The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...y D. Long – Redemption in II Peter 2:1
  • Daryl Wingerd - Thinking and Speaking Biblically About the Death of Christ: Appendix 2
  • Jim Ellis – Agorazo in 2 Peter 2:1
  • Thomas R. Schreiner – “Problematic Texts” for Definite Atonement in the Pastoral and General Epistles
  • John MacArthur – False Teachers Bought By God
  • Chris - Limited Atonement and 2 Peter 2:1
  • Who is the Master?

    Some Reformed men have said that the Master being spoken of here is God the Father. The word used for master is the Greek δεσπότης (despotes, G1203), which means “an absolute ruler.” The word is found 10 times in the NT and it refers to–

    • The Father - Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Tim. 2:21; Rev. 6:10.
    • The Lord Jesus - Jude 1:4.
    • Non-theological - 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Titus 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:18.

    The idea that by “Master” God the Father is referred to is contradicted by the parallel in Jude—

    Jude 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    There is no question that Jude relied a lot on Peter’s material and this is one of the many parallels between these two writers. The argument was made that God the Father is being spoken of here is because of the absence of the Granville Sharp’s rule in the Greek. In the KJV, for example, the last part reads: “denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” In both passages, the authors speak of people who were designated for condemnation and deny the Master. The Master (δεσπότην, despoten) spoken of here is also the Savior, Jesus Christ. Therefore, seeing this clear parallel between the two passages, we must conclude that the Lord Jesus is being referred to in 2 Peter and not the Father specifically.

    Master – Soteriological or not?

    What does it mean that the Lord Jesus is the Master of these heretics? Does it mean that He is their Savior? Is it soteriological? That Christ is Lord over all creation is clear from the Bible (e.g., Matt. 28:18-19; Rom. 14:9; Phil. 2:10-11), so in this sense, He is the absolute ruler and owner of everything, believers and unbelievers alike. The word despotes is never used in the New Testament to speak of God or Christ as Savior, therefore, this raises a reason for me to reconsider if this passage speaks of soteriology. This word is never used of Christ as a mediator in the only place where it is again used (Jude 1:4). Jude makes a distinction between Christ as Despotes and Lord (kurious). Moreover, it is interesting to see the source from which Peter is drawing here—

    Deut. 32:5-6 KJV They have corrupted themselves, their spot [is] not [the spot] of his children: [they are] a perverse and crooked generation. 6 Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? [is] not he thy father [that] hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?[67]

    The word translated “bought” is a different word (κτάομαι [G2932], ktaomai) than the one in 2 Peter 2:1 with the idea of “to procure for oneself, to get, gain, acquire”.[68] Verse 6 speaks of God’s ownership of Israel by virtue of Him being their Creator (and the Creator of everyone else). He is the One Who formed them as a nation and also as individuals. They ought to love and obey Him with all their being. They are indebted to Him for every blessing. God did not pay anything to acquire them. Indeed, the ESV and other translations translate the word there with ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

    ...Such an idea Paul refutes in the following verses, saying that sin used even that which is good to work more sin in us. But, this was specifically the time before we came to know Christ. This was the time we were married to the law, bound to it as a covenant of works, held captive by it and were subject to its curses.

    As a last observation, notice the end of v. 4 and the purpose why we have died to the law. We are to bear fruit. We did not die to the law to be lawless, but to bring fruit that is pleasing to God in freedom and through the Spirit. This passage does not destroy our obligation but teaches us that we are free from the curses and binding of the law as a covenant of works. John MacArthur notes on v. 6:

    released from the law. Not freedom to do what God’s law forbids (6:1, 15; 8:4; cf. 3:31), but freedom from the spiritual liabilities and penalties of God’s law (see note on 7:4; cf. Gal. 3:13). Because we died when he died (see note on Rom. 6:2), the law with its condemnation and penalties no longer has jurisdiction over us (7:1-3).[80]

    Finally, Calvin likewise notes on v. 6:

