|Volume 20 Number 10 October 2018||
Robert C. Lupo
Acts 8:36 (KJV) reads, “As they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Going back to the beginning of the account (Acts 8:26), where was baptism mentioned? Which one of them said anything about baptism? Well, actually it was verse 35. Verse 35 says that Philip “began at the same scripture [Isaiah 53] and preached unto him Jesus.” Friend, you cannot separate baptism from the teaching of Jesus, as denominational preachers do today. Baptism is part of the teaching of Jesus. Jesus went to the cross where He died and shed His blood to take away our sins, but baptism is the means by which we contact that blood. Jesus shed His blood in His death (John 19:33-34), and we imitate the death of Christ through baptism (Romans 6:1-5).
In answer to his question, “What doth hinder me to be baptized” (v. 36), Philip told the eunuch, “…If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (v. 37). The only thing keeping this man from obeying God in baptism was the confession of his belief in Christ Jesus. “And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (v. 37). So, what happened? Verse 38 tells us that the eunuch “commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” The question of this study is, “Why did the Ethiopian eunuch go down into the water?”
Before we go any further, please consider the fact that there is not a single thing that the Lord tells us to do that is not toward or for our salvation or does not contribute to our salvation, as long as we do it. Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us that every one of us is going to stand before God on Judgment Day and give an account of what we have done in the body, whether it is good or bad. Whatever we do in life is either going to be toward our damnation (the bad) or toward our salvation (the good). That is a fact! God has never commanded us to do anything that is bad. He has only commanded us to do those things that are good, which, therefore, will be for our salvation. So, why did the Ethiopian eunuch go down into the water?
He did not need to go down into the water if faith alone saves (James 2:24; Acts 16:31-34). Have you ever thought about the fact the eunuch did not need to go down into the water if faith alone saves? If faith or believing is all that a person needs to do to be saved, then he does not need to do anything else—go to church, live a good Christian life, give to his church, etc.—because all of that is something more than faith or believing. Anything thing else you do would be useless or vain activity. Anything added to faith is not faith alone. Either faith is all that is needed, or it is not all that is needed, and yet, there is nothing God commands us to do that is not needed for salvation.
The doctrine of faith only is not true. James 2:24 says that “…by works a man is justified [saved], and not by faith only.” Faith and works go together. James does not rule out faith for salvation. Our salvation neither comes by faith alone, nor does it result from works alone. According to this inspired writer of God, no one can be saved by faith alone (James 2:20, 26). Please note: The only passage in all of Holy writ that mentions “faith only,” teaches that we are not saved by faith only. Acts 16:31-34 says:
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway [immediately]. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
Once again, if faith is all a person needs to be saved, why did Paul and Silas both command him and all who were in his house to be baptized? The fact is, the two go together—faith and baptism. You cannot baptize someone into Christ who does not believe in Christ. I am not saying that it is impossible to put someone under the water who does not believe in Christ, but if you put someone under the water who does not truly believe, he or she just gets wet. We cannot baptize anyone into Christ who will not make the good confession. It hindered the eunuch from being baptized (Acts 8:36-37), and it still hinders men today. Someone could lie when making the confession of belief in Christ, but by lying one would not be saved and face additional condemnation (John 8:24; Revelation 21:8).
In answer to the question of the Philippian jailer, “What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30), Paul and Silas taught him to believe (Acts 16:31). God cannot save any individual who does not believe in Christ. The teaching did not end with belief, however. “They spake the word of the Lord to all that were in his house [jailer’s household]” (v. 32). This was when Paul and Silas taught them to be baptized. Their belief and baptism together are described in verse 34 as “having believed in God.” God also cannot save anyone who believes but will not obey the entire Gospel plan of salvation, given by Jesus Christ, which also teaches us to be baptized.
