Baptism and Acts 2:38
BY Pastor G. Reckart
Copyright All Rights Reserved 8/29/2005

Acts 2:38 is the most controversial baptism verse in the Bible.  Trinitarians hate it and have fought hard to either pervert the wording of it or the meaning of the words.  At issue is two things: the name to be invoked over the convert, and if baptism by faith in water is essential to salvation.

Baptism was not invented by man and not a work instituted by man (John 1:33--"he that sent me to baptize").  Therefore it is from God. What was God's purpose in baptism is the issue here.  If the purpose was to demonstrate one's faith in Messieh and the finished work of Calvary and the Resurrection how can men deny its holiness and essentiality?  Only through this act of faith a person is risen with Christ. A person is not risen with Christ until they are baptized by faith. Baptism is essential as an act of faith and is a requirement for salvation (Mark 16:16-"he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved").  

Acts 2:38 is Peter's obedience to the command of Christ in Luke 24:47-49.  We cannot discount Peter's preaching on the grounds additional Scripture to be written 25 years later might be manipulated to prove Peter was wrong. Acts 2:38 was the only baptismal formula used by the Church. There is no trinitarian formula ever used.  In fact the Hebrew Matthew now discovered does not contain the trinitarian clause at all proving as scholars say it was added to the text and Bible in the second century.

Upon close examination we will see that water baptism in Romans chapter 6 does teach baptismal regeneration.  When trinitarians are defeated in the formula to be used they next want to say that baptism is not essential in faith salvation and attack the concept of regeneration.  But Romans 6 leaves us with no escape:  those baptized into the death of Christ are raised, regenerated, in the likeness of his resurrection. If this is not true, then it is not essential to be buried with Christ in baptism and it is not essential to be raised in the likeness of his resurrection. So, baptismal regeneration is a Biblical truth? Let's look at Titus 3:5:

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."

Regeneration: Greek paliggenesia Strongs #3824--rebirth (born again), from #3825 palin=anew, once more and #1078 genesis=birth, nativity.

The second birth, called being born of the Spirit (John 3:8); born again (1Peter 1:23); born of God (1John 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 5:4).

Regeneration here is the same as re-birth or born anew or again as found in John 3:3-5. Now where is there a washing of rebirth except in the waters of baptism as found in Romans 6:4-5?

Does a person receive this washing of regeneration and resurrection by saying I accept Jesus into my heart? No!  Do they receive it by saying I accept the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior? No!

Where is washing by the blood of Jesus by which he saves us, in the same place as renewing in the Holy Ghost?  It is found exclusively in Acts 2:38 and not grouped in any other single text in the New Testament.  In one text we have both, and Paul writing to Titus says this is how he saved us.  Therefore, this washing of regeneration is not works of man or Paul contradicted himself.  Faith is not works of man.  Faith is works of the Word of God.  For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Acts 2:38 stands uncondemned in spite of the many attacks by trinitarians to destroy its message and meaning.

Can a doctrine be made from one verse in the Bible?  Yes!  There are many things mentioned one time in the Word of God and these are just as valid for doctrine as things mentioned many times.  The Holy Ghost, the author of the Bible, does not need to speak twice for something to be true.  The Holy Ghost spoke through Peter in Acts 2:38.  Those words were not Peter's words. Why do so many always resist the Holy Ghost?  

Is Acts 2:38 the only verse we have for baptism in the name of Jesus only? No, we have many text such as in Acts 8:12, Acts 10:48, Acts 19:5.  And there are other text that indicate baptism into Christ and him alone for it is his death into which we are baptized (Romans 6:4-5).  Then there is the text in Ephesians 4:5 of one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. We have plenty of verses to validate baptism into the name of Jesus Christ.  Acts 2:38 is the pole-star of the Apostolic baptismal mode and method as practiced by the Apostles.

Now it must be understood that Acts 2:38 teaches salvation by grace through faith. Without this understanding a person can wrestle this verse unto their own destruction.

Repentance that is commanded in this text is an act of faith and the grace of forgiveness is given.
Water baptism that is commanded is an act of faith and the grace of remission of sins is given.
Holy Spirit baptism is commanded as a receiving by faith, and the grace of the gift of eternal life is given.

