"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Preaching Ministry Of Jesus - I (1:14-15) by Mark Copeland


                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

             The Preaching Ministry Of Jesus - I (1:14-15)


1. In Mk 1:14-15, we read of the beginning of Jesus' public ministry in Galilee...
   a. Which followed the imprisonment of John the Baptist - cf. Mk 6: 17-18
   b. Which began at Capernaum, on the edge of the Sea of Galilee - cf. Mt 4:13

2. His public ministry involved "preaching"...
   a. "...preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God" - Mk 1:14
   b. The word "preach" (Gr., kerux) means "to herald, to proclaim"

[But what was the message Jesus proclaimed?  Is it a message we should
be preach today?  From our text (Mk 1:14-15) we first see that...]


      1. That kingdom of God foretold in book of Daniel
         a. A kingdom which shall never be destroyed - Dan 2:44
         b. A kingdom, along with glory and dominion, given to the Son of Man - Dan 7:13-14
      2. The kingdom of God involves four interrelated concepts
         a. God's kingship, rule, or recognized sovereignty
            1) The term "kingdom" as used by the Jews often stressed the
               abstract idea of rule or dominion, not a geographical
               area surrounded by physical boundaries
            2) basileia - royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; not to
               be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right
               or authority to rule over a kingdom - Thayer
         b. This rule of God is spiritual in nature
            1) It is not a physical kingdom - cf. Jn 18:36
            2) But one that is spiritual - cf. Ro 14:17
         c. Its visible manifestation today is in the form of the Lord's church
            1) For the church is that community of souls in whose hearts God is Sovereign
            2) That the church constitutes the kingdom of God on earth, consider:
               a) The term "church" and "kingdom" used interchangeably - Mt 16:18
               b) Comments made to those who were in the church - Col 1:13; 1Th 2:12
               c) The description of those in the churches of Asia - Re 1:4,6,9
         d. It has a future element as well as a present one
            1) Future aspect as spoken of by Jesus - Mt 25:34
            2) Future aspect as spoken of by Paul - 1Co 15:50; 2 Ti 4:18
            3) Future aspect as spoken of by Peter - 2Pe 1:10-11
      3. Thus the kingdom of God is both present and future
         a. In the present sense:
            1) It is found wherever the sovereignty of God is accepted in the hearts of men
            2) It is a spiritual kingdom, for God rules in the hearts of men
            3) Its outward manifestation today is the Lord's church
            4) This rule or kingdom of God was "inaugurated" on the Day of Pentecost (Ac 2)
         b. In the future sense:
            1) The rule or kingdom of God will be "culminated" with the coming of the Lord
            2) It will involve that "news heaven and a new earth in
               which righteousness dwells", described by Peter and John - 2Pe 3:10-13; Re 21-22
            3) It will be experienced only by those in the church who
               are submitting to God's will today! - cf. Mt 7:21-23; 2Pe 3:13-14
      -- The kingdom of God involves good news (gospel)!

