"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS" The Rest That Remains (4:1-11) by Mark Copeland


The Rest That Remains (4:1-11)


1. In chapter three of "The Epistle To The Hebrews", we saw...
   a. A comparison of Christ to Moses
   b. How the comparison led to a warning based upon the example of
      Israel in the wilderness

2. Appealing to the example of Israel's fall in the wilderness is a
   natural one...
   a. For despite Moses' leadership, most died in the wilderness and
      did not enter the promised land for lack of faith
   b. Now under Christ's leadership, we face a similar danger of
      falling short of our "promise" through a lack of faith - He 3:
      14-15; 4:1

3. Chapter four continues the warning with a focus on the promised
   "rest" which awaits the faithful Christian...
   a. This promised "rest" is actually one of several "rests" found in
      the Scriptures
   b. It is a "rest" that Moses and Joshua did not provide, which is
      just another reason why the Hebrew Christian should not forsake
      Jesus and return to Judaism
   c. It is "The Rest That Remains" for the people of God today!

4. In this lesson, we shall address two questions...
   a. What is "The Rest That Remains"?
   b. What essential elements are necessary to enter "The Rest That Remains"?

[Let's begin, then, with the first question...]


      1. This "rest" is alluded to in Deut 3:20; 12:9-10; Josh 1:13-15
      2. This "rest" was given as God promised - Josh 21:43-45
      3. But in chapter four "His rest" (or "My rest", "God's rest") is
         clearly delineated from that which Joshua provided - He 4:8
         a. Long after Joshua died, the passage in Ps 95:7-8 was
         b. The word "Today...", indicates that the Spirit was warning
            the Israelites who had long before received the "Canaan"
      -- So Joshua provided the "Canaan" rest, but there is still "The
         Rest That Remains"!

      1. It is natural to think of the Sabbath day when one hears or
         reads the word "rest"
         a. When first introduced to the nation of Israel, it was
            spoken of as "the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD"
            - Exo 16:23
         b. This was the seventh day rest, patterned after God's own
            rest following the creation - Gen 2:2
         c. It was encoded into the Law given on tablets of stone - cf.
            Exo 20:8-11
      2. But the Sabbath as a day of rest was given only to the nation
         of Israel
         a. It was not given to the nation's fathers (i.e., ancestors
            such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) - Deut 5:2-22; Neh 9:13-14
         b. It was given to Israel as a weekly remembrance of their
            deliverance from Egypt - Deut 5:12-15
         c. The only Gentiles ever commanded to keep the Sabbath were
            those living among the Israelites in Canaan ("your stranger
            who is within your gates")
      3. The Sabbath day, like the rest of the Old Law, has been done away
         a. It was nailed to the cross - cf. Ep 2:14-15; Col 2:14
         b. Those in Christ have died to the Old Law, having been
            delivered from it that they may now serve Christ - Ro 7:4,6
         c. As part of "the ministry of death" (the Old Testament), it
            has been replaced by "the ministry of the Spirit" (the New
            Testament) - 2Co 3:5-8,11
         d. It is now a matter of indifference to God, left to one's
            individual conscience, and not to be bound on anyone - cf.
            Ro 14:4-6; Col 2:16-17
      4. Finally, the argument regarding Joshua can also be made
         regarding Moses...
         a. Long after Moses provided the "Sabbath" rest, Ps 95:7-8 was written
         b. Indicating that there was still another "rest" to come
      -- While Moses provided the "Sabbath" rest, there is still "The
         Rest That Remains"!

   C. IT IS "GOD'S REST"...
      1. Through this section of Scripture there are repeated
         references to:
         a. "My rest" - He 3:11; 4:3,5 cf. Ps 95:7-11
         b. "His rest" - He 3:18; 4:1
            1) Which those who fell in the wilderness did not enter - He 3:18
            2) Which Christians today have a promise of entering - He 4:1
      2. It is a rest that God entered upon the completion of His
         creation - He 4:4,10
      3. It is a rest that Joshua (and Moses) did not provide...
      4. God's rest is one in which...
         a. We must be diligent not to come short of it - He 4:1,11
         b. One who has "entered His rest" has "ceased from his works"
            - He 4:10
      -- "God's rest" is the "heavenly rest" of which we read in the
         book of Revelation...

         "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write:
         'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'
         ""Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their
         labors, and their works follow them."" (Re 14:13)

["The Rest That Remains" in this passage is therefore "God's Rest",
and in particular that "heavenly rest" one enters in which they cease
from the labors.

Now if we wish to one day enter this "rest", some things are


      1. Note that both the Israelites and we today have had "the
         gospel" preached unto us - He 4:2
         a. The "gospel" (i.e., good news) proclaimed unto the
            Israelites pertained to the promises of Canaan
         b. The "gospel" proclaimed unto us pertains to the blessings
            we have in Christ
      2. The Word of God is essential for at least two reasons:
         a. Without it we would not even know about our promised rest!
         b. Without it we would not know how to receive our promised rest!
      3. Thus the Word of God (i.e., the gospel) is truly God's power
         to save - cf. Ro 1:16-17
         a. For it tells us of God's salvation in Christ
         b. And how we might receive that wonderful salvation
      -- But as we proceed, we learn that the Word of God alone is not sufficient...

      1. The Word of God did not profit many in Israel because they did
         not receive it with faith - He 4:2
      2. As powerful as the Word of God may be (cf. He 4:12), it's
         power in our lives is hindered unless we accept it with faith!
         a. Of course, the Word is designed to create and nurture faith
            to a point - Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
         b. But unless our hearts are good and noble, the Word will not
            find the proper soil needed to produce its intended fruit
            - cf. Lk 8:15
      -- Without faith, then, the promise of God's rest will not be
         experienced by us!

      1. The Hebrew writer stressed both of these essential elements
         a. "let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short..."
            - He 4:1
         b. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest
            anyone fall..." - He 4:11
      2. Fear (awesome reverence) has an important place in the life of
         the Christian
         a. Jesus taught us Whom to fear - Mt 10:28
         b. Paul taught that "fear and trembling" should accompany our
            efforts to serve God - Php 2:12
      3. Diligence (strenuous effort) likewise is important - 2Pe 1: 5,10
         a. We must be diligent to grow in Christ-like character
         b. We must be diligent to "make your calling and election sure"
      -- The need for such fear and diligence is understandable only if
         the possibility of falling short is very real!


