Could you explain this answer I got concerning Acts 2:38?




I was writing the NIV translators who are intermixed with IBS about the "for forgiveness of sins." I got a  regular response, but I am writing him more on certain verses. I also wrote the NASB guys but haven't gotten a response yet. Anyway here is the letter I got. He says "with a view to" and says "exegesis." I am no theologian and I heard the word "exegesis" like twenty times in the past month. I think it has to do with Christ in some way, but I can't remember. I was wondering if you could help explain what he meant by "with a view to" and "exegesis."

I wrote him back with some arguments small ones but keep the guy on his toes (he has probably heard it all before) but I like to see what the bible "higher ups" who have taken their whole life have to say. Plus it lets me lead into other questions:) Such as does the word kia (and) in Acts 22:16 connect baptism and wash away your sins or does it disconnect it like it can be done in the english language with the word "and". And I asked about certain meanings of words. I figure he spent his whole life doing this lets see if he can answer few questions find out where he stands in his beliefs and see if I can get a clear cut answer or get a well my beliefs say that isn't possible.

Recently I asked a Calvinist professor at a college about Revelation 22 where it says take away your part of the tree of life, or book of life and out of the Holy City (my poor but quick paraphrase). I asked, does that mean a person can lose their salvation? Note that this guy was teaching Hebrews through Revelation, so I imagine he had to think it would come up in his classes. His response was well in my theological beliefs I don't believe you can lose your  salvation. Then he spouted off for a minute and realized I was waiting for a answer. He then said, well, we would have to look at how it is use by John in Revelation and look at it in the Old Testament for similar examples. I interrupted and said, you mean like Moses when he is pleading to God not to have God's people name blotted out of the Book of Life, but God does it anyway? His response was, well, yes that is one example. He then says, well, I don't believe a person can lose their salvation once they are saved. You could talk to the Greek teacher and he might be able to help you. That was basically the gist of the conversation. It was fun because I was surprised how he could not come up with an answer. I mean all the books from Hebrews through Revelation talk about losing one's salvation.

Sorry about side trip. Oh well, I am going to ask the IBS guy about the verse once I find out if he's a Calvinist or not. He seems like a honest guy and a nice guy, so it would be cool to get to know him and get in a good theological discussion with him. The best theological discussions I have ever been in are when someone doesn't agree with me.

Dear ___________,

       Thank you for contacting International Bible Society regarding the interpretation of Acts 2:38. Does eis afesin (for forgiveness) refer back to “Repent and be baptized” or only to “Be baptized” (baptiztheytow)? While most English translations allow for both interpretations, the Contemporary English Version has this: “Peter said, ‘Turn back to God! Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven.’” Here eis afesin pointedly refers only to baptism in the view of those translators. However, this is a unique position among the 13 translations I consulted. Some editions of the NIV have “so that your sins may be forgiven” and some have “for the forgiveness of your sins”.

       One problem evidently has to do with the meaning of eis (Dr. William Hendriksen wrote an entire graduate thesis on “The Meaning of EIS In The Greek New Testament”!). In Acts 2:38 “for” does not exhaust the meaning load of the preposition eis which contains the idea of “with a view to”. Of course, this does not answer your question, but it does suggest that the baptism does not itself produce the forgiveness. This point is also made by the TNIV Study Bible which states, “Not that baptism effects forgiveness. Rather, forgiveness comes through that which is symbolized by baptism (see Rom. 6:3-4)”.

       As for Matt. 26:28, the exegesis there is not quite the same. There it is clear that the shedding of Jesus’ blood was precisely what effected the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins by the Father was the result of his acceptance of Jesus’ death on the cross. One cannot compare the act of baptism as effecting that forgiveness.

       Though I’m not a member of the NIV translation team, my reading of several sources and translations suggests that they would view the concluding clause as referring back to both “Repent” and “be baptized” together, and not only to “be baptized.’

       Sincerely, Eugene Rubingh, Translation Consultant, International Bible Society

One of the things you learn as you get older is that people often have preconceived ideas. When they face something that contradicts those ideas, they will often be unable to understand what is being said. You can see this in the disciples. They were looking for Jesus, as the Messiah, to set up a great kingdom. When Jesus told them on a number of occasions that he would be betrayed, delivered up, and crucified, the Bible remarks that they were not able to understand. Peter even once argued with Jesus that it could not happen and that Jesus should stop saying such things.

Why couldn't they understand? It wasn't because Jesus' words were obscure. Jesus told them what was going to happen in very plain terms. But it wasn't what they expected, so they decided they didn't understand Jesus.

I've seen this happen when answering questions. I'll give someone an answer, knowing they won't like it, and then get a response saying "You never answered my question!" I'll look back at the answer and, yes, I did give them an answer. However, it wasn't what they expected so, therefore, in their minds it didn't exist.

You are seeing the same thing with the people you are talking with. You teacher told you, "I don't believe a person can lose his salvation." Therefore, it doesn't matter what the verses say, his firmly held, preconceived notion has to exist despite any possible contrary information -- to the point that contrary information will be ignored.

In regards to the gentleman from the International Bible Society: The word "exegesis" means an act of explaining the meaning of a word by careful examination of its use. I don't want to put words in this man's mouth, but basically he is trying to avoid being backed into a corner. You asked if the "and" in the passage joins both repentance and baptism to the forgiveness of sins. His answer is "yes," but he wants you to know that he doesn't believe that repentance and baptism are precursors to forgiveness.

To prove this, he first argues that the subject is too complex by pointing that one person did his doctorate on the simple word eis (for). He acknowledges that the usual definition of eis in the Greek is forward looking; that is the things on the left are done "with a view toward" receiving what is on the right. But, he says that is too simplistic of an answer. But instead of addressing what Acts 2:38 says, he asserts that baptism cannot bring forgiveness. Interestingly, he does admit that baptism is a symbolic act of what does bring forgiveness -- the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

While Matthew 26:28 is worded similarly to Acts 2:38, he is trying to forestall that argument by say that what is being discussed in Matthew 26:28 are different things (things which he does accept as leading to the forgiveness of sins); therefore, the meaning of eis can have its traditional definition in Matthew 26:28. Because he doesn't accept that repentance and baptism leads to forgiveness of sins, he says the similarly word passage in Acts 2:38 must have a different meaning to the word eis. He has no problems with this two-faced approach because it matches his preconceived notion.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Baptism