A Response to Matt Slick’s "Baptism and 1 Peter 3:21"

A Response to Matt Slick’s “Baptism and 1 Peter 3:21” Article

As found here: http://carm.org/baptism-and-1-pet-321

The following is a quick response to Matt Slick’s work on Baptism. I mean him no ill-will but am convinced that what he stated concerning baptism does not reflect what scripture declares in 1 Peter 3:21 and elsewhere. For the sake of time and efficiency, and desiring to prevent excess redundancy, I have quoted parts of previous posts.

Mr. Slick provided the following NASB quote:

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him,” (1 Pet. 3:18-22, NASB)

Mr. Slick then went on to state:

He then The above translation in verse 21 from the NASB is a good translation: “and corresponding to that, baptism now saves you.” The key word in this section is the Greek antitupon. It means “copy,” “type,” “corresponding to,” “a thing resembling another,” “its counterpart,” etc. It is what the NIV translates as “symbolizes,” the NASB as “corresponding to that,” and the KJV as “like figure.” Baptism, then, is a representation, a copy, a type of something else. The question is “Of what is it a type?”, or “baptism corresponds to what?”.

Please consider the following:

  1. The Greek word at issue, antitypos (G499, in the neuter form “antitupon”) is defined by Thayer,  in the first sense, as a thing formed after some pattern. He gives the secondary definition as “a thing resembling another, it’s counterpart; something in the Messianic times which answers to the type prefiguring it in the Old Testament.” He recognizes that it is the equivalent of the word antitype especially after the sense of the secondary meaning.

  2. Thayer points out that antitypos can be “a thing formed after a pattern” as opposed to solely referring to the pattern itself typified by a figure. We see this in Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures [G499 / antitypes] of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”  When antitypos is not the antitype (after the English sense of the word) then by default it is the type which pictures/symbolizes the antitype. However, when antitypos is not the type then, by default, it is the antitype. Each antitype/antitypos can serve only one of two roles at a time — either that which is the type or that which is being typified.

  3. Antitypos is never a type of another type… it is either the real thing or the thing typifying the real thing. The holy places made with hands are the figure, i.e. the antitype, of the true. Said another way, the true is the antitype, the figure, of the holy places made with hands. There simply cannot be a new type or a new object typified thrown into the type/antitype (or antitype/antitype, the two being synonymous) relationship.

  4. Thus, we see the Noahic Ark account as the antitype of spiritual baptism and spiritual baptism is the antitype of the Noahic Ark account… you cannot try to add a third factor by introducing water baptism; it simply does not work this way. How can we be sure? Simply by the words at issue. Antitypos is made up of anti [G473] and typos [G5179]. Anti means “OVER AGAINST, OPPOSITE TO, before, FOR, INSTEAD OF, IN PLACE OF (something).Typos means “a figure or image; of a type i.e. a person or thing prefiguring a future (Messianic) person or thing.” The antitype is that which typifies the real or that which is typified by a type. It is dealing with two things set against another for illustration (not opposition), one in the stead of another (that is, type for typified and vise versa), all for the purpose of teaching us further truth and obscuring that same truth from the reprobate — it simply cannot encompass another type or a separate typified object.

  5. Spiros Zodhiates [Editor of the Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament]affirms this truth. He states “Used in the neut. antitupon as a subst. meaning antitype, that which corresponds to a type.” Marvin R. Vincent [in his Word Studies in the New Testament] and George Ricker Berry [in his popular Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament], affirm the same reality as do many others lexiconic sources.

  6. Unfortunately, Zodhiates (a Baptist) and many others make the same mistake that most people make. They presume that baptism in 1 Peter 3:21 is water baptism as opposed to spiritual baptism. They see it as a reference to an ordinance and not as a reference to the true baptism, the one baptism, found in Matthew 20:22-23 (amongst other places): “But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with…

  7. So in summary, to say that an antitype used as a type (e.g. water baptism) corresponds to another type (the Noahic Ark account) is clearly erroneous based upon the very meanings of the words at issue given that they do not allow for a type of a type but only a type of the true, the real, that which the type is patterned after. If the accurate meanings are not enough, we must refer back to the only other place the word antitypos/antitupon is used – Hebrews 9:24 (as discussed above). If the type corresponds to the true in that verse, then it must correspond to the true in 1 Peter 3:21 — and the true in 1 Peter 3:21 is the baptism that “doth now save us.” So either you must make the salvation relate to dipping or sprinkling or pouring — or else you must make it correspond to the baptism that Christ was baptized with and that His people were baptized with in Him.

