Speaking the Truth in Love

In the Name of Jesus

Image result for matthew 28:19The Great Commission of Jesus challenges us to immerse disciples “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). In the great Pentecost sermon, though, Peter mentions only the Son. “Repent,” the apostle urges, “and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). And in Ephesus some years later, 12 disciples are “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” after hearing the preaching of Paul (19:5).

Why do the Lord and his inspired apostles seem to be sending mixed signals? What is the correct baptismal formula? Are we to immerse in the name of Jesus, or in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?Image result for persons name

In first century thought, a person’s “name” had a deeper meaning than it does now. For us, a name is mainly a word of identification. If I’m sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, the nurse’s calling my name gets my attention but no one else’s. But for the people of biblical times, a name was something more. It fully represented the person named and his or her characteristics.

Image result for in the name of jesusSo the phrasing differences in the inspired baptismal instructions and examples are relatively insignificant. The Bible gives no exact formula that must be followed to the letter. To be immersed “in the name” of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to be baptized into God’s person and life. Since Jesus is God’s full equal, being immersed in his name means essentially the same thing.

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