Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38 (IV)

*Below we conclude our exegetical series on Acts 2.38 in refutation to the charges of Edward Dalcour (see HERE ).  As  before, we have simply copied Mr. Dalcour’s claims in *bold black below and responded in *blue (as here) immediately following.  The first several excerpts are continued from Dr. Daniel Wallace as quoted by Dalcour in his original article.  Dalcour then continues his commentary as delineated below. 

*We will again note that we have repeatedly challenged Mr. Dalcour to a one-on-one formal debate regarding these dogmas.  After initially agreeing (two years ago now), he has subsequently ignored all debate offers.  It is a standing debate offer.  In the meantime, hopefully this article is edifying to the body of Christ.  Enjoy!  

The idea then would be, “Repent for/with reference to your sins, and let each one of you be baptized.…”  Such a view is an acceptable way of handling εἰς, but its subtlety and awkwardness are against it.

*Of course, we would agree with Dr. Wallace’s assertions that this would be an irresponsible way of exegeting the preposition εἰς in this text.  Again, Trinitarian grammarians such as Mantey, Robertson, et al. are renowned for inserting their theological preferences into the biblical data under the guise of exegesis.  Such is the case with the plainness and clear soteriological force of Acts 2.38.

4) Finally, it is possible that to a first-century Jewish audience (as well as to Peter), the idea of baptism might incorporate both the spiritual reality and the physical symbol.  In other words, when one spoke of baptism, he usually meant both ideas—the reality and the ritual.

*Oneness Pentecostals would agree with this assertion.  We cannot divorce the spiritual reality of the forgiveness of sins from the physical act of water baptism in Jesus’s name.  Indeed, the removal of sins is the very point of the ritual.

Peter is shown to make the strong connection between these two in chapters 10 and 11. In 11:15-16 he recounts the conversion of Cornelius and friends, pointing out that at the point of their conversion they were baptized by the Holy Spirit.

*It is amazing how Dalcour can actually endorse the biblical evidence for water and Spirit baptism in Jesus’s name “at the point of conversion” (as affirmed by Wallace above)—in a hit piece designed to deny the same!?  Acts 10-11 well demonstrates that a person is not “saved” when they merely believe in Christ since Cornelius already believed in Christ prior to Peter’s message (cf. Acts 10.37-38).  However, Cornelius had not yet been born again “of water and of the Spirit” (John 3.3-5; BLT).  {Note: it will not do for Dalcour to argue that John 3.5 does not refer to water baptism.  This is easily and quickly debunked grammatically, contextually and historically [deserving of an entirely different article].}

After he had seen this, he declared, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit…” (10:47).  The point seems to be that if they have had the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit via spiritual baptism, there ought to be a public testimony/acknowledgment via water baptism as well.

*Agreed—since it takes both elements to complete the new birth experience (John 3.3-8).

This may not only explain Acts 2:38 (viz., that Peter spoke of both reality and picture, though only the reality removes sins), but also why the NT speaks of only baptized believers (as far as we can tell):

*We would respectfully, yet strongly, disagree with this assertion.  Water and Spirit baptism in Jesus’s name was a necessary part of biblical salvation—and the proof texts that clearly demonstrate this are the very passages being discussed!  We are reminded of when Jesus—who was “the truth” (John 14.6)—stood before Pilate who asked Him, “What is truth?” (John 18.38). 

*That is, Truth literally personified was right before Pilate’s eyes – and yet he was still searching for “truth!”  So it is with agenda-driven Trinitarian apologists like Dalcour.  Truth regarding biblical salvation stares them right in the eyes—and they still refuse to acknowledge that truth.  One would think that they would take eternity seriously and tremble at God’s saving instructions.

Water baptism is not a cause of salvation, but a picture; and as such it serves both as a public acknowledgment (by those present) and a public confession (by the convert) that one has been Spirit-baptized.

*We have repeatedly affirmed that water baptism apart from genuine faith is meaningless.  Conversely, saving faith apart from water baptism in Jesus’s name is equally futile according to Scripture (e.g., cf. James 2 cited in this series below).  Hence, we would strongly disagree that water baptism is merely a “public confession that one has been Spirit baptized.”  Indeed, the Samaritans had been water baptized in Jesus’s name, but had not yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This well demonstrates that one does not automatically receive the Holy Spirit upon belief, confession and water baptism in Jesus’s name.

The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 8.16; NLT)

*Further, the biblical presentation of genuine Spirit baptism is accompaniment of speaking in other tongues “as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2.4).  Indeed, the Jews who went with the Apostle Peter to Cornelius’s house knew that Spirit baptism had truly occurred on the Gentiles:

For (note the inferential conjunction γὰρ) they were hearing them speaking in tongues” (Acts 10.46; [cf. John 3.8]).

In sum, although Mantey’s instincts were surely correct that in Luke’s theology baptism was not the cause of salvation, his ingenious solution of a causal εἰς lacks conviction.

*We would turn this assertion on its head and state the polar opposite.  Clearly water baptism was a necessary part of Lukan soteriology.  Indeed, it is Luke who observes:

But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.  (Luke 7.30; BSB)

*As we have established in this series we would agree that Dr. Mantey’s argumentation for the supposed causal force of εἰς in Acts 2.38 flows out of a presupposed theological commitment and not the actual biblical data standing alone.  As well substantiated by Greek linguists above – if the inspired grammar is allowed to stand on its own merit the alleged causal interpretation of this preposition will never fly.

There are other ways for us to satisfy the tension, but adjusting the grammar to answer a backward-looking ‘Why?’ has no more basis than the notion that εἰς ever meant mere representation.”

*This is a very good point by Dr. Wallace.  Well stated!

*As we conclude our investigation into the Greek preposition “eis” in Acts 2.38—and since Trinitarians like Dalcour are fond of appealing to these same lexical authorities in John 1.1, 17.5, et al.—let’s see how these selfsame linguists view the prepositional phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” in this verse shall we?  Surely Trinitarian apologists will accept these lexical authorities in this passage also—right?

*(Exegetical Dictionary of the [Greek] NT;  Vol. 1-3):  b) With abstract nouns, to/for to indicate purpose:  εἰς μαρτύριον, “as a witness” (esp. common in the Synoptics); as a memorial (Mark 14:9 par.);  as a demonstration (Rom 3:25); for the glory of God (15:7);  for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

*(BDAG):  εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν for forgiveness of sins, so that sins might be forgiven Mt 26:28; cp. Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3; Ac 2:38.

*(Louw & Nida Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains):  84.16 εἰς (1) extension toward a special goal – to, toward, in the direction of.  [a] ἤρχοντο εἰς τὸ μνημει̂ον they went to the tomb JHN.20:3 ὅτε ἤγγισαν εἰς Ιεροσόλυμα as they drew near to Jerusalem MAT.21:1.

*(Meyer’s NT [Exegetical] Commentary):  εἰς denotes the object of the baptism, which is the remission of the guilt contracted in the state before μετάνοια.  Comp. Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11.

*(Discovery Study Bible;  Drs. Gary Hill & Gleason Archer):  eis (a preposition) – properly, into (unto) – literally, “motion into which” implying penetration (“unto,” “union”) to a particular purpose or result.

*(Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon):  eis aphesin hamartion, to obtain the forgiveness of sins.

*In his discussion of Acts 2.38 esteemed grammarian Dr. Ceslas Spicq noted:

Water baptism is a means of realizing this conversion, and its goal — something altogether new — is a washing, “the remission of sins” (Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 1, 242).

*And the list goes on and on!

(Dalcour):  Final thoughts:  the fundamental problem with the groups who embrace baptismal regeneration is that their view challenges Paul’s main thesis that “God credits righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4:6) and justification is through faith (sole instrument) alone (not by works).

*Baptism in Jesus’s name no more makes water the savior than the man preaching the gospel makes the minister the savior of his audience.  And, clearly a person needs to hear the gospel to be saved!

*Since Dalcour is quoting from Romans above perhaps he should keep reading:

Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.  (Romans 6.3-4; NET)

How are they to call on one they have not believed in?  And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them (**Note:  Will Mr. Dalcour be consistent and say that the effort of “preaching” the gospel is a “work” also?)?  (Romans 10.14; NET)

*Further, as pointed out above, (i) Oneness Pentecostals do not teach baptismal regeneration since there is much more to salvation than water baptism standing alone, (ii) the Apostle Paul – to whom Dalcour appeals – was water baptized in Jesus’s name for the express purpose of washing away his sins (Acts 22.16) and spoke in tongues upon his reception of the Holy Spirit (cf., e.g., I Corinthians 14.18).

