Must baptism be "in Jesus' name"?

Oneness Pentecostal theology maintains that baptism must be by immersion using the formula "in Jesus name" and not the formula "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" as is found in Matt. 28:19.  They reject the Trinitarian formula because they reject the Trinity.  To support their method they cite various Bible verses that reference baptizing in Jesus' name and claim that this is proof for their doctrine.  Following are some of the Bible references they quote.

  • Acts 2:38," 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."
  • Acts 8:16,  "For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
  • Acts 10:48, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."
  • Acts 19:5, "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
  • Acts 22:16, 'And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’

Let's take a look at what is going on in the verses.  The phrase, "in the name of the Lord," is not a reference to a baptismal formula but a reference to authority.  It is similar to hearing someone say, "Stop in the name of the Law!" We understand that the "name of the Law" means by the authority of the Law.   It is the same with baptism "in Jesus' name."  To baptize in Jesus' name is to baptize in the authority of Jesus.  Consider the following:

  • "And when they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, "By what power, or in what name, have you done this?" 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, 9 if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by this name this man stands here before you in good health" (Acts 4:7-10).
  • Acts 4:17-18, "But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name. 18And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus."
  • Acts 5:28, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us."
  • Acts 5:40, "And they took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them."
  • Acts 8:12, "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."
  • Acts 9:27-28, "But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28And he was with them moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord."
  • Acts 16:18, "And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour."

We can see that the phrase is used in the Bible as an expression of authority.  This is particularly clarified Acts 16:18 above.  Let's look at it again. "And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour." We also see that when people were being baptized, they did it calling on Jesus' name (Acts 22:16); that is, they were calling upon Jesus who has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18).  The church is supposed to "call upon the name of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 1:2) because it is by His authority (John 1:12) that we Christians have the hope and right of forgiveness of sins and adoption as His children (Rom. 8:15).

Therefore, the Oneness Pentecostal people are simply in error by demanding that baptism be done with the formula "In Jesus name."  Instead, it should be done as Jesus commanded:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28:19).

The proper way to baptize in Jesus' name is to say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

 

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CARM ison