There is complete and full salvation by grace through faith in the obedience of Apostle Peter's preaching.

Anyone who teaches water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is not essential to salvation is preaching a false doctrine. Anyone who teaches water baptism according to Acts 2:38 is a work of man and is not of faith is teaching a false doctrine. Anyone who teaches that in Romans 6 that baptismal regeneration is not taught is teaching a false doctrine. Why follow after the cunning devises of men.  Why not take the Apostle Peter's words unto your own heart as if you were there on the day of Pentecost.

What was the intent of the Apostle Peter in this text?  Why do men pervert his intent?  They asked the Apostles: "men and brethren what shall we do?" Why do men pervert the words of Peter in answer to this important question?  They wanted to know what to do to be saved.

Things Peter did not say:
Peter did not say Calvary plus nothing;
Peter did not say believe in your heart and confess with your mouth Jesus Christ is Lord;
Peter did not say accept the Lord into your heart;
Peter did not say accept the Lord as your personal savior;
Peter did not say accept the Lord Jesus by faith;
Peter did not say receive Christ and have a personal relationship;
Peter did not say come as you are and believe you are saved because Jesus died for you;
Peter did not say come and receive holy communion and be saved from your sins;
Peter did not say come up and shake the preacher's hand and get the right hand of fellowship from the church members;
Peter did not say sign the church roll and you are saved;
Peter did not say confess you are a Baptist and you are saved without water baptism;
Peter did not say confess you are a Church of Christ and you are saved;
Peter did not say confess you are a Catholic and you are saved;
Peter did not say sign a prayer card as your profession of faith and you are saved;

What Peter did say:
Peter said repent;
Peter said to be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ:
Peter did say they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

What did the people do:
3,000 Israelites from the 12 tribes repented of their sins;
They asked to be baptized after the order Peter had preached;
There were baptized that day 3,000 souls;
They were added to the New Testament Church following their baptismal covenant.

What was the intent of the Apostle Peter:
He was following the command of Jesus that repentance and remission of sins was to be preached first in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49);
He was being obedient to the authority given him with the keys of the Kingdom (Matthew 16:19);
He now had power upon him by the Holy Ghost and so now he could witness the Gospel in its purity (Acts 1:8).

He intended the people to repent by faith;
He intended the people to be baptized by faith in water in the name of Jesus Christ that they may rise to walk in a newness of life;
He intended all the people to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by faith and to be added to the Church as born again believers.

If the Apostle Peter did not intend all this by his preaching, he played one of the biggest jokes upon 3,000 Jews ever pulled upon Israelites. It is indeed sad and a shame that men would try to destroy this first Gospel message preached after Jesus ascended.  It is a mockery that they would alter Peter's words and play alphabet soup with them until they totally destroy all faith, all grace, and all salvation that comes by Jesus Christ as contained in Acts 2:38.

Why do trinitarians want this verse destroyed?
It proves there never was a trinitarian phrase in the original Hebrew Matthew;
It proves baptism is in the New Testament name of God which is Jesus Christ;
It proves there is faith and grace in repentance and water baptism;
It proves according to Romans 6 there is baptismal regeneration from a dead corpse burial and a resurrection unto a new life;
It proves water baptism is essential to salvation;
It proves Mark 16:16--"he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned" IS TRUE;
It proves there was one water baptism ordained by Jesus and this is the same as born of the water in John 3:3-5;
It proves all who are not baptized by faith to receive the grace by Christ alone, by grace alone, by faith alone, ARE NOT SAVED!

I urge all to receive the Word of God in Acts 2:38 and follow this.  Do not follow the cunning lies of trinitarians who are sending more people to hell then the Moslems and Hindus by their lies and deceptions.

Go to Acts 2:38 and see of you can find evil in this verse or in Peter's intent.  See if you can find in this verse any hint that these could be saved without repentance, without water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and without Holy Ghost baptism.  Go there and see how 3,000 were added to the Church. Why, if these 3,000 were the first Gospel converts added to the New Testament Church after the ascension of Christ, MUST THE PATTERN BE CHANGED?  Ask yourself if it was good enough for 3,000 to accept by faith and then find salvation into the Church, why it will HURT YOU!  

