Whenever anyone is arguing against the importance of baptism the thief on the cross next to Jesus is brought up. They say, “what about the thief?” he was not baptized.

Well, the truth is, we don’t know if he was baptized or not. John was baptizing for a long time before the thief went to the cross. Mark 1:5 (NIV) says, The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. So it is quite possible the thief was baptized.

There is more about the thief that can be surmised, but it can not be said, with certainty, that the thief was not baptized, because we are not told, one way, or the other. The man who says that the thief was not baptized has only a 50% chance of being correct.

What else can be surmised about the thief, you ask?  Well, Jesus came to save the lost sheep of Israel first. When Jesus sent the twelve apostles out, with authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease, He told them not to go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans (Mat.10:5). Gentiles were not spoken to until Jesus appointed Paul (except the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15). Because the thief on the cross was the very first person that Jesus saved we can surmise that he was an Israelite. Which means he probably was baptized, because he would have been one of those who were part of the whole Judean countryside and all of the people of Jerusalem spoken of in Mark chapter one, verse five. Taking this into account we have a better than 50% chance that the thief was baptized.

After all of this surmising I am sure the thief was baptized because of Luke 7:29&30 (NIV), (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) You see that the thief acknowledged God’s way is right when he admitted he was being punished justly and that Jesus had done nothing wrong and he did not reject God’s purpose for himself, because he ask Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. He could not have done this unless he had been baptized.



  1. H. Green says:

    If the thief was baptized by John or even Jesus and his disciples, as is the contention above, the thief did not follow through with his repentance after he was baptized. John would not baptize those who did not bring forth the fruits of a changed mind. (that is what repentance means). If God’s Spirit changes the mind of an individual, the salvation he recieves will change his life. This does not save the soul of the individual as salvation is not on the basis of human conduct, however, genuine salvation brings about new attitudes. The thief however, if he was baptized saw no change, to the contrary in the short period of time John and the Lord Jesus preached on earth, the thief chose a life of crime and thievry. This is not fruit of the soul of a saved individual. To add more fodder to the lostness of the thief, it is recorded that as the Scribes and Pharisees and unbelivers mocked and blasphemed Jesus on the cross, both “thieves” (plural), the Bible says “cast the same in HIS teeth”. This means this same thief whom Jesus forgave on the cross, was involved in the mocking and blasphemous language during their own execution! My contention about this is that the thief repented after hearing Jesus’ reply to the scathing barrage of insults and cruel mockings. “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do”. No doubt the thief heard these gracious words of prayer to the Father for *him* and became convicted to his own sinful heart and the forgiveness The Lord displayed toward vile sinners. God did a work in his heart to such a degree that the thief turned to the other thief and rebuked him publically. He then in beleiving FAITH asked Jesus to remember him in the future Kingdom Of Christ. Jesus forgave and assured him of his salvation. NO BAPTISM REQUIRED. My contention here is the thief was never saved before the cross incident even if he was baptized before it was not valid, as no repentance pre-cluded his false baptismal profession. Jesus forgave him without water baptism, as it is a work of righteousness; works of righteousness cannot be allowed in Grace salvation. Titus 3:5

  2. astudent says:

    Well, H. Green,
    Thanks for caring enough to comment. It shows that you care about the truth and you have thought about it and I like that.
    There are a few things that you might want to consider though.
    The first is baptism is not a work. You do no work; you only let someone else baptize you. It seems as though the idea of work gets a bit extreme when used to explain away baptism.

    (American Heritage Dictionary) work (wûrk) n. Abbr. wk. 1. Physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something.

    Merely asking for salvation, or thinking about it is work by definition, so grace without work is nullified when the definition of work becomes to extreme.

    We do not know when the thief committed the crime. He might have committed it before he was baptized and caught after. Also we do not really know what he stole or why he did so.

    I am going to attempt to walk on thin ice here so don’t be to critical of me until you consider all that I am saying.

    Hold on to your seat. I don’t think all thefts are a sin. If your mother is starving and you have no money and no one will help, I do not think it would be wrong to steal something for her to eat. All of the law is based on the two royal laws. The second is “do to others as you would have them to do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV) and if it is applied to this situation it would not be wrong. At least I would steal and would not condemn anyone else for stealing in that situation. Consider the prostitute Rahab who lied to the messengers of the king and was commended for it. Though lying is usually a sin it was not that time. Perhaps that is why we should not judge anyone: because we do not know everything about anything.

    Then we have to consider what sins were forgiven, all of the sins that a man committed, or only the sins that were committed before he was baptized? If a man commits a sin after he turns to the Lord is he lost?

    Repentance is a daily occurrence, because sin is also daily. I did not stop sinning because I was baptized. The Truth is in me and I must admit that I still sin and because I do I still repent; just as the thief on the cross did. My mind has been changed, but I am still only a man and men sin and because of this I still need and rely on Jesus to save me.

