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In what name should people be baptized: Jesus only or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do three individuals or persons have the same authority or does one person have three titles?

Baptism: In the Name of Jesus Only or Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

Baptism: In What Name?
Should We Baptize in the Name of Jesus Only or in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

In what name should people be baptized: Jesus only or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do three individuals or persons have the same authority or does one person have three titles?

In what name should people be baptized? Should people be baptized in the name of "Jesus only," or should they be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit? What is the significance of the "name" in baptism?

Some folks claim that baptism "in Jesus' name" requires stating some specific words or formula when baptizing a person. What is meant by baptizing in Jesus' name?

Some Bible examples of the expression "in the name"

Inspired men gave commands in the name of the Lord - Acts 9:27,29; 2 Thess. 3:6; James 5:10.
Christians should assemble in Jesus' name - Matt. 18:20.
We can receive a child in Jesus' name - Mark 9:37.
Apostles did miracles in Jesus' name - Acts 3:6; 16:18.
The name of God would be called upon the Gentiles - Acts 15:17.
Everything we do, in word or deed, should be done in Jesus' name - Col 3:17.

Clearly when a person acts "in the name of" another person, that does not mean the first person has the same name the other does, and even less does it prove they are the same individual. In fact, the expression does not even mean we must say "in Jesus' name" every time we so act.

The expression "in the name of" actually means "by the authority of," "by the power of," "on behalf of," etc.

It is an expression showing that one individual is acting as the representative of another, acting in accordance with his will and instructions, by his authority. We have here an instance of two separate individuals, but one represents or acts on behalf of the other. (See Random House College Dictionary).

* Note carefully Acts 4:7-10. "By what name" (v7,10) = "by what power" (v7) = "by what means" (v9) = "by Him" (v10). (Cf. Eph. 1:21.)

Other examples: 

* "Stop, in the name of the law," means the person commanding you is a representative acting by authority of the law. 

* An ambassador acts "in the name of" a country - by the authority of that country, empowered by its laws, as its official representative, acting on its behalf. 

* When you sign a check, your name is the symbol of your authorization for the bank to transfer funds on your behalf, paying your money, acting in your name.

This also shows the harmony between Matthew. 28:19 (in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and Acts 2:38, etc. (in the name of Jesus).

The will or authority of the three individuals is exactly the same, for they are completely in harmony and united in will. What one authorizes is what the others authorize. What one says to do is what the others say to do. To act by the authority (in the name of) one, then, is to act by the authority (in the name of) all three, for it is the same authority. It is not that there is just one individual (Jesus) who wears three different titles, but there are three separate and distinct individuals in the Godhead all of whom authorize the same act in the same way. 

An ambassador might say he acts "in the name of the President of the U.S.A.," or he might say he acts "in the name of the President, the Congress, and the people of the U.S.A." The two statements are both correct, but they do not say the President, Congress, and people are all the same individual. They say that he acts by the authority of all three. Yet the will of them all is viewed as one and the same will.

So "in Jesus' name" is not a formula for what must be specifically stated when baptizing a person. "In Jesus' name" simply means by Jesus' authority or power. To baptize in Jesus' name simply means to do so in obedience to His power or authority. His authority is the authority of God or Deity, which is the same power as that of the Father and the Holy Spirit. So to baptize in accordance with Jesus' name is to baptize according to His power or authority, which is the same as baptizing according to the name or authority or power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. See Matt. 28:18,19.

For further information showing that the Godhead consists of three separate and distinct living beings, I suggest you go to our Bible Instruction web site (see address below) and study our online article about the Number of Individuals in the Godhead.

(C) Copyright 1998, David E. Pratte
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(Picture copyright Bob West)

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Topics for further Bible study

(Click for more information. Use your "back" key to return here.)

Number of Persons in God (Jesus Only/Trinity)
Why We Need Forgiveness
Things that Are Essential to Salvation
Is Obedience Essential to Salvation?
The Purpose of Baptism
Should Babies Be Baptized?
Is Baptism Sprinkling, Pouring, or Immersion?
Salvation by "Faith Only" vs. Obedient Faith

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