“Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching.”—1 TIM. 4:16
[Study 42 from ws 10/20 p.14 December 14 – December 20, 2020]
The first paragraph launches into persuading the readers that baptism is vital for salvation when it says “What do we know about the importance of baptism? It is a requirement for those seeking salvation.”
Is that really the case? What does the Bible teach?
What follows are the scriptures relevant to this topic, found in the Bible as opposed to the Watchtower article:
There is no teaching about salvation in the books of Matthew, Mark, and John. (There is only 1 use of the word in each of those books in other contexts).
In Luke 1:68 we find the prophecy of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist where he said: “he [Jehovah God] has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant, just as he, through the mouth of his prophets from of old, has spoken of a salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all those hating us, …”. This was a prophecy referring to Jesus who was at this time, now an unborn fetus in the womb of Mary his mother. The emphasis is on Jesus as the means of salvation.
During his ministry, Jesus commented about Zacchaeus who had just repented of his sins as a chief tax collector saying “At this Jesus said to him: “This day salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and save what was lost.”. You will note, however, that there is no mention of baptism, just salvation, and by the description of Zacchaeus’ attitude, there had also been repentance on his part.
We have to move beyond the 4 gospels to the book of Acts to find our next mention of salvation. This is in Acts 4:12 when the Apostle Peter addressing the rulers and older men in Jerusalem stated about Jesus, whom they had just impaled, “Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”. Again, the emphasis is on Jesus as the means to obtain salvation.
In Romans 1:16-17, the apostle Paul stated, “For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, … for in it God’s righteousness is being revealed by reason of faith and toward faith, just as it is written: ‘But the righteous one – by means of faith he will live.’”. The quote Paul uses is from Habakkuk 2:4. The good news was the good news of the kingdom ruled by Christ Jesus. You will note that faith [in Jesus] is the requirement for salvation.
Further in Romans 10:9-10 the apostle Paul said, “For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”. In context, what was the public declaration for salvation? The preaching work? No. It was the public declaration acknowledging and accepting that Jesus is Lord, along with faith that God had raised him from the dead.
In 2 Corinthians 7:10, the apostle Paul wrote “For sadness in a godly way makes for repentance to salvation that is not to be regretted; but the sadness of the world produces death.”. This scripture mentions repentance [from former sins] as vital.
In Philippians 2:12 Paul encouraged the Philippians to “… keep working out YOUR own salvation with fear and trembling;” and in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 he talked about “the hope of salvation … to the acquiring of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”.
Further in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, he wrote “However, we are obligated to thank God always for YOU, brothers loved by Jehovah, because God selected YOU from [the] beginning for salvation by sanctifying YOU with spirit and by YOUR faith in the truth. 14 To this very destiny he called YOU through the good news we declare, for the purpose of acquiring the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”. Here he talked about being selected for salvation, sanctified by the spirit and by their faith in the truth.
He mentioned how Timothy had become wise for salvation through faith in connections with Christ Jesus because of knowing the holy writings (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
How does one get salvation? In the apostle Paul’s letter to Titus in Titus 2:11, he categorically states “For the undeserved kindness of God which brings salvation to all sorts of men has been manifested …” when referring to “… the Saviour of us, Christ Jesus, … ”.
To the Hebrews, the apostle Paul wrote about “… the Chief Agent [Jesus Christ] of their salvation …” (Hebrews 1:10).
In contrast, therefore, to the claim made in the Watchtower article in paragraph 1, there is not one scripture I could find that even hinted that baptism was required for salvation.
So, what did the apostle Peter mean in 1 Peter 3:21? This scripture is partially quoted in the study article (para.1) with “Baptism [is] now saving your … through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” putting the emphasis on the baptism. However, a closer examination of this verse in context reveals the following. The baptism only saves us because it is a symbol of the desire to have a clean conscience toward God, by putting faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that through him we can gain salvation. The emphasis is on faith in Jesus and his resurrection. The baptism is a symbol of that faith. It is not the physical action of baptism that will save us as the study article suggests. After all, one can ask to be baptized because of pressure, from friends, parents, elders, and Watchtower study articles like this, rather than because of wanting to demonstrate one’s faith.
Paragraph 2 rightfully states that “To make disciples, we need to develop the “art of teaching””. Yet, the Watchtower study article does not have “the art of teaching”, at least, in teaching truth.
In conclusion, is baptism “a requirement for those seeking salvation” as claimed in the study article?
In light of the evidence found in the scriptures and presented above, NO, Baptism is not a requirement per se. Most importantly there is no obvious scriptural requirement stated that it is required. The Organization places too much emphasis on the baptism, rather than on the faith in the resurrected Jesus. Without true faith in the resurrected Jesus, salvation is not possible, baptized or not. However, it is reasonable to conclude that someone who wants to serve Jesus and God would want to get baptized, not to save themselves, but as a means of symbolizing that desire of serving Jesus and God to other like-minded Christians. We must remember that just as the Apostle Paul wrote in Titus 2:11, it is “… the undeserved kindness of God which brings salvation …”, not the act of baptism itself.
One thing that it clear baptism should not do is to bind the one being baptized to a man-made Organization, no matter what claims are made by that Organization.
For a more in-depth examination of the Watchtower Organization’s changing stance on baptism during its existence, please see this article https://beroeans.net/2020/12/07/christian-baptism-in-whose-name-according-to-the-organization-part-3/.
Hi Tadua. Thank you for this review, which prompted me to think more deeply about the interrelationship of the words “salvation” and “baptism.” I also understand your attempt to point out the use of baptism for the growth of the Organization’s membership, which is fact. But there is something else. Sorry for rather long text. In the first part of your review, you tried to find the words baptism and salvation in individual verses and you tried to prove that baptism and salvation are not related. In this way, you actually separated the two concepts. For me, the problem is… Read more »
Wonderful comment ! Thank you for this insight. I just wonder about what You said about faith in Jesus’ ransom is crucial & that is true. So how can an infants baptism be exceptable?
