“Does baptism save you?” The best answer is actually a question: “Which one?” Unfortunately, the word “baptism” causes students of the Bible a lot of confusion because, like a few other select Greek words, it is not translated – it is simply transliterated. Were it translated it would naturally provoke our follow up question. The word “baptizo” is rightly translated by the phrase “placed into.” “Baptizo” is utilized in two primary and distinct ways in the New Testament (e.g.: Mk.1:8; Lk.3:16; Jn.1:33).
If someone asked you, “Does being ‘placed into’ save you?” You’d likely ask, “Placed into what?” – which is precisely the clarification needed when responding to the use of the word “baptizo” in the Bible. If one means “placed into” Christ by God’s Spirit, then the answer is “yes!” (Rom.6:3). When we are placed into Christ at the moment of repentance and faith, we are “clothed in Christ” and we become his “sons” (Gal.3:26-27).
Instead, if one means “placed into water” as an expression of our repentance and faith, the answer is “no!” (Ac.8:36) After saying that “baptism saves” us Peter clarifies, “not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God” (1Pet.3:21). Both “baptisms” in Scripture are commanded – one saves us, the second memorializes the first.