Why stress on baptism when both the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42) and Paul (Acts 9:17-18) were saved before getting baptized?

Hello R,

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One of the first principles of understanding the Bible is that doctrine should be based on many passages and not just a few passages taken in isolation. Believers should be “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must put together many relevant scriptures on a particular subject to gain full understanding. Baptism is a case in point. Therefore, let’s look at several baptism passages in the Bible:

All four Gospel accounts refer to John the Baptist baptizing many people, including Jesus Christ Himself. Christ insisted to be baptized to give us an example that we all should follow “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).

Jesus Himself said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16); And “When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples)” (John 4:1-2).

Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus gave the great commission saying, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

The apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost repeated, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). Believers should first repent, get baptized, and then God responds to their obedience by giving them His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).

Even when God chose to call the gentiles to be part of His Church, Peter immediately said: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:47-48). From all these verses we can see the importance of baptism.

In the case of the apostle Paul, he was instructed by Ananias to hurry and get baptized after his conversion: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). As for the thief on the cross, he would have taken the first opportunity to get baptized, if he had the chance.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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