Aug 17, 2009

Rebuttal on I Peter 3: 21

Here are my notes for rebuttal on I Peter 3: 21 - "Baptism saves."

The Greek word "antitupon," according to W. E. Vine, in his "New Testament Words," as used in I Peter 3: 21, is "an adjective, used as a noun," and denotes, in the NT, "a corresponding type," being "said of baptism." "The circumstances of the flood, the ark and its occupants, formed a type, and baptism forms "a corresponding type" (not an antitype), each setting forth the spiritual realities of the death, burial, and resurrection of believers in their identification with Christ. It is not a case of type and antitype, but of two types, that in Genesis, the type, and baptism, the corresponding type."

This is exactly correct, not only from the Greek and the syntax, but also from the only other place where the same word is used, as in Hebrews 9: 24.

"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures (antitupa) of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Hebrews 9: 24 KJV)

Notice how the Greek word "antitupa" (plural form) is used here to designate the "holy places made with hands," being like figures or corresponding types, not antitypes. If the heavenly temple is the antitype (the thing to which the type points), or the "true," then the earthly temples can only be corresponding types of it. Heaven is the "true," that is, the heavenly temple is the antitype, the real thing.

If "antitupon" or "antitupa" meant "antitype," then we would have a tautology which says "which are antitypes of the antitype," or "which are true of the true" or "real of the real." Obviously the Greek word "antitupa" is set in opposition to the word "true." Thus, since "true" and "antitype" are synonyms, antitupon cannot mean "antitype."

Peter is saying that Christian baptism has something in common with Noah's baptism. What is that common feature? They are both types of the same thing! They are both types of salvation through Christ's death and resurrection.

Noah was saved by the ark "through (via) water." Water was not the means of their salvation, but the ark. The ark is what both delivered and preserved them, the two aspects of "salvation." Their "salvation" was typical of the salvation promised to the Christian. It pictured it. So also does Christian baptism picture salvation and reveal, symbolically, the gospel.

I contend that the word "antitupon" identifies baptism as a figure. It is a figure of death, burial and resurrection.

I challenge my opponent to produce a single example, either in the Greek classics, or in the New Testament, where the Greek word antitupon has the meaning of the English word antitype.

When there are various and sundry types or figures of a certain thing, they are called "like types," or "corresponding figures," or "similar symbols" because they each depict or otherwise represent the same thing.

Thus, we may say of several biblical baptisms that they are types;

1) the baptism of Noah and his family, and
2) of the Israelites when "baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (I Corinthians 10: 2), and
3) other typical Old Testament baptisms (Hebrews 6: 2; 9: 10), may be called similar types, in that they each point to salvation through the work of Christ.

Baptism saves the Christian in a "figure" just as the Lord's Supper saves him also in a figure.

Both Noah's baptism and Christian baptism are literal events that serve as types, examples, or illustrations of "salvation."

Both are types of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, which would be the "antitype." Since they are both types of the same thing, they must have something similar to one another; that is, in regard to what they were designed to typify, they both are "like figures," like each other, or "corresponding to" each other.

"Answer" (KJV) is from the Greek word "eperotema."

The word "eperotema" is particularly interesting because it expresses a question and a response. You make a pledge (as those who are about to be baptized are going to do) in answer to a question. The response amounts to a commitment, a pledge. They say "I do", and in so saying they make a pledge or commitment, and all in response to the question posed to them in baptism.

The apostolic church asked baptismal candidates certain specific questions, ones which must be answered in the affirmative. "Eperotema" is not only an answer, but an answer in the affirmative. This answer constitutes a pledge. This is also the reason why, in the Church, baptism was originally called a sacrament, as I showed last evening.

Liddell and Scott's Greek English Lexicon gives three meanings for the Greek word "eperotema," which has been translated in the RSV as "appeal" and as "answer" in the KJV.

The first meaning of the word is a question; secondly, an answer to a question, especially an affirmative answer to a question, hence having the meaning of sanction or approval; thirdly, it became equivalent to the Latin "stipulatio" which means, an obligation, a contract, or a commitment, that is, a pledge. This meaning is also supported by Moulton and Milligan's The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament.

Nowhere does this Greek lexicon give the meaning of this word as "appeal". A question and an appeal are quite different. In fact, "eperotema" rarely has the meaning of question. Generally it means a response to a question - a specific response in fact - and from there it went on to have the meaning of agreement, and then finally to mean a contract, commitment, or pledge.

"From A Good Conscience" or "in order to obtain a good conscience"?

"In some Bible translations, a part of I Peter 3:21, in reference to water baptism, is translated thusly - "an appeal to God for a good conscience." This translation, however, is incorrect.

The New International Version (NIV) has the correct translation - "the pledge of a good conscience toward God."

The genitive in the Greek text is correctly translated as the pledge of a good conscience, not for a good conscience. It is a pledge made from a good conscience. Baptism is a pledge to God made from a good conscience.

How and when does one have a good conscience? We have a good conscience when we repent of our sins - when we genuinely, honestly, and sincerely do so with no double-mindedness and with no deceitfulness. No fraud, no lies, no untruthfulness - that is a good conscience.

Baptism then is a pledge to God made out of or from a good conscience. When with a genuine heart, with a right attitude, I make my pledge of total commitment to God, that is baptism.

How and when is the conscience of a sinner cleansed? When is his guilt removed from his conscience? Surely it is by faith and repentance and before water baptism. Notice these passages on the cleansing of the conscience.

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9: 14 KJV)

Not only is a good conscience one that has had the blood of Christ applied to it, and has trusted in Christ alone, but it is one that has been "purged" or "cleansed." Moral filth and guilt has been removed. The sinner is separated from his sins and joined to his God. The same writer says that this "purging" involves a sense of pardon, where the "worshipper" has "no more conscience of sins." (10: 2)

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (10: 22)

When does this "sprinkling" occur and so effect the conscience so as to make it good?

What does Peter mean when he says of Christian baptism that it does not remove the filth of the flesh?

It is possible that Peter means "not a mere bath for the body," but it is equally possible for it to mean "not the putting away of the moral filth of the depraved nature." I believe Peter is stating the latter.

Noah was a righteous man before he was baptized. His baptism did not in any way make him so. The ark represents God himself. To enter the ark is to enter God, into the place of safety and salvation. One enters into Christ (ark) before they are baptized. So too the Israelites were already the people of God, already under the blood of the Passover lamb, already under the leadership of Moses, prior to their baptism to him in the sea.

So, in conclusion, we affirm that water baptism is a figure of salvation by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and saves only in a figure, and not literally. We also affirm, as did Peter, that water baptism is not a means of removing one's moral filth. We also affirm that water baptism, for the believer, is a pledge made by a good and sanctified conscience.

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