    But now we have been loosed from the law, etc. He pursues the argument derived from the opposite effect of things, — “If the restraint of the law availed so little to bridle the flesh, that it became rather the exciter of sin; then, that we may cease from sin, we must necessarily be freed from the law.” Again, “If we are freed from the bondage of the law for this end, that we may serve God; then, perversely do they act who hence take the liberty to indulge in sin; and falsely do they speak who teach, that by this means loose reins are given to lusts.” Observe, then, that we are then freed from the law, when God emancipates us from its rigid exactions and curse, and endues us with his Spirit, through whom we walk in his ways.[7]

    The Commandment Is Holy And Righteous And Good

    The next section that I will look at is vv. 7-13. First of all, the law that Paul is here speaking about is the moral law summarized in the Decalogue, for that is the law which all men know (Rom. 2:12-16). Moreover, that is the law which reveals our sin (Rom. 3:20) and which the apostle himself cites as an example. He cites the tenth commandment as an example of a law or commandment which showed him what sin was (Rom. 7:7). Even though the commandment said “You shall not covet”, yet, because he was still unregenerate, sin used the law to work more corruption in Paul. Instead of being kept away from sin, the law, used by sin, worked more sin in him. Secondly, Paul repeats what he in Romans 4:15; 5:13 said, namely, “apart from the law, sin lies dead” (Rom. 7:8). See above for more on the connection between sin and law. Sin is an offense because it is a transgression of the moral standard of God (1 John 3:4). Thirdly, the commandments which promised life upon obedience (e.g., Lev. 18:5; Deut. 4:1) actually produced death in Paul. Why? Because he was still a man devoid of God’s Spirit and in his unregenerate state in which he “cannot please God” neither submit to “God’s law” (Rom. 8:7-8). He was helpless against the curse of the law. He had to take it himself. He had no substitute. Fourthly, Paul is careful not to say that it was the law of God that worked death in him. But rather, “sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment” (Rom. 7:11). Sin used that which is “holy and righteous and good” to work in Paul that which is unholy, unrighteous and evil. The purpose o...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary


    Matt. 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

    Here the Lord Jesus demonstrates His commitment to the full authority and infallibility of the Old Testament. The Lord Jesus goes to the most insignificant detail of the Scriptures and affirms that they will not by any means pass away. This demonstrates that He believed in the inspiration, inerrancy as well as the preservation of Scripture. John MacArthur notes, “Here Christ was affirming the utter inerrancy and absolute authority of the OT as the word of God—down to the smallest stroke or letter.”[9] Matthew Henry comments on this place:

    Heaven and earth shall come together, and all the fulness thereof be wrapped up in ruin and confusion, rather than any word of God shall fall to the ground, or be in vain. The word of the Lord endures for ever, both that of the law, and that of the gospel. Observe, The care of God concerning his law extends itself even to those things that seem to be of least account in it, the iotas and the tittles; for whatever belongs to God, and bears his stamp, be it ever so little, shall be preserved.[10]

    The same is asserted for the Lord Jesus’ teaching, and by extension to His teaching through the apostles, in Matthew 24:35. His words will not fail to accomplish that which He intends. They are the words of God and are more powerful than the cosmos itself. It would be easier for the whole cosmos to vanish away than the Words of our God to pass away.

    Words of men are known to contain lies, but the words of God have no lies whatsoever in them (Titus 1:2) because this God is a God of truth (Isa. 65:16; John 14:6; 17:17). Paul says in Romans 3:4:

    By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

    God is always true and every time when He opens His holy mouth and when He speaks to His people through His God-breathed Word. Words of men may contain errors, but the God of the Word cannot lie and His words are always true.

    Believing the doctrine of inerrancy is the natural implication if we affirm that the Bible is the Word of God. Affirming the doctrine of inerrancy is simply submitting to the absolute Lordship of God, even in thinking about His Word and following the Messiah’s view of Scripture. Since we are Christians, we, therefore, should share the same view of Jesus on Scripture, which was clearly that they were inerrant and infallible, and fully trustworthy.

