Mark 16:16 – Salvation and Baptism :: By Mark A. Becker


Recently, I had an email exchange with an individual that began with them saying that dispensationalism isn’t Biblical. I showed them what true dispensationalism was and how and why it was Biblical.

Next, they referenced Mark 16:16 and stated that baptism was essential for salvation and that they had never seen anyone from Rapture Ready ever take on this verse because they obviously didn’t know how to handle it. I took the time to demonstrate to them the error of their thinking and presented them with many Scriptures that present what is truly essential for salvation.

Lastly, they mentioned the seventh-day Sabbath, the essentialness of worshiping on this day, and that the Roman Catholic Church changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. I explained that the seventh-day Sabbath was a covenant between God and Israel (Exodus 31:13-17), and that Christians have been worshiping on what’s known as The Lord’s Day in celebration of Christ’s resurrection, and I gave a sample passage for them to consider.

Needless to say, it sounds like I may have been dealing with a Seventh Day Adventist who believes that baptism is essential for salvation and does not believe in or understand dispensationalism.

In regard to dispensationalism and what day to worship on, I really don’t find myself too concerned with someone’s particular belief system on these two topics unless, of course, it leads to legalism, which the SDA’s certainly indulge themselves in.

But believing that baptism is essential for salvation, well, that doctrine I certainly take issue with – or better, the Scriptures have an issue with that doctrine!

So, not being one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to address Mark 16:16 on behalf of the writers and readers of Rapture Ready!

Mark 16:16

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

In relation to Mark 16:16, we can obviously see that the word “baptized” is not included in “he that believeth not.” In other words, someone may have a case (though severely lacking still) of salvation being necessary for salvation if the verse were to read, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned,” but, clearly, it does not.

When we take out the phrase, “and is baptized,” we see the continuity in the message of the passage.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

This continuity of the polar opposites of belief and unbelief, as we will see at the end of this article, is prevalent throughout the Scriptures.

But when it comes to the addition of baptism in Mark 16:16, we should recognize an important fact:  Ideally, baptism should follow salvation through faith in Messiah Yeshua as soon as one can. It’s the preferred order of things, and this is why it is included in this verse. But baptism is not essential for salvation – only belief and faith are!

Baptism is principally an outward, public declaration of one’s newfound faith in Jesus Christ. The symbolism of baptism signifies our identifying with our Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Matthew 28:18-20

The other passage that false teachers and cults will use, in addition to Mark 16:16, to support their insistence that baptism is essential for salvation, is Matthew 28:18-20.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Let’s examine the order of Christ’s Great Commission:

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and [1] teach all nations, [2] baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [3] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-19).

[1] They are first commanded to teach all nations. This teaching is the preaching of the gospel. Whether they accept the teaching of the gospel is entirely dependent on those individuals.

[2] If the person accepts the gospel and genuinely comes to Christ for salvation, then the ideal process is for them to be baptized in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

[3] Once this has occurred – and even if the person doesn’t immediately get baptized for whatever reason – then the disciple who brought them to Christ must continue to teach them to observe all things that Christ has taught us through the Word of God.

In Mark’s account of the Great Commission, which includes our study verse, Christ emphasizes #1 and #2:

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).

As we noted, ideally, baptism should follow salvation through faith in Messiah Yeshua as soon as one can.

Regrettably, I wasn’t baptized until 20 years or so after my conversion. Obviously, had I died before I was baptized, I still would have been saved, but I would have missed out on a very important Christian ceremony – partaken of by Christ Himself – that would have shown my professed faith publicly and symbolically united myself with the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord which He did on my behalf.

Is there a Biblical link between Mark 16:16 and his statement of baptism following salvation? I believe there is!

Mark’s Gospel and the Apostle Peter

Tradition has it that the Apostle Peter was very close friends with John-Mark’s family. John-Mark, of course, is also known as just Mark and is the writer of the gospel of Mark.

Because of this – and I concur – it seems more than reasonable that the gospel of Mark is actually a gospel of Peter’s that had either been dictated to Mark by Peter or Mark penned the gospel after Peter had spoken to him and his family about the many events that he participated in as a disciple of Messiah Yeshua. Either way, though, the gospel of Mark, just like the other three gospels and the rest of the Bible, is truly and only the Words of the Holy Spirit as He moved holy men of God as they wrote the Scriptures! (2 Peter 1:21).

When one understands that the gospel of Mark is essentially a gospel of Peter – though every book of the Bible is truly the Word of God – we might expect to see that Peter himself thought very highly of baptism for the new believer. And this is exactly what we find!

Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost

Peter, as he was finishing up his sermon on Pentecost to the people in Jerusalem, after the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, implored those whose hearts were pricked (Acts 2:37) to…

“… Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

Again, notice the order: [1] Repent and [2] be baptized. This fits perfectly with Mark 16:16 and is another confirmation that Peter indeed was very influential in Mark’s gospel.

What About the Rest of the Scriptures?

If baptism was, in fact, a necessity of salvation, wouldn’t one expect that baptism would be mentioned in all of the many other passages of Scripture declaring how mankind is to be saved? Indeed, we should. But is this what we find?

To conclude this short article, I wanted to present the reader with a list of passages found in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) in which we can clearly see what is required for salvation.

Note that not one time is baptism ever mentioned in any of these passages (emphasis mine), but only belief and faith in Messiah Jesus!

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12).

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28-29).

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:37-39).

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26).

“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:7-9).

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).

The following people were disciples who had already believed, then they were baptized.

“Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:4-5).

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faithTherefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:22-28).

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4).

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,” (Ephesians 1:13-15).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works [this includes baptism], lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Galatians 3:6-9).

“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:22).

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Timothy 1:16).

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5).

“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).

May we all keep Answering the Call of The Great Commission, and giving an answer to every man and woman who so desperately needs Jesus and asks us, “Why Am I Here and What Is It All About?

Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!

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