He authored a short blog post on baptism, namely, the wording in Acts 2:38. The verses says this:
Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The key word in this passage is the preposition "for". The Greek word is EIS, pronounced like our english word ICE. Greg states, "Sometimes you are doing something (for) to get something, and sometimes you are doing something (for) because of something else. For example, I am receiving this award for an accomplishment I have completed. We should be baptized in virtue of the forgiveness of our sins." Is he correct? I must respectfully disagree. Let me point out a few flaws in his thinking.
Greg commits the Fallacy of Analogy. That is, when you attempt to prove your point via illustration rather than evidence. Let us remember that illustrations can illustrate anything but prove nothing. Greg gives us a nice illustration but the real question is over grammar. Can the Greek preposition EIS be translated "because of"?
The Greek Preposition EIS is not translated as "because of" in Acts 2:38 in any translation. Go ahead and check wi the NIV, NASB, KJV, ESV, NET, RSV, HCSB etc... We may ask why?!? Because (pun intended) all the Greek scholars understood that would be a faulty translation. Greek has other prepositions that have a causal usage. For example Luke, the author of Acts, could have used DIA with the accusative case or EPI with the Genitive if he wanted to denote Cause. Instead he used EIS.
EIS is NEVER translated as "because of" in the entire New Testament. It isn't translated that way because (pun intended) it can't be translated that way. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek scholar and author of the standard Greek work Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics, even admits this in his book. Mr. Wallace does not believe you must be baptized to be saved but he is forced to admit that grammatically EIS cannot be translated as "because of" (see pages. 369-371). Wallace cites Greek scholar Ralph Marcus who was criticizing Professor J. R. Mantey's attempt to argue that EIS has a casual sense, "If, therefore, Professor Mantey is right in his interpretation of various NT passages on baptism and repentance and the remission of sins, he is right for reasons that are non-linguistic." Here we have one Greek scholar (Wallace) quoting another (Marcus) showing that you cannot translate EIS as "because of".
He is against the proper grammatical usage of EIS. How is EIS used in the New Testament?
- Spatial (into, toward, in). The idea is that one is moving from outside of a space into another space. For example, "I threw the plate into the trashcan". In this analogy the plate goes from outside the trashcan into the trashcan.
- Temporal (for, throughout). Obviously this translation wouldn't fit Acts 2:38
- Reference/Respect (with respect to). This is a possible rendering but probably too ambiguous. "Be baptized with respect to forgiveness of sins".
- Advantage (for). You do something for the advantage. I lift weights for the advantage of growing muscles.
- Disadvantage (against). Obviously this translation wouldn't fit Acts 2:38
- Purpose/Result (for, in order to, so that, with the result that). I put these two options together because they are often overlapping. Now lets read Acts 2:38 in this respect. "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE PURPOSE OF/WITH THE RESULT OF the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This options fits the best grammatically but some people's theology just can't accept it.
He would have to admit Jesus' death wasn't necessary for salvation. How in the world did I jump to this conclusion? The night Jesus was going to be betrayed he instituted the Lord's Supper. In Matthew 26:28 he says of the cup, "for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." The interesting thing is that the grammatical structure of the Greek is not just similar but exactly the same as Acts 2:38. Take a look.
- Matthew 26:28--εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν (for the forgiveness of sins)
- Acts 2:38--εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν (for the forgiveness of sins)
- Therefore, if you are going to say that Acts 2:38 commands us to be baptized because of or in virtue of the forgiveness that has already taken place then we would be forced to admit that Jesus died because of or in virtue of forgiveness that has already taken place. But that would be heresy!!!
The struggle with grasping the clearness of Acts 2:38 isn't the grammar. The problem is our theology. We have a false understanding of what it means to be saved By Grace Through Faith alone. Maybe it is time we accept the clear statements in scripture on the purpose of baptism and just realign our theological views on baptism. You might not understand it now but believing that the purpose of baptism is forgiveness of sins is still aligned with Salvation by Faith alone!!! I will write more about that in a future blog post.
Whatever your views in regards to baptism are you have to answer the grammar of Acts 2:38. Don't slip on the EIS; it cannot be translated "because of". The only proper grammatical solution is "for" which denotes purpose and/or result. Now whatever the theological ramifications of that are we must work on later but we cannot deny the grammar because we don't like the theological implications.