    Sola Scriptura

    The Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church. Since they are Theopneustos, God-speaking (Matt 22:31; 2Tim 3:16-17; 2Pet 1:20-21), they are, by definition, ultimate in authority, for there can be no higher authority than God Himself. All other rules of faith, creeds, councils, or anything else produced by the Church herself, is subject to the ultimate correction of God’s Word.

    This subject is related to the truthfulness and infallibility of Scripture (see above), the inspiration of Scripture (paragraph 2), the authority of Scripture (paragraph 4), and the sufficiency of Scripture (paragraph 6). If all these things are true, what we get is Sola Scriptura. What does Sola Scriptura actually mean? Does it mean that the church is not...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary

    ...mmentary+Critical+and+Explanatory+on+the+Whole+Bible.cmt.exe"Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Abridged). Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • ^ Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. In loc.
  • ^ John MacArthur. The MacArthur Study Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2010). p. 1812, note on 1:3.
  • ^ Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries. Taken from the TheWord Bible Software. G5461.
  • a, b, c, d, e John Owen. Exposition of Hebrews. in loc. See also Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary on this word here.
  • ^ “And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.” Justin Martyr. Apology, chapter 61.
  • ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. Chapter 40, p. 797.
  • ^ Matthew Henry. Complete Commentary. Hebrews 6.
  • a, b, c Arthur W. Pink. Exposition of Hebrews. Chapter 24
  • ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. pp. 797-798, n. 15.
  • ^ John Owen writes on the word “taste”: “The expression of tasting is metaphorical, and signifies no more but to make a trial or experiment; for so we do by tasting, naturally and properly, of that which is tendered unto us to eat. We taste such things by the sense given us naturally to discern our food; and then either receive or refuse them, as we find occasion. It doth not, therefore, include eating, much less digestion and turning into nourishment of what is so tasted; for its nature being only thereby discerned, it may be refused, yea, though we like its relish and savor, upon some other consideration.”
  • ^ “Ephesians 5:7 uses a closely related word (symmetochos, a compound of metochos and the preposition syn [“with”]) when Paul warns Christians about the sinful acts of unbelievers and says, “do not associate with them” (Eph. 5:7). He is not concerned that their total nature will be transformed by the unbelievers, but simply that they will associate with them and have their own witness compromised and their own lives influenced to some degree by them.” Grudem. Systematic. P. 798.
  • ^ Grudem, Systematic Theology. p. 798.
  • a, b, c, d Sam Storms. Hebrews 6:4-6 And The Possibility Of Apostasy
  • ^ John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014). Chapter 44, p. 1001.
  • ^ Albert Barnes. Notes on the New Testament. Hebrews 6:4
  • ^ A.W. Pink. Exposition of Hebrews. Chapter 26
  • ^ Grudem, Systema...

  • 1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

    First And Second

    Another important point to note concerning our understanding of the First Resurrection has to do with the ordinal “first”, which anticipates a “second” and also the “second” death, which anticipates a “first” death. Therefore, to understand what the First Resurrection is, we must understand how these ordinals are used in Revelation. Are they communicating sequence or something else?

    It is the position of Premillennialists that the “first” in the “first resurrection” indicates a sequence, and thus, there would be a second resurrection. The (leaky) Dispensational Premillennialists John MacArthur says, “The second kind of resurrection, then, will be the resurrection of the unconverted who will receive their final bodies suited for torment in hell.”[32] He takes the second resurrection to sequentially follow the first resurrection (though a thousand years later), but to also be of a different nature suited for the wicked, i.e., non-glorified bodies. This Premillennial doctrine of multiple resurrections we deny and have sought to refute, and provide a positive case for a singular general resurrection (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; see here). The Lord Jesus speaks of “an hour” or “the hour” in which both the good and the evil are raised together, not separated by a thousand years (John 5:28-29). To say that the First Resurrection is physical is to teach multiple resurrections, whereas the Bible teaches “a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). The straightforward and unambiguous teaching of Scripture is that of a singular general resurrection. Therefore, I do not come to Revelation 20, which is clearly symbolical, and overthrow all that I have learned about a singular general resurrection of all the dead in the non-symbolical and straightforward teaching of the Bible. I am open with my presuppositions and I am not ashamed to say that. The Book of Revelation has to be interpreted in light of the clear teaching of the rest of Scripture. As you have noticed, in trying to make a case for the Amillennial position, I left the treatment of Revelation 20 to the end. First, we looked at the straightforward and non-symbolical teaching of the Bible on the matter of eschatology, and then, in light of that, we came to the Apocalypse.