Trinitarians have spread the lies that if you follow the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38 it will hurt you.  Some how you will be added to a cult instead of the Church.  That some how you will become demon possessed and deceived. Don't be afraid to think outside the trinitarian box. Get out of the box.  Don't let men deceive you so easily.  Take the Word of God because it is Holy Spirit inspired.  The Apostle Peter was speaking by the Holy Ghost when he commanded the multitude of Jews to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Any man who claims Peter was not speaking by the Holy Ghost is a devil.  If Peter was speaking by the Holy Ghost, what was the intent of the Holy Ghost for those who heard the first Gospel message?

The intent of the Holy Ghost was for people to be saved!

How did the Holy Ghost tell the people to be saved through the lips of the Apostle Peter?

The Holy Ghost said through Peter REPENT!
The Holy Ghost said through Peter RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST!

Now, what will you do?

Will you follow the cunning lies and devices of trinitarians who have always perverted the Word of God?

Will you follow the Apostle Peter, the man to whom was given the keys to the Kingdom?

Key #1 REPENT;

You must follow the Word of God with your faith.  Do it now!  Do it today! Do not allow men to talk you out of obeying the Holy Ghost who spoke through Peter on the day of Pentecost.  Come to the waters of burial.  Come to the waters of separation. Come to the waters of holiness.  Come to the place where the blood of Jesus will wash your sins away.  True, water does not wash away sin: we NEVER SAID IT DID!  But we did say, that the blood of Jesus washes away sin during water baptism.  If there is no blood of Christ applied in water baptism, then remission of sins by and during water baptism is a joke Jesus and the Apostle Peter pulled on 3,000 believing Jews. It was no joke.  It is for real.  Now come to these waters of the blood covenant.  Come to these waters of blood purification. Come to these waters of the crossing from death unto life.  Come today.  Come right now. Do not delay.  It is you soul you must bring from darkness to light by the way of New Testament salvation found in Acts 2:38.

May the Lord Jesus himself reveal unto you his glorious grace in Acts 2:38 water baptism.

Pastor G. Reckart
Apostolic Messianic Fellowship
7911 N. 40th Street
Tampa, Florida 33604


"Economic and essential trinity:- (a) The transition from the Trinity of experience to the Trinity of dogma is describable in other terms as the transition from the economic or dispensational Trinity [Greek] to the essential, immanent or ontological Trinity [Greek]. At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian in the a strictly ontological reference. It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in apostolic the NT and other early Christian writings. Nor was it so even in the age of the Christian apologists. And even Tertullian, who founded the nomenclature of the orthodox doctrine, knew as little of an ontological Trinity as did the apologists; his still the economic or relative conception of the Johannine and Pauline theology. So Harnack holds, and he says further that the whole history of Christological and Trinitarian dogma from Athanasius to Augustine is the history of the displacement of the Logos-conception by that of the Son, of the substitution of the immanent and absolute Trinity for the economic and relative. In any case the orthodox doctrine in its developed form is a Trinity of essence rather than of manifestation, as having to do in the first instance with the subjective rather than the objective Being of God. And, just because these two meanings of the Trinity-the theoretical and the practical, as they might also be described-are being sharply distinguished in modern Christian thought, it might be well if the term 'Trinity' were employed to designate the Trinity of revelation or the doctrine of the threefold self-manifestation of God), and the term ‘Triunity' (cf. Germ. Dreienigkeit) Adopted as the designation of the essential Trinity (or the doctrine of the tri-personal nature of God)" (Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, Trinity, p 461).

