Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

Baptism is the discarded jewel of Christian churches today.

There is a lot of confusion about baptism today, and many end up at one of two extremes. At one end are people who exclaim, “Baptism is necessary for salvation.” At the other end are people who avoid baptism altogether. What do we do with this tension? For starters, realize that both extremes are extreme.

Baptism is not necessary for salvation. If it were, Paul the apostle never would have said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17a). Paul valued baptism dearly, but preaching the gospel was his core concern because he knew that receiving the gospel by faith was the necessary ingredient for salvation.

However, Jesus did expect believers to be baptized. He commissioned His disciples, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

But beyond the fact that baptism is commanded, it also provides a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ publicly, to depict outwardly what took place inwardly. Going under the water of baptism shows that you identify with Christ’s death and burial, and coming out of the water demonstrates that you identify with His resurrection, which enables you to walk in newness of life.

Furthermore, in the early church, baptism was taken very seriously. It was seen as a necessary part of Christian discipleship, as it should be today. However, here’s something to consider. If baptism were necessary for salvation, the thief on the cross would’ve never been saved. That’s worth pondering. Therefore, as important as it is, baptism was never meant to be a salvation issue; it is a discipleship issue. Note the difference.

Thought to Ponder : Baptism isn’t commanded for salvation; it’s commanded to commemorate it.

Memory Verse: Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21).

One-Minute Apologist Video: Bobby Conway, “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?”

17 thoughts on “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

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  1. I hope you will forgive my lengthy comment, but I would like to submit a few thoughts for your consideration. Please know that I say these things respectfully, and I truly hope it does not come across as antagonistic.

    When Philip preach the gospel to the Eunuch in Acts 8, we are not given the details of what was preached (it just says, “he preached to him Jesus”) and then the Eunuch says, “see here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?” This leads me to conclude that baptism was part of the gospel message.

    In Acts 2:38, Peter commanded those asking “what shall we do?” to be baptized for remission of sins.

    The book of Acts overflows with examples of baptism. Baptism is a partaking in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6.3-11).

    The thief on the cross was saved before Jesus’ death, burial & resurrection so that baptism did not yet apply. It is Jesus blood that saves us, but we are only saved if we partake of that freely offered gift.

    Take a look too at 1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

    I am not God, nor am I in any way qualified to say who is saved and who is not. However, when it comes to baptism, I will always encourage people to do it in order to obey the examples and commands of the New Testament.

    Again, I hope this doesn’t come across dogmatic; these are simply points for consideration. May the Lord bless you as you continue seeking Him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elihu, You are very perceptive. I am glad that you brought this up. I agree with your observations. Personally I believe that baptism is a public declaration of love as well as symbolic of our new life. I think all christians should accept baptism, but it is not a criteria. Like you said only GOD knows who will enter the kingdom

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In Acts chapter 8, Phillip baptized the Ethiopian in the middle of the desert. If baptism was just for a public display of faith, or public declaration of love, then wouldn’t we expect Phillip to say, let’s wait until we get back to the city. There we can draw a crowd and do this publically. Instead, we find him them stop by the road when they found some water and did it right there. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t baptize in public, I’m just saying that Acts 8 shows that it isn’t about the publicity. It is about salvation. You quoted 1 Peter 3:21 which specifically says that baptism saves you. Mark 16:16 also says that it is for salvation. Acts 2:38 says that it is for the forgiveness of sins. Can anyone be saved without their sins being forgiven? No. This is why Jesus said that we must be born again of water and Spirit (John 3:3-7). Not maybe… Must.

        Here are some more details on this that I couldn’t fit into this comment:

        Thank you all for taking the time to read it. I’m glad these questions are being raised.


  2. The thief didn’t need to be baptized for the same reason that Moses didn’t. The new covenant didn’t take affect until Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. Under the old covenant, you only needed a sacrificial sin offering. Jesus served as the sacrificial lamb for the thief under the old covenant. If the thief had lived for 3 more days, then he would have needed to obey John 3:5 and Mark 16:16.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. any time it becomes a rule and binding… it looses its significance. Water baptism is symbolic of the new creation we have become. It is done to commemorate that new start. The moment it becomes mandatory, it becomes useless and worthless in GOD’s eyes… just my 5 cents


      1. Circumcision was mandatory to partake in the Old Covenant.
        Baptism is mandatory to partake in the New Covenant.
        It is not mandatory to partake in The New covenant. That is a choice. We have free will to not choose to partake. However, we do not have a free will to tell God that we want to go into covenant with Him under our own terms.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to encourage others to remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus. He came to faith next to Christ while being nailed to a ‘tree.’ And Jesus said to him, “you will be with me in Paradise.” As for your personal works, you can receive salvation even while being nailed to a tree.. However, we are commanded to be baptized as believers. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am glad you said this. I also see those extremes. I certainly don’t believe Baptism is a necessity for salvation. Being a a Baptist, that by definition reserves that ordinance for saved believers. On the other hand, I do see many who dismiss Baptism as totally non important to their new Christian lives. It is clearly taught at our first act of obedience as believers, and I believe that to profess faith, then immediately disobey raises some very serious concerns. Good post, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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