    Dr. Poythress notes that “The language of the first resurrection obviously implies that there is a second. In this context, the first and second resurrections have a suggestive relation to the first and second death.”[33] Therefore, to understand the nature of the First Resurrection we must inquire into the meaning of the Second Death. Just so that we make this clear, Revelation is the only place that speaks of a “second” death and of a “first” resurrection. The Second Death is mentioned four times in the Apocalypse (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8) and in Revelation 21:8 it is clearly identified with the lake of fire, the place unbelievers go after the resurrection and judgment, or what is also called Hell. The Second Death is eternal death, after the resurrection, in the Eternal State in the lake of fire. From this the believers are safe (Rev. 2:11; 20:6). Their regeneration, as well as their entrance into Heaven, guards them against the Second Death, which is spiritual and everlasting death in the lake of fire. Well, since the Second Death has to do with eternal spiritual death in the lake of fire, we must assume that the First Death is physical death which sends unbelieve...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

    ...;"do not know their right hand from their left” in Jonah 4:11 are to children for whom the Lord is concerned. They are described in similar words as in Deuteronomy 1:39 to indicate innocence (not sinlessness).

    Biblical Passages

    Let’s look at a few biblical passages which support infant salvation.

    David’s Case

    The go-to-text about infant salvation is often 2 Samuel 12. This is obviously the one wherein David’s child, who was conceived of adultery, dies. I admit that I had often dismissed this passage as not strong, but I have changed my mind because of John MacArthur.

    2 Sam. 12:19-23 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 

    It is easy to minimize the importance of this episode, but the question is: does what happens justify David’s actions? David was pouring himself out in fasting and prayer that God would be merciful to the child and let him live. But God did not let the child live, rather He took his life. David was hoping that God would listen to his cry and answer the prayer positively and let the child live. But God did not. Once David hears that the child is dead, his time of mourning is ended. He washes himself, he eats and goes and worships the Lord. That is pretty weird, actually. For a lot of people, more mourning will come when the child dies. We are not inclined, when a tragedy like this strikes, to go on and worship God and cleanse ourselves. But this is exactly what David does. His reasoning is that he will go to the child, but the child will not come to him.

    Some have tried to say that David here merely means that when he dies he will be buried in the earth together with his infant child and therefore the “place” where he will meet him is simply the grave. Talk about a great comfort (not)! Is this really what David meant? Was this the reason which caused him to stand up, clean himself and go in worship to the Lord, namely, that he would be buried in the same place as his child? I can’t understand how can this be of any comfort to a parent losing a child. Rather, David is speaking of heaven. This is the same David who wrote Psalm 23, wherein we read: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (v. 6; see also Ps. 16:11; 17:15; 73:24-26). This is the David who knew that he will be together with God once he dies. He wasn’t hoping to be with his child in the grave, but in the presence of God. That is what brings hope and comfort to him. This child is not lost, rather he will meet him in eternity with God. He is safe in the arms of God. It is here that David grounds his comfort and confidence.