1. "The Rest That Remains" is indeed a wonderful blessing...
   a. It is "God's rest", therefore a "heavenly rest"
   b. It is a rest in which one has "ceased from his work as God did
      from His" - He 4:10
   -- It is the rest of which John heard a voice from heaven speak in Re 14:13

2. But we have seen how disobedience led many Israelites to fall short
   of their "Canaan rest"...
   a. Though they collectively as the nation of Israel were God's
      "elect", predestined to receive the promises made to Abraham (cf.Gen 12:1-3)
   b. But individually, they failed to make their "calling and election sure"
      1) They had the "gospel" spoken to them
      2) But they did not receive it with faith
      3) And so they did not have the fear and diligence necessary to persevere!

3. Brethren, what about us today?
   a. If we are "in Christ"...
      1) We are blessed to be God's "elect" in a collective sense as
         Christ's body, the church
      2) We are predestined as such to receive the wonderful blessings
         of salvation in Christ, including the "heavenly rest" that awaits us
   b. Yet individually we must still make our "calling and election  sure"...
      1) Are we receiving the Word mixed with faith?
      2) Do we have that proper sense of fear?
      3) Are we diligent in our efforts to remain faithful and
   -- Only then can we have the assurance of entering into 
       "The Rest That Remains"!

May the words of the writer to the Hebrews sink deep into our hearts...

   "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall
   according to the same example of disobedience." - Hebrews 4:11

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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What is the Purpose of Baptism? (Part 2) by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


What is the Purpose of Baptism? (Part 2)

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

[Editor’s NotePart I of this two-part series appeared in the September issue. Part II follows below, and continues, without introductory comments, where the second article ended. Both articles are taken from AP’s soon-to-be released book Baptism & the Greek Made Simple.]
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20).


Another grammatical factor in Matthew 28:19-20 concerns the occurrence of the preposition eis in the phrase “baptizing them in (eis) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (ESV). The standard meaning of the underlying Greek preposition connotes “into” and is generally distinguished from the preposition en (“in”). The translation of “into” is given in the American Standard Version, the margin of the English Standard Version, and others (e.g., Beck, Weymouth, et al.).
While it is true that eis and en are etymologically related and sometimes even interchanged,1 they are not synonymous. In his classic work on the Greek idiom of the New Testament, C.F.D. Moule (leading scholar of the New Testament, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge for 25 years) noted that “where en = ineis would rather = into,” and contrasted with pros, “eis tends to include the idea of entry.”2 Nigel Turner observed that Matthew “is more careful than any NT author to preserve the distinction between eis and en.”3 A.T. Robertson insisted that in its use of eis in Matthew 28:19, “the notion of sphere is the true one.”4 In his volume on Greek syntax, Nigel Turner insists that even with potential confusion between the two prepositions, “in Mt…we can always presume that eis has its full sense even where one might suspect that it stood for en (e.g., Mt 28 19 baptism into the name, i.e. a relationship as the goal of baptism).”5 R.T. France agrees: “The eis which introduces the baptismal formula in Matt 28:19 and in most of the other NT baptism texts is perhaps to be understood as drawing attention to the new relationship and allegiance into which the one baptized is thus introduced6—“implying entrance into an allegiance.”7
Marvin Vincent was a Presbyterian minister and professor of New Testament Exegesis and Criticism at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In his multi-volume work Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent provides this somewhat lengthy commentary on eis in Matthew 28:19—
Rev., correctly, “into the name.” Baptizing into the name has a twofold meaning. 1. Unto, denoting object or purpose…. 2. Into, denoting union or communion with…. Baptizing into the name of the Holy Trinity implies a spiritual and mystical union with him…. When one is baptized into the name of the Trinity, he professes to acknowledge and appropriate God in all that he is and in all that he does for man.8
The Abingdon Bible Commentary notes: “Baptizing into the name of means baptizing them so that they are entered as the possession of the Father.”9 Alford offers a comparable assessment: “It is unfortunate again here that our English Bibles do not give us the force of this ei)$. It should have been into…. It imports, not only a subjective recognition hereafter by the child of the truth implied in to onoma [“the name”—DM]..., but an objective admission into the covenant of Redemption—a putting on of Christ.”10 Milligan described the shift as “our transfer from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom or Church of Christ.”11
Summary: Though these linguistic experts vary in their terminology, they are unanimous in their recognition of the significance of eis in Matthew 28:19 as it relates to the design of baptism. A person has not entered into a new relationship and allegiance with God, or come into union or communion with God, or gained admission into the covenant of redemption, or put on Christ, and is not a possession of the Father (different ways to say the same thing) until the act of baptism. [See graphic above.] Use of the Greek preposition “into” indicates that when one is baptized in water, the individual is being transferred from one sphere or realm into another, from not having a relationship with deity into having one. Hence, water immersion is unmistakably the dividing line between the lost and the saved, the unforgiven and the forgiven, the non-Christian and the Christian.


