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Some days previous to the discussion that follows, I had a thorough discussion on free-will in relation to salvation. I found this to be a profitable endeavor, so I decided to pursue the same on the words of Peter in 1 Peter 3:21. The discussion below took place just before the close of the calendar year 2016 on a FB Christian Discussion page. Following this discussion are the words of expositors I have included from E-Sword, my electronic Bible program. The mistakes in the posts are retained; I did a cut and paste maneuver. I would cut and paste their words into a word document, reply to them from the same document, then return a cut/paste into the FB page.

RT: Proposition for Discussion: The Bible expressly states baptism saves. This is either true or false. Since there is no middle ground on this, I think it is worthy of a thorough discussion. The statement is true; Peter expressly states it in 1 Peter 3:21. I am looking for one (ones) to deny it.

Carol Dixon: Jesus didn;t say that to Nicodemus-Just faith in Christ. Enough for me. Enough for the thief on the cross

James Henry:  According to the Bible and early church fathers, baptism = regeneration. It is part and required for salvation. The thief on the cross is an exception. Plus that happened before Christ’s resurrection, and therefore doesn’t count anyways.

Brent Becky Baxter:  It is God through Christ who saves. God saves through redemption. Every one who is baptized in water is saved is where in the Bible? 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience. One has to be hard pressed to put water baptism into this context 1 Peter 3:18-21. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

BBB: Peters whole context is as the 8 souls were in the ark they were saved from the Judgement. As the Christian is saved from the judgement because he is in Christ, and that is what is symbolized by the baptism of the Christian. Death , burial, and resurrection by faith because the believer is in Christ and the judgement is yet coming

Esther Gilbert:  I would also look at Titus 3:4-7

BBB: Eph 5:26 …so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.BB: Eph 5:26 …so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

RT: Taking the thoughts from the earlier posts, in this one I am making this early morning, I offer the following:  What did Jesus say when He spoke to Nicodemus? He said one must be born from above, and the two components of the new birth are water and spirit, presumably Holy Spirit (though Jesus did not make use of the term, translators capitalized the word). It is true that it is God through Christ who saves – no question. Yet, when Peter spoke by the authority of God/Christ, he said something about baptism. Is one really hard-pressed to get “water” in 1 Peter 3:21? The very verse brought into the discussion teaches it. Peter even spoke in the context of the passage about the significance of water, thus making his explicit reference to water baptism and its relation to salvation in 3:21. Brent quoted the verse for us (KJV), but the translation used makes no difference; it reads similar in the ASV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, Williams Translation, etc. To this point in the discussion, there has been no successful denial of what Peter said when he said baptism saves. The context of Peter is as follows: 1) Christ suffered to make man alive, 2) He went to preach to the spirits in prison, disobedient in the days of Noah, 3) During that time, Peter expressly said 8 souls were saved by water, 4) Baptism corresponds to that which occurred in Noah’s day. 5) This baptism is a matter of a good conscience before God in direct relation to the resurrection. Brent, your 2nd post is accurate. Your Ephesians 5:26 reference said one’s spiritual cleansing is via the Word, but is that a symbol of some sort, or something different? Peter did not use the same terminology Paul used. Paul speaks of the power of God’s Word, while Peter speaks of the physical element we know to be water. Since I know you know the two don’t contradict, what is it we are to understand in relation to the two references?

Dick Dixon: My question to you is why are you so adamant on trying to prove that baptism is the only way to heaven? You use the Apostles to try and prove “your” point but you totally avoid Jesus. He is the way! Get your head out of the water and into Christ.

RT: Did I really say baptism is the only way to heaven? You need to look again at what I said. Moreover, did the apostles speak without the authority of Christ? Should I understand you to mean this? It sounds that way.

[In reply to Esther Gilbert the remark on Titus 3:4-7, Dick Dixon wrote]: Just so you don’t have to search the passage Ron Thomas, this is scripture of salvation without water. Titus 3:4-7 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Dick Dixon [speaking against me, replying to a devo by Syd Swann (below), wrote]: Thanks Syd for this and maybe Ron Thomas could use #1 and contemplate trusting in Jesus and not so much in himself. Just saying!

