If you don’t like long readings, do not read this post. It’s going to be lengthy. Someone recently asked a question on a blog concerning baptism, and this is designed to share the things concerning baptism that I have come to understand through studying the Scripture. I’m by no means a theologian, but I would like to share my thoughts on the subject. Here is the question that was asked.
How do you reconcile the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 28:19 with baptizing a person in Jesus name? Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
This is a great question and one that deserves an answer. Before we look at any other Scriptures, let’s take a closer look at this verse and the verses surrounding it to clarify who Jesus is talking to here.
The Great Commission
Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
28:17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
28:20 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.
Jesus was speaking to his 11 disciples at this time. Judas, who was one of the original twelve had already betrayed the Lord and took his life, reducing the number of apostles from 12 to ll. Jesus tells them in verse 18 that all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth, and using His authority, He gives them a command in verse 19. These were some of the last words spoken by Jesus to His disciples before he ascended to heaven, and many refer to this as The Great Commission. Jesus mentions in verse 19 that he wants them to teach all nations and baptize them in the “name” which is singular. Father, Son and Holy Ghost are not names but rather titles or ways in which the One true God manifested Himself. We as humans have different roles or positions that we fill. I am a wife, mother and daughter, but that does not mean I am three persons. I am one person fulfilling different roles or relationships, and I only have one name. I believe the apostles understood that the “name” that the Lord was referring to was Jesus, and they fulfilled this command of the Lord by baptizing in Jesus’ name.
I’d Rather Take The Words of Jesus
An argument I have heard brought up over the years by some is that they would rather take the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 than the words of Peter in Acts 2:38 when he told the group to whom he was preaching to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Bible states in II Timothy 3:16 ,“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: “
According to this verse, the words of Jesus would not carry any more weight than the words of Peter. Both were equally inspired by God as they spoke. Jesus gave His apostles a command to teach, and he also gave them authority. Before He went to the cross, He even prayed for those in the future that would come to believe in Him through the teachings of the apostles.
In John 17 as we read about Jesus praying, we can see that he began praying for his disciples. (verse 6-20) In verse 20, Jesus mentions that He is not just praying for the disciples alone but for them which would come to believe on Him through their words.(the apostles words) John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
For this reason, I believe it’s important to look closely at what the apostles preached and taught, but before we do this, let’s take a look at what some of the other apostles wrote about Jesus’ last words before he ascended.
Mark and Luke’s Accounts
Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Here, we see again that Jesus is talking to the eleven disciples. In verse 15, he gives them the commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. In the next verse he tells them that he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Believeth what? The gospel according to verse 15. In the light of verse 16, I find it hard to understand how some can say that baptism is not a part of the plan of salvation.
We can also read Luke’s account of Jesus’ last words to his disciples before his ascension.
Luk 24:33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, (The “they” in this verse is referring to the 2 that were on the road to Emmaus with Jesus. They had just returned and began to share with the disciples the things that had just happened to them.) While these two were speaking with the disciples, Jesus suddenly appears in the midst of them.
Luk 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Jesus begins to speak to them and give them some instruction.
Luk 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Luk 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
Luk 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luk 24:48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Luk 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Luk 24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
Luk 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Luk 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
Luk 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Here in these verses, we can read about Jesus opening the understanding of His disciples. We do not see Jesus mentioning anything here about baptism, but take note of verse 47. Jesus tells his disciples that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name and that this should start in Jerusalem. This will be important later on in this post.
Before we go to the book of Acts to see what the apostles preached and to look at actual baptisms, I would like to share some Scriptures that talk about the importance of the name of Jesus.
That Wonderful Name
Act 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
Act 4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
If baptism is a part of the plan of salvation, and there is salvation in the name of Jesus, then doesn’t it make sense that one would be baptized in the saving name?
Colossians 3:17 And 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.
We pray for our food in Jesus’ name. We pray for the sick in Jesus’ name. Why would we not want to baptize in His name?
Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
There is no greater name than the name of Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew that all power in heaven and in earth is given unto him. There is power in the name of Jesus! Why not be baptized in His powerful, saving name?
The First Sermon On The Birthday Of The Church
We looked at the verse in Luke already where Jesus told His disciples that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem. This is exactly what happened in Acts the 2nd chapter.
As the spirit of God began to be poured out on the day of Pentecost(verses 1-4), a curious crowd began to gather around that wanted to know what was happening. Verses 14-36 record the words that Peter began to preach to them. At the conclusion of his message there were those that were “pricked in their hearts.” They were convicted of their sin. They knew that what Peter was saying was true. They wanted to know what they should do. We can read what Peter tells them in verse 38.
Then Peter said unto them, 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.
Let’s take a look again at Luke 24:47.
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
What were the first words out of Peter’s mouth? Repent! Then he told them to be baptized, and guess whose name they were supposed to use? Jesus! And why were they supposed to be baptized? Peter said it was for the remission of sins. Guess where this message was preached? Jerusalem! It’s all right there, and it’s what Jesus had told them to do in the book of Luke!
Remission of Sins
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
In reading this chapter of the book of Hebrews, we can understand that Jesus through shedding His blood became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Without the shedding of His blood, we could have no remission or forgiveness for our sins. We must have His blood applied to us in order to have remission of sins. Just how do we get His blood applied to us? I believe it happens when we are water baptized in Jesus’ name.
In Acts 22, Paul recounts his conversion experience, and in verse 16 tells of the words that Ananias spoke to him concerning baptism.
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Using the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary on e-sword(our computer Bible) I see that “wash away” in the Greek means to wash fully or have remitted.
Other Baptisms In The Bible
Believers in Samaria
Act 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
Act 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
Act 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
First Gentile Believers
Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Act 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (Jesus is the name of the Lord? –see Acts 2:36, 9:4-5)
Believers At Ephesus Rebaptized
Act 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
Act 19:2 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.
Act 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
Act 19:4 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.
Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Act 19:7 And all the men were about twelve.
These 12 men here were disciples of John the Baptist. They had already been baptized by John. If as some say, it does not matter how we are baptized, then why did these men allow Paul to rebaptize them in the name of Jesus?
Without exception, everyone that was baptized in the Bible was baptized in Jesus’ name.
I apologize for such a long post, but I really felt I had to share it. The reason why this is so important to me is that the Bible gives an exhortation in Jude 3 to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” I believe baptism is part of that faith and that it is effective when it is done the way Christ and the apostle’s taught. I am in no way trying to slam anybody or be judgmental, but I just wanted to share what the Bible has to say on this subject. Aren’t you glad I didn’t delve into historical references on baptism? :-)