      1. Most certainly!
         a. Philip "preached the things concerning the kingdom of God" - Ac 8:12
         b. The apostle Paul in his preaching and teaching:
            1) Spoke of the challenges in entering the kingdom in its future sense - Ac 14:22
            2) Reasoned and persuaded with people concerning the kingdom - Ac 19:8
            3) Had gone among the Ephesians, "preaching the kingdom of God" - Ac 20:25
            4) Solemnly testified of the kingdom of God to the Jews in Rome - Ac 28:23,30-31
         c. In his epistles, Paul wrote of:
            1) The nature of the kingdom - Ro 14:17
            2) Those who will not inherit the kingdom - 1Co 6:9-10; Ga 5:21; Ep 5:5
            3) Jesus giving the kingdom to God when He returns - 1Co 15:24-26
            4) How flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom - 1Co 15:50
            5) How we are in the kingdom now - Col 1:13
            6) His companions as fellow workers for the kingdom - Co 4:11
            7) How we might be counted worthy of the kingdom - 2Th 1:5
            8) God calling us into His kingdom and glory - 2Th 2:12
            9) Jesus judging us at His appearing and His kingdom - 2 Ti 4:1
           10) The Lord preserving him for His heavenly kingdom - 2 Ti 4:18
         d. Hebrews refers to our receiving a kingdom which can't be shaken - He 12:28
         e. James described the faithful poor as "heirs of the kingdom"  Jm 2:5
         f. Peter wrote how we might have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom - 2Pe 1:10-11
         g. John was a brother and companion in the kingdom of Jesus Christ - Re 1:9
      2. Yet there is an important difference in our message today
         a. John the Baptist, Jesus, His disciples in the Limited
            Commission...all proclaimed the kingdom "at hand" (drawing near)
            1) For the rule of God as foretold by the prophets was about
               to be manifested - cf. Mk 1:14-15; Dan 2:44; 7:13-14
            2) During Jesus' earthly ministry that kingdom (reign) was yet future
            3) That was the "good news" (gospel) of the kingdom then: it was near!
         b. After the ascension of Christ, the preaching of the kingdom
            proclaimed it both present and future
            1) The rule of God is now being fully manifested through
               Jesus Christ - cf. Mt 28:18; Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22
            2) Those who "gladly receive" the message are added by the
               Lord Himself to His church or kingdom (i.e., the
               community of believers who submit to His authority)
               - cf. Ac 2:36-41,47; Col 1:13; Re 1:9
            3) Those who persevere to the end inherit the heavenly and
               everlasting kingdom of our Lord - Ac 14:22; 2Pe 1:10-11
      -- This is the good news (gospel) of the kingdom today:  it is
         both now and coming!


1. Thus "The Preaching Ministry Of Jesus" involved proclaiming the kingdom of God...
   a. The coming rule or reign of God
   b. As proclaimed by prophets like Daniel
   c. Was now "at hand", for "the time is fulfilled"!

2. But Jesus did more than just announce the coming of the kingdom of God...
   a. He called on people to repent
   b. He called on people to believe - Mk 1:15

We will examine His call for repentance and faith in our next study.  In
the meantime, we do well to ask ourselves, "Are we in the kingdom of God
today?"  The answer lies in whether we submit to the rule of God now
manifested in the person of Jesus Christ... - cf. Mt 28:18-20  
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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What Kind of Bread did Jesus Use to Institute the Last Supper? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.



What Kind of Bread did Jesus Use to Institute the Last Supper?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

As one of the three major Jewish feasts, the Passover came complete from God with strict regulations regarding the proper rituals to be observed. Exodus 12:1-28 detailed specifically that the Passover lamb was to be killed at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month (12:6). Furthermore, its blood was to be sprinkled upon the lintels of the houses in which the Israelites ate the meal (12:7), and the flesh of the lamb was to be roasted—not eaten boiled or raw (12:8-9).

Numerous additional regulations pertaining to the lamb’s preparation, the length of the feast, and various other such facets of the festival could be cited. The one other injunction most specifically pertaining to this discussion is found in verses 15, and 18-20. These verses explicitly state that no leavened bread should be eaten from the 14th day of the month to the 21st day of the month. Verse 15 explains that any person eating leavened bread would be “cut off from Israel” (a phase often implying the death penalty). Verses 18-20 read as follows:

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a sojourner, or one that is born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

Simply put, God directly commanded Moses to warn the children of Israel that anyone caught eating leaven during the Feast of Unleavened Bread would be punished severely, possibly with death.

As we move approximately 1,500 years from the initial institution of the feast, we find the Jews of Jesus’ day bound to the same regulations and specificities as those ancient compatriots of Moses. In fact, we find Jesus—as a faithful Jew “born under the law” (Galatians 4:4), and abiding without sin under that same law (1 Peter 2:22)—adhering to the proper commands of the Law of Moses. On occasion, upon healing leprous people, Jesus instructed those individuals to present themselves to the priest as the Law of Moses commanded (Matthew 8:4; Luke 17:12-14). The Pharisees’ accusations of Jesus’ breaking the Sabbath notwithstanding, Jesus lived perfectly under the Law of Moses. Since He obeyed the Law consistently, when Jesus ate the Passover feast and celebrated the ensuing Feast of Unleavened bread, it is a fact that He would not have used any leaven from the 14th day of Nisan [originally, the first Jewish month was called Abib (see Deuteronomy 16:1-10), but its name eventually was changed to Nisan (Esther 3:7)] to the 21st day of that same month, as commanded in Exodus 12:15,18-20.