Notice how soon this man and his household were baptized. Did they wait a month? Did they wait six months? Did they wait a year? No, they were baptized right then, straightway, immediately (v. 33). Do you know why? Because it had to do with their salvation. It was not some outward sign of an inward grace, as denominational preachers teach today. They were not put on any probation period either. When one obeys the Gospel of Christ—a person believes on Jesus Christ and is baptized into Jesus Christ.
The Ethiopian eunuch did not need to go down into the water if grace alone saves (Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 13:43). There are some people who teach from Ephesians 2:8-9, that grace alone saves. The passage says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Having looked at James 2 earlier, please note, this is not a contradiction in Scripture. Paul and James did not disagree. Paul was teaching about faith and works under the Law of Moses. The works of the Mosaic Law alone could not save men. That Law pointed to Christ as a schoolmaster or a tutor to bring us to faith in Christ (Galatians 3:24-26). A man that kept every bit of the Mosaic law would still be lost without the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and his own faith. James was correcting the idea that faith is all one needs. Please examine the examples given in James 2 about faith with or without works.
Neither can a person devise his or her own means of saving himself or herself. People living today must work out His plan of salvation, not their own, alternative plans of salvation. Look at verse 8 again. I don’t know if those who teach “grace only” have ever really read the verse, because the passage says, not that you are saved by grace alone, but by what? “Grace through faith.” So, grace plus faith is not grace alone. Salvation is by grace and faith.
Verse 10 also teaches that once we become children of God, we find that we were created in Christ Jesus unto good works. We must obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ and do the works He has commanded. These are the things appointed for us to do. Why doesn’t anyone who teaches grace only or faith only ever point that out? There is plenty of work for Christians to do, and we are to be doing it, folks. We are commanded to abound in the work of the Lord, knowing (to be assured) that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Look at Acts 13:43. “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” Why is that mentioned there? Because there are some who teach you cannot fall from grace. Why did Paul and Barnabas have to tell these people to continue in the grace of God if it is impossible to fall from the grace of God? Have you ever thought about that? What about Galatians 5:4? “You are fallen from grace,” he warned, if they were to go back to circumcision and the Law of Moses. The Bible does not teach that faith only saves, and it does not teach that grace alone saves.
The eunuch did not need to go down into the water if he was saved before or without baptism (Ephesians 2:1; Romans 6:3-5). Ephesians 2:1 reads, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” Folks, when a person is saved, he is quickened or made alive in Christ Jesus. So, claiming to be saved before baptism amounts to claiming to be alive in Christ before how the Scriptures teach that one is made alive in Christ. Romans 6:3-5 teaches that baptism is a burial—with Christ—in the likeness of His death. Then, there is a resurrection to walk in newness of life. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
So, the question is, why would you bury in baptism someone who is alive? You don’t bury people who are alive. You only bury people who are dead. When a person is dead in sins, to be saved, he becomes dead to the practice of sin, that is he repents (Romans 6:1-2). What do you do with a dead person? You bury him. In this case, you bury him with Christ in the likeness of His death. Then, he is raised by the glory of the Father to walk in newness of life. No, the Eunuch did not need to go down into the water, if he was saved before baptism.
What about the doctrine that teaches one can be saved without baptism? Some say the Scriptures nowhere teach that baptism saves. They teach that a person can go to Heaven without baptism. “What if a person never has the opportunity to be baptized?” they ask. I do not know why it is such a problem to comprehend the answer to that question. What if they never had the opportunity to believe (John 8:24)? What if they never got around to repenting (Luke 13:3)? Do you see the problem with this? You can take it down as many avenues as you want. Those who want to be disobedient to God will always find excuses not to obey and will never have enough time in their lives to do what God wants them to do.
However, God said, in order to be saved, what must a person do? A person must believe, repent and confess faith that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and be baptized into Christ Jesus (John 3:16; Acts 3:19; Romans 1:9-10; Mark 16:15-16).
