Article - Acts 2:38: Not A Causal View of Eis

The Greek word translated “for” in Acts 2:38 is the word eis. This Greek word is used primarily to represent a going into, an indication of purpose, or the going in the direction of a goal. Hence, the purpose or goal of baptism is the forgiveness of one’s sins. Due to false teaching, it is important for us at this time to discuss a major false doctrine involving Acts 2:38. Certain false teachers have tried to make the word “for” (Gr. 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). If the causal view of eis means “because of” Peter would be saying to the Jews, repent and be baptized because you have already received the remission of sins. If this view of eis is correct, then Peter completely ignored their question. Is Acts 2:38 really a causal usage of the word eis? Let us examine why this passage can not be a causal view of the word eis.

While this view may sound good to those trying to propagate faith only doctrine, it has several glaring errors that prove it false. (1). Logic demands that this view of Acts 2:38 cannot be true. Is Peter here telling the Jews that they need to repent and be baptized because they have already been forgiven of their sins? Wait just a minute Peter. If I have already been forgiven of my sins, I do not have to do anything. It is highly illogical for someone to ask you what do to be saved (The question of Acts 2:37), then you tell them two things to do because they are already saved. (2) This 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 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). 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! (3). 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 ei)$ a&fesin tw=n a(martiw=n. 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 (ei)$ a&fesin a(martiw=n). 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.” Of course not! Jesus was saying the purpose of Me shedding My blood was to forgive your sins. Likewise, when Peter uses this exact same phraseology in Acts 2:38 it is to show the purpose of repentance and baptism in salvation. In fact, the Greek word eis is used some 1,768 times in the New Testament. Of all the uses of this Greek word, there are only about five instances where the causal case might possibly make sense and be grammatically correct. Do you know what kind of a statistic that is? These numbers tell us that the chance of the causal view of eis occurring is about .3 percent. 99.7% of the time this word does not mean “because of”. Therefore, for a person to translate “for” as “because of” there would have to be strong textual indicators and justifiable evidence for doing so. In Acts 2:38 there is no evidence or indicators to base a causal view of eis on. In fact, when the evidence is gathered it is against this view. Therefore, we can truly say that baptism is for (i.e. in order to receive) the remission of past sins!!

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