Sunday, 16 October 2022
“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Acts 10:47
The previous verse told of the Gentiles who listened to Peter give the gospel having spoken with tongues and magnified God after having received the Holy Spirit. With this stunning event witnessed by Peter and the Jews, Peter then answered, “Can anyone forbid water.”
The Greek reads “the water.” Of this, Vincent’s Word Studies says, “Note the article: the water; co-ordinating the water with the Spirit (see 1 John 5:8), and designating water as the recognized and customary element of baptism.” This is in accord with Jesus’ words as are explicitly stated in Matthew 28:19, 20 –
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
Jesus spoke these words after the completion of His work in fulfillment of the law. He spoke to them in relation to the New Covenant in His blood, a covenant that clearly and explicitly includes Gentiles (see 1 Corinthians 11:25 and 2 Corinthians 3:6). The command by Jesus to “baptize” is not referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit, but to water baptism. This is obvious because “making disciples” and “teaching them to observe” are instructions for those who are to also perform the water baptism.
Of this, Bengel states the obvious, something which people to this day ignorantly overlook, saying, “He does not say, ‘They now already have the Spirit; therefore they can do without the water.’”
Rather, the water is given because of having received the Spirit, and the Spirit is received by faith. Hence, this is not a work in order to be saved, but it is a command for those who have been saved. To not receive water baptism is to remain in a state of disobedience to the Lord Jesus, even after salvation has been realized. Peter continues to confirm this, saying, “that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
It is as if Peter had forgotten the words of Jesus cited above noting that this was for “all the nations.” Jesus had distinctly stated that His salvation now was to go forward to all people, not just Israel. He repeated this in Acts 1:7, 8
The ministry of Jesus during His first coming was to Israel. The reason for this is that Israel alone was given the Law of Moses. It would make no sense for Jesus to preach to the people in Thailand. They had not been given the law. However, the effect of His work, once completed, spread out to all men on earth because His work had negated the power of law that brought about sin in Adam. His ministry to Israel was a necessary and logical step that had to be accomplished before salvation could go forth to the Gentiles –
“I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6
The Gentiles, as witnessed by Peter, had seen the light of Christ and they had accepted His completed work by faith. In their faith, they had received the Holy Spirit. As a testament to that fact, and in obedience to the Lord who saved them, they are now given the opportunity to receive the water as a sign of the New Covenant into which they had entered.
Life application: Peter, the apostle to the Jews, gave the same gospel to those gathered with Cornelius that Paul will later give to the Gentiles. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, would enter the synagogues first in each town he visited, and he gave the same gospel to the Jews that he presented to the Gentiles. This is because there is one gospel, just one.
Peter acknowledged that the Gentiles should receive the water as a sign of their salvation and entering into the New Covenant. Paul will do the same with each person he brings to Christ as well. But Paul also said words that are torn out of their proper context by those who deny the usefulness of water baptism. His words are –
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” 1 Corinthians 1:17
In this, there are those that claim Paul is denying the need for water baptism. This is false. Read the next verse of Acts and see what occurs there. Then consider if they align with Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 1:17.
The Bible is reduced to a few scraps of unintelligible paper when it is improperly handled by hyperdispensationalists. Stay away from such heretics who diminish and refuse to properly teach the will of the Lord who laid His commands before us.
Lord God, thank You for the salvation we have received in Jesus Christ our Lord. May we be as willing to be obedient to Him in our state of salvation as He was to You in order to obtain our salvation. Amen.