In a devo for new believers but s good reminder for all. These five steps will get you off to the right S-T-A-R-T, as you follow Christ: 1. Stop trusting in yourself and your own good works, and start trusting in Christ alone for salvation. (Ephesians 2:8–9), 2. Turn away from everything the Bible calls sin. (2 Timothy 2:19), 3. Attend a small group for personal discipleship and weekly worship services. (Hebrews 10:25), 4. Read and obey your Bible every day. (Joshua 1:8), 5. Tell others about your new relationship with Christ. (Mark 5:19–20)

Byron Davis:  Now baptism and salvation are closely related but are separate. One is a gift and the other is an act of obedience. If salvation was hung on baptism and the apostle Paul was concerned about the salvation of people why didn’t he baptise many people? (1 Corinthians 1). I suppose it’s because God saves through preaching…not baptism.

RT: Bryon, is Peter wrong, then, in the OP? Based on what I have seen you post before, I don’t think you will say Peter is wrong. Does salvation hang on repentance? It is true that salvation is a gift, and it is also true that salvation does not hang on baptism, but it is also true that Peter said baptism saves. How do you reconcile this?

Byron: No Peter isn’t wrong. What baptism symbolizes is the thing that saves us…. The death burial and resurrection of Christ is the actual thing that saves. Baptism is closely associated with salvation because it is the new believers call to identify with Christ by baptism.  It’s not necessary for salvation… But should follow closely behind profession. This is the picture when i take the Scriptures as a whole.

RT: Byron, you expressly said that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but Peter said it saves. These two points of expression are opposed one to the other. At the same time, however, you said Peter is not wrong. If Peter is not wrong, then in what way does it save? If I understand you correctly, you maintain baptism is important for it is associated with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, even if in picture (symbolic) form. Since it is associated with the death, burial, and resurrection, can one be saved without that association?

Byron: The reality of what baptism symbolizes saves. That is the picture when all the Scriptures are taken as a whole.

RT: Then, without that reality that you speak of, one can’t be saved, right? One needs to be associated with the death, burial, and resurrection, that is the reality of which you speak. Thus, baptism saves.

Byron: We are saved apart from any good works (baptism is a good work). Before our feet hits the water we are saved by the finished work of Christ… After that we are to bear fruit worthy of repentance…. One of those fruit is obedience in baptism. What baptism symbolize is what saves… Not our act of actually doing it

RT: Baptism is not identified in Scripture as a “good work.” Since you say that it is, please identify a New Testament passage that teaches it. But, let us say that it is (for discussion sake), is it the work of man or the work of God? To ask it differently, is it a work that originated in the mind of man, or is it a work that originated in the mind of God? Since man is saved by the finished work of Christ, then there is absolutely nothing required of him to do or obey! The finished work of Christ was on the cross (“It is finished”), or did you have something else in mind? The problem you have, Byron, is that the Holy Spirit said baptism saves, so your assertion that one is saved before and without baptism is false. You have incorporated theology, not biblical exegesis. Even if I were to grant your distinction, a distinction without merit, “What baptism symbolize is what saves… Not our act of actually doing it” – it still says it saves. There is no way for you to get around it.

BBB: The only water in the context of the 1 Peter passage is that of Noah’s flood. If we can make this baptism what ever we want to then we can also make it a baptism of fire or the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16). The fact is “corresponding to that” (NASB) in verse 21 means that the pattern in verse 20 is Peter’s meaning and that is, the eight souls were brought safely through the water while in the ark. To get a good and thorough understanding of Peter’s meaning, it must be kept in the whole context beginning in chapter 1:3 the entire implication of being “in Christ”.

Words like “therefore” help keep the reader in the context of the writer and lead the reader to the concluding or summarizing issues the writer is intending to be communicated. Life in Christ is a saving baptism. Thats the context of 3:21 which begins at new birth 1:23 …

RT: From an earlier post, I wrote: “The context of Peter is as follows: 1) Christ suffered to make man alive, 2) He went to preach to the spirits in prison, disobedient in the days of Noah, 3) During that time, Peter expressly said 8 souls were saved by water, 4) Baptism corresponds to that which occurred in Noah’s day. 5) This baptism is a matter of a good conscience before God in direct relation to the resurrection.” To sustain numbers 4 & 5, the following is provided:

“The same earthly copy, namely, saving by means of water, which was presented in the Flood, is again presented in Baptism. Now, as then, it represents the same heavenly original, life issuing out of death. This rendering enables us to retain the usual meaning of ἀντίτυπον.” (Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary)

“The antecedent to the relative, whichever word is used, is clearly not the ark, but water; and the idea is, that as Noah was saved by water, so there is a sense in which water is made instrumental in our salvation. The mention of water in the case of Noah, in connection with his being saved, by an obvious association suggested to the mind of the apostle the use of water in our salvation, and hence led him to make the remark about the connection of baptism with our salvation.” (Barnes)

“The persons and the things compared must be carefully borne in mind. The ὀλίγοι in Noah’s day were saved by water; we also are saved by water. The ἀντίτυπον to that water on which the ark floated, saving its inmates, is the water of baptism;” (Alford’s Greek New Testament Commentary)

It is obvious, men of greater learning than yourself dispute your understanding of the passage. The context of 3:20 (water) applies precisely to Peter’s application in 3:21. One does not have to travel outside the immediate context to understand what is being said.  Your NASV rendering does not alter one bit what the KJV, ASV, or any other translation reads.

