Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 3:38).
There are those who teach that baptism brings remission (forgiveness) of sins. They arrive at this false doctrine due to a misunderstanding of the above text. Yes, the passage reads “for the remission of sins”, but it all depends on what the word “for” means.
The word “for” can have various meanings in both English and Greek. It can mean, in place of, on behalf of, because of, and as a result of, etc. How often we say things like, “I’m leaving for home tomorrow” … “They were on sale at two for the price of one” … “I bought tablets for my sick brother”?
So does this text men that we must be baptised to be forgiven or that we are baptised because we are forgiven. I am persuaded that Peter is saying “because of the remission of sins.” To some this may appear like I am twisting scripture, but click on the following two illustrations and make your own mind up.
1. According to a Wanted Poster which states “Jessie James – Wanted for Murder!”, was he wanted so that he can commit a murder or because he has committed a murder? So cannot “for remission of sins” mean “because of remission of sins”?
2. The packaging of a scalp treatment shampoo reads, “For itchy flaking scalps, including stubborn dandruff.” Do you buy this product to get dandruff or because you have got it? So cannot “for remission of sins” mean “because of remission of sins”?
The Bible constantly speaks of “Believing” then being “Baptised” … check this out by using any concordance. The apostle Peter writing in 1 Peter 3:21 says, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Therefore baptism does not bring salvation or forgiveness, but it does mean that those who are truly born again and obedient to Christ will follow through and get baptised.