Can it be proven from Scripture that a person must be baptized? Look at Romans 6:5. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” The ASV says, “united with Him in the likeness of His death…” The end result is, “we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” People may not like it, but “if” is a condition. Baptism is, therefore, a condition of salvation. If you have been planted together in the likeness of His death, if you have been united with Him, that is, buried with Him in the likeness of His death, only then will you be with Jesus Christ in the resurrection, but not otherwise. That is what the Word of God teaches. The theology of those who believe salvation occurs before and without baptism is incorrect. It does not fit the Gospel picture or teaching about salvation.
The Ethiopian eunuch did not need to go down into the water if baptism does not save (1 Peter 3:21). If baptism doesn’t save, why do it? Denominational preachers typically say we are saved by faith only or by grace only. They say we are saved before baptism and without baptism. Most of them say, “Baptism does not save us!” With all of their being, they will say the Bible nowhere teaches that baptism saves us. Really? Notice 1 Peter 3:21, which reads, “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.”
That means many preachers are either woefully unfamiliar with the biblical text or they are lying. God, through His inspired writers—especially here the apostle Peter—connect baptism to salvation! Water, which saved Noah and his family (v. 20) is the like figure whereunto baptism doth (that means, “it does”) also now save us. Peter said baptism does now save us. He did not say, “Baptism does not save us.” Modern preachers contradict God’s Word. The Bible corrects false teachers, and the Word will judge them on Judgment Day (Matthew 12:36-37; James 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:1-4). They are condemned already; they just have not received their punishment yet.
The Ethiopian eunuch did not need to go down into the water if there is nothing he could do to save himself (Acts 2:38-40). Have you ever heard preachers teach that a person cannot save himself? “You can’t do anything to save yourself!” they say. “It is finished!” they say, quoting Jesus. They say, “He did it all,” and there is nothing you can do. Such preachers proclaim that no one can do anything to contribute one wit to his salvation.
Yet, on the very first day the Gospel was preached to the world, beginning at Jerusalem, Peter, the apostle, standing with the other eleven, preached the following message.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ [by His authority] for the remission [removal or forgiveness] of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. (Acts 2:38-40)
Folks, why did he waste his breath? Why did he tell them to save themselves from sin if they had no part in the salvation of their souls?
If we do not take part in our salvation, we will be lost. Yes, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and He died. He finished all of the work God gave Him to do to save us from our sins. However, there is that part that God requires us to do to save ourselves—obeying the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Listen to and apply God’s Word to your life instead of hearkening to misguided or deceitful false teachers. Your salvation depends upon discerning truth from error.
So, why did the eunuch go down into the water? He went down into the water because it is the teaching and the command of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:34-38; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20).
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Remember that we have already visited this verse. When preaching Jesus, one must of necessity preach baptism because there are two parts to man’s salvation—God’s part and man’s part. Therefore, Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian, which included the teaching about baptism for the remission of sins. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36-37). Where did Philip get this teaching? Folks, the teaching comes from God the Father, from His Son Jesus and through the Holy Spirit.
Look at the Great Commission Scriptures closely (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). On what side of baptism does salvation appear? Before or after? Salvation appears after baptism. Jesus did not say, “He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized,” but rather, our Lord uttered, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
Note the attitude of the eunuch. He asked, “What doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). It seems that he couldn’t get down into the water fast enough! Do you know why? He believed what Philip, the servant of Christ, told him to do to be saved. There were no false denominational notions to bias his mind against baptism. No denominations existed, yet, at that time.
Look at all of the biblical examples of conversion in the Book of Acts. Do you ever read of any of the people arguing about the purpose of baptism? The only dispute regarding baptism prior to the Book of Acts had to do with who had authority to baptize (John or Jesus) and not about the purpose of baptism (John 3:23-36). The purpose of baptism was then and still is for purification from sin (John 3:25). John confirmed that Jesus baptized with authority from Heaven (John 3:26-27).
