Randy White

I often hear people arguing good, solid theological positions, but they base their arguments on Biblical texts that do not prove their point. In the end, they do more harm than good and make it seem like their point is based on a flawed foundation. As a dispensationalist, I see this happen all the time in arguments for the pre-tribulational rapture. I once rejected this stance based on silly arguments that I had heard from Revelation 4:1’s instruction to John to “come up here.” At that time, I was uneducated in pre-trib theology and quickly realized that if that was the only argument presented, it was very flimsy.

Later, I fully adopted the pre-trib, pre-millennial theology, but it took some “unlearning” to get there.

In this article, I will use a completely different example to encourage the use of good argumentation in solid theology.

When making an argument based on the Bible, it’s essential to ensure you have a solid biblical argument that considers what your text actually says. A case in point can be seen in Mark 1:10, where Jesus is described as “coming up out of the water.” This verse is often used to advocate for baptism by immersion (which I believe is the way people were baptized in the New Testament), but let’s examine why it might not be the best argument.

Understanding Mark 1:10

Mark 1:10 describes Jesus immediately after His baptism, saying, “And straightway coming up out of the water…” This text is often used to encourage baptism by saying, “See, it’s right there! Jesus came up out of the water, and so should you!”

The issue is that our understanding of words, whether reading in English or Greek, can be based on preconceived notions rather than the intended textual meaning. For example, if I understand baptism by immersion, then I will interpret the phrase “came up out of the water” as “having been immersed, Jesus came up out of the water.” However, if I have a preconceived notion of sprinkling or pouring, the phrase simply states that Jesus, who was in the river when he was sprinkled, came up out of the water.

Interpretation Challenges

The translation of the verse from Greek to English reveals ambiguities. A solid intellectual argument could be made that the Greek word “ἀναβαίνω” (anabainō) in the phrase “coming up out of the water” could mean Jesus emerging from the river to the bank. Such an arugment could be made from English as well. The phrase doesn’t necessarily imply immersion, so if I want to argue Baptism by immersion (and I do), I should argue from a more solid platform.

Similarly, the Greek preposition ‘apo,’ used in the phrase, usually implies movement away from something, rather than coming out of the center (which would be typically expressed with ‘ek’). This interpretation further weakens the argument for immersion.

Proper Biblical Argumentation

To make a solid biblical argument, one must consider both the text’s literal and contextual aspects. Using Mark 1:10 as a clear example of baptism by immersion is problematic due to the Greek and English languages’ inherent ambiguity.

While verse 10 provides a vivid depiction of Jesus’s baptism, it neither confirms nor denies baptism by immersion. Therefore, this verse alone should not be the cornerstone for advocating baptism by immersion.


When formulating biblical arguments, consider the passage’s historical, cultural, and linguistic contexts. This practice will ensure a robust and accurate interpretation and argument.

Those of us who are dispensationalists have an “uphill climb” in today’s theological argument. But even today there are millions of Christians who will listen to a logic-based, solid theological argument. Let’s make sure we give them one! And perhaps the place to begin is by asking ourselves a question: does the text actually say what I say it says? If not, strengthen the argument before starting the argument.