The Word "Baptized" in Mark 16:16

On the Meaning of the Word "Baptized" in Mark 16:16

By Rev. Jack Barr
April 27, 1997

And now, I would like to share with you something that was shown to me about Mark 16:16

Mark 16:16

This verse had been a puzzlement to me for a while. I knew in my heart that the baptism in this verse could not be water baptism because of all the scripture that said that we were saved by faith alone. And I set it aside intending to return to study it and then forgot about it. Later I was teaching Adult Sunday School and this verse came up. I made the statement that you needed both faith to believe and water baptism ... I was challenged with quotes of verses showing salvation was by faith only.

I went home and entered into a deep study, searching the bible, searching the writings of the Early Church Fathers, doing word studies of the Greek words in this and many other verses. I would like to share with you the following, for your consideration and thoughts. I preach always that those who hear my preaching should test my words for their truth of what the bible is teaching. And if there appears to be something wrong with my words, that they please inform me of the statement in error, and show me in the bible where I am in error so that I might correct my errors.

I know that this is getting long and you may not have the time or willingness to follow to the end. (8 pages) . I published the following in my newsletters some time ago.

There are Two words concerning Baptism that we will look at. But first let us look at the baptism itself.

1. There is Baptism in Water.

There are over 40 verses in the New Testament which reference the Baptism in water. (Mt. 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:")

2. There is Baptism in The Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5;
Acts 11:16. (Mark 1:8 "I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.")

These two are NOT the same! One is water, one is Spirit.

Now when we look at Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved .." we have to ask, "Which Baptism" is being referred to here?? The baptism in water? Most people think so. The baptism in "The Holy Spirit", why not? Could there be a third Baptism?

Let look at what the bible says about SALVATION. (Paraphrased)

Eph. 2:8 Saved through faith
2 Tim. 3:15 Salvation through faith
1 Pe. 1:5 Faith unto Salvation
Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord ... saved
Rom. 1:16 Salvation to everyone that believes
Rom. 10:9 Believe in heart .... thou shall be saved
Acts 2:21 Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved
Luke 8:12 Believe ... Saved
Rom. 10:13 Whosoever calls on Lord will be saved
Acts 15:11 Saved through grace

There are many more verses that say clearly that We are saved, or obtain salvation through faith and the mercy of God. There is no where in these verses that include the words "and baptism". Does this mean that we do not have to be baptized? NO, it does not. It only says that Baptism will not gain you salvation, only faith in Jesus will. We must be baptized in obedience to the example and command of Jesus Christ (Mt. 3:13; 28:19), After we have received Salvation. If we were to die after receiving Salvation but before we could have been baptized, we would still have our salvation and enter heaven. (This does not mean that you can wait till you feel good and ready [years later] for then you would be disobeying God.) James 2:17-18 tells us that IF we have Faith, then we Will also Do Works.

Now we have to carry this a little farther to understand the whole picture of God's word.

Baptism in water is a works, And Scripture says salvation is`:

Ro. 4:2 Not by works
Ro. 3:28 Justified by faith without the deeds of law.
Heb. 6:1 repentance from dead works
Tit. 3:5 Not by works ... we have done, but by his mercy

I don't try to print every verse, but this enough to show that there is NO Works that gain us salvation.

In Acts 15:1, we are shown how some men try to tie conditions of "Works" to salvation. They set up false conditions for salvation, adding to God's word to satisfy their own desires.

There are ONLY TWO Verses in the New Testament which couples "Saved" with "Water". They are:

1 Peter 3:20-21 "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." "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.

Lets look at what this means in light of all the above verses of Salvation by Faith only. Perhaps I can answer by showing, for these two verses, two commentaries. The first is from the margin notes of the Geneva Bible. I will high-light part of the writings.

Geneva 1 Peter
3:21 {23} 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 {p} God,) {24} by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

(23) A proportional applying of the former example to the time which followed the coming of Christ: for the preservation of Noah in the waters, was a figure of our baptism, not as though the material water of baptism shows us, as those waters which bare up the ark saved Noah, but because Christ with his inward virtue, which the outward baptism shadows, preserves us being washed, so that we may call upon God with a good conscience. (p) The conscience being sanctified, may freely call upon God.

(24) That same virtue, by which Christ rose again, and now being carried up into heaven has received all power, does at this day defend and preserve us.

