did
regeneration happen? After they were baptized? After they believed? Or is this
different from regeneration? Why did Peter’s message to these Gentiles only
consist of “Believe in Him” with the result of receiving the forgiveness of
sins? Why did the message not consist of the same words as in {{Acts 2}} or {{Acts
22}}: Repent, Believe and be Baptized?

{{Acts 16:15}}
A woman named Lydia, very well off and several
hundred miles from her home town is marked out as being a worshipper of God. On
a certain Sabbath, where the women gathered to pray by the riverside, Paul and
company preached the gospel. The Lord opened her heart to respond says the
text. Subsequently she and her household were baptized. No mention of the Holy
Spirit but we do see the Lord opening her heart to respond although she was
already a “worshipper of God”. What does this mean? What did the baptism mean?
It says her household…does this mean her children or babies? Would a business
woman travel several hundred miles with babies in tow?

{{Acts 18:18}}
Staying at the house of a certain Titius Justus, a
worshipper of God who lived next door to the temple, Paul had the opportunity
to preach in and around the synagogue area. The leader of that synagogue, Crispus,
believed in the Lord with his entire household.

Indeed many of the Corinthians “when they heard were
believing and being baptized”. Paul settled there for a year and six months,
teaching to word of God among them. When did these people get baptized? The
text says that it was as “they heard and were believing”…but according to
Peter’s words earlier they would have received forgiveness of sins without the
water. And why is there no mention of repentance? Indeed, the earlier part of
the chapter shows us very unrepentant people {{Acts 18:5-6}}.

{{Acts 19:2-5}}
When Paul arrives at Ephesus
he found some disciples who had not received the Holy Spirit. Paul asks them
into what where they baptized to which they responded the baptism of John. Paul
points out to them that John’s baptism was of repentance but John’s message was
to believe in Him who was coming after Him…Jesus. Hearing this they were
baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and when Paul laid hands on them the
Holy Spirit came on them and they began to speak in tongues and prophesy.
Initially we would say that the right baptism was necessary for their receiving
of the Holy Spirit but we could easily argue that Paul’s laying on of hands was
necessary. Also we would have to come up to Paul’s initial question which had
nothing to do with water, namely “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you
believed?” To this they answered that they had not even heard whether there was
a Holy Spirit clueing in Paul in the deeper issue at stake. These believers
were repentant and baptized yet they did not have the Holy Spirit? Why? What
was missing in their situation? Why was the gospel spoken to them a redirection
away from John and onto the One of which John spoke?

General questions: why don’t we see Jesus’ formula of “in
the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”? why do we only see
baptisms “in the name of Jesus”? How do we reconcile those two things? Why do
the Jews in Acts 2 receive a message of “Repent, Believe and Be Baptized” while
whenever we see Gentiles the message consists of “Believe”? Why does the Spirit
decide to enter without water or with water or by “laying on of hands”? What
message is being proclaimed by these scenarios? Some of these questions may not
have answers…but the point is to diagnose the text and see how they react to
those questions.


The Full Series
1. Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
2. One Baptism Versus the Many?
3. Baptism and Big Problems
4. Baptismal Regeneration (Acts 2:28)
5. Deluge of Baptism Questions (Acts 1-22)
6. Baptism and Romans (Rom 6:1-11)
7. Noah and Baptism (2 Peter 3:20,21)
8. Paul On Baptism (1 Cor 1:14-18)

9. The Error of Infant Baptism

10. Remember Your Baptism (Rom 6:1-11)


Russ On Baptism

Baptism of Linkage
Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply