Water Baptism in the Name of Jesus (Not!)

         There’s power in the Name of Jesus.

         But apparently not in baptism.

         The vast majority of Christians worldwide for the last two-thousand years have absolutely refused to invoke the Name Above Every Name [1] in water baptism.

         By this, at the very onset of their Christian walk, they have failed to honor the Lord Jesus though simultaneously claiming a very close walk with Him.

         Most are simply unaware. Many have been taught an alternative method and have accepted it, though it violates Scripture. Some simply do not care.

         What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

         “Baptism doesn’t matter. So back off.”

         “Baptism is very important, of course, but the first Christians obviously got it wrong.”

         “Baptism in the Name of Jesus is heresy.”

         “Oh that. Yeah, there’s some weird people out there doing some weird stuff, especially those guys. The verse at the end of Matthew is very clear on the right way to baptize.”

         Despite the fact that every single reputable Biblical encyclopedia, dictionary, ancient source, and denominational historical record states flatly and clearly that the original water immersion method taught and administered by the apostles included invoking the pure and holy Name of Jesus, about 95% of all Christians continue to refuse to use the Lord’s Name in baptism. And most conduct baptism in a man-made non-Scriptural manner.

         This disses the Lord.

         If a Christian believes in and honors the Holy Trinity, (a non-Biblical term), his or her water baptism will certainly reflect it. He or she will honor these three distinct Persons by invoking their Biblical titles. He or she will honor the first Person of the heavenly Godhead—the Father. He or she will honor the second Person of the heavenly Godhead—the Son. And he or she will honor the third Person of the heavenly Godhead—the Holy Spirit.

         There’s only one little problem.

         This is something the first followers of Jesus never did.

         And the reason why is simple: They recognized Jesus the Messiah as YHWH Himself. And they honored the one God of the Hebrews and showed their allegiance to Him by invoking His Name, the Name Above Every Name, in water baptism. They were taught by the apostles themselves, who set the precedent, and who were themselves taught directly by the Lord Jesus.

         The record in the Book of Acts and throughout the epistles is clear—there is absolutely no Scriptural historical evidence whatsoever for title baptism. It never occurred. It was a much later development.

         Now, why does one suppose this happened? Why was it officially changed, though the Word of God continues to loudly declare it openly and exclusively? Who could possibly be responsible for removing the powerful and holy Name of the Lord Jesus from baptism?

         Regarding the Word of God, which Christians claim to honor, here is the overwhelming evidence that demands a verdict: 

         And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” [Mark 16:15-18]

         Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. [Acts 2:38-41]

         But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. [Acts 8:12-17]

         So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; [Acts 9:17-18]

         “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’” [Acts 22:12-16]    

         While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. [Acts 10:44-48]

         It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men. [Acts 19:1-7]

         Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. [Romans 6:3-4]   

         Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. [1 Corinthians 6:11]

         There is a reason such verses of Scripture bring strong reactions. If one studies the Book of Acts, one discovers that the enemies of the Lord hated His Name, and they hated His followers’ use of His Name. They knew there was great power in the Name of Jesus, and they knew it greatly superseded their power.

         Demons were cast out by the Name of Jesus, not mere titles.

         Miraculous healings took place by the Name of Jesus, not mere titles.

         People were being made free from the wicked power of sin by the Name of Jesus, not mere titles.

         Concerning the command of the Lord regarding water baptism, why have most Christians agreed with the enemy?

         “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]

         This is why Peter said what he did at the conclusion of the first prototypical message of the Church Age. Immersion in water in the name of Jesus signified the giving of oneself to Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior. It signified an extremely undignified and all-embracing act—dying completely to self—performed in the open and recorded in public for all to see. It signified the burial of the repentant (dead) person and total surrender to the Lord Jesus.

         Instead of dissing the Lord in baptism, it was the highest possible form of praise.

         Real Christians are constantly on the move toward greater spiritual growth and maturity, the gaining of more revelatory knowledge, and a closer walk with the Lord. We learn new things all the time. Life with the Lord Jesus is a spiritual adventure. It is productive and fruit-bearing, though there are times of severe struggle and trial.

