He who believes and is baptized …

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16.

Because I believe it’s not baptism that “saves” us based on Romans 10:9-10, I have stumbled over this verse in the past and it came up in our Bible study two weeks ago. I finally took the time to research some answers.

The original Greek word used in this context is “baptizo” (Lifeway‘s Greek Strong’s Number 907) which means 1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge; 2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe; 3) to overwhelm.

But this is not to be confused with “bapto” (Lifeway‘s Greek Strong’s Number 911), which means 1) to dip, dip in, immerse; 2) to dip into dye, to dye, color.

There’s a subtle difference that is explained in a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander (200 BC) within an article by James Montgomery Boice in the May 1989 issue of Bible Study Magazine.

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 ‘baptised’ (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 baptising 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 baptised 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!

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10


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