That’s a Good Question

By Larry Ray Hafley


From Oklahoma: AAfter a brief discussion with a Missionary Baptist preacher of Billings, Oklahoma, he sent me Bogard’s book, a very amusing mess. But what about his rendition of Acts 2:38?”


Our brother refers to the little booklet Campbellism Exposed by Ben M. Bogard. Mr. Bogard is not well known to Christians of this generation, but until his death in 1951 he was for sixty years perhaps the greatest, certainly the most distinguished, Baptist debater and defender. Bogard was a Missionary Baptist. He debated against the truth and against some of the most capable men of God; namely, Joe S. Warlick, G. C. Brewer, W. Curtis Porter, J. D. Tant, N. B. Hardeman, R. L. Whiteside, and others.

Note Bogard’s “rendition of Acts 2:38” which concerns our querist.

“Campbellites Pervert Acts 2:38”

“‘Be baptized for the remission of sins’ means be baptized on account of the remission of sins. A man laughs for joy; he has the joy first and then laughs for it. A man weeps for sorrow. He has the sorrow first and weeps for it afterwards. Even so we are baptized for the remission of our sins. We have the remission first and are baptized for it afterwards.

“There is one stock answer for this, and that is that repentance and baptism are for the same thing and that if we are baptized on account of remission, then we repent on account of remission. But a little peek beneath the English into the Greek and the difficulty vanishes. >Repent’ in Greek is second person plural, active voice. “Be baptized’ is third person, singular, passive voice. Now, there is a rule in all grammars that verbs must agree with their subjects in number and person. But >repent’ and ‘baptize’ are not of the same number and person, hence they cannot have the same subjects. So a correct rendering is: >repent all of you, and each one be baptized for the remission of your sins.'” (Ben M. Bogard, Campbellism Exposed, 37, 38).


Bogard’s first paragraph illustrations concerning joy and sorrow are true. We do indeed laugh for (on account of, because of) joy. We weep for (on account of, because of) sorrow. However, these illustrations overlook the fact that the Greek language has a number of prepositions which translate into our word “for.” We use “for” to mean a variety of things. “For” can mean “because of” or “in order to” and with each different meaning we use but the one word “for.” This is not true in the Greek language. The preposition used for “on account of” or “because of” in Greek is dia. One goes to jail for (dia) murder. He goes to jail for (eis), in order to, punishment. Barabbas was in jail “for (dia) murder.” He was in prison “for (dia) sedition and murder” (Lk. 23-19, 25). The preposition used in Acts 2:38 is not dia, (for, on account of). It is eis (for, in order to). Bogard’s argument is based upon the same English preposition “for,” but his examples use two different terms; they are not synonymous, hence, his “Even so” does not follow.

Baptist Scholars On Acts 2:38

Bogard’s own brethren desert him on his contention in his second paragraph. Baptist scholars and commentators, Hackett and Willmarth, both deny and denounce his argument. ” ‘In order to the remission of sins 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” (Hackett). “For those who contend for the interpretation, ‘on account of remission,’ will hardly be willing to admit that Peter said >repent’ as well as ‘be baptized on account of remission of sins.’ This is too great an inversion of natural sequence. Yet, to escape it, we must violently dissever ‘repent’ and ‘be baptized’ and deny that eis expresses the relationship of repentance as well as of baptism to remission of sins but the natural construction connects the latter with both the preceding verbs” (Willmarth).

“Ye” is the subject of the verb “repent.” “One” is the subject of “be baptized.” Those represented by “ye” are the same as those included in “every one of you.” It is the same inquirers that are being answered as to what they must do. Peter told all of them to repent, and he told every one of them to be baptized. Why? For the remission of sins, of course. First, he addressed them as a collective, a group; then, he directed them as individuals. What is accomplished by diagraming the sentence? So what if the verbs have different subjects grammatically speaking? They are still the same persons being spoken to.

A mother might well say to her children, “Come ye, and be washed every one of you for the cleansing of your hands, and ye shall receive the gift of a good meal” (example by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.), or again, “Study ye, and be taught every one of you for the reception of a diploma, and ye shall enjoy the benefits of a good education.” The apostle Peter said, “Repent, and let each 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.”

But such passages as Mark 16:16 and Acts 22:16 also serve to show what the meaning of Acts 2:38 is. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Baptism is thus shown to be essential to salvation, the washing away of sins. In this connection we hear Peter say, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Do these three passages contradict or do they complement one another?

As Jesus shed his blood “for (eis) the remission of sins” (Matt. 2628), see we are to repent and be baptized Afor the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

Truth Magazine, XVIII:50, p. 9-10
October 24, 1974