August 24, 2017

Translation of Acts 2:38 By Baptist Schools and Scholars

By Luther W. Martin

We have yet to locate a single Baptist scholar of New Testament Greek, the koine Greek in which the New Testament was originally written, who will turn his back upon his learning and scholarship, in order to wrest the meaning of Acts 2:38. It is not unusual to hear of individual Baptist preachers with a smattering of exposure to the Greek language who will assert that scholars exist who render "eis" in Acts 2:38, "because of."

However, when these gentlemen are pressed for the New Testament translation that so gives this passage, they have failed every time. In fact, they have even failed to produce a professor or instructor of New Testament Greek, who will scuttle his scholarship in order to render "eis" as "because of."

 

American Baptist Commentary on Acts

 

In my library, I have a Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, authored by Professor H. B. Hacket, D. D., of Newton Theological Institution, and edited by Alvah Hovey, D. D., LL. D., in consultation with Ezra Abbot, LL. D. Concerning Acts 2:38, it states:

37 "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

"IN ORDER TO THE FORG1VENESS OF SINS (Matt. 26:28; Luke 3:3) we connect naturally with both the preceding verbs. This clause states the motive or object which should induce them to repent and be baptized. It enforces the entire exhortation, not one part of it to the exclusion of the other." (page 53.)

Charles B. William's Translation (1950 Edition)

38 "Peter said to them, 'You must repent--and, as an expression of it, let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ--that you may have your sins f orgiven; and then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Concerning the above translation, Professor J. R. Mantey, of the Department of New Testament Interpretation, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago, has stated: "We concluded that it (C. B. Williams Translation. L. W. M.) is the best translation of the New Testament in the English language."

Charles B. Williams has served as Dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. Professor Ray Summers, head of Department of New Testament, at the same institution, has written in reference to the Charles B. Williams Translation, "I commend it most heartily to all who desire to know the real message of the New Testament."

 

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

38 "And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be immersed each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Letter to L. W. M., 12-2-'42.)

 

University of Chicago Divinity School

 

38 "And Peter (said) to them,'Repent (plural) and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for (lit., "to") the forgiveness (or "remission") of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" (Westcott-Hort text). (Letter to L. W. M., 12-2 '42, and signed by Allen Wikgren.)

 

Northern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

38 "And Peter (said) to them, 'Repent and be baptized (be immersed) each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"

"The remission of sins is conditioned by one's repentance, turning from sin, and by one's identifying himself completely with Christ, as baptism implied. Thus, the believer turns from sin to Christ and all that Christ wants him to be and do." (Letter to L. W. M., 12-10'42, signed by Prof. J. R. Mantey.)

H. B. Montgomery Translation (1924)

38 "Repent," answered Peter, "and 6e baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Mrs. Helen Barrett Montgomery, the translator of the above passage, was president of the Northern Baptist Convention in 1921. She was awarded an honorary LL. D., degree by Wellesley College.

 

Summary and Conclusion

 

In each and every one of the above translations, the Greek word "eis" points forward to the remission of sins; not backwards toward something that supposedly happened prior to repentance and baptism. The words "unto," "to," "that you may have," and "for" were used by these Baptist scholars as properly translating "eis." No scholar has ever rendered its usage in Acts 2:38 as pointing backward.

Truth Magazine VI: 5, pp. 9-10
February 1962

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