Baptism Into the Name of Jesus Christ
Essential or Ritual?
By: Michael Trapasso
In these closing days of Calvary’s grace as the atmosphere is charged with the electrifying expectation of the soon return of Jesus Christ, the question of whether baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ is a must to salvation has indeed become a most controversial subject.
Before discussing this matter further, however, we wish to emphasize that we who are baptized in this manner are baptized in or into the Name, the Name Jesus Christ.
We find that from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation the scriptures proclaim why it is so vitally important that a person be baptized in the Name of Jesus. But before we give the scriptures a chance to testify of this marvelous truth, we will lay a solid scriptural foundation for the necessity of water baptism as found in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles.
In the beginning of the Gospels, we find John the Baptist heralding his blazing message of truth. Not only was his ministry for the purpose of preparing the people for the coming of Christ, but also for the plan of salvation that would be ushered in after Calvary. He preached to REPENT, to be BAPTIZED, for the REMISSION OF SINS, and to believe on him which would baptize them with the HOLY GHOST. (see Mark 1:4, 8; Matthew 3:2, 11). After Calvary, Peter, to whom Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom, (Matt. 16:18-19), preached to REPENT, to be BAPTIZED in the Name of Jesus Christ for the REMISSION OF SINS, and to receive the HOLY GHOST, (Acts 2:38). So as one can see, John’s message was a stepping stone to Peter’s.
By scanning the pages of the New Testament, one will readily acknowledge the fact that water baptism indeed, is vividly portrayed throughout the sacred writings. The FIRST WORDS of Jesus that we find in the opening book of the New Testament are addressed to John the Baptist. Jesus requested that John baptize him; but John, feeling his unworthiness, hesitated. Jesus insisted, however; and the next words we find are, ‘And Jesus when He was BAPTIZED went up straightway out of the water’. (Matt. 3:16). His LAST WORDS, in this same book and also in Mark, are addressed to His disciples. He commissions them to go forth and preach the GOSPEL and ‘he that BELIEVETH and is BAPTIZED shall be saved; but he that believeth not (of course then, these would not be baptized) shall be damned.’ (see Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 28:19).
In John 3:3-7, Jesus firmly declared two requirements that a soul must obey if he is to enter into the kingdom of God; ‘Except a man be BORN AGAIN OF WATER (baptized) and OF THE SPIRIT (receive the HOLY SPIRIT) he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.’ This new birth was so important that Jesus repeated three times ye must be ‘born’ again.
In Acts 16:25-34, we find where Paul and Silas began to sing praises unto God at midnight; soon thereafter, an earthquake shook the jail; and the prisoners were loosed. The jailer, knowing that the event had happened because of Paul and Silas, looked to them for salvation. Paul immediately preached the word of the Lord unto him and his household. The same hour of the night he BAPTIZED them. No doubt, it was close to 2:00 A.M. Paul and Silas baptized them at such a late hour, even before they had eaten any food to provide nourishment for their lashed backs. One might ask, ‘Why did they baptize them at such a late hour under such circumstances?’ The reason was that Paul knew the penalty for letting a prisoner escape was death. (see Acts 12:19, 16:23). He realized that this jailer could be put to death at any moment for allowing his prisoners to escape. So Paul, knowing that this man had not completed his salvation, for he had not been ‘born again of water’, looked beyond the needs of his own flesh and baptized this man and his household.
Paul realized the importance of water baptism from the very beginning of his own conversion to Christianity. From reading Acts 9:9, 18-19, one will notice that Paul had been without food and water for three days; but before eating or drinking anything, however, he was BAPTIZED. Paul was fully aware that his need for salvation was much greater than his need for that of water and food.
When the door of salvation was opened to the Jews as far as the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ is concerned, we can clearly see that baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ was certainly a requirement for salvation. The Apostle Peter boldly declared, ‘Repent and be BAPTIZED everyone of you in the NAME of JESUS CHRIST, for the REMISSION OF SINS and ye shall receive the gift of the HOLY GHOST.’ (Acts 2:38) and yet we can see that this was not only Peter’s doctrine, but the doctrine of all twelve apostles. For just three verses after Peter finished his sermon, it was no longer considered Peter’s doctrine, but rather the ‘Apostle’s (plural) Doctrine.’
When the door of salvation was opened to the Samaritans, the first thing that Philip did, after preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the ‘NAME’ of Jesus Christ, was to BAPTIZE the people in (eis, Greek: meaning into) the NAME (ONOMA; Greek) of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:12, 16).
When the door of salvation was opened to the Gentiles, as found in Acts 1:43-48, Peter, remembering that Jesus has said a man must be ‘born again of water’ cries out, `Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as wee have? And he commanded them to be BAPTIZED in the NAME of JESUS CHRIST.’ (R.S.V.) By reading Acts 11:13-14, one can see the Bible further confirms that the words Peter spoke to the Gentiles were the requirements for salvation. These two scriptures proclaim, ‘And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa and call for Simon whose surname is Peter; who shall TELL thee WORDS WHEREBY THOU and ALL THY HOUSE SHALL BE SAVED.’ So as we can see, when Peter commanded them to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ, he was telling Cornelius and his household the plan of salvation.
When the door of salvation was opened to the Ethiopians, the first convert cried out, See here is the WATER, what doth hinder me to be BAPTIZED?’ (Acts 8:36). And as was have already seen in verse 16 of this same chapter, Philip baptized all his converts into the NAME of the Lord Jesus.
When the door of salvation was opened to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul preached to twelve men who had not received the Holy Ghost. He also realized that these men were not properly baptized; so he immediately REBAPTIZED them in (eis) the NAME (ONOMA) of the LORD JESUS. (see Acts 19:1-6)
When the door of salvation was opened to the Galatians, it is only natural to assume that he baptized them in the same was that he had baptized the Ephesians as just mentioned above. And from Paul’s words to this church of Galatia as found in Gal. 3:27, ‘For as many of you as have been baptized into (eis) Christ have put on Christ’, it is further evident that he baptized them into the name of Jesus Christ.
When the door of salvation was opened to mankind across the known world, they too, as we shall see, were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ by the apostles.
Although we have seen that the Apostles of Jesus Christ commanded baptism into the Name of Jesus Christ, many sincere folks may still wonder, ‘Is baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ, many sincere folks may still wonder, ‘Is baptism in the name of Jesus really the ANSWER to being saved?’ The scriptures give a direct remark concerning this question as it explains in I Peter 3:20-21, ‘…wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even BAPTISM doth also NOW SAVE US (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the ANSWER (noun) of a good (clean, R.S.V. conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’ Peter, after saying “baptism doth now save us,’ placed in parenthesis that baptism is not for the purpose of an outward washing as in the O.T. (see Lev. 16:24), but now the ANSWER of a clean conscience is just another term as a clean soul or heart of life which has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. This scripture proclaims the blood of Christ purged our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Peter concludes with the phrase, ‘by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’ That is, it is by and because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that when an individual is obedient to God’s word in being properly baptized, it results in the remission of his sins. Paul too, in I Cor. 15:17 and Romans 4:25, reveals that it is by the resurrection of Christ that the gospel has its saving power.
In the light of these scriptures alone, excluding many more which fully support and uphold this doctrine, an individual having a desire for complete salvation should not only be convinced of his need for water baptism, but also that his union with Christ in this manner should be administered in the Name of Jesus Christ.