I find it interesting that you want to go back to C-1 for a context. I think that is a good thing, but that which you find in C-1 will not mitigate what Peter plainly and expressly said in C-3. “Life in Christ is a saving baptism. Thats the context of 3:21 which begins at new birth 1:23 …” Really? Nothing in the verse says that, nothing in the immediate context says that, and nothing going back to C-1 says that. Funny, how I have not seen others say anything like this!

BBB: So Peter just throws verse 21 into the context for no reason but to make an isolated statement that whatever baptism one wants to think he is stating can be used ? Then one needs to put his faith in water baptism and ignore the context of the epistle the chapter and verses immediately before and after v, 21.

RT: You have misread the context and chapter. There is nothing in isolation here. V. 21 is the context of Peter’s point. The expositors’ I referenced makes this clear, but one does not have to read them to see this. It is very clear without them. The “salvation by water” of v. 20 correspond to the “salvation by water” of v. 21. For the benefit of those following this discussion – there is NOTHING in the water that saves, it is all in the Lord. Still, Peter states that “baptism saves.” In what way, then? It saves because the Lord declares it so. No other reason. For one who “puts his faith in water baptism,” that one is attempting to be saved by a means other than what the Lord said, saved by works. Give me an expositor that you have on your shelf that speaks contrary to what I offered, and then we will go from there.

BBB: You have misread the context and chapter.

RT: Well, okay. I offered you an analysis, and I offered you the analysis of others, but it seems you are the only one who has it correct. I suppose, then, we will let others decide as they read this discussion and the context of 1 Peter.

BBB: And I offered you context without any pre- positional additions. I think this thread has run its course.



Wilbur Pickering’s New Testament Notes: Why ‘antitype’ rather than ‘type’? I suppose because the roles are reversed: the ark was to save Noah from the water, the water was the problem; in baptism the water is part of the solution, it saves us from something else. From what, from sin and death? Probably not. I have been given to understand that for the early Church water baptism was meant to do the following: by invoking the name of the Lord Jesus Christ the convert was placing himself under Christ’s protection and repudiating Satan and the world system (with its values) and the demons controlled by him. Recall that in the New Testament water baptism followed immediately upon conversion (no weeks or months of instruction). Peter discounts the physical effect of water—the point is to appeal to God in good conscience—and goes on to the victory of Christ over death and the whole angelic hierarchy. So obviously He is in a position to protect us from Satan and his angels. RT: Baptism “saves us from something else.” What is that something else? Some sort of demonic influence from a 2nd century (?) teaching? Is that what we are to accept? Paul was told by Ananias to arise and be baptized washing away his sins as he called on the Lord’s name. Conversion in the New Testament was accomplished when sins were forgiven, not before. Paul connected baptism with the blood (death) of Christ and forgiveness.

RWP (Robertson’s Word Picture): The world’s most renown Greek grammarian (or at least he was) commented on 1 Peter 3:21, but some of his remarks were quite disappointing. RWP gives the Greek of the passage along with syntax. His comments may or may not be complimentary to his exegesis. For instance, in the remark, “So here baptism is presented as corresponding to (prefigured by) the deliverance of Noah’s family by water. It is only a vague parallel, but not over-fanciful” means what? Is Peter really that vague in his remark? No, he is not vague; in fact, he is rather clear and plain spoken. Then there is this remark, “The saving by baptism which Peter here mentions is only symbolic (a metaphor or picture as in Rom. 6:2-6), not actual as Peter hastens to explain.” Is the word “symbolic” somehow to less the salvific force of the word? With Robertson’s proper tie-in with Romans 6, there is no small significance to what Paul said when coupling baptism with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Is this merely symbolic? If one so argues, then that symbol saves! Finally, there is this, “Baptism, Peter explains, does not wash away the filth of the flesh either in a literal sense, as a bath for the body, or in a metaphorical sense of the filth of the soul. No ceremonies really affect the conscience (Heb. 9:13.). Peter here expressly denies baptismal remission of sin. This is flat false! Peter does no such thing; this is theological commentary, and nothing more. Moreover, this makes Peter contradict himself in Acts 2:38 and in Paul’s application of 22:16.