In Matthew 21:25-32, Jesus taught that the Jews who went out to hear John were condemned because they did not obey him regarding repentance and baptism. Jesus asked if the baptism of John was from Heaven or from men. They were in a dilemma. Our Lord’s auditors realized they should have believed and obeyed God, but because they had not, they told Jesus, “We cannot tell.” So, Jesus told the story of a man who had two sons. Jesus said, “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” Notice here that believing and repentance equate to obedience. Evil, disobedient people will always deny the commands of God. Once again, we see that baptism is from Heaven (God) not men. If we obey it, we will be saved, and if we do not, we will remain lost.
Denominational preachers often drive a stake in the second half of Mark 16:16 and teach that because baptism is not mentioned in the second part of the verse, it is not necessary. However, Jesus did not have to mention baptism in the second part of the verse. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Jesus also said that anyone who does not believe Him will be condemned! Since baptism follows belief and stands between belief and salvation, it is obvious that not even having faith, neither would one be baptized nor would he experience salvation.
In biblical times, there never was this rebellious attitude in anyone who loved the Lord and desired to be saved. Open minds and tender hearts never questioned what they were told to do (Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 8:5, 6, 12).
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Peter, don’t you know baptism is not necessary for salvation? No, he didn’t know that. When he was asked what one must do to be saved, he told the inquirers to repent and to what? Be baptized. Didn’t Peter know that baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace? No, he did not know that either. He was told to tell them to repent and to be baptized. No denominational argument was put forth to counter the divine message. Instead, “then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
In Acts 8:1-2, Philip preached Christ to the Samaritans just as he did to the Ethiopian eunuch. Once again, the teaching of Christ included the teaching about baptism, because we find in Acts 8:6, “And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” The teaching about baptism was even backed up with miracles to prove it came from God (Hebrews 2:1-4). “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). All of this follows exactly what Jesus taught in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” When a person believes Jesus or the teaching of Jesus, he will be baptized too.
The Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water because baptism is immersion or a burial only (Romans 6:4-5; Acts 8: 38-39). There are religions that teach baptism is sprinkling or pouring water upon a person. Yet, the only mode of baptism about which one can read in the Scriptures is immersion—being put under the water—for the remission of sins. Romans 6:4-5 reads, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
Notice Acts 8:38-39, which says, “…they both went down into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” It is not necessary to go down into water and to come up out of water to have water sprinkled or poured on you, but to be immersed you must go down into water. Immersion provides context for why John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan river in Aenon near to Salim—“because there was much water there [enough for him to immerse people for the remission of their sins] and they came and were baptized” (John 3:23).
The Ethiopian went down into the water because baptism saves us—not because it doesn’t. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, taught by inspiration that baptism saves us. “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” (1 Peter 3:20-21).
Someone observes that Revelation 1:5 teaches that it is the blood of Jesus which washes away our sins. Yes, that is absolutely true. If Jesus had not gone to the cross and shed His blood, we could not be saved. We are so thankful for Him, but understand this: The only way to come in contact with the saving blood of Jesus is to unite with Him in His death. John 19:31-36 teaches that Jesus shed His blood in His death. When the soldier pierced His side, blood and water came forth. We see these two elements once again in our own salvation. It is the blood of Christ that takes away our sins. He loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, but the only way to unite with that saving blood is to unite with Him in the likeness of His death (Romans 6:3-5). Faith only, grace only and all without baptism doctrines are unable to show from Scripture how to contact Christ’s saving blood. The only Scriptures dealing with this, tell us that we unite with Him through baptism in the likeness of His death.
It is just like this: You can throw soap in on top of dirty clothes in a washing machine, but will the clothes come clean if you do not unite that soap with and immerse those clothes in water? If the water is not hooked up to the washing machine, how are you going to wash the clothes? “Well, I put soap in there, that’s the cleansing agent.” Yes, the soap is the cleansing agent. Just like the blood of Christ is the cleansing agent. However, you have to have something to activate it just like you have to have something to activate that soap. What is it? Water! The soap won’t clean without the water, and the blood of Jesus Christ will not cleanse us—it cannot cleanse us—until we obey Him by being baptized for the remission of our sins, in the likeness of His death. It is our obedience in the waters baptism that activates the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. Can we prove that from Scripture? Yes!
