Analysis of video condemning water baptism for gentiles
(Understanding Acts)

 

It is very helpful to watch the complete video before reading my comments, so that you can have the full picture.

Someone referred me to this video when we were having a discussion about baptism. The video claims that water baptism is not required by gentiles for salvation. I have analyzed the video and given my thoughts on it. I would have loved to post my comments directly on youtube, but comments have been disabled for this video in youtube. (Note: the video is about 50MB). Enjoy.

 

This video has been brilliantly presented, and the person looking at it from the surface might get deceived by his eloquence and the force of his presentation. However, let’s go beyond all these and look at the facts.

Summary of his point of view

First, let me do a summary of his point of view. His main point is that gentiles cannot be saved through water baptism. He even went further to call anyone practicing or preaching water baptism in our age as a heretic who will surely go to hell. This subject, therefore, is a matter of eternal salvation or damnation, and therefore of grave importance for all Christians.
Even though facts abound in the bible supporting water baptism, he has cleverly tried to isolate those facts by making two assertions: 1. that water baptism is for Jews, not gentiles, 2. that all the parts of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John before the death of Jesus are Old Testament (OT). I believe that by making these assertions, he hopes to eliminate any bible passages that one may use to oppose his view. However, the truth can never be covered up.

Contradiction in his view

Please make sure you listen through the whole video at least once before you move along with me in this analysis, so that you can see the picture more clearly.
From the beginning of his presentation, he made clear statements that water baptism was for the Jews, but not for gentiles. Listen to his presentation at these times: 8:05 – 8:55, 20:36 – 20:55, 22:28 – 23:11. Then he later made other statements that contradict these. He said Peter and the others who preached before Paul added to the gospel. Listen to 24:10 – 25:05. Then he said Paul straightened out Peter’s message. Listen to 27:56 – 28:47. Wow! Can you spot the contradiction?
First he agrees that Peter preached water baptism for salvation, but only to jews, and that Peter’s message was appropriate (there’s more evidence if you listen to 11:08-11:22. Here he asserts that Peter switched from preaching water baptism to preaching the name of Jesus, and says God changed his mind on that. This means that God approved of Peter preaching water baptism). Then, later, he said peter added to the gospel when he preached water baptism for salvation (to the Jews, of course, since he asserts that Peter didn’t preach water baptism to the gentiles). He put the final nail in the coffin when he declared that Paul straightened out Peter on the gospel. It’s something that is crooked that needs to be straightened out, right? Anything that is crooked has something wrong with it that needs to be corrected, right? Therefore, he’s saying that there was something wrong with Peter’s message that needed to be corrected, which Paul did. According to him, God himself approved Peter’s message, yet it was crooked. This is huge contradiction with his first stand when he said Peter preached water baptism to Jews, which they needed.
I’m going to analyse both branches of his contradiction and disprove both.

Did Peter preach heresy?

Let’s take it that Peter’s message about water baptism was wrong right from the beginning. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus declared that when he built his church, the gates of hell would not prevail against it. This means that this church cannot be destroyed by the devil. This includes the church being corrupted. This is OT, according to him, right? But those are the words of Jesus anyway. Then Jesus declares in John 16:12-13 that the spirit of truth would come and lead the apostles into all truth. Now, to tell me that after these promises, the day of Pentecost, the day that Jesus’ promise was fulfilled, came, the apostles received the Holy Spirit and went out to preach, and the first message their leader preached was heresy. Unbelievable! The gates of hell prevailed against Christ’s church on the very day of its birth, then! In both Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18, Jesus told his disciples that he had given them the authority to permit and prohibit on earth and it would be done same in heaven. Paul was not even a disciple when Jesus made this declaration. To say that what Peter declared was heresy and Paul who came onboard later had to straighten him out is pure madness. It is obvious that the charge of heresy can never be levelled against Peter if we believe in the words of Christ, especially since the presenter has declared that this subject is a matter of eternal consequence. But this charge is exactly what his later contradiction levelled against Peter. Sad.

Peter preached water baptism but only to Jews?

There is a saying that “actions speak louder than words.” It would be wrong for us to look at only what Peter said, ignoring what he did. Both contribute to us understanding his believe system.
The presenter quoted the event of the encounter of Peter with Cornelius and his household. However, funny enough, he seems to have missed the whole point of the events in that encounter. The short story is that God directed Peter to go and preach to Cornelius and his household. While Peter was still speaking, and before Cornelius and his household were baptized, they received the Holy Spirit. To understand this encounter better, we need to look at the events and statements before and after Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit.
It’s interesting to know that the Jews and gentiles shared nothing in common. Read Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, John 4:5-29, especially verse 9. So even after Jesus’ resurrection and the apostles being empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter still held the notion that Jesus’ salvation was only for the Jews. This is why God had to first speak to him in a vision before sending him to Cornelius and his household. In that vision in Acts 10:9-20, God showed Peter ritually unclean animals and asked Peter to kill and eat. Peter didn’t understand the vision until he was sent to Cornelius and his household. He declared in Acts 10:34-35, “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Those who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him, no matter what race they belong to.”
After Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit, Peter declared, “These people have received the Holy Spirit, just as we also did. Can anyone, then, stop them from being baptized with water?” – Acts 10:47. This statement is very central to the understanding of the encounter of Peter with Cornelius and his household. The question to ask is that if water baptism was not needed for salvation of the gentiles (remember that we’re dealing with gentiles here, not Jews), why did Peter insist on baptising Cornelius and his household even after they had received the Holy Spirit? There shouldn’t have been a need for their water baptism. Now study Acts 10:47 carefully. The way Peter put his statement indicates that water baptism was what would start the salvation process for Cornelius and his household, not the reception of the Holy Spirit (of course, the Holy Spirit has his own place in the salvation story. I can’t talk about that here). The fact that the Holy Spirit was poured out on Cornelius and his household was just proof to Peter that God had accepted them, and therefore he should baptize them to receive salvation. God was still dispelling the notion from Peter that the salvation of Christ was meant only for the Jews. Peter confirms this with his statement in Acts 15:7-8, “After a long debate Peter stood up and said, "My friends, you know that a long time ago God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, so that they could hear and believe. And God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, showed his approval of the Gentiles by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he had to us.” God gave them the Holy Spirit to show his approval, not to indicate that the gentiles did not need to be baptized with water!