         However, resistance against new revelation is often on the surface, ready to emerge. In light of that:

         Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2 Timothy 2:15]

         Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. [Acts 17:10-11]

         Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. [Colossians 3:17] [2]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Philippians 2:9

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on May 19, 2012, in Real Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. You’re right about this. Water baptism is to be in Jesus’ name. I understand that there is no difference in being immersed in Jesus’ name and being being immersed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). This is clearly baptism in Jesus’ name. Both should be accepted in one baptism since both expressions include the other. No matter which name(s) is announced at the baptism, the other should be understood. If such is a matter of contention, I recommend any announcement note the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit verbatim from Christ, and then noted right before the initial act.

    Trinity is just not a good word. There is no Greek word to support the concept. Godhead is better, but still not the best representation of Deity. Not using “trinity” certainly does not neglect the manifest persons of God. Yet, this does not change the specificity of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

    I’m glad to see you teaching this truth about baptism. May God bless you to always pursue teaching the truth.

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  2. Thank you for your comment, Scott, and for visiting. I appreciate your support.

    In light of all the “Christian” corruption that has taken place over the last 2,000 years regarding the original teachings of the Lord Jesus and His apostles, it is really no wonder that water baptism has also been altered by man-made changes.

    The point we must remember is that the apostles and early believers never used title baptism. This is simply fact. I therefore respectfully disagree that both methods are okay. But in saying this, I am simply arguing from a New Testament perspective and am not questioning any believer’s heart or walk with God.

    There is no evidence whatsoever of title baptism in the New Testament. When change began is not exactly clear, but it was most likely in the second to third centuries. It started out among a few, as is always the case, and grew over time. We do know that by 325 AD the Name of Jesus was officially removed and title baptism was officially instituted by Constantine.

    This was not simply an innocent or innocuous change. Removing the Name removes the authority and power of the Name. It has been argued that the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is JESUS, and this is why the apostles used the Name of Jesus and never the titles. Yet, most Christians in the world simply do not believe that Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    The power is in His Name. The relationship with God is in His Name—the Name Above Every Name. The power to change hearts and cleanse from sin is in the Person and Name of Jesus.

    Like baptism, the concept of the Trinity was also made official in 325 AD, three entire centuries after that first Pentecost.

    I used the term “Godhead” because most Christians are familiar with it, but I agree, it is a bad translation. It only appears three times in the KJV New Testament. The NASV and NKJV use the term “Divine Nature,” which gives a very good sense of the Greek word.

    We must remember that the whole point of baptism is submitting to the one who is named. Paul wrote, “And all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [1 Corinthians 10:2]. There was also a second national baptism under the authority of John the Baptist, which was a baptism of repentance.

    Baptism in the Name of Jesus, the final baptism and only accurate New Covenant baptism, is an immersion unto Life, as one is placing himself under the full authority of Jesus and, through repentance (death) and being “buried with Him in baptism,” becoming a member of His blood covenant.

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  3. Interesting article and thought provoking. There is one Scripture that is not included in this piece: Matt. 28:19-20 where Jesus told his disciples to make disciples “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” – he does not say in the name of Jesus only. Have you considered that in the final analysis?

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  4. Thanks for your comment.

    In spite of the overwhelming evidence throughout the New Testament exclusively supporting water baptism in the Name of Jesus (only), Matthew 28:19 has almost always been the consensus default Scripture used by the majority of Christians, and this remains true today.

    Research has proven conclusively that the Matthew 28:19 statement does not dovetail with the historical record in Acts and the NT. Why would Peter violate the clear command of the Lord Jesus? Why would the others all insist on using the Name of Jesus only? Why did they never invoke the titles (not names) of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

    Look for future articles on this site exploring the possibilities. Thanks again, and be blessed.

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  5. Thanks for letting me know about this post. Most don’t understand the importance of baptism in the conversion/salvation process. Like I said in my post about baptism, we follow Christ’s example in all things, and that includes baptism.

    Thanks also for your faithful support of our blog for God.

    Blessings, your sister God Squad member,
    Pastor Sharon

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  6. A question was asked on Biblical Hermeneutics Stackexchange, on whether Matt 28:19 was changed http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/12794/was-the-text-of-matthew-2819-changed and from there I first heard of the fact that Eusebius quoted from a manuscript of Matthew which had a variant reading of “in my name.”

