Zev Porat

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Thief on the Cross Was Never Baptized! Or WAS He? Consider THIS!

By Michael D Shoesmith

We receive many different arguments from people on one side or another regarding this topic or that. Some of them are ludicrous and still others are quite fascinating. One that we often hear concerns the issue of baptism, specifically, water baptism.

"The thief on the cross was never baptized" they say.

It would be easy to assume that considering Jesus spoke with him on the cross next to him. The conversation went:

Luke 23:39  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

So, upon a superficial examination it seems the thief was never baptized however if we follow that logic we could assume that even Jesus Himself was never baptized, though we have the clear teaching that He was, by John the Baptist. What else do we know about John's activities? He was baptizing many people, was he not? Yes, he was. And do we have all the names of everyone baptized by John? No, we do not.

Jesus was baptized by John before the cross. John was baptizing many people. Is it possible this thief was also baptized by John? Yes, it is. Also, Jesus' disciples were also baptizing people. This gives yet another opportunity for the thief to be baptized. After all, it seems from the account in Luke 23 that this thief was very much aware of who this man was, hanging on the cross next to him. Is it possible he was baptized by Jesus' people? Yes, it is.

Imagine this man, a thief for much of his life, having an encounter with Jesus, being baptized, and then being caught and charged with the crime of theft. He's saved, yet condemned to die along side his savior. Amazing scenario, eh?

In verse 42 the thief referred to Jesus as 'Lord.' Without hesitation he recognized this man, who had a kingdom waiting for Him upon his death. It really is a stunning reality when we leave the shallow end of the pool and venture out into the deeper possibilities.

All we can do is speculate, really. But one thing we should not do is make the dogmatic assertion that the thief on the cross was never baptized. This assertion is simply unwarranted... and possibly false.

The bigger question here remains: is water baptism required for salvation? The answer is an absolute 'no.' We are told what is required to be saved. All who call on the Lord, who request the free gift of salvation, who trust in Jesus for the remission of sins.

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
Acts 10:43

Remission: noun 1. the act of remitting. 2. pardon; forgiveness, as of sins or offenses.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:13

Water baptism is not required for salvation, however, it is as some have said an outward expression of an inward faith. Some have also said that it is the first act of obedience as a believer; a way of setting a more serious spiritual tone putting the powers on notice. 

Acts 8:35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

So then, are you saved? Good. Did water baptism save you? No. It was the baptism of the Holy Spirit who seals us unto redemption.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Acts 1:5

So then, with water baptism as an outward sign of obedience and the baptism of the Holy Spirit as our seal we have the complete picture. This article is very rudimentary but hopefully causes the readers to think more deeply about these things.


  1. Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    1. Notice doesn't say "...with water"

      Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
      Acts 11:16

  2. To Prosperous Individual : They were already baptized Acts 10:43 -48 (47-48) . Then they received the other requirement, the Gift of the Holy Ghost. John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    1. Jesus was referring to physical birth in Jn 3:5... not being immersed in the Jordan. Read it in context. Being born of water means being born physically... when a woman's water 'breaks' what is that referring to if not physical birth. Read Jesus' words in context... which is the 'mother's womb'... not water baptism.

      John 3:4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
      5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
      6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
      7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    2. Would a former Pentecostal that had previously been Baptized at that Church group need to be Baptized again at your Church denomination?

  3. Water Baptism isn't necessary for salvation, but is a necessary part of our identification with Christ. Notice in Mark 16:16 its says he who does not believe will be damned not he who is not water baptized and believes will be damned. This shows water baptism is important but necessary for salvation.///Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.///1Co 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
    1Co 1:15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
    1Co 1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
    1Co 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

    If baptism is vital to be saved why does Paul say what he says here in 1 Corinthians 1?

  4. "So then, with water baptism as an outward sign of obedience"

    I agree on the Salvation part. I do not think anyone is disobedient if they do not get Baptized in water.

    Matthew 3:11 - I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:

    We should not make the dogmatic assertion that the thief on the cross was baptized. It is a big stretch IMHO to think he was. Thief was not Baptized IMHO. Jesus would have told us.

    1 Corinthians 1:17 - For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

  5. I would say definitely, yes, that he was "baptized", of a sorts anyway, since Christian baptism has its roots in a Jewish ritual called a Mikveh. This was done for reasons other than what we do it in Christianity, before a circumcision,and sacrifice, before Sabbaths, and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) to purify oneself and remember the holiness of the day, etc. It was seen as a purification and cleansing. We need to remember we see things from a gentile light, things are much different here than in the Holy Land. It also was done with at least one witness. The water was referred to as the womb of the world, and as the person was coming out of the water they were considered reborn from the pagan world similar to our idea of being born again and being a new creation in Christ. This was one of the most important rituals of ancient Judaism. They were required to repent, to be Mikveh-ed, and have a blood sacrifice to cover sins. So you can see Jesus did not come to change things, he really did fulfill them, he became that final and perfect sacrifice. He didn't come and create a whole new religion as some people today think. He was Jewish, the point was man's ways were no longer God's ways. They were adding to and taking from. They were making their own laws and adding them to God's. They were not following after God in truth. Jesus came to set the world straight, as well as be that perfect sacrifice. Pagan ways have crept into Christianity, we need to all realize that Jesus was Jewish and he was not European or American in descent or thinking. We have inherited lies in the Gentile world as Jeremiah 16:19 says. We all need to realize the truth of our Jewish roots. Study to show thyself approved- 2 Timothy 2:15. God Bless.


    Can men living in the 21st century steal the thief's plan of salvation and be saved? No they cannot. The thief was the one and only person saved by his plan.

    What did the thief do to be saved?

    1. The thief obviously believed that Jesus was the Christ.(Luke 23:39)
    2. The thief feared God.(Luke 23:40)
    3. The thief asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.(Like 23:42)

    THAT WAS THE THIEF'S PLAN OF SALVATION! Yes he was saved (Luke 23:43)

    What was not in the thief's plan of salvation?
    1. The thief did not believe in his heart that Jesus was raised from the dead by God the Father.(Romans 10:9 that if you confess with they mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead , you will be saved;) The thief could not believe that God raised Jesus from the dead; because Jesus was sill alive when the he was saved.

    2. The thief was not baptized for the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2:38)

    3. The thief could not be baptized in water in order to be saved. (Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21)

    THE THIEF DIED UNDER THE OLD COVENANT AND GOT A DIRECT PARDON FROM JESUS. Men living today can only be save by the terms of pardon under the New Covenant.
    The terms of pardon are: FAITH John 3:16---REPENTANCE Acts 2:38---CONFESSION Romans 10:9-10---WATER BAPTISM Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16.


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    1. 1. The thief may have believed that Jesus WOULD be raised from the dead.
      2. You have no way of knowing the thief wasn`t baptized. He COULD have been water baptized by John or Jesus` disciples.
      3. See number 2

      Even under the old covenant people were saved by Jesus... under credit.