by Kimberly B. Southall
There seems to be an issue concerning the
word "for" in one particular scripture in the Bible:
Peter replied, "Repent
and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
--Acts 2:38 (NIV)
Some, who apparently just don't want to face
the fact that baptism is necessary in order to receive the forgiveness
of sins, argue that "for" really means "because of." In other words, they
claim that Peter was telling people to repent and be baptized because their
sins had already been forgiven. Does that sound right to you? It surely
doesn't to me. It makes no sense at all. But, just for the sake of their
argument, we will look deeper into the issue. To do that, we will consult
the Greek text and compare scriptures with similar phrases.
The word "for" in Acts 2:38
is translated from the Greek word "eis." The phrase "for the forgiveness
of your sins" is literally "eis aphesin tön hamartiön humön"
in the Greek. Now, for the proper definition of "eis," we need look no
further than other scriptures containing the same word:
When he had finished
speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the
nets for a catch." --Luke 5:4 (NIV)
The word "for" is the Greek word "eis,"
and the phrase "for a catch" is literally "eis agran" in the Greek.
Would Jesus tell Simon Peter to let down the nets into the deep water because
they had already caught enough fish? Or would Jesus tell Simon Peter to
let down the nets in order for him to catch fish? It doesn't take a rocket
scientist to understand that Jesus was telling Simon Peter how to catch
the fish. Likewise, in Acts 2:38, Peter was telling all those
who listened how to receive forgiveness of their sins, not what to do because
they had already received forgiveness. But for those who are still not
convinced, there are more scriptures:
And so John came, baptizing
in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness
of sins. --Mark 1:4 (NIV)
He went into all the
country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness
of sins. --Luke 3:3 (NIV)
Again, in both of these scriptures, the word
"for" is translated from the Greek word "eis." In Mark 1:4,
the phrase "for the forgiveness of sins" is literally "eis aphesin hamartiön"
in the Greek. Also in Luke 3:3, the phrase "for the forgiveness
of sins" is literally "eis aphesin hamartiön" in the Greek.
Notice that these phrases are nearly identical to the one in Acts
2:38. The only difference is due to the additional word "your" found
in Acts 2:38. Do you suppose that John was telling all those
people to get drenched in water
because they had already repented
and been forgiven? If so, what would be the purpose in that? Even so, one
might still hang onto that notion until he reads this final scripture:
This is my blood of the
covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. --Matthew
In Matthew 26:28, the second
occurrence of the word "for" is translated from the Greek word "eis"--the
same word we find in Acts 2:38. The phrase "for the forgiveness
of sins" is literally
"eis aphesin hamartiön" in the Greek.
So, does it make sense that Jesus was telling His disciples that His blood
was to be poured out because many already had the forgiveness of sins?
Of course not! Anyone who makes such a claim is, in actuality, saying that
Jesus died for nothing! If many already had the forgiveness of sins, then
there would have been no need for a new covenant. There would have been
absolutely no reason for Jesus to pour out His blood at all. Think about
that. The meaning of this verse is clear. Jesus poured out His blood so
that we could get forgiveness of our sins, not because we
already had forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus suffered, bled, and died. For what?
For the forgiveness of sins--yours and mine. We are to repent and be baptized.
For what? For the forgiveness of our sins.
Copyright © 2000 Kimberly
B. Southall. All rights reserved.