Baptism in Jesus Name
Based on every detailed account given in the book of Acts, baptism was always done in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48 “in the name of Jesus Christ” – NIV, and 19:5). There is no record of baptism being performed using any other name but the name of Jesus. Titles such as “Lord” and “Christ” are used in conjunction with the name of Jesus, but the name of Jesus alone is the one name that is consistently used since it is the only saving name (Acts 4:12). In Matt. 28:19, Jesus gave His disciples the command to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Though this command is misunderstood by some to mean a command to use a spoken formula “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, Jesus intended for us to understand that His name is God’s New Testament name that all nations are to be baptized into. There are seven ways Matt. 28:19 may be viewed; any one of these perspectives shows the single name that belongs to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is Jesus. Together, these seven views give powerful insight into the depth and purpose of Jesus’ statement in Matt. 28:19. The first view begins narrowly focusing on one word; with each proceeding view, the focus becomes broader, ending with the overall Biblical doctrine of God’s name.
View One: The Word “Name”
Notice that the word “name” is used in the singular; Jesus did not use the plural “names.” There is a single name to be understood by Matthew 28:19. This one name would belong to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
View Two: The Phrase, “In The Name Of, and Of, and Of”
By comparing Matt. 28:19 to other passages containing similar terminology, a consistent interpretation emerges. When an entity is said to be of or owned by more than one subject, the entity remains one and is shared by the various subjects. For example, “the house of Paul, and of Silas, and of Barnabas” means Paul, Silas, and Barnabas all share the same house. Biblical examples of this usage include Ex. 3:16, Mk. 6:3, 15:40, Eph. 5:5, Col. 2:2, 2 Tim. 1:7, Jam. 1:1, 1 Pt. 4:14, and Rev. 22:1,3. Matt. 28:19 then points to a single name owned by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
View Three: The Immediate Context
In Matt. 28:18, Jesus said, “All power is given UNTO ME in heaven and earth. Go ye therefore…” Jesus command to baptize in the one name was based on HIS authority. In effect, Jesus was saying, “Because all power has been given to me, go and baptize in the one name that has all power; the name that belongs to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” It would be preposterous to think Jesus would have meant, “Because all power is given to me, go baptize in three names.” No, for if Jesus has all power, and He based the command to be done on that power, then the name that represents the One who has all power is the single name He intended for us to baptize in. In verses 18 and 20, Jesus uses the singular pronouns “me” and “I” three times along with the singular word name. The context of Matt. 28:18-20 demands that Jesus is the one name that contains all power and belongs to the Father, Son, & Holy Ghost.
View Four: The Other Gospels
Matt 28:19 is one of the four gospels that refer to the great commission. By looking at the other gospel writers, we can find a consistent theme that the name of Jesus is the one name to be used in preaching, believing, repenting, remitting sins, baptizing, and casting out devils (Mark 16:15-17, Lk. 24:47, Jn. 20:31). If the name has all power in heaven & earth (Matt 28:18) and is to be used in every other Christian act, then it is consistent to use the same name at baptism and to understand Jesus is the one name of Matt. 28:19.
View Five: The Fulfillment in Acts
One of the fundamental principles of Biblical interpretation is as follows: if a passage is unclear in the Bible, seek to find other passages which fulfill the scripture to gain further understanding. By looking at how Matt. 28:19 was carried out by the early church, we can understand exactly what Jesus intended. While Acts 2:38 and 10:48 state that the apostle Peter commanded baptism to be done in the name of Jesus, Acts 8:16 and 19:5 are actual fulfillments of Matt. 28:19. Both of these passages say, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Thus, Matt.28:19 is fulfilled by baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. In the book of Acts, Jesus’ command to use His name in every Christian action was also fulfilled. Prayer, healing, casting out of devils, preaching, teaching, and suffering was all done in the name of Jesus (Acts 3:6,16, 4:10, 5:28, 40-42, 16:18).
View Six: Commentaries from the Epistles
When we look at the epistles in the New Testament, we find the focus of all Christian action and activity to be done through the person and the name of Jesus. In the book of Colossians, the apostle Paul wrote that all things were made by Jesus and for Jesus (Col 1:15-16). Here Jesus is described as the creator, the Father. In verses 20-22, Jesus reconciled us to God by the body of his flesh. This is a reference to the Son since the Son of God is the flesh that was begotten in Mary (Lk.1:35). In verse 27, Paul refers to the Holy Ghost as “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” As if this were not enough, Paul continues to write in Col 2:9-10: “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power”. Paul then writes we are buried with Christ by baptism (Col 2:12) and concludes the use of the name of Jesus in 3:17: “And whatever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Why use the name of Jesus? He is the Father Creator, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead; we are complete in Him and are buried with Him by baptism; and whatever we do in word or deed, we are to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus!
View Seven: The Biblical Doctrine of God’s Name
The one true God has always had a single name whereby He was known to His people. In the Old Testament, His name was Jehovah or Yahweh which means “the self-existent one”. God revealed this name to His people (Ex.3:13-15, 6:3, Ps. 83:18). When God was made flesh (Jn.1:1, 10, 14), He joined a title “savior” to His name, which would accurately describe what God became. Phil. 2:9 tells us that the name of Jesus is above every name. This is true because Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation”; it is the one name that describes the one true God in human form (Mt.1:21, 23, Phil.2:6-10). Thus the Biblical doctrine of the name of God teaches that God’s New Testament name for salvation is Jesus (Acts 4:12). There is no name greater than the name of Jesus (Eph.1:20-21).
In light of Matt 28:19, the one name that belongs to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is Jesus. Since Jesus is God’s supreme name, it belongs to the Father (Jn. 5:43), to the Son (Philip.2:9, Heb. 1:4), and to the Holy Ghost (Philip.1:19). If the name of Jesus belonged only to the Son, that is, only to God in human form, then it would not be supreme; but the name of Jesus supersedes the humanity of Jesus. The name of Jesus belongs to God in flesh (Son), God as the source of all things (Father), and God in the lives of His people (Spirit).
This article Baptism in Jesus Name by Edwin Muller was excerpted from: The SFT Scroll magazine. It may be used for study & research purposes only.