Saturday, October 8, 2016

Baptist Eisegesis Concerning Baptism

When reading Scripture, Baptists latch onto phrases like "went up immediately from the water" (Matt. 3:16), "immediately coming up out of the water" (Mark 1:10), "there was much water there" (John 3:23), "they both went down into the water" (Acts 8:38), and "they came up out of the water" (Acts 8:39), and read into them what they want them to say. This is known as eisegesis.

First of all, let us examine two Greek words that appear in the accounts of Matthew and Mark. The Greek word anabaino (αναβαινω) translated as "went up" and "coming up" means "to go up, ascend up, climb." The Greek word apo (απο) translated as "from" and "out of" can also be translated as "away from." In other words, both passages make complete sense when we understand they are speaking of Jesus walking up onto the shore away from the water, where He would then pray and the Holy Spirit would descend upon Him: "Jesus ascended immediately away from the water" and "immediately ascending away from the water." "Up out of the water" in no way indicates that Jesus had been submerged under the water.

Jay E. Adams mistakenly says, "In Mark's account ek is used, but in Matthew, apo." According to Jay P. Green's The Interlinear Bible, The Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament, the Greek text found in The English Hexapla, the Greek text of the Textus Receptus, and the symbols and marginal notes of The Newberry Bible, ek (εκ) does not appear in Mark until verse 11. Apo (απο) is used in verse 10. Only according to the Greek text of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece is the word ek used. Ek appears in four (4) manuscripts (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Bezae, and Regius) while apo appears in all the others. Wayne Grudem erroneously argues, "The Greek text specifies that he came 'out of' (ek) the water, not that he came away from it (this would be expressed by Gk. apo)." Mr. Grudem is being deceitful with those words because even in the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece in Matthew's account, the word apo is used, which Mr. Grudem acknowledges means "away from." Further, he should know very well that ek can be translated as "from" or even "away from," but apo cannot be translated as "out of."
  • Mark 1:11 - there came a voice from heaven
  • Mark 6:14 - the Baptist was risen from the dead
  • Mark 6:16 - he is risen from the dead
  • Mark 7:31 - departing from the coasts of Tyre
  • Mark 9:9 - were risen from the dead
  • Mark 9:10 - rising from the dead should mean
  • Mark 10:20 - these have I observed from my youth
  • Mark 10:37 - one on thy right hand, and the other on they left
  • Mark 10:40 - to sit on my right hand an don my left
  • Mark 11:8 - cut down branches off the trees
  • Mark 11:20 - fig tree dried up from the roots
  • Mark 11:30 - from heaven, or of men?
  • Mark 12:25 - when they shall rise from the dead
  • Mark 12:30 - thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength
  • Mark 12:33 - And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength
  • Mark 12:36 - Sit thou on my right hand
  • Mark 13:27 - his elect from the four winds
  • Mark 13:25 - I will drink no more of the fruit
  • Mark 15:27 - one on his right hand, and the other on
  • Mark 16:3 - roll us away the stone from the door
  • Mark 16:19 - sat on the right hand of God

Second of all, John 3:23 says, "John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there were many streams there." Aenon is the plural of fountain or spring. Therefore, "many streams" is a more accurate translation than "much water," agreeing with the Greek text. If we were to go to Aenon today, we would find many springs trickling through marshy meadow on their way to the Jordan. Why would John leave an abundance of water at the Jordan for a bunch of springs? Simple. The Jordan was filthy. We know this from Naaman's words: "Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" (2 Kings 5:12). At this time of year, the Jordan was a foul, muddy flood that overflowed its banks (Josh. 3:15). John knew the insistent requirement of the law, that "he should sprinkle them with clean water" for baptism, so the cool clear water of the "many springs" at Aenon would be a more suitable location.

Last of all, we know from geography that Gaza was some forty or fifty miles southwest of Jerusalem. Regarding the Ethiopian Eunuch's baptism, the Bible informs us that this was "a desert place" (v. 26). If we were to go to that location today, it would still be a desert place. The only water to be found is the occasional spring that trickles from the hillside and forms a small pool before disappearing into the sand. The Greek text shows the Eunuch's surprise at finding water. Stories in the Old Testament inform us that this was a poorly watered area where wells had to be dug just to provide water for animals. There are accounts in the story of Abraham of such wells (Gen. 21:25-31), and Abraham's servant who went to find Isaac a wife stopped at such a well where Rebekah came to get water (Gen. 24:10-21). From Genesis 26:12-22, Exodus 2:16-22, and other passages, we learn the value of these wells in that region. These wells were valuable property. These logistical facts concerning the quality of the land do not point to a good chance of finding enough water for immersion.

Furthermore, "down into" and "up out of" do not in any way indicate being submerged under the water. Eis (εις), which may also be translated "unto," "to," "toward," occurs 11 times in Acts 8 and only once is it translated (likely mistranslated) as "into" (v.38). If there is a creek and you walk to the center of it, you have walked "down into" the water. If you walk from the center of the creek to the shore, you have walked "up out of" the water. Baptists are guilty of eisegesis regarding these phrases, reading into them more than is actually there, wanting to see in them what they desire to see in them. In his Christian Theology, Millard Erickson says, "immersionism seems the most adequate of the several positions," but he is completely and utterly incorrect. Close examination of the details provided in Scripture as well as the circumstantial evidence surrounding each case of baptism in the New Testament leaves no room for immersionism.