PBC (Primitive Baptist Commentary): “Baptism doth also now save us” In order to lessen the force of Peter’s easily understood words, the PBC resorts to a hermeneutical maneuver that is not repeated by any expositor that I have seen. The maneuver is from the perspective of “under the sun” and “above the sun.” In other words, there is the point of understanding that is material and physical in this earthly realm, but this is to be contrasted with the “above the sun,” or spiritual realm. Peter’s remark in 3:21 applies to the “under the sun” realm, not “above the sun.”

Their support for this hermeneutical procedure is as follows: “In the appendix to the Fulton Convention will be found these words: ‘We believe the Scriptures teach that there is a time salvation received by the heirs of God distinct from eternal salvation, which does depend upon their obedience. The people of God receive their rewards for obedience in this life only.’ Please notice that these brethren at Fulton understood that the time salvation was “distinct from” the eternal salvation. It was different from and was separate from the eternal salvation (distinct) They also stated that the benefits were received “in this life only.” (timely not eternal) These brethren at Fulton also believed that this time salvation was dependent upon obedience. They stated that it “does depend upon their obedience.” This time salvation is achieved only when the obedience is performed. The performance of that obedience is the fulfilling of a condition. In order for time salvation to be achieved a condition will have to be performed. One must “do” something in order to experience “time salvation.” Whatever it is that one must do, it will become the performing of a condition. (doing something in this regard is performing a condition) This text in 1 Pet. 3:21 is a case example of “conditional time salvation”. RT: A remarkable sentiment here, but one the Holy Spirit speaks nothing about. There is no conditional time salvation distinct from eternal salvation. Notice the authority for the words and idea is the “Fulton Convention.” In other words, one must go to the mind of man to gain a doctrine of man, then justify it as an exegesis of the passage! Peter speaks nothing in 3:21 concerning “conditional time salvation.” This is a plain illustration of 2 John 9

Not only is the above remark not in accordance with New Testament teaching, but notice also the length they go in describing baptism as a work. “A person who is baptized must put forth some activity—he must make some signal that he desires to be baptized. If nothing else he must “submit” to be baptized. Submitting is “doing.” When one submits to be baptized he is fulfilling a condition necessary to the obtaining of this particular saving. The minister who performs the baptism is also “doing” something in procuring this salvation. This is a salvation that involves “works” of creatures and it requires obedient works. And these works do fulfill conditions.” It is tough to be charitable with comments like this, but charitable I will be. This is entirely misguided! There is nothing in the New Testament that even remotely suggests this. This is a doctrine of man to mitigate the Lord’s teaching on the necessity of baptism.

Ironside Notes: And just as those who entered the ark passed through the flood of judgment to a new earth so in baptism the obedient believer is saved in symbol. It is not the going into the water that saves but that of which baptism speaks and which a good conscience demands: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. RT: The word “symbol” is from a Greek word that other translations render “antitype.” If a believer is saved in a symbol, then that symbol is necessary to salvation – how can it not be, especially when the Holy Spirit declared it so? Yes, it is true that it is not going into the water – in and of itself – that saves, but the salvation that comes from God is in relation to one obeying God in the way He said it was to be done.

John Gill: it saves not as a cause, for it has no causal influence on, nor is it essential to salvation. Christ only is the cause and author of eternal salvation; and as those only that were in the ark were saved by water, so those only that are in Christ, and that are baptized into Christ, and into his death, are saved by baptism; not everyone that is baptized, but he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, Mk. 16:16, for baptism RT: Is it not interesting the Baptist preacher in one part of the sentence can recognize that baptism saves, but then in another part of the same sentence say it’s not essential to salvation? If it saves, then, by necessity, it is essential to salvation! Now, if he meant that baptism is not the cause of salvation, then there is no exception to be taken to his words. Yet, when he followed with “nor is it essential to salvation” he neutralized his words – especially when the Lord declared that it was essential to salvation. The Lord Christ is the cause of salvation, but one’s salvation will not result with one meeting the conditions the Lord set forth.  

John Calvin: As Noah, then, obtained life through death, when in the ark, he was enclosed not otherwise than as it were in the grave, and when the whole world perished, he was preserved together with his small family; so at this day, the death which is set forth in baptism, is to us an entrance into life, nor can salvation be hoped for, except we be separated from the world. RT: John Calvin certainly spoke true words here!