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#2. WATER BAPTISM IN WHOSE NAME?

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This bible study uses a Greek Unicode font and the Hebrew Unicode font "David" which comes with later versions of Windows.

Greek Word Study βαπτίζω baptizo baptize.
Greek Word Study βάπτισμα
baptizma baptism.

Introduction 2

This is a bible study about whose name Christians should be baptized in. Whether people baptize by sprinkling, pouring, immersion, or any other variation, it seems universally accepted by Christian denominations everywhere that some sort of words are spoken during the process of water baptism. If nothing was said at all, there would have been little point in Paul re-baptizing those who were baptized by John the Baptist (Acts 19:1-5). However, even among those who baptize by the correct method of full immersion, there is still some disagreement about what is said during the process. The purpose of this section is to determine from the scripture, and only the scripture, what should be said, if anything. This means that we will take no account of non-biblical references, because God has told us not to add to his words (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18), or of any traditions that may have been followed by people for centuries. For the Lord Jesus himself said to the scribes and Pharisees:

(Matthew 15:3) "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?"
(Matthew 15:6) "Thus have you made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition."
(Mark 7:9) "Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition."
(Mark 7:13) "Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition,"

If we are prepared to take only God's word as the authority for what we should do and say, then we must be prepared to lay aside all traditions, and former beliefs that are proven to be contrary to his word. Only then can God bless us, and bring all true followers of Jesus into the unity that he prayed for before his death; "That they all may be one; as you Father are in me, and I in you, that they may be one in us; ... that they may be one, even as we are one: ... that they may be made perfect in one:" (John 17:21-23).

#2.1 THE MEANING OF "THE NAME"

Introduction 2.1

Before we examine whose name we should be baptized in, it would be wise to consider what "a name" means according to scripture. Names were very significant in the bible; they gave meanings to places, to things and to people. In fact a name can indicate several different things, but concerning people, for the purposes of this bible study we will examine just three:

#2.11 The Name can Indicate Physical Characteristics

The fact that a name can indicate some physical characteristic can be seen from the example of Esau, Jacob's brother, when he was born:

(Genesis 25:25) "And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau."

Esau means "hairy", which was one of his physical characteristics (Genesis 25:25; 27:11), and was given to him when he was born, although he was later also called Edom, which means "red" (Genesis 25:30). Paul is our New Testament example (See #6.2 Name meaning Physical Characteristics).

#2.12 The Name Indicates Authority

What did Jesus mean when he said, "I have come in my Father's name" (John 5:43)? One meaning is that he came in his Father's authority. The Father sent him (Mark 9:37; Luke 4:18; John 3:17; 4:34; 5:23; 5:30), he gave him work to do (John 5:36; 9:4; 17:4), and Jesus did these works in his Father's name (John 10:25). Also the scripture says:

(John 3:35) "The father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand."
(John 5:26-27) "For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself; and has given him authority to execute judgement also,"
(John 13:3) "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,"

The Father had handed full authority over to Jesus, who again confirmed this when he said, "All authority was given to me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18). He was not just saying that this authority had been given to him after his resurrection, but also that he had this authority during his earthly ministry, before his death (See #5.1 Note, Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
Often when people were appointed to a new position of authority they would be given a new name. Pharaoh gave Joseph a new name when he appointed him ruler over all Egypt (Genesis 41:45), Daniel and his three companions were renamed when they went into exile in Babylon (Daniel 1:6-7), while Jesus gave Simon the name Peter when he was appointed to go and preach (Mark 3:13-16). When Jesus sent his disciples to preach, "he ... gave them power (Gr. δύναμιν, Gtr. dunamin) and authority (Gr. ἐξουσίαν, Gtr. exousian) over all demons, and to heal sicknesses." (Luke 9:1), and to some other disciples he said, "I give to you authority (Gr. ἐξουσίαν) to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power (Gr. δύναμιν) of the enemy:" (Luke 10:19). What then is this authority that Jesus gave to his disciples? Partly his name: for "at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;" (Philippians 2:10). So when they cast out demons in his authority, they did it "in the name" of Jesus (Mark 9:38; 16:17; Luke 9:49; 10:17), and when they healed the sick in his authority, they also did it "in the name" of Jesus (Acts 3:6; 4:10). Thus we may conclude that there are times when the word "name" literally means "authority", and times when "in my name" literally means "in my authority"; the context should tell us.