Mr. Slick goes on to say:

“If we look at the context, an interesting possibility arises. What does baptism correspond to? Is it the flood? Or, is it the ark? What was it that saved Noah and his family, the flood or the ark? Obviously, it was the Ark. Noah built and entered the ark by faith and he was saved (Heb. 11:7). The flood waters destroyed the ungodly. Also, Peter consistently refers to the flood waters as the means of destruction of the ungodly (2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6), not the salvation of Noah and his family. Rather, it was the Ark that saved, the ark that Noah entered by faith. It may very well be that baptism refers to the Ark, not the waters which may be why the rest of the verse says, “not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God” which is consistent with what Paul said in Col. 2:11-12 where he equates baptism with being circumcised of heart. In other words, Peter clarifies that it isn’t the water baptism that saves, but the appeal to the heart.”

Please consider:

  1. Though this is accurate in a sense, the better wording would be “In other words, Peter clarifies that it isn’t the water baptism that saves, but [the spiritual baptism; that is, the baptism of Christ on the cross, our baptism on the cross in Him vicariously, and that aspect of this baptism that applies to the elect upon regeneration when the baptism of the cross is made effectual in our hearts via faith and we are mersed into the body of Christ as living (quickened) members].” It is a bit wordy, but that is the nature of the word baptism; it encompasses so many things that the English language cannot satisfy with just one word that we need a sentence or two to make it clear (really, much more than that).

Mr. Slick goes on to say:

But, to be fair, the Greek seems to imply that the baptism is referring to the water, not the ark. Still, we need to consider this and make some observations. If we were to look at the flood waters as the thing that removed evil from the land, we could say that “correspondingly,” the waters of baptism removes the sin from our hearts. Though this reading seems a bit more natural, it too has problems.

Please consider:

  1. Intro: Here Mr. Slick seriously errs. The baptism refers to the water and the ark; it also refers to those in the ark; as well as the pitch that pitched the ark. It is the entire picture that is in view and not pieces here and there concerning it. We must take a holistic view in all things pertaining to scripture.

  2. Water: In the Noahic account, the water represents the divine wrath and judgment of God. It represents the water of judgment that will destroy all of the reprobate (typified by the reprobate in Noah’s day). It represents the water of  judgment that overflowed, encompassed, and so frightfully oppressed the Lord Jesus Christ whilst He was on the cross (as typified by the ark that endured the torrential rain above and the turbulent waves below); and it represents the water of judgment that the elect escaped, that they passed through dry (untouched, unscathed), being within the Ark which typified Christ. Finally, Christ so endured the water, so put away the sin, wrath, and condemnation, that He was washed free of our sin and thus we were washed free of our sin in, by, and through Him.

  3. The Ark: We read in Genesis 6:14 “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” Repeating the above, Christ is the antitype of the Noahic ark and the Noahic ark is the antitype of Christ. The eight saved in the ark typified the remnant, the elect, saved in Christ. Thus the eight souls were the antitype of the elect and the elect are the antitype of the eight souls.

  4. Pitched with Pitch: As I have stated before “The blood that dyes and stains is directly related to the Ark account and explains a key aspect as to how it is a like figure, an antitype, of spiritual baptism. For Christ to endure the wrath of God in our stead, and for us to have endured it in Him (yet without experiencing it ourselves) there must be synecdochal blood. It is this applied blood of Christ (and all that it represents) that makes the atonement, the spiritual baptism, possible. To understand this properly, we must go back to Genesis 6:13-14 “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch [kaphar-H3722; verb form] it within and without with pitch [kopher; כּוֹפֶר H3724; (ko’-fer); noun form of kaphar].”

