Baptism in the Name of Jesus
Christian water baptism is an ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ. If it is not important in the plan of God, why did Jesus command it in Matthew 28:19? And why did Peter later follow up by saying, “Be baptized every one of you,” and also commanded the Gentiles to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 10:48)? We must remember two points about the importance of water baptism. First, whatever Christ definitely established and ordained cannot be unimportant, whether we understand its significance or not. Secondly, Christ and the apostles emphasized the importance of this ordinance by also observing it. Jesus walked many miles to be baptized, though He was without sin, saying, “For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (See Matthew 3:13-16.)
It is true that water itself does not contain any saving virtue, but God chose to include it in His plan of salvation. Peter explained, “Baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3:21). According to Luke 7:30, “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized.”
The Mode of Baptism:
According to the Scriptures, the proper mode of baptism is immersion. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16). “And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38). “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4). Repentance identifies us with the death of Christ, and baptism identifies us with His burial. In baptism, we are coming forth from a watery grave, receiving new life in the Holy Spirit which identifies us with His resurrection.
The Formula for Baptism:
Jesus commanded His disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). He did not command them to use these words as a formula, but He commanded them to baptize in “the name.” The word name is used here in the singular, and it is the focal point of the baptismal command. The titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost describe God’s relationships to humanity and are not the same as the saving name, which is Jesus. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus is the name in which the roles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are revealed. The angel of the Lord instructed Joseph, “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name,” and, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,…the Father will send in my name” (John 5:43; 14:26). Thus by baptizing in the name of Jesus, we honor the Godhead. “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
Luke 24:45-47 records that just before His ascension, Jesus opened his disciples’ understanding. Then Jesus said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” The disciples had their understanding opened so that they could grasp the vast importance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Verse 47 describes the commission that Jesus then gave: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations [Jews and Gentiles], beginning at Jerusalem.”
Peter was one whom Jesus had spoken and whose understanding had been opened. After having listened to these instructions, a few days later he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to preach on the Day of Pentecost. The hearts of the hearers were pierced and, feeling condemned, they cried out to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter did not hesitate but boldly answered, “Repent, and be baptized every one 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). “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). The apostles understood and carried out the Lord’s commission as it was intended.
The Samaritans, who were not Jews, were also baptized in the name of Jesus. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them….”But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women…. They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:5, 12, 16).
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, went to Ephesus many years after the Day of Pentecost and found some disciples of John the Baptist there. “He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:2-5). Although these disciples had already been baptized, the name of Jesus was so important as to cause them to be re-baptized in His name.
Paul wrote, ”Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Water baptism is done in both word and deed. We cannot afford to overlook this command to the church. The church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). The apostles not only preached baptism in Jesus’ name, but they practiced it. Nowhere can we find that they baptized using the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Instead, we find them baptizing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some say that they will accept the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19, but not those of Peter in Acts 2:38. Jesus said ” …baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.” On the Day of Pentecost, Peter speaking under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, proclaimed Jesus name baptism as the fulfillment of Matthew 28:19. Jesus name baptism is the answer to what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 and what Peter stated in Acts 2:38. “For in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).