Baptism In The Name Of Jesus Christ
Charles J. Aebi
Dear Aebi: “In whose name are we to be baptized? My friend says we should be baptized in the name of ‘Jesus only,’ but I have heard preachers say ‘in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.’ Which is correct?”
In Acts 2:38 those who asked what to do were commanded, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (NKJV). Acts 10:48 says, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Peter was the speaker in both passages. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus said to baptize in the name of all three persons in the Godhead; then why did Peter say to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ …”? He said it because that was the same as saying in the name of all three. “In the name of …” means “by the authority of …” What Jesus commanded was by all authority in heaven and on earth, so it was by the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the spokesman for God today (Hebrews 1:11-2), and whatever He or the apostles said is by the authority of all three persons in the Godhead. Jesus is divine, so He expresses the will of divinity (God). When the apostles spoke, it was to say what the Holy Spirit prompted them to say: it was the word of God – of the Trinity, or of all three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Before Jesus’ death, He had authority to speak only what the Father gave Him to say (John 12:49); but after His resurrection, Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). However, both before and after the cross, what Jesus commanded was by the authority of God. There was no disagreement or misunderstanding there: the Father and the Son are one in deity as in purpose (John 17:21-23). Therefore, to do something in the name of Jesus is to do it in the name of God.
Those who baptize “in the name of Jesus only” usually do so because they think there is only one Person in the Godhead – one person who may be called Father, Son, or Holy Spirit at different times. However, the Bible speaks in several places of all three as separate persons. In most cases of baptism in the New Testament, it is not stated by whose authority or in whose name it was done, but we understand it was by the authority of Jesus, which amounts to all the authority of God.
The New Testament gives us no liturgy or ritual to tell us what to say as we baptize anyone, or whether even to say anything at all. The command for baptism is for immersion in water for forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus or of the Godhead, and no formula is given for words to be spoken or even for the manner or place in which the immersion is accomplished. When one says, as he immerses a penitent believer, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins,” he says it to clarify for everyone what he is doing, and he may use the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the same reason. Whether he says it or not, we understand what is being done and why; it just helps us for him to say it. –2660 Layman Rd., Vincent OH 45784 firstname.lastname@example.org
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