  5. Kaphar with Kopher: As I have also written before, “Kaphar [כָּפַר H3722 ; kaw-far’] is a Hebrew verb which literally means both (a) to coat or cover with pitch/asphalt (particularly of a red color because it ties in with the reddish-brown dye henna) and (b) to expiate, make atonement for, atone for sin, cover over, pacify, appease, and propitiate. Whereas Kaphar has the dual, but related, meaning of both covering something and making propitiation / atonement for something, Kopher [כּוֹפֶר H3724; (ko’-fer)] (as the noun) has the dual meaning of both the ransom, satisfaction, and price of life (i.e. that which is used to atone for, or ransom, something) — and the thing used to cover something (e.g. asphalt or pitch). Basically, one kaphar’s with kopher (or is kaphar’ed with kopher). One of the definitions of kopher is henna; henna stains start off orange in color, but after three days it darkens to a reddish brown. I believe that this too is a picture of the blood of Christ and the atonement.” Just as the ark was pitched (kaphar; covered, mersed, baptised) within and without, with the red (think henna), atoning pitch/asphalt (kopher), so are our hearts covered with the blood of Christ and our robes made white therein. Those that were in the ark were saved from the watery judgment by the blood (the pitch) that covered the ark. This pitch protected those in the ark from the water in like manner to how the blood keeps us from the judgment and the effects thereof. All of this is a picture of atonement because that is precisely what kaphar means.” Remember what the blood of Christ represents! It represents the entirety of the propitiatory work; it represents the baptism of Christ on the cross when He shed his blood enduring the load of our sin and the fury of God’s wrath for it.”

  6. Summary: As previously stated “In the most literal sense, baptism (baptizo) has a dual meaning: (1) to stain or dye and (2) to cover, whelm, or merse. When we are baptised with the blood of Christ we are stained and dyed by it as it covers and whelms us — as we are washed, cleansed, purged, and purified in it. This baptism effects a change in our state and condition; therefore, we are truly baptized by it. It is this Kaphar=Atonement and Kopher=the blood relationship that saw us through the watery judgment of baptism in Christ. Again, spiritual baptism and spiritual atonement are thoroughly yoked.” Therefore the Noahic ark account clearly typifies spiritual baptism having nothing to do with the ordinance of water baptism as most view it today.

Mr. Slick stated:

The water of baptism is not what saves us, the sacrifice of Christ does which we receive by faith. We read numerous verses about justification by faith (Rom. 5:1), salvation by faith (Eph. 2:8), etc., not justification “by faith and baptism,” or salvation “by faith and baptism.”

Please consider:

  1. The water of water baptism indeed does not and cannot save; it should not even be in view. However, what Mr. Slick must understand is that “the sacrifice of Christ does which we receive by faith” language is the precise, albeit somewhat abridged, definition of spiritual baptism. Thus we are, indeed, saved by baptism, spiritual baptism, for the ark account is the antitype (the like figure) of spiritual baptism whereunto even this spiritual 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.

  2. Spiritual Baptism incorporates ransom, redemption, propitiation, substitution, regeneration, etc. as we saw above with kaphar and kopher, etc. However, this will not be clear to most, as it is not clear to Mr. Slick, because so many are stuck on water.

Mr. Slick wrote:

The fact is that salvation is received by faith. Peter, not wanting to declare that baptism itself is what saves us, quickly adds, “not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience.” Water baptism, then, must accompany the work of the Holy Spirit in the person. Peter’s explanatory comment shows us that the act of physical baptism is not what saves, but the “baptism of appeal to God.” This appeal to God is by faith the same as Noah’s faith in God led him to build the Ark, enter it, and remain in it. It was the Ark that saved Noah, not the flood waters.

Please consider:

  1. Mr. Slick errs when he states “Peter, not wanting to declare that baptism itself is what saves us…;” in fact, Peter is telling us beyond a shadow of a doubt that spiritual baptism is what saves us. However, knowing how people will get tripped up over water baptism, God spoke in a more parabolic nature (which He often does to obscure truth so that it may be searched out by His people and hid from the reprobate). The Holy Spirit did not move Peter to simply say “not water baptism but the baptism with which Christ was baptized and all of His people in Him and which has, as its end-result, that baptism into the body of Christ upon regeneration.” No instead, He moves Peter to simply use the word baptism and to qualify it by stating (indirectly) that it was not the water that was in view, not the liquid H20 used to put away of the filth of the flesh when washing and bathing.

Mr. Slick states:

The flood was for Noah a type of baptism even as the passage through the Red Sea was a type of baptism for the Israelites.