"First, it is important to note that the doctrine of the Trinity does not go back to non-Christian sources [this is his opinion], as has sometimes been supposed in the past. There has been no lack of attempts to find the initial form of the doctrine of the Trinity in Plato, or in Hinduism, or in Parsiism. All such attempts may be regarded today as having floundered [again his opinion refuted below]. It is another question, of course, whether or not the church, in developing the doctrine of the Trinity [why develope something if it already existed?], had recourse to certain thought forms already present in the philosophical and religious environment, in order that, with the help of these, it might give its own faith clear intellectual expression [an admission of borrowing pagan philosophy]. This question must definitely be answered in the affirmative.  In particular cases the appropriation of this concept or that can often be proved. Unfortunately, however, it is true that particularly in reference to the beginnings of the doctrine of the Trinity there is still much uncertainty. In this area final clarity has not yet been achieved. As far as the New Testament is concerned, one does not find in it an actual doctrine of the Trinity. This does not mean very much, however, for generally speaking the New Testament is less intent upon setting forth certain doctrines than it is upon proclaiming the kingdom of God, a kingdom that dawns in and with the person of Jesus Christ. At the same time, however, there are in the New Testament the rudiments of a concept of God that was susceptible of further development and clarification, along doctrinal lines [his opinion]. ... Speaking first of the person of Jesus Christ ... In other passages of the New Testament the predicate "God" is without a doubt applied to Christ" (A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Bernard Lohse, 1966, p37-39).

"It is a good thing to examine the revelation that God made to the Jewish people in the Old Testament. We shall not find in it a lesson on the trinity--there is none [Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Vol. 20, What Is The Trinity, Bernard Piault]."

"In the book A Statement of Reasons, Andrews Norton says of the Trinity: 'We can trace the history of this doctrine, and discover its source, not in the Christian revelation, but in the Platonic philosophy . . . The Trinity is not a doctrine of Christ and his Apostles, but a fiction of the school of the later Platonists" (A Statement of Reasons, Andrews Norton, 1872, Fifth edition, American Unitarian Association, Boston, MA, p 94, 104).

"What does the Old Testament tell us of God? It tells us there is one God, a wonderful God of life and love and righteousness and power and glory and mystery, who is the creator and lord of the whole universe, who is intensely concerned with the tiny people of Israel. It tells us of His Word, Wisdom. Spirit, of the Messieh He will send, of a Son of Man and a Suffering Servant to come. But it tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit."  "But nowhere do we find any trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead" (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, pp 6, 15).

"The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the trinity. Neither the word trinity itself, nor such language as one in three, three in one, one essence or substance or three persons, is biblical language. The language of the doctrine is the language of the ancient Church, taken not from the Bible but from classical Greek philosophy [Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr., Christian Doctrine, p 92]."

"There is no evidence the Apostles of Jesus ever heard of a trinity [H. G. Wells, Outline of History, 1920 Edition, p 499]."

"It was at this stage that Constantine made his momentous suggestion. Might not the relationship of Son to Father be expressed by the term homoousios ("of the same substance"). Its use, however, by the Sabellian bishops of Libya had been condemned by Dionysius of Alexandria in the 260s, and, in a different sense, its use by Paul of Samosata bad been condemned by the Council of Antioch in 268. It was thus a "loaded" word as well as being unscriptural. Why Constantine put it forward we do not know. The possibility is that once again he was prompted by Hosius, and he may have been using it as a "translation" of the traditional view held in the West, that the Trinity was composed of "Three Persons in one substance," without inquiring further into the meaning of these terms. The Emperor bad spoken, and no one dared touch the creed during his lifetime. The great majority of the Eastern bishops found themselves in a false position" (The Rise of Christianity, 1985, W.H.C. Frend, p140-141).

"The Platonic trinity, itself merely a rearrangement of older trinities dating back to earlier peoples, appears to be the rational philosophic trinity of attributes that gave birth to the three hypostases or divine persons taught by the Christian churches. ... This Greek philosopher's conception of the divine trinity ... can be found in all the ancient [pagan] religions" (French Nouveau Dictionnaire Universel [New Universal Dictionary], Vol. 2, p. 1467).

