The Trinitarian formula used for baptism is found in Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Note that Father and Son are not names but titles. If we are to take this Scripture at face value, why would someone says baptize in this name and then fail to mention a name but mention a title?
This is not the only account of the Great Commission. There is a reason why we have four gospels. God inspired each writer to write the same truth from different points of view. John did not record the Great Commission, but we will look at what the others said.
- Mark’s account we read: Mark 16:15 Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues
- Let’s look at Luke’s account: Luke 24:47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.
- Now who would be in the best position to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words? Do you think we understand it better or do you think the disciples would understand it better? Now, be honest with yourself. Nowhere in the entire Bible was anyone ever baptized in the father, son and Holy Spirit. Throughout the book of Acts as we will see they routinely baptized people in the name of Jesus. And when we read the Epistles to the churches, we will find out that they too were baptized in the name of Jesus. The truth is, I absolutely believe in Matthew 28:19, but I believe you can only fulfill that Scripture by baptizing in the name of Jesus.
History tells us that not only did the Apostles believe in Jesus name baptism, but for the first two centuries after the ascension of Christ that is the only way the church baptized. As shows below from various encyclopedias you will see evidence of that fact.
- Britannica Encyclopedia: The baptismal formula was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son & Holy Ghost by the Catholic Church in the Second Century. – 11th Edit., Vol. 3, ppg. 365-366.
- Canney Encyclopedia of Religion: The early church always baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until development of the Trinity Doctrine in the Second Century.
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Here the Catholics acknowledged that baptism was changed by the Catholic Church. – Vol. 2, pg. 263.
- Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion: Christian baptism was administered using the words, “in the name of Jesus.” – Vol. 2, pg. 377. Baptism was always in the name of Lord Jesus until time of Justin Martyr when Triune formula used. – Vol. 2, pg. 389. NAME was an ancient synonym for “person.” Payment was always made in the name of some person referring to ownership. Therefore one being baptized in Jesus’ name became His personal property. “Ye are Christ’s.” – Vol. 2, pg. 377 on Acts 2:38.2
Baptism in the New Testament:
- First baptism in Acts right after Peter said to be baptized in the name of Jesus, so we can assume that they were – Acts 2:41 (NIV) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
- No other name – Acts 4:12 (NIV) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
- Baptized in the name of Jesus – Acts 8:15-17 (NKJV) 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
- Baptized in the name of Jesus – Acts 10:47-48 (NKJV) 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
- John’s disciples are baptized and speak in tongues – Acts 19:1-6 (NKJV) 1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
- We are baptized into His death – Romans 6:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
- Paul says, you were baptized into a name and it wasn’t mine – 1 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV) What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas ”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?
- How could you put on Christ if His name was never mentioned during your baptism? Galatians 3:27 (NKJV) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- Who do you think we are buried with? Colossians 2:12 (NKJV) buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
The need for baptism:
- Born of the water and of the Spirit – The argument here is that water is the birth from childhood. Well, no Bible scholar has suggested that, they all agree that this is baptism. Birth from your mother is never described as water birth anywhere else in the Bible either: John 3:5 (NKJV) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
- In Acts 2:38 it says to be baptized for the remission of sins, this verse ties into that: Hebrews 9:22 (NKJV) And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
- Jesus mentions baptism as part of salvation – Mark 16:16 (NKJV) He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
- The first thing the apostle Paul is told to do after his conversion was to be baptized. – Acts 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
- Baptism ushers in Grace – Romans 6:1 (MSG) So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
- Baptism is part of salvation – 1 Peter 3:20-21 (NKJV) 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Could have added lots of other Scriptures, but I am trying to keep this as short as possible. If we are honest with ourselves there are two options; either the early church misunderstood Jesus and all the baptisms in the Bible weren’t valid, or a lot of churches are baptizing people in a way that isn’t Biblical. I choose to trust the Word of God.