Thank you so very much, for this well researched reasoning from the scriptures. You have helped me to grasp a deeper understanding of what is required for salvation. Christian baptism has been a subject of concern for me for many years. I was baptized as an infant in Catholicism & then as an adult when I became a JW. But I have wanted to understand whether it really is required for everyone to gain salvation & how can a child truly grasp the meaning of Christ ransom sacrifice &exercise faith in it. And it should have nothing to do with… Read more »
WT doctrines are based on the view that nobody is saved or will inherit or will be given eternal life unless ….. this means, you need to earn it. The scriptures teach that based on Jesus sacrifice, all people who put faith in him are already save, and will inherit and are granted eternal life. You can lose it, but not win it. Therefore these 2 studies and many others, are based on the WT view that you (people) need to work and hope to be rewarded. In the WT view, baptism is a step to your potential reward as… Read more »
We see the real motives behind both of these studies, in fact the numbers presented in the first study that 10,000,000 studies were being conducted with only 280,000 being baptized must be an indication that the publishers are terrible teachers and not pushing these studies aggressively to become baptized as Jehovah’s witnesses. So they are instilling more guilt on the R&F when in fact they know the real reason is because most people today although they may study for a time with the witnesses they are doing their research on the net and seeing all the plethora of negative information… Read more »
Well stated, BC
The Org has encouraged publishers to count anything resembling 3 conversations as a Bible study, so it is hardly surprising that nothing comes from these. One also has to wonder how many of those baptised were witness children, and how many of the bible studies are with such ones.
The articles 1 & 2 look like nothing more than stick poking and carrot waving.
Nous sommes bien d’accord : c’est Christ notre sauveur. Christ qui n’avait évidemment pas besoin d’être baptisé nous a donné l’exemple : Matthieu 3:13-15 Alors Jésus vint de la Galilée au Jourdain vers Jean, pour être baptisé par lui. Mais Jean sy opposait, en disant: Cest moi qui ai besoin d`être baptisé par toi, et tu viens à moi! Jésus lui répondit: Laisse faire maintenant, car il est CONVENABLE QUE NOUS ACCOMMPLISSIONS AINSI TOUT CE QUI EST JUSTE. Et Jean ne lui résista plus.” Il est juste de se faire baptiser. Math 28 : 19 C’est un acte de foi.… Read more »
Nice article, Tadua. Concise and to the point. I get that your thrust is to counter the over emphasis that the organization puts on baptism, which for them is all about growing their numbers. However, in the cause of accuracy, one alert reader emailed me to show that there is evidence in the Gospel of Mark that baptism is linked to salvation. 15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15, 16 BSB) John also spoke… Read more »
Hi Meleti Mark 16:15-16 is in the long version ending of Mark which is not in all manuscripts, so I have not considered this as evidence. The account in Acts 19 indicates it was the choice of those disciples who heard Paul. There is no evidence that Paul said they should get baptized again. Your point about Holy Spirit only coming upon only those who got baptized is not entirely accurate. Cornelius and his household received Holy Spirit before Peter asked them to get baptized. Re 1 Peter 3:21 one can ask for a clean conscience in prayer. Can a… Read more »
Good point about Mark in some manuscripts. However, your point about Cornelius actually proves the need for baptism, doesn’t it? The spirit came upon them first because God knew their heart, but he also knew the powerful cultural resistance against Gentiles becoming one with Jews that Peter and others would have felt. So by pouring out his spirit first, he removed any question as to whether they should be baptised. We see this from Peter’s response. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard his message. All the circumcised believers who had accompanied… Read more »
I agree with almost everything you say in this comment, however I do have this comment: Yes, principles are definitely to be followed, but we have to be careful about imposing on others as to how to do that in places where that principle is difficult to follow and leave it up to their conscience and God and Jesus love for us. According to Strongs and Helps Word studies at least baptism means to dip, submerge, dip under, rather than sprinkle which is a different Greek word. See https://biblehub.com/Greek/907.htm Over emphasis on baptism (the symbol) has led to infant “sprinkling”… Read more »
Dear Brothers Eric and Tadua. I have found the article and your exchange here most interesting, thank you. I do have a thought I would like to put forward but could never develop it in the fine way the brothers do here. Please could you consider this and I look forward to hearing your views. Looking at other scriptures with commands related to baptism I only see commands to go and baptize people, not commands that people must get baptized, except for what appears to be the case in Acts 10:48. I ask how can anyone be commanded to be… Read more »
Another fine article, Tadua. You are getting better and better at getting to the point with these shorter summaries. Having said that, I noted no consideration of Matthew 28:19. Surely, if we claim to have faith in Jesus, we would seek to be baptised . This makes it a command. How on earth we would do that when the commitment is to belong to a particular religious group, I have no idea. When I was baptised many years ago, the questions had not been redrafted and I felt I was getting baptised to serve Jehovah and follow Jesus. My only… Read more »
Living Up to Our Responsibilities 14. Why is baptism in itself not a guarantee of salvation? 14 It would be a MISTAKE to CONCLUDE THAT BAPTISM IS IN ITSELF A GUARANTEE OF SALVATION. It has VALUE only if a person has TRULY DEDICATED HIMSELF TO JEHOVAH THROUGH JESUS CHRIST AND THEREAFTER CARRIES OUT GOD’S WILL, BEING FAITHFUL TO THE END “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matthew 24:13……………WORSHIP THE ONLY TRUE GOD BOOK The ORGANIZATION sure know how to manipulate. Members needs to be careful when studying their publications. With the ORGANIZATION, members… Read more »