Does Eis Express Purpose or Cause In Acts 2:38?
The word translated "for" in Acts 2:38 is the Greek word eis. This Greek word is used primarily to express purpose or the going in the direction of a goal. Hence, the purpose or goal of baptism is the forgiveness of a non-Christian's sins (this is the final obedient act which places the non-Christian in contact with the cleansing blood of Jesus, Romans 6:3-4; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 3:27; Revelation 1:5).
Certain so-called "scholars" have tried to make the word "for" (eis) mean "because of". In the context of Acts 2:38 the Jews had just asked Peter what they needed to do to be saved (Acts 2:37).
1. If the causal view of eis means "because of", Peter would be saying to the Jews, repent and be immersed because you have already received the remission of sins. If this view of eis is correct, then Peter completely ignored their question.
2. If the Jews had already been forgiven of their sins, then they do not have to do anything. It is illogical for a person to ask you what to do to be saved, then you respond by telling him two things to do because he is already saved.
3. This causal view of Acts 2:38 is in contradiction with the very words of Jesus. Jesus taught that for a man to be saved he had to repent before (not after) he had been forgiven of his sins. In Luke 13:3, Jesus told certain people who were still in sin and that they had to repent to get out of sin. Jesus simply said, "I tell you no, but unless you repent you shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3; see also Acts 3:19). If the causal view of Acts 2:38 is true then Peter and Jesus are in disagreement on what one must do before salvation. Does the Bible contradict itself? No. The false doctrines of men contradict the Bible.
4. The linguistics and semantics of Acts 2:38 will not support the causal view of eis. The Greek words used in this passage under consideration are eisaphesin ton hamartion . The usage of this exact same phrase in a similar passage helps us to see its meaning. In Matthew 26:28 Jesus said, "This is My blood of the new covenant which was shed for many, for the remission of sins (eisaphesin ton hamartion). What exactly was Jesus saying in this context? Was He saying, "I went to the cross and shed My blood because your sins are already forgiven." No. Jesus was saying "the purpose of Me shedding My blood was to forgive you of your sins." Likewise, when Peter uses this exact same phraseology in Acts 2:38 it is to show the purpose of repentance and baptism for salvation. Therefore, we can truly say that water immersion is for (in order to receive) the remission of past sins. See also Colossians 2:11-12 where it is required of the non-Christian to have faith that Jesus is cutting away his sins as he is buried with Christ in baptism.
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