    You are correct when you point out that both robbers insulted Jesus. However one of them repented and was forgiven and as I pointed out only those who had been baptized could admit that God’s purpose for them was right; which is what the thief did. So by putting two and two together we can see that the thief had been baptized.

    I have written much on baptism and what I have written is still on my Blog. I believe baptism to be necessary for salvation: if one knows about it. If I am wrong you may look me up in Heaven and scold me for what I wrote and I will earnestly apologize, but if I am right you may not be able to find some of your friends when you search for them in Heaven, because they listened to those who preached that baptism was not a requirement and were not baptized. Why take the chance with the future of others when it would only be a matter of being right about what one understands?

    You see it will not bother me if I am wrong; I hope I am. What eats at me is that I just might be right and some might be lost, because they listened to and believed others and were not baptized. Call me a fool, but tell everyone to be baptized and I will be a happy fool.

  3. adventbiblestudy says:

    Interesting but these comments do not take into account the words God has placed in the text.

    Now the question is put to the test. Do we believe the many sermons preached on this text, or do we believe what is written? The thief on the cross confessed his sin and witnessed, Jesus is the Son of God. The choice is yours. How safe do you feel, doing nothing to enter into paradise?

  4. astudent says:


    I am a bit confused! What words did I not take into account? This is a Bible study and all of the words in the Bible are God’s words.

    The truth is I only believe the Bible. I have head many sermons that I disagreed with. Sermons are words from men and men error, but God never does. Because I am a man I also error, but if you believe that I am making a mistake, then tell me clearly how and perhaps we can both learn.

    I believe Jesus is the son of God and I have confessed my sin and do so right now. Why do you say I am doing nothing when you do not know what I do? What did the thief on the cross do other than confess his sin and ask for salvation?

    The truth is I don’t think I could feel any more secure. Do you think I shouldn’t feel safe?

  5. adventbiblestudy says:


    Sorry for the confusion, I was not disagreeing with your study. But as you pointed out, a Bible Study should be from the word of God. We should add nothing or leave anything out to make a point.

    Some people add rules or regulations they feel we must follow to be saved. If this is true, I agree, they need to provide proof texts.

    On the other side of the coin, others claim there is nothing we should do (stress the word should or can) to be saved.

    I am pointing out the fact, the thief confessed his sins. To prove confession is a requirement to receive forgiveness is another study, requiring proof texts.

    The thief also witnessed. Is this a condition of being saved or a product of knowing you are saved. Of course this is another study, requiring proof texts.

    A study should be constructed to raise questions. If we spend too much time answering all the questions, people become lazy and begin to rely on others. Pretty soon, they are not relying on God for anything, they are relying on other people.

  6. astudent says:


    Thanks for clarifying. We seem to agree completely. I know it is better to form questions, but God has not gifted me with that ability. Well not yet. Actually, I think, God usually teaches with parables, but again I can’t. So I usually say what I think is correct as a statement of truth and really, I hope those who read this blog will disagree with me. I am a selfish person that wants to understand all of God’s word and I know I do not. If we agree between us and both of us are right neither of us has learned a thing. The same can be said if we are both wrong. But if only one is right and we can debate with truth then perhaps one of us can learn more about God. I really want to be wrong, because I want to learn!
    I couldn’t agree more when you say people rely on others rather than God, but I suppose that is part of the test. If one does not care enough to think about God’s word, then why would He care enough to teach it?

  7. Creek Chief says:

    Fellow Theologians,
    I believe that Luke and the Gospel writers intentionally leave a question mark concerning the baptism of the thief. No one knows except God, and Christ knew the heart of the thief had been changed (a baptism of the heart had occurred). The physical water is secondary to the primary invisible claiming of the man by God (internal baptism). We have a response and a desire to be a part of the Kingdom of God. If you need the physical water, well, the sky became dark so perhaps God Himself did a Methodist sprinkling (or pouring) upon the thief. Only God knows for sure and I am comfortable with that. Creek Chief

  8. astudent says:

    Greek Chief,

    Well, Baptism is a burial ceremony and to just sprinkle dirt on a dead body is not my idea of a proper burial. So I would not be comfortable with that.

    But that is just me.

  9. famus says:

    Isaiah 55:11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts , neither are yours ways my ways, saith the Lord. Jesus himself baptized (john 3:22. I know that you will disagree with me, and refer to John 4:2. However, you must clearly understand that Greeks did not write with parentheses( ) nor did scribes or other writer during that time. this is an add on. Luke 1:37 For with God nothing is impossible. If Jesus indicated that baptism is an ingredient to our salvation, then who am I to say it’s not. Acts 2:38 this is after the resurrection of our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. v38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent , and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  10. astudent says:


    Isaiah 55:11 does indeed say “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are yours ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

    Have you considered, 1Co 2:16 (NIV) “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ”?

    Is not Christ the Lord? Then do we not have access to the thoughts spoken of in Isaiah?

    John 4:2 does not contradict John 3:22: it explains it.

