Jesus Christ, on the night of his betrayal, instituted the Lord’s Supper. In reference to the fruit of the vine, he said: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Jesus spoke in prospect, that is, his blood was to be shed for the remission of sins. It is declared in Hebrews 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and, without shedding of blood is no remission.” It is plain to see that Jesus shed his blood in order that man might have the forgiveness of his sins. Jesus did not shed his blood because man was already saved. His blood was “FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS” (Matthew 26:28, Emphasis mine, RE). Now, by understanding this expression, “for the remission of sins” in this light, it will not be difficult for one to perceive the meaning of the same expression in another passage.
The apostle Peter preached Christ and him crucified on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-24). He instructed those people to “know assuredly” or believe confidently that Jesus was “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). We know that many believed in Christ because “they were pricked in their heart” and inquired of Peter and the rest of the apostles as to what they should do to be saved (v.37). By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Peter commanded them to “Repent and be baptized everyone 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, KJV, Emphasis mine, RE). It is evident that many understood and accepted the terms of obedience in order to have forgiveness of their sins. There is no reason whatsoever to think otherwise. It would be unnatural to assume that some three thousand people thought that they were to repent and be baptized because their sins had already been washed away. They repented and were baptized in order to have their sins remitted. The Greek word EIS is translated “for” in the King James Version both in Matthew 26:28 and in Acts 2:38. If one can understand that Jesus shed his blood “for the remission of sin, he can also understand that repentance and baptism are “for the remission of sins”. Neither passage carries the meaning “because of” in the context.
The passage in Acts 2:38 that speaks of baptism “for the remission of sins” is not easily misunderstood. It is not a matter of interpretation but a willingness of heart to accept the truth therein stated. Perhaps the various translations of the New Testament will enable all to see that the Greek word EIS (for) in this passage means unto, in order, into, towards.
1. King James Version: “Repent and be baptized…FOR the remission of sins” (Emphasis here and following, mine, RE).
2. American Standard Version: “Repent ye, and be baptized…UNTO the remission of your sins.”
3. Revised Standard Version: “Repent, and be baptized…FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS.”
4. Phillips Translation: “You must repent and everyone of you must be baptized…SO THAT YOU MAY HAVE YOUR SINS FORGIVEN.”
5. New English Bible: “Repent and be baptized…FOR the forgiveness of your sins.”
6. New International Version: “Repent and be baptized…SO THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN.”
7. Charles B. Williams: “You must repent and, as an expression of it, let every one of you be baptized…that YOU MAY HAVE YOUR SINS FORGIVEN.”
8. Today’s English Version: “Turn away from your sins, each one of you, and be baptized…SO THAT YOUR SINS WILL BE FORGIVEN.”
9. Living Oracles: “Reform, and be each one of you immersed…IN ORDER TO the remission of sins.”
10. First German Bible: “Repent and let every one of you be baptized…”FOR (IN ORDER, TO, UNTO) the forgiveness of sins.”
11. American Bible Union Translation (1858): “Reform and be immersed every one of you…FOR the remission of sins.”
12. Modern Speech: “Repent,” replied Peter, “and be baptized…WITH A VIEW TO the remission of sins.”
13. Goodspeed’s Translation: “You must repent, and every one of you be baptized IN ORDER TO HAVE your sins forgiven.”
14. Wycliffe’s Translation of the New Testament (translated 1308 and is the oldest complete English translation): “And Petre seide to heem, Do you penaunce, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jhesu Crist, (INTO) remission of youre synnes…”
Other translations could be cited but the ones presented should prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Acts 2:38 teaches a person to repent of sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to have his/her sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ according to the infinite grace of God (Ephesians 1:7; 2:5).