Philip baptizes gentiles

We read in Acts 8:5-12 that Philip baptized Samaritans (gentiles).

Do gentiles also need water baptism for salvation?

It is evident that both Peter and Philip didn’t think that only Jews needed water baptism for salvation. Why did they not think that way? They were instructed by Jesus himself to baptize all. Jesus said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” - Matthew 28:18-19. Jesus instructed them to make disciples of all people and baptize them all. It’s clear that both Peter and Philip understood this instruction to include gentiles, so they baptized gentiles too. Who are we to question the instructions of Jesus when even Peter didn’t question them?
  Did Paul baptize gentiles or not?
It’s amazing to find out that even Paul baptized gentiles! A few quotations will be helpful.
Acts 18:1-8
Acts 16:9-15
Acts 16:16-33
Other interesting bible passages concerning water baptism
Matthew 3:16 – Jesus himself received water baptism
John 4:1-2 – Jesus’ disciples baptized
Acts 22:1-16 – As Paul recounts his conversion story, he makes an interesting revelation about his own baptism which was not captured in the original story in Acts 9. This is just one prove that not everything that Jesus and his disciples did and taught we written down.

Does it mean ‘water baptism’ when ‘baptism’ is mentioned in the bible?

One may argue that most of the quotations I’ve stated do not mention water baptism, but just baptism, which would/could refer to the Holy Spirit baptism.
It’s a fact that people baptized with water. Examples are John the Baptist at the Jordan, Peter and Cornelius and his household (Acts 10), Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-38).
It’s true that John the Baptist said that, “I baptize you with water to show that you have repented, but the one who will come after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:11. However, it wasn’t stated the exact procedure by which the Holy Spirit baptism would take place. Was one to undergo water baptism and then receive the Holy Spirit (Holy Spirit baptism)? Was one just to accept Jesus and mention is name in order to receive the Holy Spirit? Nothing Specified. It’s true that Cornelius and his household did not get baptized before they received the Holy Spirit, but I’ve already explained why it happened that way. On Pentecost day, the 120 disciples were not baptized before they received the Holy Spirit. What we don’t know is whether they had been previously baptized or not. No evidence really that they were not baptized before receiving the Holy Spirit.
However, we do have evidence that when baptism is mentioned in the bible without qualification, it refers to water baptism. In Peter’s encounter with Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, they received the Holy Spirit and then were baptized. In the encounter of Philip and the Samaritans in Acts 8, they were baptized and then later Peter and John laid hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:14-17. In Acts 19:1-6, Paul found some disciples in Ephesus who had been baptized with the baptism of John the Baptist, he baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus and laid his hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, Peter instructed his listeners to receive baptism for the forgiveness of their sins and then to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In all of the above scenarios, we see that the baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit were two separate events. It is therefore evident that when baptism is mentioned in the bible without qualification, it does not refer to Holy Spirit baptism, but water baptism.
Also, in Acts 2:38, even though water is not mentioned, the presenter in this video does agree that it was water baptism.

 

The bottom line: Paul believed in, accepted, received and practiced water baptism! And he practised it on gentiles!!

 

Other errors noticed in the video

Contrary to what the presenter wants us to believe (Listen to 10:50 -12:31), there was no transition from preaching water baptism to preaching the name of Jesus, by Peter. Right there in Acts 2:38, Peter preached the name of Jesus when he said that the baptism they were to receive would be in the name of Jesus. He preached it right there together with water baptism.
Moreover, yes, in Acts 3:13-16, Peter did talk about the name of Jesus. However, in connection with what did Peter mention the name of Jesus? In connection with eternal life? No, it was in connection with healing (of the body), so this text is misplaced in this argument where we’re talking about eternal life.
Acts 4:10-12 (Listen to 13:00 – 14:13) – It is nowhere said that we are saved by only the name of Jesus, without water baptism. If I say that salt makes soup sweet, I’m I saying that pepper, onions and all the other ingredients are not needed to make the soup sweet? No. At that moment, only salt was of concern, the others were not, so I simply mentioned salt without mentioning the others. In the same way, if the name of Jesus was mentioned without water baptism does not mean that water baptism is not essential. Remember Jesus instructed his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is prove that the name of Jesus and water baptism go together. The name of Jesus was simply isolated because it was the only thing of interest at that moment.
Listen to 29:00 – 29:11 – Paul was not invited to the meeting. It was rather Paul, together with others, who brought the matter to meet with the apostles. This may be trivial, but it’s still a misrepresentation of fact.
Listen to 36:50. I’m now confused :). First he said water baptism was ok for Jews (meaning Jews could be saved through the preaching of Peter). Later he said Peter was wrong for preaching that message and was straightened out by Paul. Then he comes back here to say that the Jews of today can only be saved through the preaching of Paul. I don’t know when the preaching of Paul took over from the preaching of Peter as the means of salvation for the Jews anyway.


Unless otherwise stated, all quotations taken from the good news bible