*Hence, Dalcour appeals to a writer (Paul) who had already experienced the very phenomenon that he is warring against (cf., e.g., Acts 19.1-6; I Corinthians 1.13; Romans 6.3; Galatians 3.27)!  This is the very thing that Dalcour lectures Oneness believers for doing when they quote a Trinitarian academic.  But, as noted, such unequal scales is vintage Dalcour.

(Dalcour):  Although the “work” of water baptism is a biblical commandment, it is a work that man does.

*This is an unwarranted assumption.  God is the One who washes away our sins when we obey His “biblical commandment.”  Since Dalcour is forced to concede above that water baptism is indeed a “biblical commandment”—perhaps he will heed the Apostle John’s warning (since he stubbornly rejects ours):

Now by this we know that we have come to know God:  if we keep his commandments.  The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.  But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected.  By this we know that we are in him.  (I John 2.3-5; NET)

*Strong words indeed!  In sum, God is the One who does the “work” of forgiving our sins when we obey His command to be baptized in His saving name (Acts 4.12)—just as He does the same “work” when we repent.

(Dalcour):  It does not contribute in any way, shape, or form to the atoning work of God the Son (gospel), which is the very ground (cause) of justification.

*There is no such definitive identification of Jesus as “God the Son” (Dalcour need not appeal to the meaningful and viable variant in John 1.18).  The Son of God (not “God the Son”) is forever the sole God of the biblical data enfleshed for the redemption of mankind.

(Dalcour):  So Paul says to the Corinthian church:  “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . . .” (1 Cor. 1:17).    

*As noted above, the original recipients of Paul’s letter would have already read the rhetorical question:

Is Christ divided?  Paul wasnʼt crucified for you, was he?  Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul?  (1.13)

*As the New International Greek Testament Commentary notes:

Schnackenburg concludes that 1 Cor 1:13 and 1:15 should both be translated “in the name” since what is at issue is an “immediate relation to Christ himself” in 1:13, and by implication an immediate relation to Paul in 1:15.  He paraphrases the passage: “Christ is undivided. . . .Christ alone died for you. . . . You belong to Christ alone. . . .You were baptized in the name of Christ (and in the name of no other).

*UBS Handbook for New Testament Translators;  I Corinthians 1.13:

Baptism, from the earliest times, involved literally naming the name of Christ (see Matt 28.19 for a command from Christ that uses the formula “in the name” in both RSV and TEV).  GeCL has a note on the word “name ” in its glossary.  It says, “with this naming of the name, the person baptized is given over to belong to Jesus, his LORD, and is placed under Christ’s protection.

*Of course, we could continue ad nauseum with quotations from honest grammarians on this passage (which Dalcour has conveniently omitted from his audiences consideration) that speak to the fact that the entire Corinthian church was baptized in Jesus name!  Indeed, if water baptism in Jesus’s name is not a part of the Christian initiation process why does Paul mention various inflections of the verb translated “baptize(d)” (βαπτίζω) six times in opening chapter of his letter?  Clearly water baptism in Jesus name was a part of the new birth experience—despite how hard Dalcour campaigns against that saving name.  

*Paul’s point was that—due to current factions in Corinth—no one could charge him with attempting to begin his own following.  From this perspective Paul reminds them that he was not crucified for them, nor were they baptized in his name.  His contention was that into whose name someone is baptized—this is the same person they are following.  Hence, how can someone call themselves “Christians” when they reject and fight against this same name at baptism (contrary to the Apostles and every NT instances)?

*As Grimm-Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon says of this passage:  “to administer the rite of ablution.”  Paul’s emphasis was on who administered this salvific rite—not a denigration of the sacrament itself.  This is well confirmed by the following quote from the New International Greek Testament Commentary:

Since baptism and the Lord’s Supper also, for Paul, proclaim the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom 6:3-11; 1 Cor 11:24-27), the contextual meaning of βαπτίζειν has been conveyed by translating it “to perform baptisms,” with its emphasis on ministerial agency.  (I Cor. 1.17)

*As esteemed grammarian Dr. Kenneth Wuest renders this portion of the verse in his Expanded Translation of the New Testament:

 for Christ did not send me on a mission to be a baptizer but to be a bringer of good news…(I Corinthians 1.17).

*Paul continues, “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name!”  Whose name then was the Corinthian church baptized in?  The answer is obvious to the honest seeker for biblical truth.

*In summary, we have combined the corroborative evidence of literally hundreds of linguists in this expositional series—all of whom adamantly reject and deny the “causative” force of the prepositional phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” in Acts 2.38.  Not only this, but they also each openly affirm that this Greek phrase demands a “purpose clause.”  In no forensics-proper setting would a defendant be exonerated if hundreds of experts all testified to the identical conclusion.  Thus, the charges leveled at Acts 2.38 from Mr. Dalcour demand a “not guilty” verdict from the jury that is factual-centered!

*That is, exegetically, the Greek phrase translated “for the forgiveness of sins” in this soteriological context dictates that water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is the prerequisite for one’s sins to be forgiven.  This is simply the natural conclusion of the inspired grammar when it is allowed to stand on its own merit—unaided by religiosity.

*Finally, we sincerely hope and pray that—in the fear of God’s Word—Mr. Dalcour and other Trinitarians will exchange their religious tradition(s) for NT biblical salvation – just as they did in Acts 2.38!  Please feel free to contact us in the comment section for further information or prayer.  We are here to serve you.  Thank you for reading and God bless!

Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38 (III)

*Below we offer the third installment of our tetralogy toward Edward Dalcour’s criticisms of Oneness Pentecostal’s obedience to the plain language of Acts 2.38.  As before, we have simply copied Mr. Dalcour’s article in *bold black – with our rebuttals immediately following in *blue (as here).  Corroboration of Dalcour’s original article can be viewed HERE.

(Dalcour):  But keep in mind there is at least four different interpretations of Acts 2:38.  Mantey believed that a salvation by grace would be violated if a causal eis were not evident in such passages as Acts 2:38.

*This is a direct confession from Dalcour that Mantey’s theology dictated his grammatical assertions—not vice versa!  Of course, Oneness believers have always known this about most (albeit not all) Trinitarian exegetes.

*In his mammoth work (referenced in our previous post) Acts, An Exegetical Commentary, Vol. 1-4, footnote #1233—while discussing the purpose of baptism in Acts 2.38—Dr. Craig Keener affirms:

E.g., McIntyre, “Baptism and Forgiveness” (some of whose other points are stronger), cites the rule of concord to separate baptism and forgiveness in Acts 2:38, but Camp, “Reexamining Concord,” responds that ἕκαστος can serve as a plural pronoun.  Grammar alone will not easily decide the theological point here.  That εἰς in 2:38 may mean “for the purpose of” (cf., e.g., Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 104, §111.i) is far likelier than Mantey’s theologically determined “because of” (see Wallace, Grammar, 369–71, following Marcus, “Eis”; idem, “Elusive eis,” 44; against Mantey, “Causal Use of eis”; “Eis Again”).  Moule, Idiom Book, 70, has “with a view to, or resulting in.”

*Indeed, as most exegetes affirm, Acts 2.38 reflects the culmination and fulfillment of Peter’s eschatological quote from Joel (cf. Joel 2.32; Acts 2.21).  Simply, the end time outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit reaches its zenith in 2.38.  In sharp contrast to Dalcour’s claims above, Keener continues:

For Luke, however, baptism is not dissociated from repentance but constitutes an act of repentance; under normal circumstances, one does not separate the two (Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4)…preaching repentance in Jesus’s name (ἐίὶ τῷ ὀνόματι, 24:47) is concretely expressed by summoning the repentant to baptism in Jesus’s name (ἐίὶ τῷ ὀνόματι, Acts 2:38), and baptism figuratively “washes away sins” (22:16)…the “primitive” Jerusalem church used baptism in Jesus’s name for converts to its sect, in the process likely affirming Jesus’s lordship.  (Keener; Acts; Ibid.)

(Dalcour):  This way of handling the text is also concurred by one of the world’s premium and most quoted NT Greek grammarians A. T. Robertson:

My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the NT taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission.  So I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had already received” (Word Pictures, 3:35-36).

*Note above Robertson’s concessions of “My view” and “So I understand.”  Once again we have another Trinitarian scholar interpreting the inspired grammar through the lenses of his theological commitments.  Will Dalcour equally allow Oneness believers to quote one another like this in buttressing their theological conclusions?  Me-thinks not!