Therefore, it can be determined beyond any doubt that Jesus would have used unleavened bread during the Passover meal. This fact is of utmost importance, since the Last Supper (at which Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper) often is thought to have occurred on the 14th day of Nisan during the evening of the Passover, marking the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened bread. If Jesus did not institute the Lord’s Supper on the actual Passover, then there remains no biblical basis to insist upon the use of unleavened bread during the Lord’s Supper.

The original language provides no assistance in ascertaining whether the bread was leavened or not. The Greek word used to identify the bread distributed by Christ at the Last Supper is artos (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24), which is the general word for any kind of bread (Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, p. 110). The use of this word does not exclude the possibility that it was unleavened bread, since the Septuagint translators the word artos to refer to unleavened bread (Leviticus 8:2,26). At the same time, use of the term does not demand that it was unleavened bread. In fact, another Greek word, azumos, could have been used to mean strictly unleavened bread (Arndt and Gingrich, p. 19). Therefore, from the word used to describe the bread eaten by Jesus at the Last Supper, we can deduce only that it could have been either leavened or unleavened. As noted earlier, the only way to prove from the Bible that the bread was unleavened is to verify that Jesus ate the Last Supper on the 14th of Nisan—the actual Passover.

This may, at first, seem quite easy to establish. Matthew’s account explicitly states: “Now on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where wilt thou that we make ready for thee to eat the passover?’ ” (26:17). And also, “Now when even was come, he was sitting at meat with the twelve disciples” (26:20). According to Matthew, then, Jesus instituted the Last Supper “on the first day of unleavened bread.” Mark’s account is equally specific and descriptive: “And on the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the passover, his disciples say unto him, ‘Where wilt thou that we go and make ready that thou mayest eat the passover?’ ” (14:12). And, as in Matthew, Mark states: “[W]hen it was evening he cometh with the twelve” (14:17). Mark clearly declared that the Last Supper was instituted on the first day of unleavened bread. He further defined that day as the day when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, which would have been the evening of the 14th of Nisan according to Exodus 12. Furthermore, Luke’s account is equally definitive when it states: “And the day of unleavened bread came, on which the passover must be sacrificed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make ready for us the passover, that we may eat’ ” (22:7).

Were the discussion to end at this point, it would be crystal clear that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on the evening of the first day of Unleavened Bread when the Passover lamb was sacrificed. But when John’s account is consulted, the picture seems to get a little fuzzy. John’s record certainly is not as specific as the other three. In John 13:1-4, we read:

Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto his Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all the things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself.

Apparently, the thoughts of Jesus recorded in John 13:1 occurred sometime before the Feast of the Passover. How long before the feast is unknown, but some assume it means at least a day. That time frame is based upon other statements found in the book of John. In John 18:28, the chief priests and the leaders of the Jews “led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium: and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover.” If “the passover” in this verse means the Feast of the Passover lamb, which was eaten on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened bread, then that would mean the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with His disciples occurred about 24 hours earlier. Furthermore, John 19:14-18 states:

Now it was the Preparation of the passover: it was about the sixth hour. And he saith unto the Jews, “Behold, your King!” They therefore cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate saith unto them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then therefore he delivered him unto them to be crucified. They took Jesus therefore: and he went out, bearing the cross for himself, unto the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha: where they crucified him, and with him two others, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst (emp. added).

Those who believe that the events of John 13 happened at least a day before the Passover generally base that belief on the idea that John 19:14-18 seems to indicate that Jesus was crucified before the actual Passover, since it was the “preparation of the passover.”