Another nuance in Matthew 28:19-20 to be considered is the occurrence of the term onoma (“name”) in the phrase “baptizing them in the name (onoma) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (ESV). While the term has a variety of shades of meaning in usage, “in the name of” frequently is used in Scripture as a parallel expression to “by the power or authority of” (e.g., Act 4:7). Hans Bietenhard, Swiss Reformed theologian and Professor of New Testament at the University of Bern, noted that the formula “in the name of Jesus” means “according to his will and instruction.”12Specifically, in Matthew 28:19, “The literal meaning is that baptism symbolically13 assigns the person baptized to Christ for forgiveness of sins.”14 W.E. Vine, English biblical scholar and theologian, defined onoma in its use in Matthew 28:19 as “in recognition of the authority of (sometimes combined with the thought of relying or resting on).”15 A.T. Robertson cited the use of onoma in Matthew 28:19 as another example where “name” has “the idea of ‘the authority of’”16—“a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority.”17 Joseph Thayer was a biblical scholar, late Professor of sacred literature at Andover Seminary and Professor of New Testament Criticism in the Harvard Divinity School, who served as a member of the American Bible Revision Committee resulting in the American Standard Version, and also produced an influential Greek lexicon at the time. Delineating one usage of onoma as “chiefly Hebraistic,” Thayer explains the meaning of Matthew 28:19 as, “by baptism to bind any one to recognize and publicly acknowledgethedignity and authority of one.”18 He defines baptidzo with eis onoma as “to profess the name of one whose follower we become.”19 Referring back to verse 18, Meyer keys into this notion of authority and notes that “all nations should be brought under His government, and made subject to His sway.”20 Boles well notes the significance of “name”:
The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit means the combined authority of the Godhead. To be baptized into this is to be brought by baptism into actual subjection to the combined authority of heaven. To be baptized into the name of these three brings one into covenant relation with the Godhead.21
Submitting to authority is closely related to the notion of submitting one’s self to the ownership of another in order to become his possession, as noted by Crain: “The phrase ‘into the name of’ indicates becoming the possession of the triune God.”22 F.F. Bruce agrees:
I suggest that eis to onoma implies a transference of ownership…. This is noteworthy in the baptismal formulae of the New Testament: baptism “into the name” of the Triune God (Matt. 28.19), or “into the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8.16; 19.5; cf. I Cor. I.13,15), is the sign [indicator—DM] that He is Lord and that the baptized person belongs to Him.23
Similarly, James Moulton, British philologist and professor of Classical Greek and other languages at the University of Manchester, and George Milligan, biblical scholar and Kimmer at Warwick University, made the following remarks concerning Matthew 28:19—
The phrase eis (to) onoma tinos is frequent in the papyri with reference to payments made “to the account of any one”…. The usage is of interest in connexion with Mt 28:19, where the meaning would seem to be “baptized into the possession of the Father, etc.”24
Likewise Alexander Souter similarly explained: “When the preposition ei)$ with a noun in the accus. follows, it appears to indicate that through this ceremony the baptized person becomes the propertyof the person indicated after ei)$.”25 The classic lexicon most recently revised by Frederick Danker says that “into the name” means that “[t]hrough baptism…those who are baptized become the possession of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear.”26
A. Lukyn Williams, English New Testament scholar at Cambridge and Principal of Moore Theological College in New South Wales, explained that the translation of “in” came from the influence of the Latin Vulgate “which does not give the right force to the expression.”27 Instead, the use of eis
signifies into the power and influence of the Holy Trinity, into faith in the three Persons of God, and the duties and privileges consequent on that faith, into the family of God and obedience unto its Head. The “into” shows the end and aim of the consecration of baptism…. So being baptized into the Name of God implies being placed in subjection to and communion with God himself, admitted into covenant with him.28
Seventeenth-century biblical commentator Matthew Poole explained “in the name” as meaning “in the authority, or…into the profession of the trinity of the persons in the one Divine Being…obliging them to worship and serve God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”29 Meyer explains:
Here, where the baptidzein eis to onoma is regarded as that through which the matheteuein is operated, and through which, accordingly, the introduction into spiritual fellowship with, and ethical dependence upon Christ is brought about, it must be understood as denoting that by baptism the believer passes into that new phase of life in which he accepts the name of the Father (of Christ) and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit as the sum of his creed and confession.30
Observe, again, that all of these scholars are in essential agreement as to the design of baptism as it relates to the use of “name” in Matthew 28:19. Whether the significance pertains to transference of ownership of the baptized individual, or thereby becoming a possession of God, or being placed in subjection to and communion with God, or being admitted to His covenant, or being introduced into spiritual fellowship with Him, the design of baptism remains the same. Barnes summarizes:
So to be baptized in the name of the Father, or unto the Father, means publicly, by a significant rite, to receive his system of religion; to bind the soul to obey his laws; to be devoted to him; to receive, as the guide and comforter of the life, his instructions, and to trust to his promises. To be baptized unto the Son, in like manner, is to receive him as the Messiah—our Prophet, Priest, and King—to submit to his laws, and to receive him as a Saviour.31


Drawing together the linguistic insights generated by these two features of the Greek, observe that “baptizing them in (eis/into) the name (onoma/authority) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” refers to the transference of the individual into the sphere of the authority of deity. As McGarvey observed:
The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit means the combined authority of all the manifestations of God. To be baptized into this, is to be brought by baptism into actual subjection to it. He that is baptized is brought into subjection by that act to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.32
While deity actually wields authority over the entire Universe (cf. vs. 18; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:15ff.), no human has willingly placed himself under that jurisdiction or submitted to that authority until he submits to water immersion. A person submits himself to the authority of the Godhead when, having been taught the Gospel generating faith, repentance, and oral confession, he then is baptized into that sphere of authority. Conversely, until a person enacts the divinely designated means by which a person places himself under God’s authority, he remains under the authority and power of Satan. Ownership has not been transferred to deity.


Matthew 28:19-20 teaches that a person is neither a disciple of Christ, nor in submission to the authority of God, until that person has been baptized in water. The unsaved person must pass through the waters of baptism in order to become a disciple of Christ and submit himself to the authority of deity. As British Baptist G.R. Beasley-Murray stated emphatically: “In the New Testament… baptism is conversion-baptism. Conversion was fulfilled and expressed in baptism. Baptism was conversion…assumed in the Missionary Commission of Matt. xxviii. 18-20.”33 Or as Schlatter explained: “The apostolic preaching culminated in the offer of baptism; the primitive sermon was a baptismal sermon. Its purpose was not merely the acceptance of an idea: it demanded a definite act.”34 The person who thinks he became a Christian,35 a disciple of Christ, and was saved the moment he “believed” in Jesus—before and without being baptized—was mistaken and did not become a disciple of Christ in accordance with Jesus’ own directive.


