Three Evidences that Baptism Is Not Necessary for Salvation

June 23, 2018 · 501 words · 3 minute read Baptism   Faith   Salvation   Acts   1 Corinthians  

Three evidences from scripture that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

There are some passages in scripture which appear, at first glance, to be saying that baptism is necessary for salvation (for example Mark 16:16, Acts 2:37-38, Galatians 3:27). In reformed, protestant circles, there are counter-arguments given for all of these passages (which I think are convincing and have sound Biblical grounds). I here present, however, three evidences from scripture that salvation does not require baptism. I would be curious how someone who believes that baptism is required for salvation would respond (you can contact me if you are such a person).

  1. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 doesn’t argue that baptism is necessary for salvation. In this passage, Paul treats baptism as a means of possible contention and never mentions it as a means to salvation. If baptism were necessary for salvation, would Paul say this in 1 Corinthians 1:17:

    “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…”"

  2. In Acts 10, Cornelius and his family (Gentiles) hear the gospel for the first time. Notice the order of events; the Holy Spirit falls on them (10:44-46) and then they are baptized (10:48). Let me make two observations on this passage:

    A. I posit that the Holy Spirit falling on those who were listening was evidence that they were saved (see Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13). Peter, in Acts 11:1-18, affirms this sequence of events in saying “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts 11:17 - emphasis added). Because the evidence of salvation (the Holy Spirit) comes upon them before baptism, it must be true that, at least under some circumstances, salvation does not require baptism.

    B. The order of events described in this passage (Belief -> Holy Spirit -> Baptism) does not align with what Peter says in Acts 2:38 (Repentance -> Baptism -> Holy Spirit). Because of this, it appears that neither Acts 2:38 nor Acts 10:44-48 should be read as a normative template for salvation without the support of the rest of scripture.

  3. Speaking of the rest of scripture, there are numerous passages in scripture that do not mention baptism as part of salvation. For example, Genesis 15:6, Habakkuk 2:4, John 1:12, 3:1-21 (especially 3:16 and 3:18), 3:33-36, Acts 16:30-34, Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 3:11-14, Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 10:35 - 11:40. If you are going to claim that baptism is required for salvation, you have to explain why each of these passages leaves out a necessary part of salvation.

UPDATE (July 1, 2018): Building off of the second point above, let me also point out what Peter says in his sermon in Acts 3:19:

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;”

In my mind, this demonstrates:

A. Peter didn’t view baptism as necessary for salvation (he doesn’t mention it in this passage). B. Peter’s statements in Acts 2:38 are not to be considered normative.