    This may be seen to be the c...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

    ...;ω (phero, G5342), which has the basic meaning of to carry, bear, move, bring forward and uphold.[3] So, He is the One Who is moving everything, bringing everything forward in the universe to its proper, predetermined and designed end. He brings it to the end that He has determined. He brings it to the place that He is willing to have everything. This is something that the Lord Jesus does from Heaven as the One reigning at the right hand of the Father. John MacArthur observes the following about “upholds”:

    The universe and everything in it is constantly sustained by the Son’s powerfully effective word (Col. 1:17). The term also conveys the concept of movement or progress – the Son of God directs all things toward the consummation of all things according to God’s sovereign purpose. He who spoke all things into existence also sustains his creation and consummates his purpose by his word.[4]

    Matthew Poole comments on this phrase saying, “the whole work of Providence is set out by upholding; ferwn imports sustaining, feeding, preserving, governing, throwing down, raising up, comforting, and punishing, &c. All would have fallen in pieces on man’s sin, had not he interposed, and stopped the world when it was reeling back into nothing, Col 1:17; and to this instant he preserveth and ruleth all, Isa. 9:6; Joh 5:22.”[5] The same Word Who created the world out of nothing (John 1:1-3), sustains and upholds the world in existence by the word of His power.

    In Ephesians 1, we read of God’s absolute sovereignty in these words:

    Eph. 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will

    This is the God of the Bible. He is not the God Who lets people frustrate His purposes because He must respect their “libertarian free will” (not that free will, biblically defined, is contrary to divine sovereignty), but He is the God Who works above, under and through the free wills of men (Phil. 2:12-13). Surely in “all things” is included all actions of men, angels and everything else. He works as He wills and according to His decretive counsel in Heaven and also on the earth (Dan. 4:35). He is the God of the big things and small things. Indeed, as Dr. R.C. Sproul has observed: “There are no maverick molecules in the Universe.” God doesn’t need our advice, nor is He dependent upon us, rather, He works all things according to the counsel of His will. One cannot deny the absolute God-centeredness of Ephesians 1. It starts with a clear doctrine of divine election in vv. 3-6 and in v. 11, which begins by a restatement about election, which is also said to be according to His will (Eph. 1:5; see the case for election below in paragraph 5). This predestination of the elect is an example of what it means for God to “work all things according to His will.” Albert Barnes comments on this verse, saying:

    His agency is not confined to one thing, or to one class of objects. Every object and event is under his control, and is in accordance with his eternal plan. The word rendered “worketh” - ἐνεργέω energeō - means to work, to be active, to produce; Eph. 1:20; Gal 2:8; Phi 2:13. A universal agency is ascribed to him. “The same God which “worketh” all in all;” 1Co 12:6. He has an agency in causing the emotions of our hearts. “God, who worketh in you both to Will and to do of his good pleasure;” Phi 2:13. He has an agency in distributing to people their...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

    ...e same accusation. John Gill notes that to worship God in truth means to worship Him

    in opposition to hypocrisy, with true hearts, in the singleness, sincerity, and integrity of their souls; and in distinction from Jewish ceremonies, which were only shadows, and had not the truth and substance of things in them; and according to the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation; and in Christ, who is the truth, the true tabernacle, in, and through whom accent is had to God, prayer is made to him, and every part of religious worship with acceptance[10]

    John MacArthur writes on v. 24—

    in spirit and truth. The word “spirit” does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit. Jesus’ point here is that a person must worship not simply by external conformity to religious rituals and places (outwardly) but inwardly (“in spirit”) with the proper heart attitude. The reference to “truth” here refers to worship of God consistent with the revealed Scripture and centered on the “Word made flesh” who ultimately revealed his Father (14:6).[18]

    Jesus says that “the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” The worship of God is the most important thing in the world. It is the most important thing for people to concern themselves with. God goes through lengths to regulate His worship and teach His people how He is to be worshiped. Therefore, it is something that is very important to Him. God is seeking those who will truly worship Him in the way that He has prescribed. God desires worship which is “in spirit and truth.” The prime example of this is the Lord Jesus Christ. We should look to Him and learn concerning our duty toward God from God.

    “God is spirit” means that He is invisible, without a body. Therefore, those who worship Him, should likewise not worship him, as the Confession says, “under any visible representations”. But rather, we worship Him invisibly, by our spirit and in truth. We do not abide in the shadows and types of the Old Testament, but now we enjoy the realities of Christ in the New Covenant. God seeks those who desire to worship Him in His prescribed way. He teaches us in His Word the way that we should approach Him and worship Him as His people. Therefore, we should pay careful attention to worship Him “in spirit and truth”, which means that we worship Him according to His Word alone without man-made additions.