Saul of Tarsus, the man responsible for the murder of untold numbers of Christians, including Stephen (Acts 7:54-8:3), was told by Jesus (Acts 9:6) to go into the city of Damascus, and there he would be told what he “must do” (cf., Acts 22:10). Most preachers have Saul saved at the moment Saul said, “Lord,” because that fits their faith only or grace only theology. They can’t have him do anything for his own salvation, since that wouldn’t be faith only. The Bible, however, says he prayed for three days and nights with fasting (Acts 9:9), but no sinner’s prayer saved him. There is no such thing in the Bible as being saved by a so-called sinner's prayer. By the way, faith and praying the sinner’s prayer isn’t faith alone either. It is faith and praying. Saul was not told what he must do until the preacher Ananias came to him and told him what to do. What did he tell him to do? Acts 22:16 says he told him, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” “He arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18). Was he forgiven before or after baptism according to these verses? After!
I can hear a denominational preacher ask, “Saul what are you doing?” I can hear Saul answering, “I am being baptized.” The denominational preacher asks, “Why are you being baptized, Saul?” Saul answers, “I am calling on the name of the Lord to wash away my sins.” The denominational preachers say, “Don’t you know you don’t have to be baptized?” Saul answers, “That’s not what I heard. I was told to 'arise and be baptized, calling on the name of the Lord.'”
Some preachers teach that “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” They even quote Paul (Romans 10:13). Folks, Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). According to all of the Scriptures we have seen thus far, is it God’s will (Christ’s command) for every creature to be baptized in order to have his sins washed away or to be saved? Yes. Was Saul doing or not doing what the Lord commanded? As a result of his obedience, were his sins forgiven or unforgiven? They were forgiven.
This fits 1 Peter 3:21, as well. “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.” The word, “answer” in this text means “the appeal” or “the request” for a good or a clean conscience. How can we ask for such until we obey? Baptism is not a physical bath. It is a spiritual cleansing that one receives by obeying Christ and calling upon Him. The reason it does anyone any good is because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. That’s 1 Peter 3:21.
Several years ago, I was teaching a Bible class in the local prison. One of the inmates, a Baptist preacher (yes, you read correctly) attempted to contradict everything I taught from the Word of God. He was against the Bible teaching of baptism. I asked him, “If I showed you a Scripture that teaches that baptism saves us, would you believe it?” “It isn’t in there,” he said. I said, “Turn to 1 Peter 3:20-21 and read.” Here is what he said, “…baptism does not save us.” I asked him to read that again. He said, “Baptism does not save us.” After the third time asking him to read, and producing the same answer, I asked him, “Does that say, 'not' or 'now'?” I said to the room, “He has been teaching that false doctrine so long, He cannot even read the truth correctly.” The room erupted in laughter at him, but he was silent. We baptized three (now former Baptists) into Christ as a result. They were honest with the Scriptures, but he was dishonest.
The Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water in order to put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Again, denominational preachers cannot tell you how you get into Christ or how you put on Christ because they don’t teach baptism. They cannot tell you how to clothe yourself with Christ because they are without Scripture. Paul instructed that when one is baptized into Christ, he is clothed with Christ. By the way, Jesus is never to be taken off, once we put Him on.
The Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water in order to rejoice (Acts 8:39). “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” When did the Eunuch rejoice? He did not rejoice before baptism because he was not saved until after baptism. Why did he rejoice? He rejoiced for the same reason that the Samaritans had great joy (Acts 8:4-6, 8), that the Philippian jailer rejoiced (Acts 16:34) and that all others rejoice today: sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38), being added to the church, the body of Christ (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:22-23), being Saved (Mark 16:16), being baptized into Christ and having put on Christ (Galatians 3:27) and being heaven bound (John 3:3-5; Romans 6:17-23).
Reasons Why One Needs
to Go Down into the water