Bible Studies/Baptism

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Question
Hello and as always thank you for your time and great answers! When I asked you the question about baptism and the church fathers you gave me a wonderful answer. You are always such a great help. Now as you know the Church of Christ believes in baptismal regeneration. Now as you and I discussed a few questions ago, you said that was not correct. But you can't tell anybody anything. The church of christ use Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16 and John 3:5 to show baptismal regeneration. Now since you are an expert in Greek and have made your own bible tanslation, I think you are well above any normal level of biblical knowledge. So with that being said how does Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16 look in the Greek? Does the structure of the Greek grammer who something that English bibles do not? Is there a shade of meaning or pause or grammer structure that English does not show? In other words can you who by using the Greek that baptism is not a part of salvation or justification?  I know in English one can come away with the idea it is.

Answer
Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16 do associate baptism into Christ with the promise of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, Acts 8:12-16 shows that people can be baptized as followers of Jesus and not yet receive the Holy Spirit, and Acts 10:1-47 shows that people can receive the Holy Spirit without being baptized.

So there is the expectation that everyone who truly repents and commits themselves to follow Jesus will receive the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a sign not so much of receiving the Holy Spirit as of dying and rising with Jesus (Rom. 6:3-5;, Col. 2:11-13; Eph. 2:4-6) and secondarily of being cleansed of sins and starting a new, "clean" life (Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:22; Eph. 5:26; 1 Pet. 3:21; Tit. 3:5).

If someone in the Bible says, "Be repent and believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized. and your sins will be forgiven and you will receive the Holy Spirit," it's perfectly legitimate to obey those commands and to expect, in faith, that the promises (forgiveness, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit) will attend your faithful action. But that doesn't mean there is a mechanical relationship between the repentance and the forgiveness or between the baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit. The physical ceremony of baptism does symbolize dying to your old life and rising to new life in the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. But that symbolism does not lead precisely to the idea that baptism is the one and only physical mechanism by which people receive the Holy Spirit, such that those who have not been baptized cannot have received the Holy Spirit. So baptismal regeneration is possible, but it is not automatic nor is baptism absolutely required for regeneration.

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J. Webb Mealy

Expertise

Qualified to answer questions about the New Testament, including ones that require expert knowledge of Greek, New Testament History, and New Testament Theology. Particular area of expertise is New Testament eschatology (teachings on the end of the world), the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel and epistles of John. Questions about English translations--how they are arrived at, whether they are accurate, and whether there are alternative possibilities. Textual criticism.

Experience

Have taught the Bible and New Testament to lay people for 20 years. Translator of the Spoken English New Testament (www.sentpress.com), author of After the Thousand Years: Resurrection and Judgment in Revelation 20 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992). Senior Biblical Studies Editor, Sheffield Academic Press, 1990-1995.

Organizations
Instructor, Seminary of the Street, Oakland, CA

Publications
See my online publication, www.simplegospel.net, which gives an easy-to-understand but thorough introduction to the Christian Good News. See www.sentpress.com, home of the Spoken English New Testament, the most accurate available translation of the New Testament into natural contemporary English.

Education/Credentials
PhD, Biblical Studies, Sheffield, UK MA (Honors), Humanities, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY BA (Cum Laude), Religious Studies/New Testament, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA

Awards and Honors
Research Paper, "Tracing the Rise of Modalism in Rome," named best graduate paper of the year, Western Kentucky University, 1981

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