    Will Worship And Self-Imposed Worship

    Col. 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 ( referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    Our main focus here is the word translated “self-made religion” in v. 23. But let us first observe what is said previously to that in this chapter. We are freed in Christ from the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, but not only that, we are also freed from everything that is contrary to His Word. These things concern the doctrines of the false teachers about asceticism. We should not submit to their “regulations” (v. 20), which are contrary to the Word but are “according to human precepts and teachings” (v. 22). We should reject these regulations and precepts because they are ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

    ...t that in the early church, the believers did not wait a long time or wait at all for their baptism after faith. Therefore, baptism came to be identified with the beginning of the new life. People did not wait months and years to be baptized, as most of us do, but as with the three thousand on Pentecost and the Ethiopian eunuch, they were baptized immediately after believing in Christ. They did not receive regeneration, faith, or justification by water baptism, but they showed that they possessed these things by water baptism. All these truths are clearly represented and symbolized in water baptism by immersion. But, is the apostle actually speaking of water baptism here? Dr. John MacArthur calls the baptism in Romans 6 a “dry baptism” in a sermon of his. This baptism which Paul is writing about is a spiritual baptism into Christ. Baptism symbolizes our union with Christ but it is not the means which brings our union with Him. To claim so would make salvation to be dependent upon baptism and reject what the apostle had laid before this chapter about justification by faith alone. The baptism of Romans 6 is a metaphorical baptism into Christ at the moment of faith, when the believer is united to their Savior and experiences the blessings of this union. But does this overthrow everything that I’ve said above? Not for a bit! The truths of union with Christ in His death and resurrection are still represented and shown by baptism in water, but they are not the effects of water baptism. If baptism was the means of union with Christ, i.e., salvation, then that would mean that salvation is by faith and works, which is contrary to the foundation which the apostle had laid in chapters 3-5. Although I deny that this passage is directly speaking of water baptism, yet, I believe that Paul had water baptism in mind because it was a sign given by the Lord to symbolize our union in His death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, its use for the meaning and mode of baptism is proper. Although the baptism here is spiritual baptism, yet it cannot be denied that water baptism signifies spiritual baptism, i.e., regeneration.

    A.H. Strong makes the following observation on the significance of Christian baptism:

    Baptism, like the Fourth of July, the Passover, the Lord’s Supper, is a historical monument. It witnesses to the world that Jesus died and rose again. In celebrating it, we show forth the Lord’s death as truly as in the celebration of the Supper. But it is more than a historical monument. It is also a pictorial expression of doctrine. Into it are woven all the essential truths of the Christian scheme. It tells of the nature and penalty of sin, of human nature delivered from sin in the person of a crucified and risen Savior, of salvation secured for each human soul that is united to Christ, of obedience to Christ as the way to life and glory. Thus baptism stands from age to age as a witness for God—a witness both to the facts and to the doctrine of Christianity. To change the form of administering the ordinance is therefore to strike a blow at Christianity and at Christ, and to defraud the world of a part of God’s means of salvation.[11]

    Colossians 2:11-12

    Another passage which is quite similar to Romans 6:3-5 is Colossians 2:11-12:

    In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also ...

    1 John 2:2, 'for the sins of the whole world'

    ... whom the Father has given Him (John 17:9). The Lord was praying for those on whose behalve His work was done. For those whom He will lay His life for. If He would not even pray for them why would anyone think that He went on the cross for them to take away their sins or 'try' to save them?

    This content is taken from this document

     [1] ESV Study Bible, 2008 (Crossway). Taken from the Online Version at

     [2] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible 2010, Crossway. Taken from the online version at

     [3] HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible®) Study Bible 2010, Holman Bible Publishers. Taken from the online version at

     [4] John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible. Taken from the Bible software The Word. See “Resources.”

    [5] Matthew Henry, Whole Bible Commentary, taken from the Bible software The Word. See “Resources.”