New Testament Water Baptism
Many proclaim that New Testament water baptism should be done “…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, based exclusively on the following verse:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
While we do not deny that the Lord spoke these words, we believe that the fulfillment of this commandment was carried out by invoking (calling out) the name of Jesus Christ over any person who the Apostles baptized.
Why do we believe this? Number one, there is no record of the Apostles ever baptizing anyone saying “…in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Let’s look at all of the scriptural examples we have regarding water baptism in the New Testament where a “method” is identified:
Then Peter said to them, “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.
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
1 …Paul…came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples
2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 22:3-16 (Paul’s recount of his conversion):
Verse 16: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
These are the only accounts we find in the New Testament where people are commanded to be baptized or where they were actually told how they were to be baptized; and, according to these examples, the Apostles either disobeyed Jesus’ commandment in Matthew 28:19 or they understood something that many don’t today. This brings us to number two and what we believe the word of God proclaims to be the truth about water baptism.
The portion in question in Matthew 28:19 reads, “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. A careful examination of this verse reveals a very important word, “name”. The first point about this is that ”Father, Son and Holy Ghost” are not names, they are titles. The second point is that Jesus did not say “…in the nameS of…”
We believe that the Apostles understood exactly what Jesus meant by using the singular form of the word “name”. He was indicating that one name identifies all three titles mentioned. So, while they did not say word for word what Jesus told them to say, we believe that they did obey His commandment of Matthew 28:19. How? They obeyed Him by baptizing “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” because that name – Jesus Christ – identifies the three titles Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Other New Testament writings that verify how baptisms were performed come from the writings (epistles) of Paul and Peter to those who had already been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ:
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
9 For in Him (Jesus Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Like this, baptism does 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:
We see that Paul likened water baptism to being buried “with HIM” (singular), not “them”. We also see how essential to salvation the Apostle Peter knew water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ to be. In fact, he was the first one to proclaim that it was “for the remission of sins” (washing away of sins) in Acts 2:38, an absolutely essential step in being born again!
Based on these findings, we ask you: how do you think the Apostles would baptize you if it were possible to ask them to do so?
We encourage you to look into this biblical practice and how it was consistently and repeatedly carried out in scripture. We would be happy to discuss this with you in more detail and/or to baptize you if you desire to be. Please contact us by phone at (318) 687.8271 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We pray that God richly blesses you with this information!!
Pastor Daniels and Calvary Pentecostal Church