On page 6 of issue 1630, the writer claims that baptism is necessary for eternal life, and to support this he quotes Mark
16:15–16: “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’”
- The earliest manuscripts do not include the verses in Mark 16:9–20. Therefore, should these verses be used to support an argument?
- If you’re going to use verses 15–16, you should also consider the rest of what Jesus said: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover”
(vs. 17–18). I assume that Christadelphians do not believe in speaking in tongues or drinking poison?
- There are many verses that discuss salvation (for example John 3:16) that do not include baptism as a requirement.
- Over 99% of Greek Bible manuscripts include the verses in question. Also, early Christian writers referred to and quoted these verses. Most scholars agree that the verses belong in Mark’s Gospel.
- Mark 16:16 is often used as a go-to verse to show the necessity of baptism, because it is a simple forceful statement. It’s true that it is part of a specific commandment to the apostles themselves, so if this was the only verse which gave commandment on the subject we may be wrong to use it. However, when you take it in the context of the rest of the Bible’s teaching—the practice of Christ in the Gospels and the early church in Acts, the reasoning in the apostles’ letters, and the Old Testament parables (see page 8 of this issue)—it becomes clear that baptism is a necessary part of the believer’s life.
- If you drive a car on a public road you need to obey the law. You also need a licence. If I were to say that you need to obey the law but did not mention the licence, I wouldn’t be implying that you don’t need a licence—holding a licence is part of obeying the law. Similarly, when the Bible says “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), it’s not implying that you don’t need to be baptised—baptism is what you do when you believe.