"(b) Although the notion of a divine Triad or Trinity is characteristic of the Christian religion, it is by no means peculiar to it. In Indian religion e.g., we meet with the trinitarian group of Brahma, siva, and Visnu; and in Egyptian religion with the trinitarian group of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, constituting a divine family, like the Father, Mother, and Son in medieval Christian pictures. Nor is it only in historical religions that we find God viewed as a Trinity. One recalls in particular the Neo-Platonic view of the Supreme or Ultimate Reality, which was suggested by Plato in the Timmoeus; e.g., in the philosophy of Plotinus the primary or original Realities are triadically represented as the Good or (in numerical symbol) the One, the Intelligence or the One-Many, and the World-Soul or the One and Many. The religious Trinity associated, if somewhat loosely, with Comte's philosophy might also be cited here: the cultus of humanity as the Great Being, of space as the Great Medium, and of the earth as the Great Fetish. (c) What lends a special character to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is its close association with the distinctive Christian view of divine incarnation." " As Augustine said, "if in the books of the Platonists it was to be found that 'in the beginning was the Word,' it was not found there that 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.'" ... "None the less Christ is acknowledged as the eternal Son of God and the supreme revelation of the Father, and the quickening Spirit of life is acknowledged to be derived ' from on high." And so, when the early Christians would describe their conception of God, all the three elements-God, Christ, and the Spirit-enter into the description, and the one God is found to be revealed in a threefold way" [revealed via Plato philosophy] (Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, Trinity, p 458).

"The doctrine of the Trinity did not form part of the apostles' preaching, as this is reported in the New Testament" (Encyclopedia International, Ian Henderson, University of Glasgow, 1969, page 226).

"To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently never known. They say nothing about it [Origin and Evolution of Religion, by Yale University Professor E. Washburn Hopkins]."

"At first the Christian Faith was not trinitarian. It was not so in the Apostolic and sub-Apostolic ages, as reflected in the New Testament and of the early Christian writings [Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics]."

"The trinity "is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and ingrafted on the Christian faith" (A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, Lyman Abbott, 1875, p944).

"The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, and, though used by Tertullian in the last decade of the 2nd century, it did not find a place formally in the theology of the Church till the 4th century" (New Bible Dictionary, J. D. Douglas & F. F. Bruce, Trinity, p 1298).

The trinity: "is a very marked feature in Hindooism, and is discernible in Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Japanese, Indian and the most ancient Grecian mythologies" (Religious Dictionary, Lyman Abbott, p944).

"Theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible does not contain a doctrine of the Trinity ... theologians agree that the New Testament also does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity. In the immediate post New Testament period of the Apostolic Fathers no attempt was made to work out the God-Christ (Father-Son) relationship in ontological terms" (The Encyclopedia of Religion, Mircea Eliade, Trinity, Vol 15, p53-57).

"The Trinity. The NT does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity. "The Bible lacks the express declaration that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of equal essence and therefore in an equal sense God himself" (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Brown, Colin, 1932, God, vol 2, p84, J. Schneider).

"When we turn to the problem of the doctrine of the Trinity, we are confronted by a peculiarly contradictory situation. On the one hand, the history of Christian theology and of dogma teaches us to regard the dogma of the Trinity as the distinctive element in the Christian idea of God, that which distinguishes it from the idea of God in Judaism and in Islam, and indeed, in all forms of rational Theism. Judaism, Islam, and rational Theism are Unitarian. On the other hand, we must honestly admit that the doctrine of the Trinity did NOT form part of the early Christian-New Testament-message. Certainly, it cannot be denied that not only the word "Trinity", but even the EXPLICIT IDEA of the Trinity is absent from the apostolic witness of the faith.. The doctrine of the Trinity itself, however, is not a Biblical Doctrine" (Emil Brunner, "The Christian Doctrine of God", Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1949, pp. 205 & 236).

"All this underlines the point that primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds of the early church" (James L. Barker, "Apostacy From the Divine Church", Salt Lake City UT, 1960, p. 44).

"Thus the New Testament itself is far from any doctrine of the Trinity or of a triune God who is three co-equal Persons of One Nature" (William J. Hill, "The Three-Personed God", Washington DC, The Catholic University of America Press, 1982, p. 27).

Back  -  Acts 2:38 Baptism  -  Bible Studies  -  www.whyapostolic  -  Email us  -  Private Forum -  Tithes/Offerings