1 Scholars have debated endlessly the nuances of meaning to be found in the parallel expressions “in the name,” “on the name,” and “into the name.” While it makes sense to permit each preposition to maintain its own usual, central thrust and thereby convey a variety of nuances, so far as this study is concerned, it is enough to note that the design of each is the same, i.e., to demonstrate the altered status of the individual from lost to saved, from non-Christian to Christian. Eis vividly portrays this transference. Cf. C.F.D. Moule (1977 reprint), An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (New York: Cambridge University Press), second edition, p. 50; F.J. Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake (1933), The Beginnings of Christianity: The Acts of the Apostles (London: Macmillan), p. 124—“A convert knew perfectly well that when he said that he had been baptized in the name of Jesus he meant that someone had said ‘I baptize you in the name of Jesus’ or something similar, and that in consequence he had attained the way of Salvation.”
2 p. 67, italics in orig.; cf. Nigel Turner (1963), Syntax, in A Grammar of New Testament Greek, ed. James Moulton (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark), 3:254.
3  Nigel Turner (1976), Style, in A Grammar of New Testament Greek, ed. James Moulton (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark), 4:42. Carson agrees with this observation: “Matthew…apparently avoids the confusion of eis (strictly ‘into’) and en (strictly ‘in’) common in Hellenistic Greek; and if so, the preposition ‘into’ strongly suggests a coming-into-relationship-with or a coming-under-the-Lordship-of…. It is a sign both of entrance into Messiah’s covenant community and of pledged submission to his lordship” (p. 597, emp. added).
4 1934, p. 592.
5 1963, 3:255, italics in orig., emp. added.
6 R.T. France (2007), The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 1116, italics in orig., emp. added.
7 France, 1985, p. 414.
8 Marvin Vincent (1946 reprint), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:149-150, italics in orig.
9 Eiselen, p. 995, italics in orig., emp. added; also Alan M’Neile (1965), The Gospel According to St. Matthew (New York: St. Martin’s Press), p. 436.
10 Alford, 1:307, italics in orig., 2nd emp. added.
11 Robert Milligan (1975), Exposition and Defense of the Scheme of Redemption (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), p. 405.
12 Hans Bietenhard (1976), “onoma,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2:654.
13 Observe that the insertion of the word “symbolically” constitutes subjective interpretation rather than objective linguistic analysis. The same may be said for the theory that maintains that, since a person already has received the saving grace of God by which sins have been cleansed the moment he believes, then baptism serves the purpose of providing an outward demonstration or public declaration that the person has already been saved. The claim is that baptism is a symbol—a visible expression of the forgiveness already received at the point of faith. Hence, baptism is “an outward sign of an inward grace,” a post-conversion “testimony” or “public profession” that the person is already saved, like a “badge” or “uniform” worn by a policeman—merely an outward indication of what the wearer has already become. For example, after praising Mantey’s “causal” eis concept, Kenneth Wuest states: “Thus, we have the scriptural meaning of water baptism. It is the testimony of the person to the fact of his salvation. The only proper recipient of water baptism therefore is one who has received the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour, and is trusting in His precious blood for salvation from sin”—(1943), Treasures from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 78, emp. added. The only problem with such theologizing is that the New Testament makes no distinction between actual forgiveness and an alleged post-salvation “symbolical” forgiveness. If a person is forgiven, it would be superfluous to “symbolize” that forgiveness after-the-fact. Once a person dismisses the plain and self-evident import of the New Testament’s repetitive declaration that baptism is for the remission of sins, it follows that he must invent an alternative purpose for baptism. The “symbol,” “testimony,” “picture,” and “badge” concepts are undoubtedly creative and as good as any that might be fabricated to avoid the obvious fact that the New Testament posits remission of sin coincident with water baptism and not before. The only problem is that no shred of biblical evidence, grammatical or otherwise, exists to substantiate them. Baptist scholar J.W. Willmarth rightly asked: “Where is the example of the use of ei)$ to denote a relation between an act as a symbol and some past event or accomplished fact, which such symbol is intended to set forth as emblem or declaration or commemoration?” “If it be but a MERE symbol, or object lesson, or a profession of accomplished facts, what meaning is there in language? or how shall we ever hope to understand the Gospel, as it fell from inspired lips, clothed with human words?”—J.W. Willmarth (1877), “Baptism and Remission,” The Baptist Quarterly, ed. Henry Weston (Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society), July, 11:299,317, capitals in orig. Or as J.W. McGarvey explained: “It is a common assumption that Saul’s sins had been really forgiven before his immersion, and Ananias required him only to formally wash them away. But this is a mere combination of words to hide the absence of an idea. How can a man formally do a thing which has already been really done, unless it be by going through a form which is empty and deceptive? If Saul’s sins were already washed away, then he did not wash them away in immersion, and the language of Ananias was deceptive. But it is an indisputable fact, that at the time Ananias gave him this command he was still unhappy, and, therefore, unforgiven. Immediately after he was immersed, he was happy; and the change took place in the mean time, which connects it with his immersion”—(1872), Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Lexington, KY: Transylvania Printing & Publishing), seventh edition, p. 135, italics in orig. Albrecht Oepke, associate professor and New Testament Chair at the University of Leipzig, in his discussion of “the saving significance of baptism” and its “connection with purification from the guilt of sin,” debunks the “symbol” idea: “The significance of baptism thus depends on the fact that it is a real action of the holy God in relation to sinful man. Hence both a superstitious and also a purely symbolical understanding are excluded…. To baptism as a mere rite or realistically developed symbol no such incomparable efficacy could be ascribed in the NT world of thought”—from his article “ꞵάπτω, ꞵαπτίζω” in Gerhard Kittel, ed. (1964), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:540. Or as J.J. Van Oosterzee explained: “Baptism is styled ‘laver of regeneration,’ not because it obligates to regeneration, nor because it is the symbol of regeneration, but because it is really the means of regeneration, if truly desired and received in faith (which is tacitly assumed in respect to those adult Christians who by their own free act were baptized)”—(1870), The Epistle of Paul to Titus (New York: Charles Scribner), p. 20, italics in orig.
The premiere passages in the New Testament that assign symbolic value to baptism simply do not expound the post-conversion concept. True, baptism is, indeed, a symbol. But what does baptism symbolize? It symbolizes: (1) Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, as per Romans 6:3-4; (2) the act of “cutting off” as in circumcision (sin vs. skin), as per Colossians 2:11; and (3) the waters of the Noahic Flood, as per 1 Peter 3:20-21. How could anyone get out of these explicitly stated symbolic meanings that baptism symbolizes past forgiveness that was achieved prior to being immersed? Jettisoning theological presuppositions enables the honest exegete to conclude that the Bible nowhere expounds a post-forgiveness role for baptism. Quite the contrary, the symbolism which the New Testament explicitly associates with water baptism (i.e., Christ’s burial, cutting of skin, and Flood waters) further verifies the essentiality of immersion as a mandatory prerequisite to forgiveness. See Dave Miller (2003), “Is Baptism a Symbol?” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1232&topic=379.
14 Bietenhard, 2:655, emp. added.
15 W.E. Vine (1966 reprint), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell), p. 100, emp. added; cf. Wesley Perschbacher, ed. (1990), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), p. 294.