*More importantly, Dalcour here lives up to his solid reputation for partial quotations (cf. his partial quote of scholar Murray Harris in his debate with Steven Ritchie).  Dalcour practices such source abuse at virtually every page of his book—and he’s back at it above with this quote from Dr. A.T. Robertson!  Here’s what Dalcour omits from “one of the world’s premium NT Greek grammarians:”

One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume III, The Acts of the Apostles [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1930], pp. 35-36).

*Amazingly (albeit not surprisingly), this sentence appears immediately above Dalcour’s selected (partial) quotation!  Mind-boggling.

*Incidentally, since Dalcour often makes an issue over the various prepositions used in the phrase “in the name of Jesus” in the baptismal accounts (ἐπὶ, ἐν, εἰς)—and while he is quoting Robertson here—perhaps Dalcour will accept Robertson here also (esp. since it appears on the same page!):

No distinction is to be insisted on between ei to onoma and en twi onomati with baptizw since ei and en are really the same word in origin.

*Keener remarks, “Luke’s particular expression varies: is one baptized ἐίί Jesus’s name (as here), εἰς his name (8:16; 19:5), or ἐν his name (10:48)?  But εἰς and ἐν tended to merge in Koine, so that (in contrast to classical Greek) εἰς with the accusative no longer necessarily implied movement.  Luke was probably unconcerned with the preposition; “what mattered was the name (see 3:6, 16; 8:12).

(Dalcour):  There is also another grammatical aspect to be considered.  There is a shift from second person plural to third person singular and back to second person plural.

*As we demonstrate below, this age-old evasion tactic does absolutely nothing to lessen the fatal blow of Acts 2.38 to Trinitarian (esp. Reform) soteriology.  Below, Mr. Dalcour largely parrot’s Cal Beisner’s polemic against Oneness believers.

*Dr. Daniel Segraves has gently laid most of these assertions in their coffin where they rightly belong HERE, HERE, and see also an interesting article by Jason Dulle HERE.  

(Dalcour):  Notice below:

2.  The verb “repent” (metanoēsate) is second person plural and is in the active voice.

3.  And “be baptized” (baptisthētō) is third person singular and is in the passive voice.

4.  The Greek pronoun translated “your” (humōn) is in a second person plural.

*What Trinitarian apologists overlook with this attempted dodge is that Peter addressed the entirety of his saving instructions to “them” (2.38a)—the third person plural pronoun αὐτούς.  That is, the Apostle Peter’s mandates for salvation were directed to the whole listening audience—not merely a “single” person.  Of course, this is demonstrated in the fact that three thousand obeyed these saving instructions and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (that’s a little more than a “single” listener!).

*If Dalcour (again, borrowing from Beisner) emphasizes the third person singular of the imperative mood (cf. aorist tense import) verb translated “be baptized” (βαπτισθήτω)—equal exegetical scales will render the same attention to the third person plural pronoun αὐτούς to whom the third person singular verb “be baptized” was addressed!

*Exegetically, a significant variant appears with the second person plural pronoun ὑμῶν (“your”) that Dalcour marshals in his (cf. Beisner) list above.  Dr. Segraves notes:

The Textus Receptus (Received Text), upon which the King James Version and the New King James Version are based, does not include the second “your” (humon), nor does the Majority Text.  The critical text followed by most modern English translations does include the second “your” in the phrase “for the remission of your sins.”  This is interesting, for the critical text usually prefers the shorter reading.  In this case, the longer reading is adopted by the critical text on the view that the shorter reading (without the second “your”) is “conformation to the solemn formula of the Gospels, not an original shorter reading” (see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, Corrected Edition, 1975], 301).

*(See the critical apparatus for NA28:  των αμαρτιων [+ημων C] C 1175¦txt א‎ A B 81 t w vg.)

(Dalcour):  Therefore, the grammatical connection is: “repent” (active plural) with “your” (active plural) as in “for the remission of your [humōn] sins” and not “be baptized” (passive singular) with “for the remission of your sins.”

*Contrary to the volumes of linguists above—Dalcour presumes he sees something here that they all apparently missed!  The Greek verb rendered “be baptized” appears in the passive voice simply because the subject is passive—contra active (e.g., repentance)—in the act of water baptism.

*The reason the verb βαπτισθήτω (“be baptized”) is singular is because the grammatical subject is the masculine singular ἕκαστος, translated “each.”  Since this is a nominative singular third person reference it throws the verb of which it’s the subject into the 3rd person singular.  It’s simple grammatical concord.

*The first ὑμῶν (“of you”) modifies ἕκαστος as a partitive genitive, lit., “each one of you.”  It’s simply a stronger way of stating the imperative (command).  Instead of the simple βαπτίσθητε, “be baptized,” the Apostle Peter particularizes the subject and emphasizes the “you” individually.  In this way, baptism in Jesus name uniquely personalized the experience to each convert.  In sum, Dalcour’s point is—well, pointless!

*Further, as intimated above, does Dalcour seriously (mis)interpret the singular number to mean that only a single person obeyed Peter’s instructions at Pentecost?  If so, how does he square his misapplication of the singular number with the fact that, “those (masculine plural οἱ) who received his word were baptized (3rd person plural, ἐβαπτίσθησαν), and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2.41)?  Has Dalcour never heard of the “collective singular” in Greek?  Apparently not!  

(Dalcour):  Moreover, the same wording “for the remission of your sins” is used in reference to John’s baptism (cf. Luke 3:3; Mark 1:4) and that baptism did not save, it was a preparatory baptism and of the coming Messiah and a call to repentance, as we will deal with below.

*Actually, the passages mentioned by Dalcour above referring to John’s baptism are not syntactically parallel (an argument Dalcour makes regarding John 10.30 in cf. Revelation 21.22).  The prepositional phrase in Acts 2.38 is εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν.  In the passages above the prepositional phrase is εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν.  There is no articular noun in either Luke 3.3 or Mark 1.4 in the Greek text as there is in Acts 2.38.  While the meaning does not hinge either way on the anarthrous or articular noun rendered “sins”—still, this once again demonstrates Mr. Dalcour’s typically shoddy exegesis.

*Moreover, Dalcour actually makes our very point above.  Indeed, it is mind-boggling how someone can actually appeal to the very verses that show baptism is “for forgiveness of sins” only to deny what the very text before his eyes states!  If sins are remitted or forgiven at water baptism in the preparatory stage of the kingdom of God – how much more in its fulfillment?  There is no reason to convolute the plain biblical testimony: sins are forgiven at repentance and water baptism—period.

(Dalcour):  An additional view, however, is that baptism represents both the spiritual reality and the ritual which is an acceptable view that works well in the scope of the context.

*Here Dalcour borrows from Dr. Daniel Wallace in his groundbreaking work Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.  We would whole-heartedly agree with this assertion.  We cannot segregate the internal prompting of faith from the external outworking of the same.

(Dalcour):  Notwithstanding the different shades of interpretation, which in fact do not contradict, but only enhance—they are all in accord with good exegesis.

*Agreed—although below Dalcour abandons “good exegesis!”

(Dalcour):  Contrary to the UPCI position, which violates not only the theology in Acts (e.g., 10:43) but also the entire theology of the NT (e.g., John 6:47; Rom. 4:4ff.; Gal. 2:16).

*Actually, as shown elsewhere on this blog (see below), it is Dalcour who repeatedly violates biblical soteriology and theology – and he is back at it here!  Overhead Dalcour appeals to Acts 10.43, John 6.47, Romans 4.4 and Galatians 2.16.  Let’s examine the context of each reference below.  First, Acts 10 (referenced above) concludes with:

…the gift of the Holy Spirit has been poured out even upon the Gentiles.  For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and magnifying God.  (v. 46)

Then Peter answered, “Is anyone able to withhold the water to baptize these who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we also have?”  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  (vv. 47-48)

*Significantly, this is where the church in Rome (that Dalcour appeals to above) was planted—with the Roman centurion named Cornelius (cf., Acts 10.1; NLT).  So that when we get to Paul’s letter to Rome, he is addressing those who have already been water and Spirit baptized in Jesus’ name from Acts 10 (cf. Romans 6.1-4, 8.9-11).  Note also that the law of prepositions demands an oral invocation of the name referenced, viz., Jesus Christ.

*John was a tongue talker who baptized in Jesus’ name (cf. Acts 1.13; Acts 8.14-16).  Further, John is clear that one must be born again “out of” water and the Holy Spirit (John 3.3-5).  Similarly, Galatians 3.27 (which see) is clear that the entire church in Galatia was already water and Spirit baptized.  Hence, in the final analysis either or both the senders and recipients of these letters were water baptized in Jesus’ name and had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in other tongues.  

