Should baptism be “in the name of Jesus” or
“in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”?
Before we begin, let’s remind ourselves how truthful the bible is. The Word of God is pure truth. It does not lie. It does not contradict itself. In the New Testament, verses should complement each other. If you’re interpreting certain verses in a way that makes other verses wrong or not valid for Christians today, you need to spend some time on that topic.
While there is much to be discussed on the topic of baptism, this blog is solely about the name to do it in.
These are the verses we’re going to be focusing on: Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:44-48, and Acts 19:1-7.
Let’s take a look at these verses.
All of these are from the New International Version.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
Other verses to consider are Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:26-28, and Colossians 2:9-13.
What name should you be baptized in?
A lot of churches baptize “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. There are also churches that baptize “in the name of Jesus”. Are they both the same? Does it matter? Is one a valid baptism and another invalid? Is one way right and the other way wrong? What does the bible say? Matthew 28:19 says to go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:38 we are taught to repent, be baptized in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of sins, and that we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:12-17 tells us about people who had been baptized in the name of Jesus, but still needed the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:44-48 the Gentiles (non-Jews) received the Holy Spirit and Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. In Acts 19:1-7 there were people who had been baptized into John’s baptism that Paul taught about the baptism we are supposed to have and they got baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 1:11-17 Paul asked the quarreling Corinthians if they were baptized in the name of Paul.
Jesus himself taught the disciples how to baptize. He made sure they had it right. Earlier I mentioned that all Scripture is accurate. All of the New Testament is relevant for us. Matthew and Acts are equally accurate and relevant. Remember I told you that your interpretations of bible verses should never contradict other bible verses, but they should complement other verses. The way you interpret things should have bible verses all supporting each other. This is one of those subjects you really need to keep that in mind with. It is not listen to the instructions in Matthew or listen to the instructions in Acts. Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 mean the same thing.
Some denominations say when the bible says to baptize in the name of Jesus that is an abbreviation for “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Why would God abbreviate that? I don’t know of anything else in the bible that is abbreviated. Of all things, why abbreviate something so important? And how do you get J-e-s-u-s out of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? The interpretation that baptism in the name of Jesus is an abbreviation for baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is unbiblical. The name of the Son is Jesus. Jesus tells us he has come in his Father’s name (John 5:43) and that the Father will send the Holy Spirit in his name (John 14:26). God’s name is Jesus. There is no other name by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). A lot of denominations say that baptism in “Jesus’ name” only means in the authority of Jesus. With that interpretation, Scripture doesn’t mean what it plainly says plus you’re supposed to use the authority of Jesus’ name without actually saying his name but instead saying in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. If you were to hand me a pen and ask me to write down my name, I would write “Leanna”. I wouldn’t write “your name”. Likewise, if I asked you to write down God’s name, you would write “Jesus”. I doubt you would write “God’s name” on the paper. When we are instructed to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we know that “the name” is JESUS. We are baptized into Christ. We are buried with Christ in baptism and raised in Christ. It makes sense to be baptized in the name of who we are being buried with and raised with and saved by — Jesus. The bible says we need to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For a deeper topical bible study on baptism,
I have a comprehensive section on baptism in my book
“The Subject of Salvation”.
Click here to learn more.