[Skip to Introduction]
#3. BAPTISM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
This bible study uses a Greek Unicode font and is printer friendly.
When it comes to the name or words spoken during baptism, there is as much disagreement in modern churches over this as there is about whether people should be sprinkled, poured, or immersed. This is a bible study about baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), showing that Jesus was not referring to water baptism when he spoke these words. Look at the scripture:
(Matthew 28:18-20 RPT) "And after he came, Jesus spoke to them, saying, All authority was given to me in heaven and on earth.
There are some churches today who use this scripture to justify baptizing in "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," even though the early church never did it (See #4 Baptism Lord Jesus Christ). Nevertheless, these being the words of Jesus, they have been given preference to the other scriptures which seem to contradict it. This scripture, however, refers to the true spiritual baptism, of which water baptism is just a small part, and for the following reasons it should not be used to justify speaking "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" during water baptism.
Using "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" during water baptism is a failure to rightly divide, and correctly interpret the scripture, and fails on at least five points.
(1) Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established
(Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1)
(2) Do not diminish from God's word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:19)
(3) Make sense of the apparent contradictions (Nehemiah 8:8)
(4) Consider the context
(5) Check the original language
The apostles had a very good knowledge of New Testament Greek; many could argue that not only did they speak it fluently, because it was the common language of most Mediterranean countries in those days, but they also wrote the New Testament in it. However, when they baptized new converts, they did not do it "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", as Jesus appears to have instructed here. They baptized them "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38), and "in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:48). Were the apostles deliberately disobedient to the words of Jesus? Or was it rather that they had a better understanding of the language than the modern churches today, and knew that Jesus was not referring to the words spoken over a water baptism when he said this?
(Luke 24:45) "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."
An analysis of the Greek scripture will clarify.
The two differences between the phrase εἰς τὸ ὄνομα (Gtr. eis to onoma) and the other ones used (Acts 2:38; 10:48), are firstly that this is the accusative case where the others are dative case (See #4.1, #4.2, #4.3 Baptism Lord Jesus Christ), and secondly the preposition εἰς (Gtr. eis) is used here instead of ἐν (Gtr. en) and ἐπὶ (Gtr. epi) Although it can vary in meaning according to the context, the preposition εἰς primarily means "into" when used with a transitive verb, and implies motion from the outside of something to the inside (DFH p105; WP p116). It can mean "in" in some cases, so let us look at two examples:
(1) When used with a verb which does not imply motion
(John 2:11) "and his disciples believed in (εἰς) him
(2) When it is used to show a location, where prior motion into is implied
(Matthew 2:23) "And he came and dwelt in (εἰς) a city called Nazareth;"
It is used with the verb βαπτίζω (Gtr. baptidzō), which means "I baptize", in this latter sense where
it says, "Jesus came, ... and was baptized by John in (εἰς)
Jordan." (Mark 1:9), but as baptism is a transitive verb implying motion, unless the context dictates otherwise, the preposition εἰς
following it should be translated "into" (See #2).
The beginning of Matthew 28:19 literally reads, "Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ...". The word translated "make disciples of" (Gr. μαθητεύσατε Gtr. matheteusate) (KJV teach) is the main verb of the sentence and is an aorist imperative in the Greek. It shows that this is what is being commanded to be done, and includes not only teaching, but also the learning by the student and obedience to what has been learned. The word translated "Go" (Gr. πορευθέντες Gtr. poreuthentes) (KJV Go you) is not a Greek imperative, that is, not a command, but rather an aorist participle which usually indicates something that has to be done before the main verb (DFH p57; JWW p152; WP p96). It cannot be applied in this sense, in this particular context, because it would not make sense in the parallel scripture:
(Mark 16:15) "And he said to them, Go (having gone?) into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
In this context, therefore, there are some scholars who would translate this word as an imperative, that is a command, even though it is a participle in the Greek, because the participle takes on the nature of the main verb, which is an imperative. Many other similar examples could be quoted:
(Matthew 2:8) " Go and search diligently for the young child;"
The point to note is that, in the KJV the main verb of the sentence, is "teach" and not "Go you". Following the main verb we have two other verbs, "baptizing" and "Teaching", both of which are present participles in the Greek. The present participle usually refers to an action simultaneous with the main verb (WP p96; DFH p57; JWW p152), indicating that the teaching, the baptizing, and the discipling are all going on at the same time. It also indicates that the "baptizing" and the "teaching" are both going on for the same length of time as the "make disciples of". This should make it clear that the word "baptizing" (Matthew 28:19) is not referring only to the relatively instantaneous ordinance of water baptism, but rather to the much longer process of being spiritually baptized into obedience in thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), word, and deed (Romans 15:18). This is done as the word of God is written in our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3), and we learn to "observe all things" (Matthew 28:20) that Jesus has commanded us. The word "disciple" also means "learner", so this could be translated "make learners of ... baptizing them ... Teaching them ...", which gives support to this view because it seems logical that the learning would have to go on at the same time as the teaching, doesn't it? The participles "baptizing" and "teaching" (Matthew 28:19-20) could then be considered in three ways.
(1) As participles of means. In this case the participle indicates the means by which the action of the main verb is carried out. Examples:
(Matthew 6:27) "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?"
Grammatically, this interpretation is certainly a possibility.
(2) As participles of attendant circumstance. In this case the participle indicates some action going on at the same time as the main verb, and is dependent on it, but is a different action to that of the main verb. It is therefore possible for the action of the main verb to be done without the action of the participles. Examples:
(Matthew 9:35) "Jesus went about ... teaching
... preaching ... and healing ..."
We can rule this out as a possible interpretation because it would mean that the "make disciples of" could be done without baptizing or teaching, and this is not possible.
(3) As participles of identical action. In this case the participle describes the action of the main verb from a different point of view, but is identical to it. Examples:
(Matthew 5:2) "he ... taught them, saying,"
This would mean that the "make disciples of" and the "baptizing" (both in a physical and a spiritual sense) are the same process, and that the "make disciples of" and the "teaching" are the same process. If we understand that Jesus' command was to make perfect disciples, then the "make disciples of" and the "baptizing" are certainly the same process, both being completed only when perfection is obtained. However, "make disciples of" involves much more than "teaching", it involves the student learning, and conforming his life to obedience, so the most we could say in this context is that "teaching" is only part of the process, but the make disciples of cannot be completed without it (Ephesians 4:11-13). The favoured interpretation here then is that the participles, "baptizing" and "teaching", are participles of "identical action", with a secondary meaning of "means".
If you have benefited from reading this study, then please tell your friends about this website.