(Dalcour):  Lastly, in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, foremost Greek scholar Daniel Wallace provides insightful comments regarding the four main interpretations of Acts 2:38:

*Note:  For the sake of clarity the following portion of Dalcour’s article is copied from Wallace’s work—hence Dr. Wallace is the speaker below.

Causal εἰς [eis, “for”] in Acts 2:38?  An interesting discussion over the force of εἰς took place several years ago, especially in relation to Acts 2:38.  The text reads as follows:

Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς Μετανοήσατε, φησίν καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν. . . . (“And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized—each one of you—at the name of Jesus Christ because of/for/unto the forgiveness of your sins…”).

*I would just point out that no reputable translation has adopted Dr. Wallace’s rendering of Acts 2.38 above (e.g., see HERE).  Indeed, the Greek prepositional phrase translated “in the name of Jesus Christ” is literally ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.  I do understand that when ἐπὶ governs a dative case noun (such as here) “at” is a perfectly fine rendering.  I just find it unnecessary to exchange the normative transcription of “upon” or “in” for the awkward and wooden “at.”

On the one hand, J. R. Mantey argued that εἰς could be used causally in various passages in the NT, among them Matt 3:11 and Acts 2:38.  It seems that Mantey believed that a salvation by grace would be violated if a causal εἰς was not evident in such passages as Acts 2:38.

*As has been noted by many, Dr. Mantey allowed his theological presuppositions to interfere with his exegesis—as do many contemporary Trinitarian apologists.

On the other hand, Ralph Marcus questioned Mantey’s non-biblical examples of a causal εἰς so that in his second of two rejoinders he concluded (after a blow-by-blow refutation):  “It is quite possible that εἷς is used causally in these NT passages but the examples of causal εἰς cited from non-biblical Greek contribute absolutely nothing to making this possibility a probability.”

If, therefore, Professor Mantey is right in his interpretation of various NT passages on baptism and repentance and the remission of sins, he is right for reasons that are non-linguistic.  Marcus ably demonstrated that the linguistic evidence for a causal εἷς fell short of proof.

 *This is the general consensus of NT linguists as demonstrated above.

If a causal εἷς is not in view, what are we to make of Acts 2:38?

*This is where theological commitments begin to take over from Trinitarians.  What we are to make of Acts 2.38 is precisely what it makes of itself!  When taken holistically, biblical salvation consists of faith, repentance from sin, water and Spirit baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and walking in a resurrected life of a new existence in Christ (i.e., love and holiness).  There is simply no other recognized salvation if the scriptures are allowed to speak uninterrupted—as in this passage.

There are at least four other interpretations of Acts 2:38.  1) The baptism referred to here is physical only, and εἰς has the meaning of for or unto.  Such a view, if this is all there is to it, suggests that salvation is based on works.

*No one I know confesses that the “physical” water apart from inward-working faith constitutes salvation.  This is a straw man argument.

The basic problem of this view is that it runs squarely in the face of the theology of Acts, namely:  (a) repentance precedes baptism (cf. Acts 3:19; 26:20), and (b) salvation is entirely a gift of God, not procured via water baptism (Acts 10:43 [cf. v 47]; 13:38-39, 48; 15:11; 16:30-31; 20:21; 26:18).

*I would turn this assertion completely upside down:  The view that salvation in Acts is achieved through repentance alone runs polar opposite of the actual data itself.  The Jews in chapter 2, the eunuch and Samaritans in chapter 8, the gentiles in chapter 10 (cf. 11.14), Lydia and her house, the Philippian jailer in chapter 16, the disciples of John the Baptist in chapter 19, the Apostle Paul in chapter 22—all met a uniform new birth experience of water and Spirit baptism in Jesus’ name!

*Further, although we certainly agree that salvation is a gift of God—does this mean that a person does not have to believe in Jesus nor repent (since Dr. Wallace has appealed to repentance in Acts above) to be saved?  As mentioned above, the same book of Acts specifically identifies repentance as “works” (ἔργα πράσσοντας; Acts 26.20), yet never labels water baptism as the same.  If we can ignore the command to be baptized in Jesus name consistency demands that we can equally disregard faith in Christ, repentance from sin, etc.   

2) The baptism referred to here is spiritual only.  Although such a view fits well with the theology of Acts, it does not fit well with the obvious meaning of “baptism” in Acts—especially in this text (cf. 2:41).

*Agreed. Significantly, the initial converts to the church were water and Spirit baptized in Jesus’ name.  Clearly there is not one plan of salvation in church history and another design in these “last days” (Acts 2.17).  This is particularly evident when one considers that the Apostle Peter applied Acts 2.38 to Joel’s eschatological prophecy of “in the last days” (which obviously still applies).  That is, the way the first person got in the NT church is the same manner that the last person will enjoy entrance into the NT church.  The “last day” of the Christian initiation experience will be just like the first day!

3) The text should be repunctuated in light of the shift from second person plural to third person singular back to second person plural again.  If so, it would read as follows:  “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized at the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. . . .”

*And yet no reputable translation—combining hundreds of NT Greek linguists—has adopted such a rendering (see HERE).  As a Greek professor once admonished me, “Anytime you espouse a translation of any given text that no one else has selected – you are likely mistranslating the passage due to a doctrinal bias.”  Such is the case with Trinitarians such as Dalcour, et al.

If this is the correct understanding, then εἰς is subordinate to Μετανοήσατε alone, rather than to βαπτισθήτω.

*As our sentence diagram below demonstrates, the prepositional phrase εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν (lit., “for forgiveness of the sins your”) is directly subordinate to βαπτισθήτω (“be baptized”) which has the prepositional phrase ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“upon the name of Jesus Christ”) immediately supporting this verb (“be baptized”).  This is simply the most straightforward and normative exegesis of this passage.  

Acts 2.38

*We will continue our series on Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38 in our next installment.  Thank you for reading!

Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38 (II)

*Below we continue our exegetical refutations toward the efforts of Edward Dalcour to attack Oneness Pentecostals and deny biblical salvation as per the plain reading of Acts 2.38.  Dalcour’s original piece can be found HERE.  In this post we continue with direct quotations of Greek linguists who adamantly reject Dalcour’s “causal” eisegesis of the phrase rendered “for the forgiveness of sins” in Acts 2.38.  We hope you enjoy part II of this IV part series on Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38!

*First, one will note in our continued list of scholars below that not a single one of them identify theologically as Oneness Pentecostal.  Hence they have no doctrinal agenda and are only stating the grammatical facts.  Again, we have left the CAPS just as they were sent to us:

1. Professor Tyler (Amherst College, Mass.):  “I shall translate Acts 2:38 liberally, thus:  ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in (or on) the name of Jesus Christ unto remission of sins.’  The preposition eis seems to denote the object and end of the two verbs which precede [it] in the imperative.  In other words, REMISSION OF SINS IS THE OBJECT AND END RESULT of repentance and baptism.”

2. Professor H.C. Cameron (Princeton College, NJ):  “The preposition eis in Acts 2:38 is evidently used in its final sense; and the phrase is clearly connected with metanoeesate kai baptistheeti (repent and be baptized), AS THE END TO WHICH REPENTANCE AND BAPTISM IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST LED.”

3.  Professor Packard (Yale College, Conn.):  “My own impression (to give it for what it is worth) is that I should translate it, if these words occurred in Plato, for instance, TO THE END OF REMISSION OF SINS, it would then make ‘aphesis hamartion’ AN OBJECT AIMED AT, OR A RESULT ATTAINED BY THE ACTS DENOTED BY THE VERBS.”

4. Professor Foster (Colby University, Maine):  “Without a special examination of the passage in connection with others in which like expressions occur, I should say that the word here has the force of ‘unto,’ ‘in order to,’ ‘for the sake of,’ INDICATING A RESULT TO BE ATTAINED.”

5. Professor D’Ooge (Ann Arbor University, Mich.):  “In reply to your inquiry, I would say that in my judgment the preposition eis, in the verse referred to (Acts 2:38), expresses THE RELATION OF AIM OR END IN VIEW, answering the question eis ti (for what?), and to be translated by ‘unto,’ ‘in order to,’ ‘for.’  This sense of eis, as you doubtless know, is recognized by Liddell & Scott for classical; and by Winder, for New Testament (Koine’) usage.”

