What does the phrase "In Jesus’ name" mean?

by Matt Slick

The phrase "in Jesus' name" is associated with the authority of Jesus imparted to a person where that person performs an action as if it were Jesus actually doing it.  For example, a person might heal someone "in Jesus' name," or cast out a demon "in Jesus' name," or pronounce forgiveness of sins "in Jesus' name," etc.  The action is accomplished by someone, but the power and the right to accomplish it is not one's own.  Instead, it is that which belongs to Christ and is associated with the individual who performs the action.  In Acts 4:7, 10 we see that the elders, the scribes, and Annas the high priest were asking Peter by what authority he healed a sick man.

Acts 4:7, 10, "And when they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?...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."

Notice that the Jews wanted to know what power, or in what name, certain things were done.  Peter said it was in the name of Jesus that the miracle had occurred.  Therefore, we can clearly see that when someone speaks "in Jesus name" he is speaking about authority.  Let's look at some more verses.

  1. Acts 3:16, "And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all."
  2. Acts 4:30, "while you extend your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
  3. Acts 19:13, "But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”

Following are categorizations of the phrases dealing with the phrase "in the name of Jesus" and some variations of it.  Please take a look through them and you will see that many different miraculous occurrences are associated with someone who does something "in the name of Jesus."

In the name of Jesus

  1. Acts 2:38, "And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
  2. Acts 3:6, "But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!"
  3. Acts 4:18, "And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus."
  4. 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."
  5. Acts 9:27, "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."
  6. Acts 10:48, "And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days."
  7. Acts 16:18, "And she continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment."

In the name of the Lord Jesus

  1. Acts 8:16, "For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
  2. Acts 19:5, "And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
  3. 1 Cor. 5:4-5, "In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
  4. 1 Cor. 6:11, "And 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."
  5. Eph. 5:20, "always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father."
  6. Col. 3:17, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

In the name of our Lord Jesus

  1. 2 Thess. 3:6, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us."

So, it should be obvious that "in the name of Jesus" designates authority.

It is worth mentioning that there are non-Christian cults who will baptize people "in Jesus name" instead of "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-20.  The reason they do this is that they believe that the proper baptismal formula is "in Jesus' name" and will reference verses like Acts 19:5 above for their support.  However, they mistakingly think that baptizing in Jesus' name is a formula for baptism.  They are incorrect.  Instead, it is a designation of the authority to baptize in the name of Jesus according to what Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-20.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.