16 1934, p. 649, emp. added. Paul undoubtedly intended to key into this concept when he chided the Corinthians for their divisive ways by posing three critical questions, the third of which was: “Or were you baptized in (eis-into) the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). The question obviously echos Matthew 28:19. Paul sought to prick the Corinthians with the fact that when they were baptized in water, they were placing themselves under (eis-into) the authority of Christ—not Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or anyone else.
Observe also that his remarks in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 further underscore the absolute essentiality of water baptism to salvation: “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (vss. 11-13). What did Paul mean when he used the expression to be “of” someone (“I” [ Ἐγὼ] with the genitive of the person)? He alluded to an authoritative positioning of a person beneath another. To be “of” another means to have been saved by and come under the jurisdiction of that other and, hence, to “belong to” (R.C.H. Lenski [1943], The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel [Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg], p. 42; cf. ISV,NRSV,RSV) or “follow” (NIV,CJB,CEV,ESV, GNT,NCV,WEB) that person. This relationship is inherent in the three questions Paul asks the Corinthians—questions that pinpoint essentialprerequisites to being counted “of” someone. First, in order to be “of” someone, that someone must accordingly be qualified for others to follow him, devote themselves to him, and place themselves under his exclusive rule, Lordship, and control. That person must be “undivided.” To be undivided means that he must have no rivals (e.g., Paul, Apollos, etc.), or competing factions, he must be your sole Savior Who is singular, unique, and unsurpassed by all others. His followers constitute a single body, of which He is the only Head. Hence, the indivisible Christ makes no allowance for other heads, lords, or bodies. He possesses “right over all” (Henry Alford [1874], Alford’s Greek Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint], 2:477). Your loyalty must be directed to Christ alone. Second, that person must be crucified for you. Third, you must be baptized into his name. As discussed in the section on onoma, to be baptized into the name entails submitting oneself to the authority of the one named, or as explained by John Locke, “to enter himself a Disciple of him into whose Name he was baptized, with Profession to receive his Doctrine and Rules, and submit to his Authority”—(1751), A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians, I&II Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians (London: S. Birt, J. Walthoe, et al.), p. 94, emp. added. (Also Macknight, p. 144; Robertson, Word Pictures, 4:75).
In view of these realizations, three additional questions are in order: (1) Is Jesus’ unique, indivisible status(i.e., His divine identity) essential to salvation? Certainly. (2) Is Jesus’ crucifixionessential to salvation? Absolutely. (3) Is baptism in His name essential to salvation? If the answer to the first two questions is “yes,” the third must be as well. Since the text, by implication, answers all three of these questions in the affirmative, it further follows that a person is not “of Christ” unless and until he is baptized into His name. Baptism is so important to salvation, Paul was glad he had baptized so few, so that he did not contribute to the division afflicting the Corinthian church. Due to the divisive climate in the church at Corinth, Paul ran the risk of leaving the impression that baptism was disconnected from salvation in Christ. As Willmarth explained: “lest the faith and reverence due to Christ might be ‘divided’—and a part transferred to the distinguished administrator” (p. 313). “We should note how inseparably connected in Paul’s thought were the sacrifice of the cross and the baptism which makes us partakers in its benefits”—J.W. McGarvey (1916), Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans (Cincinnati, OH: Standard), p. 54. Indeed, as Paul stressed later in the same epistle, the Corinthians had been baptized into one body—the body of Christ (12:13). Chapter 12:12 is a virtual commentary on the “schisms” (1:10—Σꭓίσματα): “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Even as Christ is undivided, so His body (the church) is to be undivided. Far from minimizing the importance of baptism, or proving that baptism is unessential to salvation, quite the opposite is the case. 1 Corinthians 1:13 proves the essentiality of baptism. Without a divine Lord, His crucifixion, and water baptism, there could be no Christians. No one could be “of Christ.”
17 A.T. Robertson (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press), 1:245, emp. added.
18 Joseph Thayer (1977 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), p. 447, emp. added.
19 Ibid., p. 94.
20 p. 301, italics in orig., emp. added.
21 H. Leo Boles (1952), The Gospel According to Matthew (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), pp. 564-565, emp. added. See also Lange (1884), 1:557—“a baptism under the authority of, and unto the authority of the triune God.” Also G.G. Findlay (no date), St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 766—“‘The name’ connotes the nature and authority of the bearer.” For more discussion of the concept of authority, see Dave Miller (2012), Surrendering to His Lordship (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
22 Sellers Crain (2011), Truth for Today Commentary: Matthew 14-28 (Searcy, AR: Resource Publications), p. 484.
23 F.F. Bruce (1963), The Books and the Parchments (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell), p. 66, emp. added.
24 James Moulton and George Milligan (1930), Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-literary Sources (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982 reprint), p. 451, first emp. in orig., second emp. added.
25 Alexander Souter (1917), A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press), p. 46. Souter served as professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at Mansfield College, Oxford, and later succeeded William Ramsay as Regius Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen. He published an edition of the New Testament Greek text on which the English Revised Version of 1881 was based (the British precursor to the ASV).
26 Frederick Danker, rev. and ed. (2000), “ὄνομα,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press), p. 713.
27 p. 645.
28 Ibid., emp. added.
29 |3:146, emp. added.
30 p. 302, italics in orig., emp. added. Cf. David Schneider (2017), “Reconsidering the Greek Preposition ‘EIS’ in the Baptismal Theology of Matthew 28 and Romans 6,” Concordia Theology, https://goo.gl/6dDhgW—“Baptized ‘into the name’ pictures the person being transferred from outside God’s name to inside the name—God’s family—with all of the family blessings and responsibilities.”
31 p. 323. Cf. Lars Hartman (2013), Approaching New Testament Texts and Contexts: Collected Essays II (Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck), pp. 145ff. See also Murray Harris (1978), “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament,” in Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 3:1209, who summarizes three views: “it may denote a transference of ownership” in which “the person being baptized passes into the possession of the Triune God,” or it can denote “to endow a person, through baptism, with the benefits of the salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ,” or “denoting the fundamental reference or purpose of some thing, rite or action.” Observe that all three of these views presuppose that baptism precedes salvation. Cf. Wilhelm Heitmuller (1903), Im Namen Jesu (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht).
32 J.W. McGarvey (1875), The New Testament Commentary: Matthew and Mark (Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing), p. 254, italics in orig., emp. added.
33 G.R. Beasley-Murray (1966), Baptism Today and Tomorrow (New York: St. Martin’s Press), pp. 93-94.
34 Adolf von Schlatter (1955), The Church in the New Testament Period, trans. Paul Levertoff (London: SPCK Publishing), p. 26.
35 Johannes Lindblom believed that maqhteuvsate (“make disciples”—DM) could just as rightly be rendered Хριστιανοὺς ποιήσατε  (“make Christians”—DM) in (1919), Jesu missions-och dopbefallning, Matt. 28:18-20, tillika en studie överdet kristna dopets ursprung (Stockholm: Svenska Kyrkans Diakonistyrelses Bokförlag), p. 132.