6. Professor Flagg (Cornell University, NY):  “In answer to your inquiry about the force of the preposition eis in the passage of the New Testament to which you refer (Acts 2:38), I should say that IT DENOTED INTENTION OR PURPOSE, ‘with a view to,’ much as if it had been written, ‘SO AS TO OBTAIN REMISSION OF SINS’.”

7. Professor Proctor (Dartmouth College, NH):  “It is my opinion that eis is to be connected with both the predicates, and that IT DENOTES AN OBJECT OR END IN VIEW.”

8. Professor Harkness (Brown University, RI):  “In my opinion eis in Acts 2:38 DENOTES PURPOSE, and may be rendered in order to, or FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING, or, as in our English version, ‘for’.”

9. Professor T.D. Seymour (Yale College):  “I do not remember any passage in which eis could properly be translated ‘because of.’  I am not sure that I understand your second question; as I understand it, I should say that EIS IS NEVER RETROSPECTIVE, it always implies that the person or thing or act concerned is turned toward the thing which follows eis.”

10. Professor W.W. Goodwin (Harvard):  “In reply to your first question I must say that I cannot conceive of any expression in which eis would be properly translated ‘because of.’  To your second question I should say that I DO NOT SEE HOW EIS CAN EVER BE RETROSPECTIVE.”

11. Professor John H. Wheeler (University of Virginia):  “It seems to me in either language (i.e., Greek or English) THE REMISSION OF SINS IS SOMETHING TO WHICH THE ONE WHO IS BAPTIZED IS TO LOOK FORWARD – he is to be baptized AS A MEANS OF PROCURING THAT REMISSION.”

12. Professor Chas. F. Smith (Vanderbilt):  “I do not doubt that eis in Acts 2:38 means ‘unto’ and is prospective.”

13. Dr. Williams, translator of The Williams Testament affirms that this preposition (εἰς) used in Acts 2.38 “is always prospective.”

*Professional grammarians from Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Ann Arbor and Cornell Universitiesbut still not convinced?  The following is a list of Greek linguists who commented on Acts 2.38 and the meaning of baptism “for (eis) the forgiveness of sins.”  Again, we point out that the following grammarians do not identify theologically as Oneness Pentecostal (nor CofC).  That is, they have no prior theological commitments or presuppositions to this end.  They are only affirming the actual grammatical data.  (For corroboration cf. their works.):

1. Winer, Greek scholar, Winer’s New Testament Grammar:  “the purpose and end in view.”

2.  J.W. Willmarth, Baptist scholar:  “unto, in order to.”

3. Hackett, Baptist scholar, referring to Acts 22.16, “states a result of baptism, answers ‘for the remission of sins’ in Acts 2.38, i.e., submit to the rite in order to forgiveness.”

4. Meyer “denotes object of baptism which is the remission of the guilt contracted in the state before μετάνοια.  Comp. Acts 22.16 and I Cor. 6.11.

5. Daniel Penick, professor of classical languages at the University of Texas:  “‘eis’ always looks forward and I know of no case in the New Testament where it looks back.”

6. C.B. Williams (Baptist):  “eis is always prospective.”  His translation: “that you may have your sins forgiven.”

7. J.P. Lange (Lutheran theologian): “eis shows the immediate purpose of baptism.”

8.  Hermann Olshausen:  “baptism is accompanied with the remission of sins.”

9. C.H. Morgan (Baptist), Dean of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary:  “I do not know of any recognized Greek lexicon which gives to ‘eis’ the meaning of ‘because of’.”

10. W.R. Harper, Professor at Chicago University:  “unto, i.e., in order to secure.”

11. Seth J. Axtell (Baptist), Professor of Greek Literature:  “unto, for, in order to, with a view to, denotes the object or end toward which the action expressed by the predicate verbs was to be directed.”  (*Note:  What happened to Dalcour’s emphasis on “exegesis” in Acts 2.38?)

12. S.H. Butcher (Presbyterian), Professor of Greek:  “expresses the end toward which the action tends.”

13. I. Bywater, Professor of Greek:  “expresses the end or purpose to be attained: to the end that your sins may be remitted.”

14. H.C. Cameron, Professor of Greek:  “the end to which repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ led.”

15. P. Doddridge (Congregationalist):  “in order to be forgiven of their sins.”

16. M.L. D’Ooge (Baptist), Professor of Greek:  “unto, in order to, for.”

17. K. Fullerton (Presbyterian), Professor of Greek and Hebrew:  “into or unto, the aim or end of baptism is remission of sins.”

18. G.S. Sale (Presbyterian), Professor of Greek:  result or purpose of baptism, to obtain remission of sins.”

19. C.F. Sitterly (Methodist), Professor of Greek and English Bible:  “reason or motive that should induce to repentance and baptism.”

20. Joseph Thayer (Congregationalist), Esteemed Professor of N.T. Criticism and Interpretation, translator of Grimm-Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon:  “unto the remission of your sins.”

21. R. Halley (Congregationalist), Classical Tutor at Highbury College and Principal of New College, St John’s Wood, London:  “future and prospective.”

22. A. Harkness (Baptist), Professor of Greek:  “denotes purpose, in order to, for the purpose of receiving.”

23. J.C. Proctor, Professor of Greek:  “denotes object or end in view.”

24. W. S. Tyler, Professor of Greek:  “denotes object and end of the two verbs.”

*To reemphasize, this list was extracted from professional linguists who were not Oneness believers (nor CofC) for the express purpose of ruling out any prejudice.  Of course, this well demonstrates that unbiased scholars understand that the Greek preposition used in Acts 2.38 (eis) looks forward and not backward to something (as in the “because of” dodge proffered by Trinitarians like Dalcour).

*Below is a list of 53 translations—combining hundreds of independent, professional linguists—none of whom have translated Acts 2.38 as “because your sins have already been forgiven” (as endorsed by Dalcour above):

1. American Bible Union Version:  unto the remission of your sins

2. Amplified NT:  for the forgiveness of your sins

3. Anderson:  In order to the remission of your sins

4. Authentic (Schomfield):  for the forgiveness of your sins

5. Authorized Version (KJV):  for the remission of sins

6. Berry’s Interlinear:  for remission of sins

7. Centenary Translation:  for the remission of sins

8. Challomer Rheims:  for the forgiveness of sins

9. Douay:  for the remission of sins

10. Emphasized Version:  into the remission of sins

11. Emphatic Diaglot:  for the remission of sins

12. English Revised:  unto the remission of sins

13. Englishman’s Greek NT:  for the remission of sins

14. Ferrar Fenton:  for the remission of sins

15. First German Bible:  for (in order to, unto) the forgiveness

16. French Translation:  in order to obtain the remission of sins

17. Geneva Bible:  for the remission of sins

18. German Translation (for, unto):  in order to forgiveness of sins

19. Good News for Modern Man:  in order to have your sins forgiven

20. Goodspeed:  in order to have your sins forgiven

21. Hackett (commentary):  in order to the forgiveness of sins

22. Haweis (1795AD):  for the remission of your sins

23. Indian Translation:  in order to the forgiveness of sins

24. Italian Translation:  into the remission of sins

25. Jerusalem Bible:  for the forgiveness of your sins

26. Knox:  to have your sins forgiven

27. Young’s Literal Translation:  to the remission of sins

28.  Living Bible:  for the forgiveness of sins

29. Living Oracles:  in order to the remission of sins

30. Macknights Translation:  in order to the remission of sins

31. Modern English:  for a release of your sins

32. Modern Speech:  with a view to the remission of sins

33. Moffatt:  for the remission of sins

34. H.B. Montgomery (1924):  for the remission of your sins

35. Moulton’s Modern Reader’s:  Unto remission of sins

36: New American Standard:  for the remission of your sins

37. New Catholic Version:  for the forgiveness of sins

38. New English Bible:  for the forgiveness of your sins

39. New International version:  for the forgiveness of your sins

40. New King James Version:  for the remission of sins

41. NT in the Basic English:  for the forgiveness of sins

42. Phillips Modern English:  so that you may have your sins forgiven

43. Revised Standard Version:  for the forgiveness of your sins

44. Rothermham:  unto the remission of your sins

45. Spanish Translation:  for the purpose of remission of your sins

46. Syriac Version:  for the remission of sins

47. Twentieth Century Translation:  for the forgiveness of your sins

48. Verkuyl (Burkeley Version):  for the remission of sins

49. Warrell’s Translation:  unto remission of your sins

50. Wesley’s Translation:  for the remission of sins

51. Weymouth:  for the remission of your sins

52. Williams:  that your sins may be forgiven

53. Wycliffe (1308):  into the remission of youre synnes

*Syntactically, the placement of the prepositional phrase translated “for the forgiveness of sins” appears after repentance and water baptism in Jesus name because the first two elements are the requirements of what man must “do” (v. 27) and the third element (the gift of the Holy Spirit) is a sovereign act of God.  That is, as with all of the covenants of God throughout history—if mankind obeys His commandments then God honors His promises.  This is often seen in “conditional clauses” where there is a protasis (“if” you do this…) and an apodosis (“then” the result will be this…).