The second commentary is from Robertson's Word Pictures.

1 Peter 3:21 RWP

{Which also} (ho kai). Water just mentioned. {After a true likeness} (antitupon). Water in baptism now as an anti-type of Noah's deliverance by water. For baptisma "see on "Mt 3:7"". For antitupon "see on "Heb 9:24"" (only other N.T. example) where the word is used of the earthly tabernacle corresponding (antitupa) to the heavenly, which is the pattern (upon "#Heb 8:5") for the earthly. So here baptism is presented as corresponding to (prefigured by) the deliverance of Noah's family by water. It is only a vague parallel, but not over-fanciful. {Doth now save you} (humas nun s"zei). Simplex verb (s"z", not the compound dias"z"). The saving by baptism which Peter here mentions is only symbolic (a metaphor or picture as in "#Ro 6:2-6"), not actual as Peter hastens to explain. {Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh} (ou sarkos apothesis rupou). Apothesis is old word from apotithˆmi ("#2:1"), in N.T. only here and "#2Pe 1:14". Rupou (genitive of rupos) is old word (cf. ruparos, filthy, in "#Jas 2:2; Re 22:11"), here only in N.T. (cf. "#Isa 3:3; 4:4"). Baptism, Peter explains, does not wash away the filth of the flesh either in a literal sense, as a bath for the body, or in a metaphorical sense of the filth of the soul. No ceremonies really affect the conscience ("#Heb 9:13"). Peter here expressly denies baptismal remission of sin. {But the interrogation of a good conscience toward God} (alla suneidˆse"s agathˆs eper"tˆma eis theon). Old word from eper"ta" (to question as in "#Mr 9:32; Mt 16:1"), here only in N.T. In ancient Greek it never means answer, but only inquiry. The inscriptions of the age of the Antonines use it of the Senate's approval after inquiry. That may be the sense here, that is, avowal of consecration to God after inquiry, having repented and turned to God and now making this public proclamation of that fact by means of baptism (the symbol of the previous inward change of heart). Thus taken, it matters little whether eis theon (toward God) be taken with eper"tˆma or suneidˆse"s. {Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ} (di' anastase"s Iˆsou Christou). For baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as of our own spiritual renewal ("#Ro 6:2-6"). See "#1Pe 1:3" for regeneration made possible by the resurrection of Jesus.

Thus we see that Water Baptism is not a condition of Salvation and therefore, The word "Baptism" in Mark 16:16 can not mean water Baptism, because, if it did then there is an added condition to Salvation and all of the verses on Salvation by Faith would be speaking lies.

Again, I Am NOT saying that we do not need Water Baptism. I am speaking here of the meaning of the word "Baptism" in Mark 16:16.

Now as for The Baptism in The Holy Spirit. For many of the same reasons given above, To require you to have received the Baptism in the Holy Ghost in order to have Salvation would again be putting another condition besides Faith on obtaining Salvation. Again this would invalidate and make a lie of all the verses telling us that we have Salvation by Faith as a Gift from God.

Thus we see that the word "Baptism" in Mark 16:16 must have another meaning.

Let us go to the Greek words that we stated at the start that we would look at. There are two primary words that we will concern ourselves with. The first is the Greek word "Baptizo", and is used in most of the verses, and is translated "Baptize"(Strong's #907) or a variation of this word. The other Greek word is "Bapto" (Strong's #911) and is translated as "dip". This word is used in only three verses in the New Testament. (Luke 16:24; John 13:26; and Revelation 19:13) I will print below the word study from Strong's, for Baptizo.

907 baptizo {bap-tid'-zo}

from a derivative of 911; TDNT - 1:529,92; verb

AV - baptize (76), wash 2, baptist 1, baptized + 2258 1; 80

1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe
3) to overwhelm

Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptized' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change.

When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. 'He that believes and is baptized shall be saved'. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!

Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.

I offer this as the real meaning of the word "Baptized" in Mark 16:16. If you believe, that is, believe in Jesus Christ, (having faith) and become (and remain) totally immersed in Jesus Christ, you shall be Saved.

This then is the 3rd meaning of "Baptized."

May God Bless and Guide you in your Studies. Amen.

Rev. Jack Barr

Return to Main Index
Return to Jack's Home page