Please consider:

  1. The flood was indeed for Noah a type of baptism even as the passage through the Red Sea was a type of baptism for the Israelites.

  2. Note that both baptism types were DRY for the believers; no water touched them. In our day, the physical water touches those who continue to observe water baptism, the baptism of John the Baptist; however, for  Noah and His family, and for the Israelites during the Exodus, they walked on dry ground. The Israelites were all under the cloud (clouds consist of water) and they passed through the sea (seas consist of water); water encompassed them but never touched them; yet, so many still want to get immersed in baptismal pools.

  3. At least when John baptized, he did so knowing that it was unto repentance and confession of sin. Those whom he baptized got wet; why? because they were confessing their sin — their need for forgiveness and repentance in light of the holiness of God and the righteous demands of the divine law against them (i.e. in light of their sin). They were getting wet as a ceremonial declaration, a declaratory ordinance, that ‘yes, judgment was upon them by nature and rightfully so and this is why they needed to repent and confess their sin before God.’

Mr. Slick wrote:

It is not the water that saves, but the spiritual thing associated with that water that saves. For Noah it was faith in God. For Moses it too was faith in God.

Please consider:

  1. It is not faith in God that truly saves us; it is the faith of, the faithfulness of Christ that saves us. Our God-given, God-wrought faith receives that which Christ has already done for us, purchased for us, and given to us, in Him, from eternity, and effectually in time – at the cross. We receive the efficacy of His spiritual baptism (and thus, our spiritual baptism in and through Him) and faith, itself, is received when we are baptized into Christ as quickened souls.

Mr. Slick wrote:

Besides, we have a clear instance in scripture where people are saved before their baptism.

Please consider:

  1. No one is saved before their baptism; no, their baptism, their spiritual baptism, is their salvation – it represents all aspects of that which saves them. The baptism of the cross and the baptism into Christ upon regeneration are but one act/intent manifested at two different points in time and these two-but-one events encompass our salvation and all the gifts/benefits that accompany it.

  2. However, everyone who is born from above… is born from above without any regard, whatsoever, to the outdated ordinance of water baptism. Sprinkling, dipping, pouring — they have nothing to do with our salvation or our obedience to God.

Mr. Slick wrote:

Therefore, the ones in Acts 10 who are speaking in tongues and praising God are definitely saved because they are moving in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and glorifying God. It is the Holy Spirit who gives charismatic spiritual gifts to the church (1 Cor. 12:27-28), not to unbelievers. Now, please notice that it was after this movement of the Holy Spirit that the believers are baptized.

Please consider:

  1. We read in Acts 10:45-48 “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 CAN ANY MAN FORBID WATER, THAT THESE SHOULD BE WATER BAPTIZED, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And HE COMMANDED THEM TO BE BAPTIZED in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

  2. This passage is very important because here we see that water baptism, the baptism of John was still in play — albeit erroneously. Cornelius was already baptized spiritually but Peter wanted to proceed to water baptize him. — he even commanded it. Why? Because gentile proselytes, as in the days of John the Baptist, received John’s baptism (Luke 3:14) and/or proselyte baptism in general. In the Acts 10 account, this baptism also symbolized the gentiles becoming as Jews but Peter didn’t understand that the Lord was no longer making proselytes “converted Jews.” Instead, He was saving Gentiles and granting them repentance as co-heirs with the believing Jews-after-the-flesh.

  3. Some will object and say that Peter commanded that they be baptized in the name of the Lord and thus it cannot be John’s baptism, but a separate baptism, the Lord’s baptism. However, even before the cross, the disciples of Christ were baptizing even as John the Baptist and his disciples were still baptizing… but it was still water baptism; it was still the ordinance. Peter was confused at this time, and thought that water was in view –a reality that will become very clear here…:

  4. Acts 11:11-18 “And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: 13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 THEN REMEMBERED I THE WORD OF THE LORD, how that he said, JOHN INDEED BAPTIZED WITH WATER; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

  5. Notice anything above? Notice that when Peter, in Acts 11, recounted the events of Acts 10, he mentioned everything EXCEPT the water baptism? He left out the water baptism part even though he COMMANDED that they be water baptized? You would think that if it was important enough to command… it would be important enough to mention in the recount. So why does he mention it in Acts 10 but not in Acts 11? Because in Acts 11, he REMEMBERED that water baptism was of John but the real baptism, the true baptism, the ONE BAPTISM, was of God. In Acts 10, he thought the baptism of the Lord would still be water; in Acts 11, he knew better and felt no need to mention that which was obsolete. At some point in the Acts 10 time period (I believe after the water baptism) the true spiritual nature hit him by God’s grace. Remember, Peter was a bit slow in these things sometimes and had misplaced zeal; however, God always recovered (corrected) him and brought him to the correct understanding.

