Baptism Saves Us?
Yes, that’s exactly what we read in 1 Peter 3:21.
But, doesn’t the Bible teach that Jesus saves us? Of course! He is the only Savior (Acts 4:12). Without Him we cannot come to the Father (John 14:6). We could never pay for our sins, but His blood paid for our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19).
So, what does baptism have to do with it?
Peter compares baptism with the flood of Noah’s day. Those in the ark were “saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). The water cleansed the earth and brought them into a new world. Peter uses this example as a type of our salvation by baptism.
“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism” (1 Peter 3:21a).
In the type, those in the ark floated above the water. In the antitype, we are immersed into the water.
In the type, there was a physical cleansing of the earth. In the antitype, there is a spiritual cleansing of the soul.
Peter explains that baptism is “not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21b). Baptism is not a bath for washing dirt off our bodies but to wash away our sins.
Peter had earlier preached, “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).
Ananias told Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
Paul described baptism as a circumcision administered by Christ “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh” (Colossians 2:11).
Finally, Peter adds “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21c). Baptism saves us by the power of Christ’s resurrection.
Our faith is not in the water but in the power of God, as Paul wrote, “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:12-13; cf. also Romans 6:3-11).
Jesus Himself said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).
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Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135