Once the foundation of repentance has been laid the next step is for a person to be baptized by immersion in water. The reason: Baptism in water is the initial sign that a person has repented and believed in Jesus. The New Testament refers to it as the “baptism of repentance” (Luke 3:3). Baptism reveals an obedient attitude toward Christ and His Word “… baptism, not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21). A person who really has repented will not say, “I know Jesus has commanded me to be baptized, but I’m not ready to do it yet. I’ll get around to it some day. It’s really not that important.” When a person repents, he agrees with God, including what God has said about baptism.
The Williams New Testament translates Acts 2:38 as follows: “You must repent — and, as an expression of it, let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ — that you may have your sins forgiven.”
While Peter commanded all of his listeners as a group to repent, he charged them as individuals to be baptized. “Let each one of you be baptized,” he said. Each one of them had to determine whether to enter into covenant relationship with Jesus Christ through baptism. Each one had to make his own decision.
Jesus set a pattern by insisting on His own baptism when He announced His New Covenant mission.
Matthew 3:13-15 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented.”
Water baptism is the sign of the New Covenant.
Baptism is to the New Covenant what circumcision was to the old covenant. It is the outward sign that someone has entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord.
Galatians 3:27 “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Romans 2:28-29 “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.’
Peter declared converts must be baptized “in the Name of Jesus Christ.” Baptism in the Name of Jesus means “to the account of Jesus” or “with reference to Jesus.” To be baptized in Christ’s Name means by His authority, acknowledging His claims, subscribing to His doctrines or teachings, engaging in His service (ministry), and relying only on His merits, grace and power. At baptism, a believer enters an alliance with Jesus.
The pattern in Acts shows baptism consistently followed repentance.
Acts 2:41 “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized.”
Acts 8:12 “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
Acts 8:36-38 MEV “As they went on their way, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” He answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he commanded the chariot to halt. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”
Acts 9:17-18 “Then Ananias went his way and entered the house. Putting his hands on him, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you came, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again. And he rose up and was baptized.”
Acts 10:47-48 “‘Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these, who have received the Holy Spirit as we have?’ So he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
Acts 16:15,32-33 “When she and her household were baptized, she entreated us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and remain there.” And she persuaded us … And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his household. In that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds. And immediately he and his entire household were baptized.”
Acts 22:16 “And now why do you wait? Rise, be baptized and wash away your sins, and call on the name of the Lord.”
Water baptism symbolizes the dying to sin and rising to righteousness.
“Be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38).
The word remission means strongly dismissed, delivered from captivity, forgiven, pardoned. Forgiveness comes as a result of being convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin and responding with godly sorrow and repentance (see 2 Corinthians 7:8-10). This repentance with godly sorrow and turning away from sin (dying to sin) is then symbolized by immersion in the act of baptism in water.
Paul pointed out the significance of baptism in dealing with sin. The following passages best illustrate his understanding.
Romans 6:3-4 “Don’t you know that all who share in Christ Jesus by being baptized also share in his death? When we were baptized, we died and were buried with Christ. We were baptized, so that we would live a new life, as Christ was raised to life by the glory of God the Father.”
Colossians 2:11-13 “Christ has also taken away your selfish desires, just as circumcision removes flesh from the body. And when you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from death. You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God’s people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins.”