Several of the early church fathers held to the belief that Jesus was crucified on the Passover, which would mean that the Last Supper occurred before the Feast of Unleavened bread. Tertullian (An Answer to the Jews, Chapter 8) and Clement of Alexandria (Paschal Chronicle Fragment) both took this view. Furthermore, in the Talmud, early Jewish rabbis concluded that Jesus was “hanged on Passover Eve for heresy and misleading the people” (Bruce, 1960, p. 101). In more recent times, many have advocated this view. The editors of the Pulpit Commentary wrote: “It appears that our Lord was crucified on the 14th of Nisan, on the very day of the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, a few hours before the time of the Paschal Supper, and that his own Last Supper was eaten the night before, that is, twenty-four hours before the general time of eating the Passover Supper” (Spence and Exell, n.d., pp. 196-197, emp. in orig.).

In his book, Radical Restoration, F. LaGard Smith mentioned some things that, in his opinion, seem to conflict with the idea that Jesus ate the Passover on the actual first day of unleavened bread. He commented:

The emerging picture tends to suggest that we may have misinterpreted the words with which Jesus began the Last Supper. It may well be that Jesus was not expressing his eagerness to eat the actual Passover, but his desire to eat the only “Passover” he could share with his disciples before he suffered. Which is to say, ahead of time. The day before. On the only evening left before his crucifixion. (2001, p. 280, emp. in orig.).

To further bolster the idea that the Last Supper might not have been taken during the Feast of Unleavened bread, Smith cited The Crux of the Matter by Childers, Foster, and Reese, who suggested that “from the ninth century, the common bread, leavened bread, was replaced by unleavened bread. Using regular table bread had been the practice of the churches for centuries of Christian worship from very early days” (2001, p. 38). McClintock and Strong observed:

At the institution of the Lord’s Supper Christ used unleavened bread. The primitive Christians carried with them the bread and wine for the Lord’s Supper, and took the bread which was used at common meals, which was leavened bread. When this custom ceased, together with the Agapè, the Greeks retained the leavened bread, while in the Latin Church the unleavened bread became common since the 8th century. Out of this difference a dogmatic controversy in the 11th century arose, the Greek Church reproaching the Latin for the use of unleavened bread, making it heresy. At the Council of Florence, in 1439, which attempted to unite both churches, it was agreed that either might be used… (1969, 5:514, emp. in orig.).

Even though McClintock and Strong stated that Christ used unleavened bread, they also documented that many of those in the early period of the church did not use unleavened bread—a fact that could be used to add credence to the possibility that Christ also did not use unleavened bread.

Obviously, the battle over which type of bread Christ used when He instituted the Last Supper has been going on for centuries. Is there any way to reconcile the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke with that of John? Can it be established, from the biblical text, on what day Christ and His disciples ate their final meal before His death? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper on the first day of unleavened bread, when the Passover lamb was to be killed—exactly as Matthew, Mark, and Luke plainly state.


In order to maintain that Christ ate the Last Supper on the first day of unleavened bread, a response must be formulated to the passage in John 19:14-18, which seems to indicate that Christ was crucified on the “Preparation of the Passover.” First, it must be noted that Matthew, Mark, and Luke each state that Christ was crucified on the “day of preparation.” Matthew, in speaking of the day after Jesus’ crucifixion, affirmed: “Now on the morrow, which is the day after the Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together unto Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, After three days I rise again’ ” (Matthew 27:62-63). Mark’s account, in dealing with the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, observed: “And when even was now come, because it was the Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councillor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of God; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus” (15:42-43). Not only did Mark specify the day of Jesus’ crucifixion as “the Preparation,” but he also defined that day for his readers as “the day before the Sabbath.” Finally, Luke related virtually the same facts in 23:50-54:

And behold, a man named Joseph, who was a councillor, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), a man of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who was looking for the kingdom of God: this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that was hewn in stone, where never man had yet lain. And it was the day of the Preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

