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Is Baptism for Repentance

Is Baptism for Repentance

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Published by dlee7067
Is baptism for repentance? It sounds like it when one reads Matt. 3:11 the way it is translated in our English language bibles but why would one be baptized who had not first repented?
Is baptism for repentance? It sounds like it when one reads Matt. 3:11 the way it is translated in our English language bibles but why would one be baptized who had not first repented?

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Published by: dlee7067 on Jun 19, 2012
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Is Baptism for Repentance—Matt. 3:11?
Matt. 3:11 is a difficult passage to understand as translated in most English versions.John the Baptist is speaking and I will quote here only that part of the verse that givesproblems and makes for difficult understanding. I will use several translations forcomparison and will add they are grouped the way they are for a reason:
Group A 
 ASV—
"I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance." 
KJV—
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance." 
NKJV—
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance." 
MLV (Modern Literal Version)—
"I indeed immerse* you* in water toward repentance." 
CEV—
"I baptize you with water so that you will give up your sins." 
LITV—
"I indeed baptize you in water to repentance." 
Group B
LONT (Living Oracles New Testament)—
"I, indeed, immerse you in water, intoreformation." 
 YLT—
"I indeed do baptize you with water to reformation." 
Group C
GNB (also known as the TEV)—
"I baptize you with water to show that you haverepented." 
ISV—
"I am baptizing you with water as a token of repentance." 
NLT—
"I baptize with water those who repent of their sins." 
Group D
NAS—
"I baptize you in water for repentance." 
 
ESV--
"I baptize you with water for repentance." 
HCSB—
"I baptize you with water for repentance." 
NET—
"I baptize you with water, for repentance." 
NRSV—
"I baptize you with water for repentance." 
NIV—
"I baptize you with water for repentance." 
Here is the problem: repentance is a change of mind toward God and sin. It is adetermination of the mind and will to turn away from sin, cease willfully committingsin, and turn to God in faithful obedience. It is preceded by godly sorrow. "For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation." (2 Cor. 7:10 NKJV) It is godly sorrow oversin that leads to repentance.But there is another kind of sorrow, the kind that does not lead one to God. We refer toit, because the Bible does, as "the sorrow of the world" (2 Cor. 7:10) and Paul says itleads to death. A man steals some money; he gets caught and is imprisoned. He is sorry  but why? Without a turning to God all sorrow is worldly sorrow. Sorrow motivated by a worldly reason where God is not taken into the equation and that does not lead one toGod is "the sorrow of the world" and leads to death.So here is the question as regards Matt. 3:11—how does water, being baptized, lead aman to repentance? How can it be a stimulus to repentance, a catalyst to bring it about?Repentance occurs in the mind and heart of a man. Baptism is a material physical act of  being immersed in water, not an act of the mind, heart, or will save only in an indirect way. The mind, the heart, and the will lead to baptism but are not baptism. The passageas translated seems to be saying that by being immersed in water that act alone will leadone to the that process of the heart in the inward man that we call repentance.Now take a second look at the various translations as I have grouped them.
Group A 
seems to be saying exactly what I said in the prior paragraph—that water alone will leadone to repent. Can that be? Isn't it always true that faith and repentance lead to baptism and not the reverse? Does not faith and repentance precede baptism and act asthe catalyst for baptism? Did Peter on the day of Pentecost call for baptism first andthen preach faith and repentance afterwards? Does baptism, without any prior faith andrepentance, lead men to say, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Matt. 2:37 NKJV)One does not repent without first having developed faith. If repentance comes after baptism so does faith.So, I think all can see the problem we have with the Group A series of translations thatimply that baptism will lead you to repentance.
 
The
Group B
translations translate the Greek word "metanoia" as reformation ratherthan repentance. Alexander Campbell was behind the Living Oracles New Testament,that is the putting of it together, but the actual translators were from what I have readGeorge Campbell, James MacKnight, and Philip Doddridge. The YLT translation is Young's Literal Translation. All of my word study sources tell me the Greek word "metanoia" is best translated asrepentance but if I did not have any word study sources available to me at all one couldsimply look at how the vast majority of Bible versions have translated the word andcome to the conclusion that Greek scholars are in agreement that the word that best fitsthe meaning of the Greek word when translated into English is "repentance."It is true that all genuine repentance results in reformation but the word reformationseems to be a commentary on the meaning of the Greek, as these translators saw it,rather than a translation of it. Evidently, the translators of these two versions felt this was what the text meant. There is always reformation of life after a genuine scriptural baptism and so the text becomes understandable but the question is whether thistranslation is reliable. There are serious doubts about that based on the number of Biblescholars who could have translated it the same way these two translations did but chosenot to.The
Group C
translations have a problem similar to those in Group B in that they makea translation that makes perfect sense, sounds reasonable as you read it the way they have translated it, but again is it reliable? One could read this verse in any of thetranslations listed in Group B or Group C and if he did not know there were othertranslations out there that differed he or she would never miss a beat or question a thingfor both make perfectly good sense.I might add the translations in this group are based on the dynamic equivalent theory of translation which means they attempt to give you the meaning of the original as they seeit. They try and say the message found in the Greek as we would say it today in modernEnglish, versus a literal word for word translation from the Greek into English. Of course the problem with that theory of translation is that it is sometimes difficult toknow with certainty what the exact meaning of the original is for even the scholarsdiffer.The
Group D
series of translations revolve around what the meaning of the word "for"is as in "for repentance." The Greek word is "eis." It is translated in the Group A seriesof translations (the KJV, the NKJV, and the original ASV) by the word "unto." It is thesame Greek word behind the word "for" in Acts 2:38 where the text says to repent and be baptized "for the remission of sins" (NKJV) with the word "for" meaning the purposeof.

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