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#4. WATER BAPTISM IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
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In spite of the apparent instruction of Jesus to baptize new converts "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19), the apostles never did it. This is a bible study which puts several scriptures together, rightly dividing the word of God, to show how how the apostles water baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at these scriptures:
(Acts 2:38) "Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
(Acts 8:14-16) "Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them:
(Acts 10:47-48 Peter) "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as us?
(Acts 19:4-5) "Then Paul said, John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe in him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
(Colossians 3:17 Paul) "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
These are all of the scriptures which refer to "the name" that the apostles used, or could have used when referring to water baptism. The words translated "of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38), "of the Lord" (Acts 10:48), and "of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:16; 19:5; Colossians 3:17), are all in the genitive case in the Greek. This shows uniformly that Christ is the possessor of the name, and there need be no confusion about this. However, the key words that need to be analyzed here are those translated "in the name", because here the construction in the Greek is slightly different in each case, which enables a more detailed analysis to be made, and thus a more accurate understanding to be obtained.
τῷ ὀνόματι (Gtr. tō onamati) is the dative case in the Greek, and although the
dative has several different uses, it is the instrumental case, and is used whenever it is required to express the means by which something is carried out
(WP p112; DFH p69; JWW p69).
(Matthew 24:5) "many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
In each of these cases "in my name" is translated from the Greek ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου (Gtr. epi to onomati mou),
which literally reads "in the name of me". These are false Christ's who will deceive many (Matthew 24:5; Mark 13:6), so we can eliminate the fact that
they come in Christ's character, or in his authority. This leaves one logical interpretation; they come "using his name", saying, "I am Christ".
(Luke 1:59) "they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father."
This refers to the baby John the Baptist, where the words "after the name" (Gr. ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι)
cannot refer to his father's authority, because when he was asked, he contradicted it (Luke 1:63). So here again, the Greek word
ἐπὶ (Gtr. epi) could mean "using", and being the instrumental case, the name
was spoken: "they called him Zacharias, using the name of his father."
Note: The thing with which an act is done is called the INSTRUMENT, and is expressed in Greek by the dative case,
sometimes with the preposition ἐν, sometimes without it (DFH p69; WP p116).
(Revelation 2:16) "I ... will fight against them using the sword of my mouth."
In these cases the Greek word ἐν is translated "with", but obviously also means "using".
Note: The means by which or with which the action of the verb is carried out is put into the dative case, often with the preposition ἐν, but sometimes without a preposition (WP p112, p116). Here, the difference between ἐν ὀνόματι and ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι (See #4.2), is just the absence of the definite article τῷ, equivalent to "the" in English. Often in New Testament Greek the article is omitted in the text, but is implied by the context. For example, see how wrong it would be to translate ἐν ὀνόματι literally as "in a name" (2 Thessalonians 3:6; Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 5:20), where the article is omitted in each case. In these cases, the omission of the article makes no difference to the meaning, so ἐν ὀνόματι here can also mean "in the name", and is thus the same as ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι (See #4.2). Being the dative, instrumental case, this scripture says that we should do all (including water baptism) using the name of the Lord Jesus.
Note: Here the preposition εἰς means "into", and the accusative case is used in the Greek, showing that "the name of the Lord Jesus" is the thing that the believers were symbolically baptized into (See #6. Into name Lord Jesus). Although the name of the Lord Jesus Christ should be used to baptize believers (See #4), it is not implied by these scriptures.
Having examined the meaning of all those scriptures which could indicate what should be spoken at a believer's
baptism, we can now put them together and see what the "rightly divided" scripture teaches. By way of example, let us say how we would study the truth
of the end time, and the second coming of Jesus. We would have to examine the book of Revelation, together with the book of Daniel, Matthew 24:1-51; Mark
13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36), and many other passages which deal with this subject. Peter declared, "... no prophecy of the scripture is of its own
interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20), showing that the relevant scriptures must be put together before they can be interpreted. Paul said, "For we know in
part, and prophesy in part." (1 Corinthians 13:9), showing that each writer wrote "a part" of the whole, and these parts must be put together to
get the truth. Paul also said, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." (2 Corinthians 13:1), a principle which is
confirmed by many other scriptures (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17). All of these scriptures indicate principles which we need to
take into consideration before we attempt to interpret the meaning of any scripture. This is how we rightly divide the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). So by
putting all the relevant scriptures together, and then meditating on them, this is how we would obtain the truth.
No single writer gave the whole inscription correctly, and this shows how easy it is to fall into error when any doctrine is based on one scripture only. Those who baptize using "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:" (Matthew 28:19) have fallen into this error. This is the way that God inspired his word to be written, and we can only be sure of getting the truth out of it when we rightly divide the word of God, and put it back together in the correct manner. If we now look at water baptism to find out the correct name to pronounce, we can only use those scriptures which are in the dative case, because it is the instrumental case in the Greek. This will give the following analysis:
The conclusion is then, that baptism should be done in the authority of THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and this is the correct name to say when it is done.
What about baptizing "in the name of JESUS", or "in the name of JESUS CHRIST". Are these acceptable? They will not be accepted by some for the following reasons:
(1) There have been many people named Jesus, "Jesus, which is called Justus," (Colossians 4:11), for example, and we need to be more specific about who's name we are being baptized in.
(2) The word "Christ" means "anointed one", and God's word tells us that we have all received an anointing (1 John 2:20; 2:27), so there could be several anointed men named Jesus. There are also many false Christs, who declare themselves to be Christ (Matthew 24:5; Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8), and if any of these are called Jesus it could be confusing.
(3) Both of these variations show a failure to rightly divide the word of God, and have resulted in diminishing what God has commanded, which we are told not to do:
(Deuteronomy 4:2) "You shall not add to the words which I command you, nor shall you diminish anything
from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
(4) Those who baptize "in the name of JESUS" have set up a doctrine with no scripture to support it, for nowhere was baptism ever commanded using the name of Jesus only. Those who baptize "in the name of JESUS CHRIST" have set up a one scripture doctrine (Acts 2:38), and have fallen into the same snare of the enemy as those who baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:" (Matthew 28:19; See #3. Baptism Father Son Holy Spirit). They have therefore failed to rightly divide the word of God on this point. Both of these variations rob Jesus of his Lordship, during a process which is meant to express our submission to his Lordship over us. God's word declares that there is only "One Lord," (Ephesians 4:5), so by adding the word "LORD" to "JESUS CHRIST", we remove all ambiguity about whose name we are being baptized in, and give the full honour due to the one who died to save us. I cannot imagine why any honest Christian would argue against doing this, and refuse to baptize or to be baptized right. The use of the word "Lord", said by the baptizer, also shows that he acknowledges Jesus as his Lord, and speaks under the direction of the Holy Spirit, for "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 13:3). Paul's habit was invariably to give Jesus his full name, "the Lord Jesus Christ", in the introduction to every epistle that he wrote (Romans 1:3; 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:1-2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3). Having clearly established whom he was referring to, he could then use variations of this throughout his letters without any ambiguity.
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