Some argue that 1 Peter 3:21 teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation. However, clearer Scripture passages definitively teach that baptism is ”not” necessary for salvation—since justification is by faith alone—and there is a very reasonable interpretation of 1 Peter 3:21 that does not contradict with the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,1 Peter 3:21
Those who argue that baptism is necessary for salvation argue that 1 Peter 3:21 teaches that baptism saves a person.
The second half of 1 Peter 3:21 helps us understand what Peter means when he writes that “baptism… now saves you.” It says, “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience.”
From the second half of 1 Peter 3:21, we learn that Peter is essentially referring to baptism and faith as the same thing (since baptism is the public declaration, representation, and symbol of a person’s faith). He says that baptism does not actually remove dirt from the body—that is, it does not cleanse or save a person—but rather, it is “an appeal to God,” or trust in God.
This is a very reasonable interpretation of 1 Peter 3:21 that does not contradict with what Scripture teaches elsewhere concerning justification by faith alone.
There are clear passages that teach that salvation and justification is through faith alone. 1 Peter 3:21 is not entirely clear concerning whether baptism is necessary for salvation, so we must interpret 1 Peter 3:21 in light of Scripture’s clear teaching elsewhere concerning what ”’is”’ necessary for salvation.
To read more, see Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?