*Since “eis” is found ca. 1,750 times in the NT and, as demonstrated above, the standard meaning of “for the purpose of” is well recognized—one must proceed with extreme caution before announcing that he has found an “exception” to the rule (cf., e.g., Granville Sharp’s Rule #6). 

*That is, one must have an overwhelmingly compelling case before thrusting aside literally hundreds of professional Greek linguists that emphatically demand this normative understanding of the prepositional phrase used in Acts 2.38.  After hundreds of years of intense scrutiny by professional Greek scholarsthat has not been accomplished and the clear force of Acts 2.38 stands as a stalwart sentinel safeguarding the biblical new birth so that its adherents can rest securely in eternal salvation. 

*Renowned Greek scholar and text-critic Dr. Daniel Wallace does not personally believe that baptism is required as a condition for the forgiveness of sins.  This is important to keep in mind inasmuch as Dr. Wallace is the author of the highly acclaimed work, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (GGBB).  As seen in the following blog post, Dr. Wallace has a discussion of the so-called “causal” force of eis.  He rightly points out that studies have shown that “the linguistic evidence for a causal eis” falls short of proof.  He stingingly calls this misguided twisting of the Greek preposition an “ingenious solution” that “lacks conviction” (GGBB; pp. 370-371).

*In this vein, celebrated Baptist scholar, H.B. Hackett, renders the Greek phrase, eis aphesin hamartion in Acts 2:38, as “in order to (receive) the forgiveness of sins,” referencing Matthew 26.28 and Luke 3.3 as parallel texts (1879, 54).  As Hackett notes, the identical prepositional phrase in Matthew 26.28 is used by Jesus to declare:  “For this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for (eis) forgiveness of sins” (εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).

*Did Jesus pour out His Blood “because of” sins that were already forgiven?  Of course not.  Let us ask, does it matter whether or not we believe that Jesus shed His blood “to obtain” remission of sins, or if He died “because of” forgiveness already attained (i.e., prior to His cross-work)?  Is what one believes regarding the efficacious nature of Christ’s death important?  

*How can anyone possibly hold the viewpoint that parallel prepositional phrase-constructions do not equally communicate the same idea?  Such is a wholly illogical position.  How can any conscientious and sincere person disregard equivalent and inspired grammatical meanings that were designed to clearly explicate eternal salvation?  You would think people would fear God’s judgment bar and tremble at His word! 

*As one scholar suggested, underline the phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” in Acts 2.38 and in your margin make this notation:  See Matthew 26.28 — identical purpose phrase!  Indeed, we would be hard pressed to find a serious Greek scholar who would say otherwise regarding this prepositional phrase.  Why do you think there is not a single translation that renders these verses as “because of?”  They are too intellectually honest to do so—and Dalcour should take up their mantle if he desires biblical salvation!

*Stay tuned for part III of Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38.  Thank you for reading!

Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38 (I)

*Below is a point-by-point exegetical refutation of the charges of Edward Dalcour against the Oneness Pentecostal interpretation of Acts 2.38 that can be corroborated HERE.  We have simply copied Mr. Dalcour’s article in *bold black (as here) and offered categorical responses immediately following in *blue (as here).  This expositional series on the specific grammar of Acts 2.38 will be divided into a tetralogy (i.e., IV segments).  Stay tuned for three more posts in this sequence soon to follow.  Enjoy!

(Dalcour):  “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. . . .” (KJV).

(Dalcour):  The United Pentecostals Church International (UPCI) uses this passage (among others) to support its view that water baptism MUST be done “in the name of Jesus” only to be valid.  Since the UPCI theology holds to the idea that Jesus IS the “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit.”

*As we will demonstrate below, the only NT water baptisms recorded were always performed with an oral invocation of the name of Jesus Christ (e.g., Acts 2.38; Acts 8.16; Acts 10.48; Acts 19.5; Acts 22.16; I Corinthians 1.13; I Corinthians 6.11; Romans 6.3; Galatians 3.27; James 2.7)—not once in “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

*Hence, in reality, the UPCI simply practices what the scriptures demand relative to the necessity of water baptism in Jesus’s name (Acts 4.12).  That is, Oneness believers do not use this passage to support anything—this passage uses us for biblical salvation!

(Dalcour):  The UPCI’s position is clear: Peter commands new converts to (a) repent be water baptized and (b) be baptized only by way of the exact formula:  “in the name of Jesus.”

*As repeatedly pointed out to Trinitarian apologists, the UPCI’s biblical position regarding baptism in the name of Jesus Christ does not equal some sort of incantation.  It does no good to invoke His name without faith in the same—much like Trinitarians often conclude their prayers by employing the prepositional phrase “in the name of Jesus.”

*Indeed, God healed a lame man through faith in the invoked name of Jesus (Acts 3.6).  And, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10.13; BLT).  The Apostle Peter applied this concept to the Day of Pentecost wherein many were both water and Spirit baptized (cf. Acts 2.21).  Why then object to the identical prepositional phrase when baptizing?  Answer:  the creedal doctrine of the Trinity!

(Dalcour):  Therefore, as the UPCI asserts, the remission or forgiveness of sins is accomplished only by water baptism “in the name of Jesus,” and repentance.  However, only by disregarding the historical context and particular grammar, can the UPCI hold to such a heterodox view.

*Greek text of Acts 2.38 (NA28):  Πέτρος δὲ ⸂πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε, [φησίν⸃,] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ⸀ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν⸅ καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.

*In both reality and exegesis, the polar opposite of Dalcour’s typically erroneous accusation(s) above is true!  That is, the context and specific grammar of this text are the very agents that hold Oneness believers hostage to the conviction that water baptism in Jesus name is necessary for biblical salvation.  The “context” was salvation (cf. Acts 2.40)—which included water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ in the clearest way.

*Moreover, who is charging Oneness believers with “heterodox(y)”—agenda-driven Trinitarians like Dalcour?  This would be identical to Mormons labeling other movements as “heretics.”  Simply, such an indictment is useless—especially coming from Trinitarians!

*Further, if Dalcour were to place himself standing in the listening audience on the Day of Pentecost, would he have been part of the three thousand who obeyed Peter’s plain language (cf. Acts 2.41)?  Or, would Mr. Dalcour have tortured Peter’s clear instructions “thus making void the word of God by your tradition” (Mark 7.13)?  That is, if Dalcour would have actually heard the Apostle Peter command water baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”—would he have obeyed this clear edict?  It certainly doesn’t look like it!

*In his distinguished work entitled The Book of Acts, celebrated Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, Dr. F.F. Bruce noted (of 2.38):

The reply was unspeakably reassuring.  Incredible as it must appear, Peter told them that there was hope even now.  Let them repent of their sin and turn to God;  let them submit to baptism in the name of Jesus, confessed as Messiah.  Then not only would they receive forgiveness of sins, but they would receive also the gift of the Holy Spirit—the gift which had been bestowed on the apostles themselves only a few hours before…it might have been expected that, when the disciples experienced the outpouring of the Spirit from the day of Pentecost onward, they would discontinue water baptism as having been superseded by something better.  In fact they did not:  they continued to baptize converts in water “for the forgiveness of sins,” but this baptism was now part of a more comprehensive initiation which took its character especially from the receiving of the Spirit.

The practice of baptism was tolerably familiar to Peter’s hearers, who (like John’s hearers before them) were required to receive baptism in water as the outward and visible sign of their repentance.  But there are now two new features in the rite of water baptism: it is administered “in the name of Jesus Christ” and it is associated with “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

It (baptism) is administered “in the name of Jesus Christ”—not only by his authority but also, probably, in the sense that his name was invoked or confessed by the person being baptized (cf. 22:16).  In addition, the person who administered the baptism appears to have named the name of Jesus over converts as they were being baptized (cf. 15:17)…It would indeed be a mistake to link the words “for the forgiveness of sins” with the command “be baptized” to the exclusion of the prior command to repent.

In a similar passage in the next chapter (3:19) the blotting out of the people’s sins is a direct consequence of their repenting and turning to God; nothing is said about baptism, although it is no doubt implied (the idea of an unbaptized believer does not seem to be entertained in the New Testament).  So here the reception of the Spirit is conditional not on baptism in itself but on baptism in Jesus’ name as the expression of repentance.  

