Acts 2:38 – Carroll Osburn and “For the Remission of Sins”

By Wayne Jackson

Carroll Osburn, a Bible professor at Abilene Christian University, wrote a book titled, The Peaceable Kingdom. This volume is saturated with error from beginning to end.

One of the points argued is the notion that it is inconsequential as to whether one believes that “baptism is ‘for’ or ‘because of’ the remission of sins” (p. 90). The allusion, of course, is to Acts 2:38, where the inspired Peter instructed his auditors to repent and be immersed “for [unto – ASV] the remission” of their sins.

For years, denominationalists have tried to minimize and alter the purpose of baptism. Is immersion essential for obtaining pardon from sin? Or is baptism a mere “outward sign” of a salvation already received – at the point of “faith alone”?

Osburn suggests it really doesn’t matter. In this assertion he has surrendered every inch of ground gained in those noble encounters for truth.

The phrase “for the remission of sins” translates the Greek eis aphesin ton hamartion. The preposition eis points to a goal that is as yet unreached. Never, in any reputable translation, is this expression rendered “because of the remission of sins.”

Compare, for instance, the use of the phrase in Matthew 26:28. In that text, Jesus declared: “For this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for [eis] the remission of sins.”

Now here is an appropriate question: Does it matter whether or not one believes that the Lord shed his blood “to obtain” remission of sins, or if he died “because of” pardon already effected? Is what one believes regarding the efficacious nature of Christ’s death important?

How can one possibly hold the viewpoint that opposite constructions are equally valid? Such is a wholly illogical position. How can one conscientiously ignore inspired grammatical forms that were designed to convey precise religious ideas?

Unfortunately, this is the extreme to which some appear to be driven in their irresponsible attempts to extend Christian fellowship across the borders of modern denominationalism.

Underline the phrase “for the remission of sins” in Acts 2:38, and in your margin make this notation: See Matthew 26:28 — same purpose phrase.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.