    Baptism is a symbol as well as a ritual. Jesus was also baptized, because that is where we are joined with him; therefore, he has to be there as well, and because he is in the water he cannot baptize.

    It may well be that Greeks did not use parentheses, but the Bible that we read is not in Greek. I believe that God watches over His Word and would not allow it to be changed

  11. selva says:

    brother in CHRIST,
    Who is a thief clearly described in john 10 & when a person caught in the hands of thief what he does & do in luke chapter 10.baptism is not ritual its a divine blessing.when bro.saul was met by GOD he submitted himself to GOD.EVERYTHING WITNESSSED BY HEAVEN. from heaven arranged a disciple annaniah & heaven directed ananiah to meet bro.saul & then changed himself as bro.paul through baptism.similarly when cornelius had submitted himself to the will of GOD . GOD arranged disciple peter & arranged to meet themselves then disciple peter was utilized by GOD as a tool to effect baptism.
    hence thief is a thief he has mocked JESUS CHRIST @ the cross
    (mathew 27:44 & mark 15:31) but the real . so it is clear they are not baptised. but he was nailed to the cross along with christ & died along with christ & he went to paradise with christ.(fulfilling our washing in the blood of christ through baptism) as in Romans chapter 6 but @ the last time he has a vision of christ judgement (read luke 23:39-43) in that verse 42 ” remember me when you come into yr kingdom ” where he took to the paradise he became aware of his judgement.

  12. astudent says:


    Would you be so kind as to tell me where you acquired the name “annaniah’. I have found no record of any of this in any translation that I have.

  13. Kim says:

    The Lord Jesus Christ is God Almighty and He is all-knowing of the Thief’s past, present and future. The Thief may have been baptized by John the Baptist or by the Disciples of Jesus Christ. If the Thief was never baptized, Paradise belongs to Jesus Christ and He knows who is Righteous to be accepted into that realm of eternity. This event of the Thief called Dismas by Tradition does not excuse us from being baptized in water. You and I are not on a cross and cannot get down, so go and receive water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

  14. astudent says:


    I agree. Why would anyone take the chance that baptism is not required? Moreover, why would anyone teach others, or even infer that baptism is unnecessary? I certainly would not want to be in that person’s shoes, if it is necessary.

    How bad would one feel if they caused someone else to fail and have forever to remember it? And for what? Just so others will call them right?

    It is not right to cause others to endanger themselves.

    You also rightly say, “Go and receive water baptism” as it is not a work that we can do. It must be done for us.

  15. james garrett says:

    i like this study and would like to see it continue; did the thief die under the law of moses, because jesus had not been raised from the dead?

  16. astudent says:

    James Garrett,

    Now that is a very good question. One that I had not thought of!

    After thinking about it (probably not enough), I do not think that the thief died under the Law of Moses.

    Jesus died before the thief. In other words, the sacrifice that saves us was made before the thief died and it is the sacrifice that saves us, not the resurrection.

    It seems to me that Jesus was raised because, though He took our sin, he had no sin of his own and it would not be fair to take his life for someone else’s sin: even if he asked.

    Well, that is the way I see it anyway.

    Actually, the Law of Moses and the Law after Jesus is the same. It all comes from “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. It is the way of God and the way we will all live in Heaven.

    It is very encouraging to me to see others thinking deeply about God’s Word. That is my goal.

    Well, if I had one.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  17. David says:

    It is true that we do not know if the thief was baptized or not, therefore it would be foolish to use him as a example of salvation. What is more important is that the promise given to the thief was personal and not something that can be claimed by the rest of us. Just as we can not claim the promises given to Moses, Hannah or David, neither can we claim the thief’s. The promise that we can all claim is the universal one given in Acts 2:38.

  18. astudent says:


    After reading the post, how can you say that “we do not know if the thief was baptized or not”?

    Is it not clear that I know that the thief was baptized?

    Personally, I believe the promise made to the thief is also made to me. You chose acts 2:38 and left out Acts 2:21! That is what the thief did. He called on the name of the Lord.

    It seems to me that Acts 2:21 is much more universal than 2:38. There will be some in Heaven that were not baptized into Christ (while they lived on this earth). Baptism into Christ was not available to anyone before Christ died, but I am sure Abraham will be in Heaven.

    If it were possible for this piece of iron to sharpen another, then my message would be to listen to God and doubt everything that any man says. Man has always said to me that the thief was not baptized, but when I asked God, I received a different answer. That answer came from Scripture, not from man.

  19. gary says:

    if a man is baptized and then begins to sin again should he get baptized again to to be saved.

  20. astudent says:


    No, because we all sin, before and after we have been baptized.

    1John 1:8-10 (NIV) “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

    We are not made perfect and baptism does not change us so that we do not sin. That is not to say that we should not attempt to obey the Law (Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself), but it is not possible to be perfect.

    We should try to stop sinning and repent when we do.

    Heb 10:26&27 (NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

    The key words are ‘deliberately keep on sinning’. A second baptism is not necessary, nor would it help. Repentance seems to be a life time task.

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