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#3. BAPTISM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND 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:
|Greek - Matthew 28:18-20 - KJV|
|καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων, Ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς||18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.|
|πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος||19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:|
|διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν καὶ ἰδού, ἐγὼ μεθ᾽ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος Ἀμήν||20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.|
(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.
19 Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
20 Teaching them to keep all things whatever I commanded you. And behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age. Amen."
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)
As there are no other witnesses (scriptures) to support this point, it fails here.
(2) Do not diminish from God's word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:19)
Any attempt to interpret scriptures without a thorough study is diminishing from God's word, and it applies to all teachings which rely on one scripture only.
(3) Make sense of the apparent contradictions (Nehemiah 8:8)
Those who use "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" for water baptism, need to satisfactorily explain why the apostles never did it.
Why did Peter instruct baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38)? and if this was wrong, why did the other eleven apostles who were with him (Acts 2:14) not rebuke him? Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit came, which they had all just received, he would "bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." (John 14:26). So if using "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" was the correct formula for water baptism, why didn't the Holy Spirit bring it to their remembrance at this time, and correct Peter?
Why did Philip baptize the Samaritans "in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 8:16)? Why did Peter command the baptism of Cornelius and his household "in the name of the Lord." (Acts 10:48), and if this was wrong, why did the other six Jewish brethren from Joppa (Acts 10:23; 10:45; 11:12) not object? Also when the angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter, he said to him, "he shall tell you what you ought to do." (Acts 10:6). Do we now assume that the angel instructed Cornelius wrongly, because Peter gave the instruction for baptism "in the name of the Lord."?
Why did Paul re-baptize the Ephesians "in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5)?
Do we have good scriptural answers to these questions? God's words are "all plain to him who understands," (Proverbs 8:9), so when it is correctly understood, all apparent contradictions can be satisfactorily explained. A failure to be able to do this is a failure to have rightly divided the word of God.
(4) Consider the context
The whole context of this scripture is not to do with water baptism, but to do with the authority that Jesus had (Matthew 28:18), which he had previously passed on to his disciples (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1; 10:19). He was now instructing them how to bring others to the place to receive. By not considering the context, the true meaning of this scripture has been missed by those who use it to indicate the method of water baptism.
(5) Check the original language
No scripture can be properly understood from faulty translations, and as no known perfect translations are available (2011) a good working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is essential. This study will prove this point.
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
(John 7:5) "For neither did his brethren believe 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;"
(Matthew 13:33) "Leaven, which a woman took, and hid in (εἰς) three measures of meal,"
(John 20:26) "then came Jesus ... and stood in (εἰς) the midst,"
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 preposition εἰς is only ever used with the accusative case (DFH p105; WP p114), which usually refers to the direct object (in this case the thing being baptized into). It is never used with the dative case or in an instrumental sense (with one exception, "by Jerusalem" (Matthew 5:35), where the context is oaths). Therefore, "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" is what the believer is being baptized into (See #5 Into Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and not that which is used to perform the act.
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;"
(Matthew 2:20) " Arise, and take the young child ..."
(Matthew 22:9) " Go therefore into the highways,"
(Luke 14:10) " go and sit down in the lowest room;"
(Acts 9:6) " Arise, and go into the city,"
(2 Timothy 4:11) " Take Mark, and bring him with you:"
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?"
(Matthew 28:19-20) "make disciples of ... by baptizing ... by teaching ..."
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 ..."
(Matthew 21:22) "Ask in prayer, believing,"
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,"
(Matthew 28:18) "Jesus ... spoke to 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".
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