What is the Purpose of Baptism? (Part 1) by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


What is the Purpose of Baptism? (Part 1)

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

[Editor’s Note: This article is the first installment in a two-part series taken from AP’s soon-to-be released book Baptism & the Greek Made Simple.]
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20).
This declaration of Jesus just prior to His exit from the Earth constitutes the “marching orders” for the apostles in promulgating the spread of Christianity in the first century. Embedded within this “Great Commission” is one of the key prerequisites to being saved: water baptism. The precise wording expressed by Jesus provides clarification in ascertaining the essentiality of baptism.

Greek Present Participles

Consider Matthew’s use of participles in this passage. In Greek, a participle indicates action as it relates to the main verb.1 Present participles indicate action that occurs at the same time as the action of the main verb. Consider the following affirmations of this important point by prominent Greek grammarians:
  • J. Gresham Machen [early 20th-century Presbyterian theologian, professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary, founder of Westminster Theological Seminary, author of the Greek grammar New Testament Greek for Beginners]—“The present participle, therefore, is used if the action denoted by the participle is represented as taking place at the same time as the action denoted by the leading verb, no matter whether the action denoted by the leading verb is past, present or future.” 2
  • Ray Summers [20th-century professor of New Testament and Greek at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Baylor University, author of the Greek grammar Essentials of New Testament Greek]—“The time of action in participles is indicated in the relation of the action of the participle to the action of the main verb…. The present participle indicates action which is contemporaneous with the action of the main verb.” 3
  • H.E. Dana and Julius Mantey [20th-century Baptist seminary professors of New Testament Interpretation, authors of the Greek grammar A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament]—“Simultaneous action relative to the main verb is ordinarily expressed by the present.” 4
  • A.T. Robertson [early 20th-century eminent professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament as well as A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research]—“The present participle gets its time from the principal verb.” 5
  • James Hadley [19th-century professor of Greek at Yale, member of the American Committee for the revision of the New Testament and president of the American Oriental Society; first rate linguist, with knowledge of Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic, Armenian, and several Celtic languages]—“The participles denote time relatively to that of the verb on which they depend. The present and perfect participles denote time relatively present, the aorist participle time relatively past, the future participle time relatively future.” 6
  • William Goodwin [19th-century classical scholar and Eliot professor of Greek at Harvard University, first director of the American School for Classical Studies at Athens, president of the American Philological Association]—“The tenses of the participle…are present, past, or future relatively to the time of the verb with which they are connected.” 7
  • William Mounce [21st-century New Testament Greek scholar, chaired the ESV translation committee, directed the Greek Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and author ofBasics of Biblical Greek]—“[T]he time of the participle is relative to the time of the main verb. The present participle describes an action occurring at the same time as the main verb.” 8
  • Raphael Kuhner [19th-century German classical scholar educated at the University of Göttingen, taught in the Hanover Lyceum, produced a large, two-volume Greek grammar translated by William Jelf, with an enlarged third edition in four volumes produced by Friedrich Blass and Bernhard Gerth]—“The action or state denoted by the participle is, therefore, usually prior to that denoted by the verb with which it is connected, sometimes coincident.” 9
  • James Moulton [early 20th-century philologist and Greek scholar, Tutor at Didsbury College, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, Greenwood Professor of Hellenistic Greek and Indo-European Philology at Manchester University, Doctor of Letters, University of London. Produced Prolegomena, the first volume in the highly acclaimed series A Grammar of New Testament Greek]—“the linear action in a participle, connected with a finite verb in past or present time, partakes in the time of its principal.”10
While many more could be cited,11 these observations from respected Greek grammarians of the last two centuries demonstrate a simple but certain truth regarding the use of participles in the Greek language of the New Testament. Robison demonstrated the same usage among the apostolic fathers.12
Before turning to the Greek grammar of Matthew 28:19-20, consider the following examples in English that illustrate the function of the present participle as it relates to the main verb:
Example #1: “Go make pancakes, mixing the batter in the porcelain bowl, pouring it on the griddle.”
“Make (pancakes)” serves as the main verb of the sentence. “Mixing” and “pouring” are present participles. They refer to action that occurs at the same time as the main verb. In other words, “mixing the batter” and “pouring it on the griddle” describe how to achieve the action of the main verb. Mixing the batter and pouring it on the griddle do not refer to action that is subsequent to the action of the main verb. They do not occur after the pancakes are made. Rather, they represent actions that are contemporaneous with the action of the main verb.
Example #2: “Go clean the yard, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves.”
The main verb of this sentence is “clean (the yard)” followed by the two present participles “mowing” and “raking.” Being present participles, “mowing” and “raking” represent action that occurs simultaneous with the action of the main verb. The father is not instructing his son to clean the yard, and then after doing so, to subsequently mow the yard and rake the leaves. Rather, mowing the yard and raking the leaves indicate how the action of the main verb (clean the yard) is to be achieved.