(Dalcour):  Furthermore, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration controverts the theology of Luke (e.g., Acts 10:43).

*Though Trinitarian apologists have been informed of this ad nauseum, we will once again repeat that Oneness believers do not teach “baptismal regeneration” since genuine biblical salvation is predicated upon much more than water baptism.

(Dalcour):  Even so, UPCI leader David Bernard remarks on the necessity of water baptism, as he understands Acts 2:38:

“We should remember that water baptism is administered because of our past life of sin; it is for the ‘remission of sins’ (Acts 2:38).  Since the name of Jesus is the only saving name (Acts 4:12), it is logical that the name be used in baptism”  (The Oneness of God, 139).

*Bishop Bernard has plainly stated that prayer and water baptism without faith in the name of Jesus Christ are useless:

But the name of Jesus is not a magical formula; prayer is effective only if we have faith in, and truly know, the One whom the name represents (Acts 3:16; 10:43).  Bernard, David K.  In the Name of Jesus (Kindle Locations 333-334).

*Moreover, Elder Bernard has adamantly rejected the inflammatory charge of “baptismal regeneration.”  For example, on page 131 of Dr. Bernard’s work The New Birth he writes:

At this point, we must emphasize that the Bible does not teach “baptismal regeneration,” for the water and the ceremony do not have saving power in themselves.  Water baptism is not a magical act; it is without spiritual value unless accompanied by conscious faith and repentance.  Baptism is important only because God has ordained it to be so. God could have chosen to remit sin without baptism, but in the New Testament church He has chosen to do so at the moment of baptism…God alone remits sins based on Christ’s atoning death.  When we submit to water baptism according to God’s plan, God honors our obedient faith and remits our sin.

*Will Dalcour now practice scholastic integrity and retract his false charges against Bro. Bernard?  I certainly won’t hold my breath!  Indeed, I do not know a single Oneness believer who embraces the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.  This is but another of Dalcour’s straw man fabrications—as he typically does with Oneness believers (i.e., charging us with things we do not even believe).  So much for academical honor!

*See more here from Dr. Bernard himself:




(Dalcour):  In proper biblical interpretation:  Context governs word meanings.  This is a vital point in exegesis.

*We completely agree!  Indeed, the various governing contexts are honestly the very basis of our rejection of the Trinity doctrine—as well as our insistence on Jesus name baptism (cf., e.g., Matthew 28.18-20 and Colossians 2.9).

(Dalcour):  In other words, whatever Acts 2:38 is saying, it cannot oppose the NT as a whole in which the constant theme is justification (salvation) is through faith (as the sole instrument), apart from works—any works, such as the work of water baptism (cf. John 5:24; Rom. 4:4-8; 5:1; 1 Cor. 1:17, 30-31; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 John 5:1 et al).

*First, even many Trinitarian exegetes (with far more credentials than Dalcour) reject the Reform mantra of sola fide as underscored in the quotation below regarding James 2:

James 2:24:  You see therefore that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone (ὁρᾶτε ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος καὶ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον).  James returns to his main point in vv. 14 – 26 for a fourth time (recall vv. 14, 17, and 20).  In this sentence, he wants to ensure that his audience has reached the proper conclusion from the example of Abraham.  The plural “you see” (ὁρᾶτε) shows that he is addressing everyone in his congregations again, not merely the imaginary disputant.  He pulls “by works” (ἐξ ἔργων) to the front of the sentence for emphasis, underscoring his argument.  James again uses the verb for a demonstration of justification, so that his statement connotes that “by works a person is shown to be justified.”  It is by people’s actions that they prove the reality of their professions of faith, both to others and to God.

It is interesting to note that this is the only time in the NT that the three words “by faith alone” (ἐκ πίστεως μόνον) appear without intervening material.  That expression is the best Greek translation of the Reformation rallying call, sola fide, “by faith alone,” but this is exactly the opposite of what James is arguing for!  (James; Zondervan Exegetical Commentary of the NT; Craig L. Blomberg; Mariam J. Kamell).

*In footnote no. 72 Dr. Blomberg notes:  The Reformation slogan came in part from Luther’s German translation of the Bible, which added “alone” (allein) as an interpretive gloss in Ro 3:28.  Martin (James, 96) actually sees James’s use of μόνον as support for Paul’s view of faith, for neither Paul nor James would have supported a faith that did nothing.  Johnson (The Letter of James, 244) draws out the parallel use of μόνον in 1:22, with the contrast there of “hearing only” vs. “doing the word.”

*(James 2.14-24; NET):  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works?  Can this kind of faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?  So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”  Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.  You believe that God is one (masc. sing. adj. εἷς); well and good.  Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear.

But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called Godʼs friend.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

*Note also that this epistle is written by the hand of an Apostle (James) who was water baptized in Jesus name (Acts 2) and spoke in tongues upon receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.13)—the very experience that Dalcour is attempting to eradicate!  (Note: see also Revelation 14.12 which clearly shows that biblical salvation consists of faith and obedience to God’s commandments.)

*Of course, thousands of erasers from the Reform camp have been worn out over the last 500 years in a desperate attempt to render these clear passages of no affect.  Indeed, Martin Luther questioned the veracity of the book of James calling it a “straw-epistle!”  Simply, these very plain verses directly militate against the false dichotomy put forth by the Reform party of faith vs. works.  James and Paul are not at odds with one another in their soteriological conclusions.  Biblical salvation flows out of invisible faith that manifests itself with visible works.  In sum, no works—no true faith!

*Further, if Dalcour dismisses “any works” (as he does above) relative to salvation—does this include repentance?  Does a person not even have to repent of their sins to be saved now?  The practicing drug addict, liar, thief, adulterer, etc. are now “saved” since many of them openly profess faith in Christ.  In fact, when I was a practicing drug addict I had faith in Christ (and indeed used to lament that I was not in church).  Was I saved at that time?  Of course not!

*Even worse for the Reform camp, the Bible explicitly identifies repentance as “works.”  In Paul’s testimony before Agrippa he affirms that he preached:  to those in Damascus and Jerusalem, and all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, I kept declaring to repent and to turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.  (Acts 26.20; BLT)

*Note the present active participle of means translated “doing” (πράσσοντας) [works] demonstrating the means by which these unbelievers were converted, viz., repentance!  (Incidentally, observe also that there is no mention of “faith” in this soteriological passage – nor in Acts 2.38!)  Bear in mind that this is the same Apostle Paul who wrote the oft-appealed-to Romans 4 exposition on works—and yet Paul plainly identified repentance as “works.”  Conversely, the Bible never labels water baptism as a “work!”

*Dr. Craig Keener notes:

By preaching deeds appropriate to repentance (ἄξια τῆς μετανοίας), Paul closely echoes John’s preaching in Luke 3:8 (ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας), offering continuity between these prophets.  The verb for “practicing” such deeds does not appear in Luke 3:8 but might allow for a contextual contrast with the forensic “practicing deeds deserving death” in Luke 23:15, 41; Acts 25:11, 25; 26:31….Naturally, by the label “repentance,” Paul’s message advocated some specific content (see comment on Acts 2:38), but the summary here is not inaccurate, or unusual for Luke, for whom not only John (Luke 3:3, 8) but Jesus (5:32; 10:13; 11:32; 13:3-5; 15:7, 10) and Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18) preached repentance.  This was part of the summary of the apostolic commission (Luke 24:47); though Paul sometimes summarizes it as John’s message (Acts 13:24; 19:4), he shares it himself toward both Gentiles and Jews, as here (17:30; 20:21).  (Acts, An Exegetical Commentary, Vol. 1-4; Craig S. Keener; Acts 26.20)

*As referenced above, every scriptural citation in Dalcour’s parenthetical reference overhead was penned by the hands of men who had already been water baptized in Jesus name (with an oral invocation of the name, [cf. Acts 22.16]) and spoke in tongues upon reception of the Holy Spirit—as well as the churches being addressed in these epistles (e.g., Acts 1.13, 8.16, 10.1-48, 19.1-6; I Corinthians 14.18).

*We call this spiritual “invasion of privacy!”  That is, Dalcour here opens letters addressed to born-again believers who has already experienced Christian initiation via John 3.3-5/Acts 2.38—which he wars against in his effort to protect his religious tradition(s).  Thus, Dalcour is opening someone else’s mail and then addressing it to himself—is there a lawyer in the house?!

