Acts 2:38
Repentance & Baptism

On the day of Pentecost, after the first gospel sermon a multitude who are now believing ones ask, "...Men [and] brethren, what shall we do?" Peter declares, "[R]epent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:37, 38). In years past, yet today, there has been no small dissension relative to what this passage teaches. Most all of so called "Christendom" will agree the Bible teaches one must hear in order to be saved (Matt. 12:42; 17:5; Lk. 9:35; Heb. 1:1, 2). Moreover, most agree one must believe in order to be saved (Jn. 3:16; 8:24). However there is a way of man to believe and the truth how one comes to have faith. (Prov. 14:12). In order to have faith or believe properly, we must recognize Paul taught, "So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17; Rom. 1:16, 17). Thus, faith must be based upon hearing of the faith - the pure and unadulterated word of God (Eph. 4:5). Repentance is next and these things must be identified in this order for there is a process whereby one becomes a child of God. Obeying one of these steps in and of themselves without the other does not, will not, nor ever has saved anyone! We will come back to repentance and the final step (baptism), which consummates this process momentarily. Many will agree, in order to be saved one must confess Jesusí name as did the Eunuch (Acts 8:37). This is the meaning of Paulís statement, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9, 10). What of repentance & baptism?

Characteristics of Repentance

True repentance will have several distinguishing characteristics: 1). A sense of one's own guilt. 2). A hatred of sin and a determination to eschew all forms of it (Psa. 119:128). 3). A turning from sin to the way of God. 4). A persistent endeavor to walk in holiness according to God's commands (1 John 1:5-9). True repentance will endeavor to correct the past, (Lev. 6:2-6; Matt. 5:23-24), and results in complete obedience. Godly sorrow for sin is sorrow that leads one to repent and turn away from an ungodly life. Many today are sorry indeed, but not with a godly sorrow. Godly sorrow results in a change of mind and that results in a change of life, a turning from evil to righteousness. Repentance involves restitution. One cannot divorce their spouse for example and remarry for any reason other than what God has specified and then pray for forgiveness while remaining an adulterer (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; et. al.). We cannot remain the servant of sin and still please God (Rom. 6:1). Repentance is like a blank check you sign. The receiver or payee fills in the amount and you pay whatever the amount amounts to. Thus, though you may not know all of Godís commands, whatever He commands, you will do upon learning what He has assigned.

More on Repentance

Many believe repentance is merely an inward sorrowful emotion. While this certainly may have a part in repentance it certainly is not the whole of what the Bible teaches. How do we develop a truly repentant heart? It comes only as we learn to hate sin, especially our own. Repentance from the original language means changed mind. The believing crowd in our text (Acts 2), realized they had crucified Godís Son and their Savior (v. 37). The awfulness of their actions and the great love of God created sufficient motivation for them to cry out, "What must we do?" God demands that all see the destructiveness of sin. Until we see how our flesh, the world and even Satan influences our lives for destruction, there will be no changed minds. What is true repentance? When you know how much God loves you and how much God hates sin, youíre on the verge of repentance. When you realize Satanís winning and itís time to put God in the driverís seat, your almost there. When you can honestly say, "If I died today I would go to hell, but that is not where I want to go," youíre so near. Repentance occurs when you get past the point of just thinking about it. You see it is when you decide to start walking toward the Fatherís House (Lk. 15:18ff; 2 Cor. 7:10). Godís grace is only given to those who are willing to receive it in repentance the Lord's way. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).


About AD 64 Paul wrote there is one baptism (Eph. 4:5). The English word "baptize" is not a translation of the Greek rather, a transliteration. (The Greek word is simply spelled with English letters). There is no question about the meaning of the Greek word. A couple of lexical definitions, Thayer says of Baptizo: "To dip repeatedly, to immerse, submergeÖIn the N. T. an immersion in water." Liddell and Scott says of Baptizo: "To dip in or under water." However, apart from any such evidence the meaning of the term is made clear by its usage in the New Testament.

1. Baptism is a burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). Nothing but immersion could properly represent this figure.
2. It requires (a) "water" (Mk. 1:8, 9), (b) "much water" (Jn. 3:23), (c) going "down into the water" (Acts 8:39; Mk. 1:10).
3. Every passage where baptizo is used in the N. T. either requires or allows the meaning "immerse."
4. The word never used in the passive voice with water as its subject, i.e., water is never said to be baptized upon a man as sprinkling or pouring would require.
5. In the N. T. baptism is compared with the passage through the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:2), with the flood and with a bath (1 Pet. 3:21; Titus 3:5).

Notice our text (Acts 2), whatever repentance is for the same is said of baptism. We can understand this looking at what the word "and" means. And adds baptism to repentance. "Repent and be baptized." Together we see the purpose which is "in order to" the remission of sins. This is evident when comparing what Jesus said instituting the Lordís Supper. "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Why did Jesus shed His blood? Because sins have been already forgiven? God forbid! With Hebrews chapter nine and the grammar in both English and Greek, Jesus shed His blood "in order to" remit sins. Have you obeyed the gospel, that form of doctrine so your sins may be remitted? (2 Thess. 1:8; Rom. 6:17). Jesus says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be savedÖ" (Mk. 16:16). The multitude in our text (Acts 2), recognized the importance of this act of baptism which consummates the process in order to become a child of the King. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). Are you willing to do what the Bible teaches? When you obey, you become a Christian Ė the Bible way. Then, it is the Lord who adds you to His church. "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).

Please e-mail me (Ryan W. Kepke) if you have any questions:
PO Box 1265
Jay, OK. 74346-1265
Phone US (918) 253-4897

©2001 This paper may be freely distributed as long as there is no cost to others and no changes to the content of any material in this paper.

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