Observe that Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the day of Jesus’ death as the day of preparation of the Sabbath. Even John, in 19:31, stated: “The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross upon the sabbath (for the day of that sabbath was a high day), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” Because the Jews could do no work on the Sabbath, the day before provided them with the only opportunity to prepare for the following day’s meals. In Exodus 16, the Lord, through Moses, instructed the Israelites regarding how and when they should gather the manna that He was sending from heaven. In verses 4 and 5 of that chapter, the Lord stated:

Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. And it shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

The “Preparation Day” was a well-known description used to speak of the day before the Sabbath. However, it was not used to describe a day before a festival or feast. Lenski accurately recorded:

Equally decisive is the fact that paraskeua [preparation—KB] is never used in the sense of “the preparation” or of “the day of preparation” for a festival but only in the sense of the preparation for the Sabbath. The law provided complete rest from work only on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:5); all preparation of food had to be made on the day before; but the law provided nothing of the kind for the great festival days, for on these days (save as one might occur on the Sabbath) food could be cooked as on any other day. The attempt to show that the festival days also had a paraskeua has failed completely (1998, p. 1272).

What, then, shall we make of John’s statement that Jesus was crucified on “the Preparation of the Passover?” At first glance, we assume that John means that the “preparation” concerns the actual Passover lamb. However, that assumption is not correct. The “preparation” described by John simply was the day before the Sabbath that fell during the Passover festival. Lenski noted: “When John uses the exceptional combination paraskuea tou pascha, ‘Preparation of the Passover,’ he simply has in mind the Friday of the Passover festival, the one that occurs during the festival week. The Sabbath of this great week was considered especially holy, and preparation was made accordingly” (p. 1271).

In fact, the translators of the NIV were so confident of this meaning that they rendered the verse: “It was the day of Preparation of Passover week, about the sixth hour.” In their commentary on the NIV passage, Bryant and Krause remarked:

The force of the NIV’s interpretation is that this is “Friday of Passover Week.” While this may be what John intends (and I believe he does), it is possible to interpret this as “Preparation for the Passover,” i.e., Thursday. This is the translation of the NRSV and others, but this is every bit as guilty as the NIV of overtranslation…. Actually, the text is ambiguous and cannot answer the day of the week by itself. It is from other considerations that we should conclude that this is Friday… (1998, p. 376).

If John 19:14-18 could mean simply the preparation day during the Passover feast, then John’s timetable would match perfectly with that of the other three Gospels—almost.


In order to match John’s timetable perfectly with Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the passage in John 18:28 must be clarified. It states: “They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium: and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover.” If this reference to eating “the passover” refers to the actual Passover lamb that was sacrificed on the 14th day of Nisan, then John’s account would stand in direct opposition to those of the other three gospel writers. It can be shown conclusively, however, that John did not necessarily mean the actual Passover lamb, and that his statement can refer instead to the Feast of Unleavened bread directly following the Passover.

First, it should be noted that John was not nearly as specific as the other the gospel writers. As was discussed earlier, they defined the day of the Last Supper as the first day of unleavened bread on which the passover must be sacrificed. [It is interesting to observe that Luke 22:7 uses the Greek word dei, which the ASV translators render as must. Arndt and Gingrich noted that the word means “of compulsion of law or custom,” and then used Luke 22:7 to illustrate this usage. They translated the pertinent part of the verse under discussion: “when the paschal lamb had to be sacrificed” (1967, p. 172). Which law or custom compelled the Jews to sacrifice the Passover lamb on this particular day? The obvious answer is: the law set forth in Exodus 12.] John’s reference to the Jewish leaders’ eating the Passover certainly does not detail an exact day on which the Passover lamb “must” be sacrificed.