  6. Acts 11 marked the effectual end of water baptism as applied to the saints. This isn’t to say that all Christians stopped observing this obsolete ordinance immediately — just as many of them did not stop worshipping on Saturday, observing certain holy days, abstaining from meat, etc. During this transition period (from the era ending at the cross and into the era starting at Pentecost) many people were still stuck on Old Testament rituals, ceremonies, observances, etc. Sadly, men in our day are still stuck on such things — including John’s Baptism. 

  7. We see further proof that this ordinance of John’s was ended here: Colossians 2:10-14 “And ye are COMPLETE in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are CIRCUMCISED WITH THE CIRCUMCISION MADE WITHOUT HANDS, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh BY THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST: 12 BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 BLOTTING OUT THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, NAILING IT TO THE CROSS.

  8. Here we see that water baptism (an ordinance) is just as obsolete and put away forever (religiously speaking) as circumcision (also an ordinance). Why? because (as I recently wrote) “the TYPE has been replaced by the ANTITYPE, with the antitype being “the real thing” for “the like figure [ANTITYPOS / ANTITYPE] whereunto even BAPTISM DOTH ALSO NOW [REALLY, TRULY, AND ACTUALLY] save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, [that is, by the pouring, sprinkling, or dipping into physical water] but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Slick wrote:

1 Pet. 3:21 is not teaching us that baptism is what saves us.

Please consider:

  1. By now, I hope that you see that he was in error and that the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Peter, was absolutely teaching that baptism, spiritual baptism, doth even now really, truly, wholly, and perfectly, save us.

Mr. Slick wrote:

Rather, it is showing us that the water symbolizes a spiritual cleansing through the power of the Holy Spirit gained through Christ’s victory over death.

Please consider:

  1. By now, I hope that you see that not only isn’t water baptism in view, but the Spirit of God specifically makes this clear by stating “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh” — i.e. by washing, cleansing, sprinkling, dipping, or pouring with earthly, physical water.

Mr. Swift wrote:

It is the person’s appeal to God that saves the soul, not the washing of water upon the body.

Please consider:

  1. By now, I hope that you see that it is not some “appeal to God” that saves us but the washing, cleansing, and purifying of the saint in spiritual baptism that saves. it is the finished work of Christ brought to our hearts, minds, and spirits with power by the Holy Ghost.

  2. Finally, as written before “It is commonly taught that water baptism is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” It is not water baptism but spiritual baptism that is in view. It is the finished (atoning, propitiatory) work of Christ, as apprehended by God-given faith, that serves as our “answer” of a good conscience towards God. We sanctify the Lord God in our hearts when we seek His glory first and foremost; and where is glory to God in the Highest to be found? It is found in the salvation of elect sinners based upon the finished work of Christ Jesus our Lord alone. It is the Gospel objectively performed and subjectively received that enables us to both have an “answer of a good conscience toward God” and to “give an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us] with meekness and fear — having a good conscience…” It is stating objectively the precepts related to the redemptive (spiritually baptismal) work of the Lord; yet, it is also stating subjectively what God has done for us. “Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee” (Luke 8:39). We proclaim the Gospel first and foremost and then we share the reality of it in our own hearts.”

To God be the glory.

Curt Wildy

Relevant Links:

  1. The One Spiritual Baptism
  2. The Death Knell of Water Baptism [Colossians 2:8-23]
  3. Baptism: 1 Corinthians 12:13 Amplified By Ephesians 4:4-6
  4. William Mason [1719-1791] On The End of Water Baptism [from the supralapsarian.com website; my back-up copy, to prevent loss of such documentation, can be found here: william-mason.]
  5. Spiritual Baptism: Henry Pinnell on Baptism from http://www.supralapsarian.com/Henry_Pinnell.html

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