Does Mark 16:16 Refer To Holy Spirit Baptism?

Mark 16:16 reads “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.”

Even though the first part of the verse clearly teaches a sinner must be baptized to be saved from his sins (by the blood of Christ), some try to “get around” the plain teaching of Mark 16:16 by claiming it is referring to Holy Spirit baptism instead of water baptism.

But consider these reasons why we know that claim is incorrect …

A cardinal rule in understanding the Bible (or any other written or oral treatise) is that we must take words in their primary and literal sense, unless the context or some other verse demands a secondary and/or figurative meaning. So this verse is naturally referring to a literal immersion in water, not a figurative (metaphorical) immersion in the Holy Spirit.

Mark 16:16 is a good example of a statement of condition, that is, a statement that demands we meet a condition in order to receive a benefit (Luke 13:3 – “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” – is another good example). But we cannot “do” Holy Spirit baptism; it is not a condition such that we can meet. Instead, it is a gift (a promise) that God gave to people.

We know Mark 16:16 refers to water baptism, because it is a parallel account to Matthew 28:19 of what is commonly called the “Great Commission;” and we all agree Matthew 28:19 refers to water baptism, because it is something the Apostles were to perform, but only Jesus can perform the baptism of the Holy Spirit (John 1:33).

Jesus said “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Why argue with Him?


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