Bible Question:

Do you believe that baptism is a part of salvation? Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Romans 6:3-4, Matthew 28:19?

Bible Answer:

Several questions about this subject have already been asked. You may want to read them. They are located in the section entitled Doctrine. Here is the link to the first, second and last question. Since you have added some new passages (Matthew 28:19) not previously discussed, this answer will address these passages. The Mark 16:16 passage was previously covered but will be included again.

Matthew 28:19

The Matthew passage,

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (NASB) Matthew 28:19-20

The key to understanding this passage is four Greek words: “go,” “make disciples”, “baptizing,” and “teaching.” It is important to notice which words come first. The Greek verbs for “to go” and “to make disciples” are aorists while both “baptizing” and and “teaching” are present active participles. The aorist tense refers to things that have happened, while present participles refer to continuing action. Simply put, Jesus told His disciples to first go and make disciples, then baptize and teach them. Jesus’ instructions are about discipleship – not about conversion.

What is baptism?

The Greek word for “to baptize” is BAPTIZO. The ancients used this Greek word in a variety of ways. For example, the word had the meaning “to dip,” “to immerse” and ” to drown.” One example of its usage was to refer to a ship “sinking.” John 3:23 tell us that John the Baptist baptized where there was a lot of water. Why? So he could dip people down into the water. Now let us ask the question, “What was the meaning of John’s baptism?” The answer comes in Matthew 3:1-6 where we find John the Baptist baptizing people who are confessing their sins. Matt 3:6 says the people who were being baptized were constantly confessing their sins. The Greek verb for confess is a present participle which indicates they were confessing again and again. I can understand this because I have done the same thing. Have you ever sinned and felt so badly about what you did that you confessed, confessed and confessed and kept on going? That is the picture of the seriousness of these people. The baptism of John the Baptist was a baptism of repentance (Matthew 3:11) – a regret and turning away from sin. Mark 1:5 gives us the same idea, “all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”

Baptism was a symbol of an inner sorrow over one’s sin. John the Baptist made it clear, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). Baptism was about repentance, not about getting saved. Did John’s baptism save people? The act of baptism is not required for salvation.

Mark 16:16

The Mark passage,

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned (NASB) Mark 16:16

The meaning of this verse is explained by the verse itself. If there is any confusion about the first part of the verse the last part makes it clear. Who is condemned? The one who does not believe! It does not say “who is not baptized!” If the ACT of baptism is so important why is it excluded? The attitude that baptism symbolizes faith in Jesus is important because it speaks of heart sorrow over sin. Jesus did not come to save the righteous but sinners (Matt 9:13).


The act of baptism is not required for salvation. I am sure the thief on the cross was glad! He died on the cross and did not come down until he was dead yet Jesus said,

And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (NASB) Luke 23:43