    Its in Eusebius’ Demonstratio Evangelica or Proof of the Gospel, Book 3, Chapter 7. (Link to a translation of it from the 1920s, http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eusebius_de_05_book3.htm ):

    Whereas He, who conceived nothing human or mortal, see (136) how truly He speaks with the voice of God, saying in these very words to those disciples of His, the poorest of the poor: “Go forth, and make disciples of all the nations.” [[Matt.xxviii. 19.]] “But how,” the disciples might reasonably have answered the Master, “can we do it? How, pray, can we preach to Romans? How can we argue with Egyptians? We are men bred up to use the Syrian tongue only, what language shall we speak to Greeks? How shall we persuade Persians, Armenians, Chaldrearis, Scythians, Indians, and other (b) barbarous nations to give up their ancestral gods, and worship the Creator of all? What sufficiency of speech have we to trust to in attempting such work as this? And what hope of success can we have if we dare to proclaim laws directly opposed to the laws about their own gods that have been established for ages among all nations? By what power shall we ever survive our daring attempt?”

    But while the disciples of Jesus were most likely either saying thus, or thinking thus, the Master solved their difficulties, by the addition of one phrase, saying they should (c) triumph “In MY NAME.” For He did not bid them simply and indefinitely make disciples of all nations, but with the necessary addition of ” In my Name.” And the power of His Name being so great, that the apostle says: “God has given him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth,” [[Phil. ii. 9.]] He shewed the virtue of the power in His Name concealed (d) from the crowd when He said to His disciples: “Go, and make disciples of all nations in my Name.” He also most accurately forecasts the future when He says: “For this gospel must first be preached to all the world, for a witness to all nations.” [[Matt.xxiv.14.]]

    This doesn’t prove the original text read “in my name” but it does prove that the Catholic church purposefully and actively suppressed the variant reading of “in my name.” Otherwise, at least one manuscript with that reading would have come down to us!

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    • This is yet another polarizing issue within the polarizing issue of the original baptismal “formula” and all it portends. I have found that Christians take sides and defend their turf, often before all the revelation or facts have arrived.

      We know what we know when we know it and don’t know what we don’t know until we discover it. For the seeker of truth, it makes little sense to stand one’s ground upon known facts as if there are no other facts to be known. The proper approach should be to hold fast to revealed truth and provable known facts but also be open to further truth and new discoveries.

      It is often the case, however, that truth is seen as untruth because it challenges one’s investment in something untrue. As mentioned in my latest post, Galatians Relations—Dismiss the Bris: Abraham’s Real Descendants (Part 2) , the Pharisees could not handle the Lord’s teachings because His teachings did not agree in general terms with their interpretation and application of the Torah, et al. Though this may be an extreme case, it is certainly a perfect case in point regarding people who invest in untruth to the point of rejecting truth.

      The Lord Jesus, who referred to Himself as “The Truth,” was rejected and remains rejected and will be rejected by most. He said only few will find the gate and the way: “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” [Matthew 7:14]

      He also referred to Himself as “The Door:” So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” [John 10:7-9]

      This is strong evidence for the identification of and use of His Name at the beginning of one’s walk since one identifies with Him as Lord and Savior to both the outside world and the community of believers, and pledges to follow Him.

      Those who accepted Him wholeheartedly and gave their heart to Him did not allow themselves to be bound by anything that may keep them from Him, as did the Pharisees.

      Regarding the water baptism issue, though some will always fight it, it is obvious that original and historical water baptism as recorded in the Book of Acts and epistles was always administered invoking the Name of Jesus, the Name above every name. It remains ever curious that the majority of Christians believe in using the very powerful Name of Jesus in seemingly all things except baptism.

      The apostles carried out the commands of the Lord, though most Christians insist they got it wrong on water baptism. This is beyond ludicrous.

      Regarding your point, Conybeare certainly discovered possible evidence of tampering, regardless of who was responsible for it and when. But the bigger question most are apparently wholly unwilling or afraid to face is that there is no record that the apostles and early community of believers ever honored the Lord’s supposed command regarding the water baptism “formula” as put forth in Matthew 28:19, but always baptized in the Name of Jesus.

      I think it is wise for all of us to continue seeking answers regarding Biblical truth until the issue is resolved and not make presuppositions that there is nothing to find.

      Thank you very much for the comment, David. Be blessed in your research.

      Like

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