Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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for the remission of sins

eisConsider the following two sentences:

“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Both sentences contain the exact same phrase, “for the remission of sins.” However, the two sentences are perceived differently by a large majority of the religious world. Why? And is the distinction in perception valid?

In Matthew 26, Jesus established His memorial supper, to be observed by His disciples in His kingdom. He took the fruit of the vine in the cup, and said that the liquid signified His shed blood. In using the phrase, “for the remission of sins,” He showed the purpose of His death on the cross. His blood was shed for many (all sinners, cf. Romans 3:23) that their sins might be remitted.

This is the universally understood meaning of the phrase “for the remission of sins” in that text. All acknowledge that if not for Jesus’ death on the cross, our sins would not be remitted. So, the primary definition of the Greek word translated “for” in the text, (eis), is the correct one. It means, simply, “into, unto, to, towards, for, among” (Thayer). The phrase indicates a cause and effect relationship between the shedding of blood and the remittance of sins. Our sins are remitted as a result of Christ’s blood being shed. Or, put another way, He shed his blood in order to effect our salvation.

Peter’s words in Acts 2:38 supply an exact parallel in grammatical construction. The words are exactly the same as the words of Jesus in Matthew 26:28, given in the same order, and are concerned with the same subject, the salvation of the souls of men.

Since this is so, what is true of Matthew 26:28 is true of Acts 2:38. The primary definition of the Greek word translated “for” in the text, (eis), is the correct one. It means, simply, “into, unto, to, towards, for, among” (Thayer). The phrase indicates a cause and effect relationship between repentance and baptism and the remittance of sins. Our sins are remitted as a result of our obeying the command to “repent, and let everyone of you be baptized.” Or, put another way, we repent and are baptized in order to effect our salvation.

This is not the universally understood meaning of Acts 2:38. The dispute is not because the verse is confusing, but because men have been led astray by false teaching, their minds being darkened by false counsel. Consider the numerous other passages which express the necessity of repentance for salvation (Matthew 11:20-24; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 26:20). Consider the numerous other passages which express the necessity of baptism for salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21).

To teach that repentance and baptism are necessary to save a man’s soul is not to deny we are saved by Grace. It only denies the false doctrine believed by many that God does not require obedience (cf. Philippians 2:12-13). To teach the necessity of repentance and baptism for salvation is not to deny that we are saved by faith. It only denies the false doctrine believed by many that we are saved by faith only. (cf. James 2:24). To teach that repentance and baptism are necessary to save a man’s soul is to teach the truth of God!