Dear Brethren, Please permit me to express:

Some Thoughts on the Use of Prepositions and Voices Regarding Baptism

A. Baptism with a view to

     A factor which often leads to misunderstandings regarding the nature and purpose of baptism is that the preposition ‘eis’ which carries the basic meaning ‘with a view to’ is translated by four different English prepositions. Thus Romans 6:3 is rendered, “Know ye not, that so many of us were baptised INTO Jesus Christ were baptised into his death?” Matthew 3:11 is rendered, “I indeed baptise you with water UNTO repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Matthew 28:19 is rendered, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them IN the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”. Acts 2:38 is rendered, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

     Furthermore, you will note that when people in the NT were asked about their baptism, it was not with a view to any declaration of faith, which they might or might not have had, but they were asked, “UNTO (eis) what then were you baptised?” Acts 19:3. They were then given Christian baptism “in (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus.”

     This strengthens my proposition that baptism is always ‘with a view’ to further promises, revelations and acts of grace from God in Christ. It is not a looking back as if they were already accomplished in the life of the baptismal candidate. As participles following a verb usually illustrate how that verb is carried out, obviously baptising and teaching as displayed in Matthew 28:19 are part and parcel of the evangelistic work of instructing learners in the faith in which it is hoped that they will enter and grow.

B. Baptism is Middle-Passive but not Active

     I believe it is of great importance in our interpretation of the Biblical word ‘baptise’ (baptidzein), to consider the fact that it is always used in the middle or passive voices and never in the active voice. Thus Acts 8:36 is rendered “What doth hinder me to be baptised?” Acts 2:38 is rendered “Repent and be baptised,” and Acts 22:16 is rendered, “Arise and be baptised.”

     I thus believe it is safe to conclude that baptism stresses the fact that it is activated by God through the instrument of the baptiser and is all of God and not of man. The conditions which Arminian-tainted, Restricted Baptists claim for meriting baptism are irrelevant to the time of baptism and often to its purpose. Note the coming of the Spirit is prior to baptism in some instances and post baptism in others. In the case of the Eunuch, we are not told what the consequences were regarding repentance and reception of the Holy Spirit. In the case of Cornelius, he was baptised in the Holy Ghost before he was baptised in water. In the case of Paul, all spiritual blessings seem to have been intra-baptismal or post-baptismal. In the case of the 12 who had been baptised with John’s baptism, it would appear that divine insight was given them through the revelation of the gospel in baptism as there was obviously no full belief before and the Word says specifically, “When they heard this,” not, “When they believed this.” Anyway, the Holy Spirit came on them not before baptism but after.

Yours in Christ,

George