Water Baptism...

Water Baptism is essential for the

alien sinner to become a Christian

by Patrick T. Donahue

This article is intended to prove that the Bible teaches that a person must be baptized in water to be saved. To do so, let's simply look at what the pertinent passages actually say.

Mark 16:16

Mark 16:16 reads, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." This verse teaches that baptism is necessary to salvation as much as the sentence, "He that eateth and digesteth his food shall live," teaches that one must digest his food in order to live physically. The little word "and" shows that it takes both belief and baptism to receive salvation (the forgiveness of sins).

John 3:5

John 3:5 says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Water baptism is the ONLY thing of spiritual significance in the New Testament that involves water. Therefore, this verse teaches that unless one is baptized in water, "he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Acts 2:38

Acts 2:38 reads, "Repent, and be baptized 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." Both the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost are conditioned upon repentance and baptism in Acts 2:38. The primary meaning for the Greek word translated "for" in this verse ("eis") is "into." A quick glance at a Greek concordance will show that this word is translated the vast majority of time into words such as "into," "unto," and "to," indicating direction towards something. So this passage teaches that baptism is in the direction toward the remission (forgiveness) of sins. That proves the proposition that I am contending for in this article.

Acts 22:16

In Acts 22:16, we read, "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Notice the following parallel sentences where the word "and" connects and shows dependence:

Everyday example - Cut my yard, AND receive your five dollars pay
James 4:7 - Resist the devil, AND he will flee from you
Mt 7:7 - Ask, AND it shall be given you; seek, AND ye shall find; knock, AND it shall be opened unto you
Lk 10:28 - Thou hast answered right: this do, AND thou shalt live
Mt 13:15b - lest ... they ... should be converted, AND I should heal them

An honest examination of Acts 22:16 will show that the following three things happened together (at the same time):

1. "be baptized"
2. "wash away thy sins"
3. "calling on the name of the Lord"

Acts 22:16 shows that Paul's sins were not forgiven at the point of his faith on the road to Damascus as recorded in Acts 9:5-6, but instead they were forgiven at the time of his baptism.

I Corinthians 1:12-13

Another passage that proves that baptism is necessary for salvation is I Corinthians 1:12-13. Paul teaches here that for a person to be "of Paul," Paul would have had to have been crucified for him, and that person would have had to have been baptized in the name of Paul. This implies that for a person to be "of Christ" (that is, to be a Christian), Christ would have had to have been crucified for him, and that person would have had to have been baptized in the name of Christ. There is no way around this. I Corinthians 1:12-13 proves that to be of Christ, to be saved, one would have had to have been baptized in the name of Christ.

Galatians 3:26-27

The word "For" that begins Galatians 3:27 means "to introduce the reason." Therefore Galatians 3:27 shows that the reason that "ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," is that "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." All that have been baptized have become children of God, and also all that have become children of God have been baptized. The same number of people, indeed the very same people, that have been baptized, have become children of God.
The following are Bible (content) parallels to Galatians 3:27:

1. For ye (healed Israelites) are all physically alive by faith in God and his healing power, for as many of you as have looked on the brazen serpent have been healed by God (Numbers 21:9).

2. For Naaman is healthy by faith in God's cleansing power, for by washing in the river Jordan seven times, he was cleansed of leprosy (II Kings 5:14).

3. The Israelites took the city of Jericho by faith in God's power, for by walking around the city seven times, the walls came down (Joshua 6:20). In each of the above examples, and in Galatians 3:26-27, a benefit is conditioned upon (though not earned by) a condition that must be met. So, Galatians 3:27 teaches that one must be baptized (meet the condition) in order to become a child of God (receive the benefit).

Colossians 2:11-13

In Col 2:11-13 we can read the phrases, "in putting off ... the sins ...Buried with him in baptism ... having forgiven you all trespasses." Verse 11 is talking about the forgiveness of sins. Verse 13 is talking about the forgiveness of sins. Verse 12 then is obviously telling when the
forgiveness of sins takes place (at baptism), or else Paul changed the subject from verse 11 to verse 12, and then back again in verse 13. The KJV uses a colon at the end of verse 11 to indicate that verse 12 is a further explanation of verse 11; in other words, forgiveness (verse 11) occurs simultaneously with baptism (verse 12).

Notice the expression "WITH HIM":

1. Buried WITH HIM in baptism
2. Risen WITH HIM (wherein baptism)
3. Quickened WITH HIM
quickened - made alive spiritually ("forgiven")
quickened "with him" where?, the obvious answer is WITH HIM in baptism,
just like in #1 and #2 above

WITH HIM means "together, at the same time." But we don't literally do these things at the same time as Jesus, he actually did these things some 2000 years ago. How then do we do these things WITH Jesus?

1. We are buried together, at the same time WITH HIM by being buried in
baptism, which pictures his burial.

2. We are risen together, at the same time WITH HIM by rising out of
baptism, which pictures his resurrection.

3. We are Made alive together, at the same time WITH HIM by being made
alive spiritually ("forgiven") in baptism which pictures his being made
alive physically again (resurrection).

The reason that it can be said that we are made alive WITH HIM, is that we are made alive when we picture his being made alive, that is, when we are baptized. If we are forgiven before baptism, then we wouldn't be made alive WITH him, we would be made alive BEFORE he was (that is, before we picture his resurrection). Colossians 2:11-13 therefore proves that the forgiveness of sins occurs WHEN one is baptized.

I Peter 3:21

I Peter 3:21 reads, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." This verse shows that the physical salvation of eight souls by water prefigures our spiritual salvation by water baptism. This verse does not teach that baptism is the earning basis for our salvation (the death of Christ is the earning basis), but it does teach that our salvation is conditioned upon baptism. This verse plainly says that "baptism doth also now save us."


Jesus died for all, but not all are going to be saved. Most recognize that those that are going to be saved are those that qualify themselves by meeting the conditions of salvation laid down by Christ. This article has proven that submitting to water baptism is one of the essential conditions to be met, just like faith and repentance are.

[Editor's Note: Thanks to Pat Donahue for the article! He can be reached at
Pat.Donahue@MSFC.NASA.GOV, 4607 Old Railroad Bed Road, Harvest, AL 35749, (256) 721-0726]

Email the Editor at markjward@yahoo.com