The Flood and Baptism

by Frank J. Jamerson
via Gospel Power, Vol. 15, No. 13, Mar. 30, 2008.

Many of the teachings of the New Testament were prefigured in the Old Testament. The Old Testament story is the type and the New Testament lesson is the antitype, or that which is prefigured. One of these types is the flood. After discussing Noah's salvation from a world of wickedness by the flood, Peter said, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21). Baptism is the antitype of the flood. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible reads, "Baptism which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Many think that this passage says baptism is a figure of "our salvation." This passage does not so state and neither does any other Scripture teach this doctrine. It says that baptism "corresponds to" or is a "like figure" of Noah's salvation in the flood.

Notice three things in the passage.

  1. Baptism is not a value because of washing dirt from the body.
  2. It is an appeal to God for a good or clear conscience. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). One who believes and obeys the commands of Christ will have a good conscience.
  3. Men teach that baptism does NOT now save, but Peter taught that baptism does "NOW save."

Baptism is a burial in water (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 8:36-38), and is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Following baptism, we must "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).