Baptism Comes Before Salvation

by David Padfield

I have been accused of over emphasizing the part baptism plays in the salvation of sinners. In view of what the Bible teaches, I do not see how this could be possible.

There are five passages in the New Testament which mention both baptism and salvation in the same verse (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:4; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). In all of these passages, water baptism precedes the remission of sins. Do you know of a passage where the order is reversed?

Mark 16:16 contains two conditions for salvation: faith and baptism. It also contains the conditions for damnation: a lack of faith. If you want to know what you must do to be lost, it will tell you -- all that is necessary is a lack of faith. If you want to know what to do to be saved from your past sins -- it commands you to believe and be baptized.

In Acts 2:38 Peter told a group of believers to "repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Our Baptist friends often focus on the word "for" in this passage and insist it means "because of," even though it is never translated that way in any reputable translation of the Bible. We have to remind them that if baptism is "because of" the remission of sins, then so is repentance. Baptism and repentance are joined by the little word "and." Whatever one is "for" the other is "for."

After we are buried with Christ in baptism, we are raised to walk in a newness of life (Romans 6:1-4). This new life comes after baptism in water. Many preachers want to "bury" the "new man," since they claim the newness of life comes before our "burial."

Three days after the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus, Ananias told Saul to "arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). Many preachers today claim Saul was saved three days before Ananias met him. Ananias must not have known it, for he told Saul how to "wash away" his sins. If Saul had been saved on the road as some preachers claim, he must have been the most miserable saved man in the Bible. Saul was blind and spent three days praying and fasting until Ananias arrived.

1 Peter 3:21 states "baptism doth also now save us." However, baptism is not the only condition for the salvation of the alien sinner. Other requirements must be met, like faith, repentance and love. I do not know of anything "alone" that will save a sinner, not even faith (James 2:24).

Baptism in water for the remission of sins