Turning now to the Greek grammar of Matthew 28:19-20, our Lord uttered an imperative directive couched in the main verb matheteusate frommatheteuo—“to make disciples.”13 The apostles were to go throughout the world and “make disciples.” Jesus clarified this directive with two presentparticiples: “teaching” and “baptizing.” Southern Baptist scholar of New Testament Greek A.T. Robertson says these two participles in this passage are “modal participles,”14 i.e., they identify the manner, means, or method by which the action of the main verb is accomplished. Samuel Green agreed, listing Matthew 28:19 as an example of the “modal” use, “setting forth the manner in which the given action was performed.”15 Dana and Mantey state that the “Modal Participle” “may signify the manner in which the action of the main verb is accomplished.”16 Hence, they pinpoint the mode by which the action of the main verb is achieved (also “manner or means”).17
Observe that the English reader might be tempted to interpret Jesus’ command to mean that the apostles were first to make disciples, i.e., convert people to Christianity, and then baptize them, and then after baptizing them to teach them additional Christian doctrine. However, the Greek grammar of the passage, i.e., Matthew’s inspired Greek translation of Jesus’ (perhaps Aramaic) remarks, weighs heavily against this interpretation and clarifies succinctly Jesus’ intended meaning.18
The main verb of the sentence, “make disciples,” is followed by two present participles that represent actions that occur at the same time as the action of the main verb. “Teaching” (didaskontes) and “baptizing” (baptidzontes) are actions that occur simultaneous with “making disciples,” i.e., they indicate what Jesus meant when He directed the apostles to go throughout the nations and convert people. To make disciples, the apostles were required to teach people the Gospel, including the necessity of observing all of Jesus’ commands, and then to baptize them in water. Those individuals who complied with these two actions were thereby made disciples.19 Alexander Bruce, 19th-century Scottish theologian and chair of Apologetics and New Testament Exegesis in the Free Church Hall in Glasgow, who authored the commentary on Matthew in Nicoll’s series The Expositor’s Greek Testament, wrote: “baptism the condition of discipleship = make disciples by baptizing.” 20 In his commentaries on the Greek Testament, another 19th-century scholar, English churchman, theologian, and textual critic, Henry Alford, specifically noted concerning Matthew 28:19-20: “Both these present participles are the conditioning components of the imperative aor. preceding.” 21 In other words, being taught and baptized are the conditions for becoming a disciple. As Matthew Poole explained: “make disciples…must be first by preaching and instructing them in the principles of the Christian faith…. I cannot be of their mind, who think that persons may be baptized before they are taught…. They were first to preach and to baptize amongst the Jews, and then thus to disciple all nations.” 22Hence, John Lightfoot explained: “Make disciples: Bring them in by baptism…. When they are under baptism, they are no longer under heathenism; [baptism] puts a difference between those who are under the discipleship of Christ, and those who are not.” 23 Or as British Baptist scholar and professor of New Testament Interpretation G.R. Beasley-Murray noted: “the participles describe the manner in which a disciple is made…. It is when a hearer believes and is baptized that he becomes a full disciple; which is the same as saying that a disciple is made such in baptism by faith…. Baptizing belongs to the means by which a disciple is made.” 24
American theologian, ordained Presbyterian minister, and graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Albert Barnes, explained the import of the participles in his commentary: “This word properly means disciple, or make disciples of. This was to be done, however, by teaching, and by administering the rite of baptism.” 25 R.C.H. Lenski, Lutheran scholar whose 12-volume series of commentaries on the New Testament (from a traditional Lutheran perspective) contains a literal translation of the Greek texts, observes: “Two participles of means then state how all nations are to be made into disciples: by baptizing them and by teaching them.” 26 Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, Daniel Wallace, insists that the two participles (baptizing and teaching)
should not be taken as attendant circumstance. First, they do not fit the normal pattern for attendant circumstance participles (they are present tense and follow the main verb). And second, they obviously make good sense as participles of means: i.e., the means by which the disciples were to make disciples.” 27
R.T. France, New Testament scholar and Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, explains that “Baptizingand ‘teaching’ (v. 20) are participles dependent on the main verb, make disciples; they further specify what is involved in discipleship.” 28 And A. Lukyn Williams insightfully observes: “The imperative aorist matheteusate is, as it were, decomposed by the two following present participles, ‘baptizing’ and ‘teaching’…. The present participle denotes the mode of initiation into discipleship. Make them disciples by baptizing them.” 29 Or as Norrisian Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and Lord Bishop of Winchester, Edward Harold Browne, explained in the well-respected Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible: “Make disciples of all nations by baptizing them…[T]hey were to be made disciples, admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, by baptism.”30 And Heinrich Meyer, noted German Protestant theologian, in his Kritisch-ex-egetischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, observed that it is in the “baptizing” where “discipling” “is to be consummated, not something that must be done after the matheteusate.” 31
In view of these decisive linguistic considerations, examine the following three sentences together:
  • “Go make pancakes, mixing the batter in the porcelain bowl, pouring it on the griddle.”
  • “Go clean the yard, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves.”
  • “Go make disciples…, baptizing them…, teaching them….”
Now ask and answer three questions based solely on the grammar:
  • Can pancakes be made without mixing batter and pouring the batter on the griddle? Answer: No.
  • Can the yard be cleaned without mowing the lawn and raking the leaves? Answer: No.
  • Can disciples of Christ be made without teaching and baptizing them? Answer: No.