(Dalcour): Note, that there at least four acceptable interpretations of the passage.  However, of the interpretations offered by competent Christian theologians, none provide for baptismal regeneration.

*As usual, Dalcour classifies only those who agree with his doctrinal posture as “competent Christian theologians.”  Of course, all the while Dalcour constantly appeals to the likes of Drs. Joseph Thayer, Robert Funk, Judaic-Aramaic Targums, etc.  This is vintage Dalcour:  petition anti-Trinitarian resources when attempting to validate his “Trinity” doctrine—yet cry “foul” if Oneness believers marshal a Trinitarian resource!  Dalcour has utilized these unequal scales for over a decade and we do not look for him to change his methodology anytime soon.  Even though this has been pointed out to him ad nauseum Dalcour just stubbornly forges ahead with his fingers stuck in his ears (a natural outgrowth of his “Calvinist” soteriological views)!  

(Dalcour):  Thus, Paul says:  “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . . .” (1 Cor. 1:17).

*Yes, but Paul only said this after he had just affirmed (only four verses earlier) that the entire Corinthian church had already been baptized in Jesus’s name—the very doctrine Dalcour seeks to eradicate!  Hence, if the natural flow of the author is allowed to stand unaided by Trinitarians the original audience had already read:

Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (I Corinthians 1.13; ESV; Cf. also 6.11)

*Dalcour just never seems to learn (more about this passage above in a separate post)!

(Dalcour):  For example, noted Greek grammarian J. R. Mantey offers one such acceptable interpretation.  He argued that the preposition eis (“for”) could be causal, hence the passage could read:  “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized—each one of you—at the name of Jesus Christ because of/for/unto the forgiveness of your sins.’”

*The supposed “causal” force of the preposition εἰς (“for”) is an age-old dodge by Trinitarian grammarians that has been thoroughly debunked as we demonstrate at length below.

(Dalcour):  In other words, the preposition eis should be translated “because of,” or “in view of” not “in order to” or “for the purpose of” forgiveness of sins.

*As the lengthy treatments below demonstrate—this is patently false.  In fact,  some years ago now a Church of Christ (CofC) minister sent Acts 2.38 to the following noted college professors inquiring if the Greek preposition “eis” (“for”) could mean “because of” in said passage.  Below are their direct replies (note:  he also includes excerpts from some older grammarians in his list below).  We have left the CAPS just as we received them in the following quotations (presumably for emphasis):

 1. Frederick M. Combellack, University of Oregon:

“The Greek proposition ‘eis’ is NOT used to express cause.  One of its common uses is to express purpose.  That is the usage illustrated in the passage you quote from Acts 2:38.  Peter means ‘Let each of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ FOR THE PURPOSE of the remission of yours sins’.”

2. J. B. McDiarmid, Executive Officer, University of Washington, Department of Classics, Seattle:

“Thank you for your letter of November 4, I think that ‘eis’ NEVER means ‘because of’ in the sense ‘as the result of.’  It may mean ‘because of’ in the sense of ‘with a view toward,’ as apparently it does in this passage.  That it may express the end either literal or figurative TOWARD which the action tends.  In this passage the remission of sins is the END of the act of baptism.”

3. Robert B. Cross, Department of Greek and Latin, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA:

“As far as I am able to determine ‘eis’ in the New Testament at any rate can ONLY be translated by such a phrase as ‘for the purpose of, in order to accomplish’ and such-like.  It could be translated ‘because of’ in the sense of ‘for the purpose of’ or ‘for the cause of’-which means exactly the same thing.  It could NEVER mean ‘because of’ in the sense of ‘on account of’.”

 4. John L. Heller, Professor of the Classics, University of Illinois:

“I do NOT believe that ‘eis’ ever means ‘because of’ and certainly NOT in the passage you quote:  ‘Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the sake of forgiveness of your sins.’  Here ‘eis’ is certainly NOT causal but final, meaning ‘for the purpose of, in order to receive’.”

 5. John V. A. Fine, Department of Classics, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ:

“To the best of my knowledge ‘eis’ CANNOT mean ‘because of.’  It does not express ‘cause’ but frequently expresses purpose.  Acts 2:38 I shall translate (literally) as follows:  ‘And Peter said unto them Repent and let each of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins’.”

6. Warren E. Lake, Professor of Greek Language and Literature, Dept. of Greek, University of Michigan:

“The preposition ‘eis’ can never have the force of ‘because of’ at any period of the language.  Its primary meaning is ALWAYS ‘to’ or ‘into’ in the NT and in Modern Greek ‘in.’  It is used in this passage in the metaphorical sense of ‘limit of motion,’ i.e., ‘be baptized unto or with a view to’ remission of sins.  This is seen fairly frequent in the NT particularly with the articular infinitive.  Cf. Rom. 3:25; Mt. 20:19; Rom. 1:11; 1Cor. 9:28; etc.”

7. E. Bundy, Asst. Prof. of Classics, University of Berkley, Berkley, CA.:

“The preposition denotes ‘purpose,’ ‘for the remittance of your sins,’ or ‘with a view to remit,’ etc. or ‘in order to (gain) remittance,’ or some such expression.  Peter said unto them Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remittance of your sins…”  Eis could ONLY be translated ‘because of, means, (or) purpose’.”

8. Henry B. Dewing, Bowdoin College and President of Athens College, Athens Greece:  

“I should say that ‘eis’ indicates not a result or consequence, but rather END or design.  I should translate, “Let every one of you be baptized (to the attainment of) forgiveness of sins…”  The meaning ‘because of’ is UTTERLY OUT OF THE QUESTION.”

 9. Henry Darling Brackett, Professor of Greek, Clark College:

Eis means ‘In order to,’ but ‘for the purpose of’ is better, because the fundamental universal meaning of ‘eis’ is ‘toward, into, or in the direction of’ and NOT ‘out of,’ ‘arising from’ or ‘because of’.”

10. Frank Hugh Foster, Instructor of New Testament Greek, Oberlin Graduate School of Theology:

“The meaning of ‘eis’ may be either of two things, either to indicate the purpose…or to indicate the result.  In the first place it would be translated ‘in order to gain’ in the second, ‘with the result of’.  It NEVER means ‘because of’.”

11. E. A. Nida, member of Editorial board of “The Bible Translator.”  Vol. 3, no. 3, July 1952:

“‘Repent, and be baptized’ and ‘sins are forgiven.’  Our problem at this point is to determine the relationship of these two expressions as we find it indicated in the Greek preposition ‘eis’ usually translated ‘into,’ but having a variety of meanings including ‘unto,’ ‘for,’ ‘in regard to.’  It is not easy to determine the precise relationships between these processes.  We may regard the Greek ‘eis’ as resultive, i.e. – the ‘baptism of repentance’ results in forgiveness of sins.

“However ‘eis’ could also designate the purpose of the baptism….In English we can use the ambiguous conjunctive phrase ‘so that’ and translate the portion of the verse as ‘repent and be baptized so that their sins may be forgiven.’  The use of ‘so that…may’ still leaves ambiguity, as between purpose and result, but the principle emphasis is upon purpose.”

12. Professor Flagg, Cornell University:

“In respect to your inquiry about the force of the preposition ‘eis’ in the passage of the NT to which you refer (Acts 2:38), I should say that it denoted intent or purpose with a view to, much as if it has been written, ‘so as to obtain the remission of sins’.”

13. J. H. Huddleston, Professor of Greek, University of Maine:

“Peter spoke to them ‘repent and let each one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ to the end (that there may be) delivery from your sins.  ‘EIS’ CANNOT mean ‘because of’ but as often in the NT ‘for the purpose of’.”

14. Edgar J. Goodspeed, Professor of Biblical & Patristic Greek, University of Chicago:  

“Peter said unto them you must repent and every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to have your sins forgiven.  It NEVER means ‘because of’.”

 15. Donald L. Wise, Moody Bible Institute:

“We are inclined to agree with you that the evidence of its usage and interpretation in context indicate that the preposition (Eis in Acts 2:38) is used to indicate purpose.”

16. Clinton W. Keys, Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin, Columbia University, New York City:

“Change your attitudes and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the removal of your sins.’  ‘Eis’ takes the accusative ‘aphesin.’  I don’t see that it can mean anything but ‘for,’ or ‘for the purpose of’.”

 17. Canon Emile Chartier, Vuce Rector, Montreal University:

“But there is one meaning it (eis) never bears, and that is the causal (because of) {He paraphrases Acts 2.38 as:} – ‘if you are sorry of your sins and you undergo baptism, your sins will be forgiven’……”

*To be continued in part II soon (above).  Thank you for reading!