Baptism in Jesus Name

Let’s add a new dimension to this blog, and let me begin by asking you for a moment’s prayer. Together, we might be able to change a life in our spare moments doing things like this.

Today, I’d like to ask you to pray for Sue. I met Sue at the hospital, and she’s been consistently sending me little emails of encouragement as I’ve been going through my treatment for leukemia. In the meantime, Sue’s leukemia is in remission. It’s been about a year and a half. If she makes it to the two-year mark she’ll be considered cured, but we want to pray that she’s cured way past the two-year mark and that her life continues to make an impact in the life of others.

Thank you!

Baptism in Jesus Name

Okay, today’s post is from an email I wrote to a friend who’s a missionary. He’s doing great work for Christ (you can pray for him, too: Jason Fitzpatrick in Mexico), but occasionally I get to help him with some detail of history or theology. I’m very honored when I get to do that, as I don’t really feel worthy to be advising people who are doing the kinds of things Jason is doing.

Anyway, he asked about why baptism is always said to be in Jesus’ name in the Bible except that one time in Matthew 28:19.

I know Jason, and he’s a practical and insightful man. So I addressed what the real issue is, which is what do we do when we baptize. This also touches a little on the Trinity because most people who object to baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit object to the whole concept of the Trinity.

So, here it is:


Personally, I think we’re missing the point.

In the name does not mean that we’re saying his name while we are baptizing. In the name means that we are doing it by his authority or on his behalf. If we are sent out in a King’s name, it doesn’t mean that every time we do something we say, "In the name of the king I post this poster on a tree for the 375th time."

No, if someone asks us why we’re doing it, we say, "We’re doing it in the name of the king, who ordered us to do it."

So we can say, "I baptize you in the name of Jesus," and that can be baptizing in his name … IF YOU’RE SENT BY HIM TO BAPTIZE. However, if you’re sent by him to baptize, you can also say, "Welcome to the church," and it would still be in Jesus’ name. What you say doesn’t matter. Whether he sent you to baptize matters.

Thus, there is no difference between baptizing in Jesus’ name and baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for their authority is one and the same.

Getting hung up on technicalities, in my opinion, is the work of the devil to create division among Christians. It’s okay to study such things. I have studied such things, and I recommend that others who are called to teach do the same. However, we who act in the name of Jesus must remember the heart of the one who sends us. Is he hung up on the words we pronounce? If so, then we should be, too. If he is not hung up on the exact name we pronounce, but we are, then we can say "in the name of Jesus," but we are not acting in his name; we are acting on our own.

About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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1 Response to Baptism in Jesus Name

  1. Robin says:

    Love it. I have had to change my thinking sometimes from being so absolute (and judgmental which leads to divisiveness) and look at Jesus heart in the matter.

    The pharisees wanted to pick apart the tiny bones but Jesus was like” enjoy the whole barbecue people”.

    In the end Love wins.

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