In What Name(s) Should We Baptize?
By David Pyles
There is some unfortunate disagreement among Christians today as to whether people should be baptized in the name of Jesus only or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We believe the scriptures teach the latter, and hope to defend this conclusion in what follows.
The Lord Jesus gave a detailed specification of baptism with the following words:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. - Mt 28:19,20
This command is very easy to understand. It clearly states we should baptize in the name of all persons in the Godhead. But some will claim we should baptize only in the name of the Jesus because certain baptisms described in Acts mention only His name (2:38, 8:36, 10:48, 19:5). We believe this conclusion proves invalid on several points:
1) It is commonly understood that when a command is stated twice, with one statement being specific and the other being general, the general command is to be interpreted in light of the specific one. For example, suppose a father were to instruct his son to go to the store and buy a gallon of paint and a brush. Suppose the son were to procrastinate so that the father had to command him a second time, but suppose with the second command the father were to say, "Go to the store and buy the paint." Even though the father did not specify purchasing a brush in the second command, we all understand that the general statement is to be interpreted in light of the earlier specific one. Accordingly, we should understand that the general statements in Acts are to be interpreted in light of the specific statement in Mt 28:19,20.
2) Since many of the persons baptized in Acts had been either Jews or Proselytes, they had long before acknowledged the Divine Trinity. This being the case, it would be natural for the scriptural writer to emphasize that aspect of their baptism which denoted the point upon which they had recently been converted; namely, the fact that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. Therefore, even if these converts had been baptized in all three names, it would be natural for the scriptural writer to characterize the event as baptism in the name of Jesus.
3) But even had they been baptized expressly in the name of Jesus only, the name of the Father and Holy Ghost would have definitely been implied, as is shown by the following scriptures:
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. - 1Jo 2:23
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. - 2Jo 9
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. - 1Cor 12:3
But to baptize in the name of Jesus with the name of the Father and Holy Ghost being implied is a very different thing from baptizing in the name of Jesus with the premeditated and deliberate omission of the Father and Holy Ghost.
Baptism portrays the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The subject being lowered into the water depicts the death and burial of Christ. As they are raised from the water they depict His resurrection. This is, incidentally, one of the reasons that immersion is the only valid mode of baptism. The Bible plainly teaches that all Persons in the Godhead had a part in this glorious event. This is taught in verses such as:
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. - Rom 6:4
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. - Gal 1:1
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. - Rom 1:4
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. - Rom 8:11
Therefore, when we perform this ordinance, we should give honor to all persons in the Trinity even as Jesus commanded. We should baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.