As with any single verse or passage, we discern what it  teaches by first filtering it through what we know the Bible teaches on the  subject at hand. In the case of baptism and salvation, the Bible is clear that  salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by works of any kind,  including baptism (Ephesians  2:8-9). So, any interpretation which comes to the conclusion that baptism,  or any other act, is necessary for salvation, is a faulty interpretation. For  more information, please visit our webpage on “Is  salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?

Acts 22:16, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be  baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” The first question that  must be answered is “when was Paul saved?” 1. Paul tells that he did not receive  or hear the Gospel from Ananias, but rather he heard it directly from Christ. Galatians  1:11-12 says, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which  was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man,  nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”  So, Paul heard and believed in Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul had already  believed in Christ when Ananias came to pray for him to receive his sight (Acts 9:17).

2. It also  should be noted that Paul at the time when Ananias prayed for him to receive his  sight,  he also received the Holy Spirit (Acts  9:17)–this was before he was baptized (Acts 9:18).  Acts presents a transition period where God’s focus turns from Israel to the  Church. The events recorded in Acts are not always normative. With regard to  receiving the Holy Spirit, the norm is that a person receives and is permanently  indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation.

3. The Greek  aorist participle, epikalesamenos, translated “calling on His name” refers  either to action that is simultaneous with or before that of the main verb, “be  baptized.” Here Paul’s calling on Christ’s name for salvation preceded his water  baptism. The participle may be translated “having called on His name” which  makes more sense, as it would clearly indicate the order of the events.

4. Concerning the words, “be baptized, and wash away your sins,” because Paul  was already cleansed spiritually at the time Christ appeared to him, these words  must refer to the symbolism of baptism. Baptism is a picture of God’s inner work  of washing away sin (1  Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter  3:21).

5. It is also interesting that when Paul recounted this event  again later in Acts (Acts  26:12-18), he did not mention Ananias or what Ananias said to him at all.  Verse 18 again would confirm the idea that Paul received Christ as Savior on the  road to Damascus since here Christ is telling Paul he will be a messenger for  Him concerning forgiveness of sins for Gentiles as they have faith in Him. It  would seem unlikely that Christ would commission Paul if Paul had not yet  believed in Him.