1 “The participle has not time in itself. Time with the participle is purely relative; it gets its time from the verb with which it is used”—William Davis (1923), Beginner’s Grammar of the Greek New Testament(New York: Harper & Row), p. 99; cf. John Huddilston (1961), Essentials of New Testament Greek(New York: Macmillan), p. 73.
2 J. Gresham Machen (1923), New Testament Greek for Beginners (Toronto: Macmillan), pp. 105-106, emp. added.
3 Ray Summers (1950), Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press), pp. 89-90, emp. added.
4 H.E. Dana and Julius Mantey (1955), A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto: Macmillan), p. 230, emp. added.
5 A.T. Robertson (1909), Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York: A.C. Armstrong & Son), p. 197.
6 James Hadley (1885), A Greek Grammar for Schools and Colleges (New York: D. Appleton), p. 272, italics in orig., emp. added.
7 William Goodwin (1893), A Greek Grammar (Boston: Ginn & Company), p. 275, italics in orig.
8 William Mounce (2003), Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), p. 255, emp. added.
9 Raphael Kuhner (1872), Grammar of the Greek Language, trans. B.B. Edwards & S.H. Taylor (New York: D. Appleton & Co.), p. 471, italics in orig., emp. added.
10 James H. Moulton (1906), A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Prolegomena (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), second edition, p. 126, emp. added.
11 e.g., Ernest Burton (1898), Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), p. 54; H.P.V. Nunn (1973 reprint), A Short Syntax of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 123; Jeremy Duff (2005), The Elements of New Testament Greek(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 85.
12 Henry Robison (1913), Syntax of the Participle in the Apostolic Fathers (Chicago: University of Chicago), pp. 11ff.
13 James Moulton (1919), A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Accidence and Word Formation(Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), 2:400.
14 A.T. Robertson (1934), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research(Nashville, TN: Broadman), p. 1128.
15 Samuel Green (1886), Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament (New York: Fleming H. Revell), p. 332.
16 p. 228. Also Curtis Vaughan and Virtus Gideon (1979), A Greek Grammar of the New Testament(Nashville, TN: Broadman), pp. 157,160—“The circumstantial participle (sometimes called ‘adverbial’) defines the circumstances under which the action of a verb takes place…. The circumstantial participle may be modal, denoting the manner in which the action of the main verb is effected.” Classical scholar Herbert Weir Smyth agreed: “The circumstantial participle expresses simply circumstance or manner in general. It may imply various other relations, such as time, manner, means, cause, purpose, concession, condition, etc…. The time denoted by the participle is only relative to that of the governing verb;” “The action set forth by the present participle is generally coincident (rarely antecedent or subsequent) to that of the leading verb”—(1963), Greek Grammar (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), pp. 457,419.
17 See also Burton, p. 172—“The participle expressing manner or means often denotes the same action as that of the principal verb…. [A]s respects its modal function it is a participle of manner or means.” Also Cleon Rogers Jr. and Cleon Rogers III (1998), The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), p. 66.
18 “Two or more participles…unconnected by kaiv, are frequently…joined to one principal verb”—George Winer (1870),A Treatise on the Grammar of the New Testament Greek, trans. W.F. Moulton (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), p. 433. Lange notes that “there is no kaiv before didavskonte$, so that baptizing and teaching are not strictly coordinate, as two successive acts”—John Lange (1884), A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), 1:558. Again, in other words, both occur coincident with “make disciples.”
19 Word order in Greek is far more flexible than in English (“The freedom of the Greek from artificial rules and its response to the play of the mind is never seen better than in the order of words in the sentence”—Robertson, 1934, p. 417), which explains the sequence of the participle “baptizing” occurring before the participle “teaching,” even though in actual point of time a person logically would have to be taught before he could be baptized. One beauty of Koine Greek is the way participles minimize this confusion by deriving their “time” from the action of the principal verb. Again, Robertson noted concerning aorist participles: “It is needless to press the point…that the order of the participle is immaterial” (p. 861). Since both participles in this instance are present participles, both refer to activity that must be associated with the action of the main verb. Though they follow the verb, their action cannot occur after the action of the main verb. (A future participle would more appropriately serve that function). Both actions must occur in concert with “make disciples.” No linguistic justification exists for assigning the action of one of the present participles (“baptizing”) as occurring concurrently with the leading verb while assigning the action of the other present participle (“teaching”) as occurring subsequent to the action of the leading verb. Note further, as a point of clarification, that the two present participles do not indicate simultaneous action with each other—but rather both are contemporaneous with the leading verb. Some writers demonstrate confusion on this point by assigning the “teaching” to post-baptism indoctrination. While the New Testament certainly requires new converts to continue their study and instruction after their conversion, Jesus’ use of presentparticiples demonstrates that He was referring to the teaching that is initially necessary to enable a person to become His disciple. Both “baptizing” and “teaching” are necessary in order to become a disciple of Christ. New Testament scholar William Hendriksen succinctly summarized the point: “In such a construction it would be completely wrong to say that because the word baptizing precedes the word teaching, therefore people must be baptized before they are taught…. The concepts ‘baptizing’ and ‘teaching’ are simply two activities, in co-ordination with each other, but both subordinate to ‘make disciples.’ In other words, by means of being baptized and being taught a person becomes a disciple”—William Hendriksen (1973), Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), p. 1000, italics in orig. Though Carson sends mixed signals in this regard, he at least states plainly that “matheteuo entails both preaching and response…. The NT can scarcely conceive of a disciple who is not baptized or is not instructed. Indeed, the force of this command is to make Jesus’ disciples responsible for making disciples of others, a task characterized by baptism and instruction”—D.A. Carson (1984), Matthew in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 8:597. Stanley Porter explains that “the syntax probably indicates that the action of the two participles is logically concurrent in that the two actions of baptizing and teaching indicate, at least in part, what it means to make disciples,” and so inserts into his “interpretative translation” just before “baptizing” the word “including” (pp. 251-252). Though he ends up applying “teaching” to post-baptism instruction in obedience, he rightly concludes: “The command to make disciples is defined by two further prominent concepts, grammaticalized by two participles: baptism and teaching”—(2015), Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), p. 253. Note further that Mark’s wording of the “Great Commission” places “preach the Gospel” parallel to Matthew’s “make disciples.” So where Matthew has make disciples by teaching and baptizing, Mark has save people by preaching the Gospel to them, causing them to believe and be baptized. Matthew and Mark intended to say the same thing. Observe in summary: Even if a solid linguistic case could be made proving that “teaching” refers to post-conversion teaching that follows baptism, nevertheless, the design of baptism remains the same, since the “baptizing” occurs simultaneous with “make disciples,” i.e., baptism is essential to salvation, pinpointing the moment when a penitent believer becomes a disciple of Christ.
20 Alexander Bruce (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:339.
21 Henry Alford (1874), Alford’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint), 1:306, emp. added.
22 Matthew Poole (no date), A Commentary on the Holy Bible: Matthew-Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), 3:146.
23 John Lightfoot (1979 reprint), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew-Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), pp. 379-380, italics in orig.
24 G.R. Beasley-Murray (1976 reprint), Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), pp. 88-89, italics in orig. It is surely eye-opening for renowned Baptist pastor and President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the late 19th century, John Broadus, to acknowledge the undeniable grammatical function of the present participles in this passage (“‘disciple by baptizing…by teaching’; and so many understand it”) only to dismiss the clear import of the language in order to evade the contradiction between his personal doctrinal belief and the words of our Lord. John Broadus (1886), Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society), p. 594.
25 Albert Barnes (1956 reprint), Notes on the New Testament: Matthew and Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), p. 323, italics in orig.
26 R.C.H. Lenski (1943), The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg), p. 1173. Or as Johann Albrecht Bengel noted: “The verb, maqhteuvein, signifies to make disciples; it includes baptism and teaching”—(1858), Gnomon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), 1:489, italics in orig., emp. added. Commenting on “make disciples,” Eiselen notes: “Make disciples. This describes a comprehensive duty of which baptizing and teaching form a part”—Frederick Eiselen, ed. (1929), The Abingdon Bible Commentary (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press), p. 995, italics in orig.
27 Daniel Wallace (1996), Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), p. 645, italics in orig., emp. added.
28 R.T. France (1985), The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 2002 reprint, p. 414, italics in orig.
29 A. Lukyn Williams (1961 reprint), “Matthew,” The Pulpit Commentary, ed. H.D.M. Spence and J.S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 645, italics in orig., emp. added.
30 Frederick Meyrick (1868), “Baptism,” in William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, rev. and ed. H.B. Hackett (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1971 reprint), 1:236,240, emp. added. Also A.J. Maas (1898), The Gospel According to Matthew (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder), p. 315.
31 Heinrich Meyer (1881), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of St. Matthew (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), p. 301, italics in orig.