#2.13 The Name Indicates the Character

For this bible study this is an important consideration, because it reveals another fundamental aspect what Jesus was talking about when he said, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:" (Matthew 28:19). The fact that the name reveals the character is true for people as well as for God. Nabal is a good example, Nabal means "folly" (acts of foolishness), and his wife Abigail said of him, "as his name is, so is he;" (1 Samuel 25:25). Nabal was a foolish man, and his name revealed it. The name Jacob means "heelcatcher, supplanter, deceiver, defrauder", the very character of Jacob. Esau said of him, "Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing." (Genesis 27:36). Later, when his character changed, and he wrestled with "God", and prevailed (Genesis 32:24-30), God changed Jacob's name to Israel; "Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Genesis 32:28). Israel has been variously translated to mean "Prince with God", or "Soldier of God", or "One who wrestles with God". Having prevailed against men (Genesis 25:29-34; 27:1-29; 31:1-55), and now with God (Genesis 32:24-30), as God's chosen, Jacob's name had to be changed to suit his new character. Changing someone's name often went along with a change of position or character; Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas (John 1:42), translated Peter (Matthew 10:2) (Gr. Πέτρος, Gtr. Petros), which means "a stone" or "a rock". It was a name which described something solid, steady, and firm, which he eventually was to be like.
We have already seen that when Jesus said, "I have come in my Father's name," (John 5:43), that he came with his Father's authority (See #3. Baptism Father Son Holy Spirit), but another meaning to the statement is that he came to manifest his Father's character. In every way Jesus portrayed the Father, to such a degree that he could say, "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30), and "he who has seen me has seen the Father;" (John 14:9). The very words that he spoke were exactly as the Father gave him to say (John 3:34; 8:28; 8:38; 12:50; 14:10; 17:8), and the works that he did were those given to him by the Father (John 5:36; 9:4; 17:4). One literal name can never reveal the fullness of the character of God, because he has far too many attributes, but in the Old Testament God revealed himself through many names, each one of which he used to reveal to his people some part of his nature or character. If we examine a few of these, it will help to clarify the point further.

First the name יהוה (Htr. Yahweh) which is used hundreds of times of God, and is usually translated "LORD", simply means "he causes to become". It reveals to us that attribute of God, that he is the cause of all existence, independent of any other being.

Another name is יהוה יִרְאֶה (Htr. Yahweh Yireh) which simply means "Yahweh will provide". When Isaac asked Abraham where the sacrifice was, he simply replied, "My son, God will provide (Elōhim Yireh) himself a lamb for a burnt offering:" (Genesis 22:8). Abraham went on to name the place "Yahweh Yireh" meaning "Yahweh will provide" (Genesis 22:14). This is an attribute of God's character, to provide for his people whatever they need, and was demonstrated to us through Jesus. During his earthly ministry, he provided wine for the wedding (John 2:1-11), food for the hungry (Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-39), healing for the sick (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Acts 10:38), and life for the dead (Matthew 9:25; Mark 5:41-42; Luke 7:14-15; 9:54-55; John 11:43-44). After that God provided Jesus as a sacrifice for us (Isaiah 53:10;  2 Corinthians 5:21), which Jesus submitted to voluntarily himself (John 10:17-18; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 9:14). Paul pointed out that this attribute of God's character is also fulfilled for us now through Jesus, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19). Thus we can say that the name "Elohim Yireh" reveals to us God's character as our provider.

Another name is יהוה רֹפְאֶךָ (Htr. Yahweh Rōphekā) which means "Yahweh your healer". God revealed his attribute as a healer through this name when he said, "I am Yahweh who heals you." (Exodus 15:26), even though he stipulated a condition of obedience to receive. Jesus displayed this attribute of God's character when he healed "all who were oppressed of the devil;" (Acts 10:38), and "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." (Matthew 4:23). We also can obtain healing through Jesus today, by receiving the promises:

(Isaiah 53:5) "with his stripes we are healed."
(Matthew 8:17) "Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses."
(1 Peter 2:24) "by whose stripes you were healed."

Thus even before Jesus' time, God's character as a healer of his people was revealed through one of his names.

Another of God's names is יהוה רֹעִי (Htr. Yahweh Rō‘ī) translated "Yahweh is my shepherd;" (Psalm 23:1), which reveals God's character as a shepherd-like leader of his people. When God sought a new king for Israel after Saul's disobedience (1 Samuel 15:1-23), he chose David the shepherd boy (1 Samuel 16:1-13), who was described as "a man after his own heart," (1 Samuel 13:14), again revealing his shepherd like character. This aspect of God was also revealed through Jesus during his earthly ministry, when he looked on the people and saw them as "sheep not having a shepherd:" (Mark 6:34). He went on to describe himself, saying, "I am the good shepherd:" (John 10:11; 10:14), and "the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." (John 10:11), so when he gave his life for us, he fulfilled this attribute of God's character.

Here is another example of where the name means character:

(Isaiah 7:14) "Therefore Yahweh himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

This was the prophecy given by Isaiah when king Ahaz refused to ask a sign from Yahweh (Isaiah 7:12). It was to be fulfilled through Jesus, and was confirmed by the angel of the Lord who spoke to Joseph in a dream, when he was thinking of putting Mary away because she had conceived:

(Matthew 1:21-23) "And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

His literal name was JESUS, not Emmanuel, which shows that "Emmanuel" was a character attribute of Jesus, and not his literal name.
So what can we conclude from all this? Simply that God has revealed his character to his people in the past through various names, and the word "name" can mean "character". Therefore when the word "name" appears in scripture, but does not literally fit with the meaning of the passage, or causes a conflict with other scriptures, then we can look at it in the "sense" of meaning "character", and thus make sense of any apparent contradiction.

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