As further evidence that John’s reference does not necessarily mean the 14th day of Nisan, the term “Passover” sometimes was used to refer to the entire Feast of Unleavened bread, not just the eating of the Passover lamb. Luke 22:1 is an obvious and clear example of such usage: “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.” Other passages that support this usage are John 2:13,23, 5:4, 11:55, and Acts 12:1-4. Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews, wrote about an event happening “at the time when the feast of unleavened bread was celebrated, which we call the Passover” (14:2:1). Thus, the term “Passover” often had a more relaxed meaning, and could refer to the “feast of unleavened bread.” To add support to this conclusion, Lenski made an interesting observation:

In the present connection it is impossible to make the eating of the Passover mean the eating of the Paschal lamb. For the defilement which these Jews feared would not have debarred them from eating the Paschal lamb if this lamb was to be eaten on Friday evening. Defilement of this type lasted only until sundown and could then be removed by a bath. The Paschal Lamb was not eaten until some time after sundown (1998, p. 1213).

With a quick look back into the Old Testament, we find that many of the things that “defiled” people, or caused them to be “unclean,” lasted only until evening (see Leviticus chapters 11 and 15). From reading Numbers 9:10,13, it seems that, according to the Law of Moses, the only two reasons a man might be unable to keep the feast would be because he had touched a dead body or was away on a journey. Since neither of those two situations seems to apply to John 18:28, the passage certainly allows for the phrase “eat the passover” to mean something other than the Paschal lamb. In his concluding comments on John 18:28, Lenski summarized remarks from Zahn’s Introduction to the New Testament by stating:

It is quite incredible to believe that with an entirely incidental expression, not at all connected with the Passover as such or with the actions of Jesus but solely with the scruples of the Jews, John should wish to overthrow a view of his readers which he has left entirely undisturbed throughout all of his preceding chapters (p. 1214).

What, then, were the Jewish leaders specifically desiring to eat? Zahn observed: “Moreover, it is probable that the members of the Sanhedrin had specifically in mind the so-called Chagigah, the sacrificial meal of the 15th of Nisan, which, unlike the Passover meal, was held during the course of the day and not after sundown” (1953, 3:283). Thus, there remains nothing to require that the phrase “might eat the passover” in John 18:28 must mean the actual Passover lamb.


In concluding the discussion as to the actual time of the Passover, John 13:1 needs to be revisited. In the verse, John wrote, “Now before the feast of the Passover….” It already has been established that certain schools of thought take this verse to mean at least 24 hours before the Passover. This time frame often is based on assumptions regarding John 18:28 and 19:31—assumptions that I have shown to be incorrect. Therefore, based on the textual evidence of the actual verse, can the phrase “before the feast of the passover” mean only a few minutes before the actual feast, or must it mean several hours? Morris concisely commented: “It is not impossible to understand this as meaning that Jesus knew certain things long before the feast. But it can also be understood to mean that the events now to be described took place before the feast began” (1971, p. 776). Bryant and Krause further clarified the situation:

John notes the time of the next event as just before the Passover Feast. According to ancient Jewish reckoning, the Passover Feast day would have run from sundown Thursday until sundown on Friday. This has caused some scholars to take the position that John understands the “Last Supper” to have taken place on Wednesday evening, just before Passover. This cannot be reconciled with the Synoptic accounts, which clearly identify the Last Supper as a Passover meal (e.g., Luke 22:15). But this is an easily explained contradiction. John does not say “the day before Passover” but “just before.” The episode he relates next, Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, is done immediately before the meal really begins (1998, p. 285, emp. in orig.).

“Before the Passover” could mean months, days, hours, or seconds before the meal took place. Considering all the evidence, John 13:1 makes reference to only a few minutes before the actual Passover lamb was eaten.

The second minor disagreement that needs to be answered suggests that John placed Jesus’ death on the 14th of Nisan, the evening when the Passover lamb was to be killed, in order to symbolize the death of Jesus as the Passover Lamb. Other New Testament verses linking Christ to the Passover lamb often are used in support of this view. For instance, 1 Corinthians 5:7 states: “Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ.“

While it is true that various New Testament writers refer to Christ as our Passover Lamb, it is not true that the power of His atoning blood was conditioned on the actual day that it was shed. As Zahn stated:

The conception of Christ as the Paschal Lamb which is found throughout the N.T. is in no way based upon this alleged coincidence of the hour of Jesus’ death with the time of the slaying of the Passover lamb, but was involved in the view that redemption under the new covenant was the counterpart of the deliverance from Egypt, and found merely a natural point of connection in the fact that Jesus died at the time of the Jewish Passover, and not, for example, during the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2-10) [1953, 3:276].

Furthermore, to suppose that there is a clash between John and the synoptics—based upon what a person assumes John was attempting to symbolize—is a less than desirable conclusion and fails to give John the benefit of the doubt.


In an attempt to “help” John agree with the three other gospel writers, some have suggested that a difference in calendars might have caused the apparent confusion. In summarizing this view, Carson wrote:

These difficulties have led to a number of suggested resolutions that turn on calendrical disputes in the first century. The most important of these reconstructions, that of Jaubert, argues that Jesus and his disciples followed a solar calendar…. But the “official” calendar followed by the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Jerusalem establishment was lunar... (1991, p. 457).

After he summarized the main issues, Carson further noted: “these calendrical theories all involve delicate historical judgments or a paucity of hard evidence” (457). He concluded his section on the alleged calendar differences by saying:

More seriously, it is altogether unlikely that the Jewish authorities in the time of Jesus sanctioned the slaughter of paschal lambs on any day other than the official lunar day. Thus even if Jesus and his disciples followed a sectarian calendar—a very doubtful suggestion—they would not have been able to eat an early paschal meal, since the paschal lamb had to be slaughtered at the temple, and the priestly classes were not noted for affable flexibility (p. 457).

Furthermore, once the full meanings of the phrases “eat the Passover” in John 18:28 and “the Preparation of the Passover” in John 19:14 are explored, it becomes evident that the statements can be reconciled with the time table set forth in the other three gospels, without resorting to “calendrical theories.”


The exact day on which the Lord instituted the Last Supper is of utmost importance for two reasons: (1) If it was not on the 14th day of Nisan, when the Passover lamb was to be killed (marking the first day of the Feast of Unleavened bread), then very little (if any) textual evidence exists that would demand the use of unleavened bread for the Lord’s Supper; and (2) the failure to reconcile adequately the time frame given by Matthew, Mark, and Luke with that given by John would indicate that there might be a contradiction in the Bible, which would leave the door open for skeptics to attack the reliability of the New Testament.

Yet, when the arguments are laid bare, it is evident that Jesus and the disciples did eat the Last Supper on the 14th day of Nisan, when the Passover lamb was to be killed. Once this fact is established, no one can legitimately deny that Jesus broke unleavened bread for His disciples. Nor can anyone claim that a contradiction exists between John’s timetable and that of the other gospel writers.


Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1967), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Bruce, F.F. (1960), The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), fifth edition.

Bryant, Beauford H. and Mark S. Krause (1998), John, The College Press NIV Commentary, ed. Jack Cottrell and Tony Ash (Joplin, MO: College Press).

Carson, D.A. (1991), The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, ed. D.A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Childers, Jeff W., Douglas A. Foster, and Jack R. Reese (2001), The Crux of the Matter (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).

Clement of Alexandria (no date), Paschal Chronicle Fragment, [On-line], URL: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0211.htm.

Josephus, Flavius (1987 edition), The Works of Josephus, transl. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Lenski, R.C.H. (1998 reprint), The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

McClintock, John and James Strong (1969 reprint), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Morris, Leon (1971), The Gospel According to John, New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. F.F. Bruce (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Smith, F. LaGard (2001), Radical Restoration (Nashville, TN: Cotswold).

Spence, H.D.M. and J.S. Exell, eds. (no date), “Mark/Luke,” The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Tertullian, (no date), An Answer to the Jews, [On-line], URL: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0308.htm.

Zahn, Theodor (1953), Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel).

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 Note: Part 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).

The Greek Preposition Eis

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 = in, eis 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.

The Greek Noun Onoma

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.”12 Specifically, 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 property of 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 essential prerequisites 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 present participles: “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.” 22 Hence, 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 “Baptizing and ‘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.

[to be continued]


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 present participles 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.