Some people think that being baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” and being baptized into the “name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” are two different things. They are, in fact, the same thing. It is half a dozen in one hand or six in the other. Some think that by obeying this direct command and wording of Jesus Himself in Matthew 28:19 it is somehow not the same as being baptized into Christ and makes baptism in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, invalid (even if it is full water immersion for the forgiveness of sins and done in conformity to Christ’s exact Words). The reason these people use is that the wording found elsewhere in the New Testament and especially the book of Acts uses the term “Jesus Christ” or simply “Jesus” (which can further open a can of worms…is it “Jesus Christ”(as Peter said), “Christ Jesus” (as Paul said), “Jesus”(Paul again) or “Christ” (Paul)? The New Testament uses all these terms). But if the Scriptures are the infallible Word of God, then both of these renderings would be correct. Part of this confusion stems from misunderstanding two things:
1.) the whole Bible is the Word of God and Matthew 28:19 cannot be excluded
2.) the nature of Christ as God the Father and of God Himself
So if we see supposedly two examples in Scripture—“Jesus Christ” and “the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and only one of them is valid, that would invalidate the other, which in turn would invalidate the Word of God. And God is not a liar. His Word is Truth. Are these “two” ways really two? Are they contradictory? Or are they the same? Is Jesus Christ not the Son?
If we come to understand from the Word of God the nature of our Creator, we can start to grasp what Jesus was telling us when He referred to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This idea is perhaps one of the hardest for us mortals with finite minds to grasp and this author does not claim to fully fathom the depth of himself. It is just accepted on faith. This exploration is by no means complete, as it will only scratch the surface of what is called the doctrine of the Trinity-- a single God who is three, but is also one. Let’s begin by looking at a few verses that explore this mind-boggling idea:
" My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. " I and the Father are one." The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.
Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, "Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. "I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
"While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
What is the name the Father gave to the Son? Is it not JESUS? The name given to the Son, Jesus says, is also the name of the Father.
"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
The Word is the Son—Jesus Christ:
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no man knew, but He Himself.
And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and His name is called, The Word of God. And the armies which were in Heaven, clothed in fine linen white and clean, followed Him upon white horses.
In Scripture, Jesus has many names. Here are just a few of them:
Word Son of David Most high Beloved Son
Word of God King of kings Lord The Root And Offspring Of David
Christ Lord of lords Immanuel Abraham's Seed
Messiah Redeemer Faithful Witness Son Of Joseph
Prophet Bright morning star Rock Son of God
Holy One High Priest Chief Cornerstone Firstborn
Righteous One Good Shepard Savior Resurrection
Son of Man The gate Ruler the last Adam
The Way Prince of Peace Wonderful king of Israel
The Truth Counselor Mighty God I AM
The Life Alpha and Omega Son Of Abraham Lamb
Light of the world Beginning and end Only Begotten Son Lion of Judah
Bread of life True vine Bridegroom Mystery of God
God is ONE. Using any of His names still is a reference to Him.
Perhaps the most famous and well know verse that teaches Jesus is the Father is in the Old Testament and is one we sing about every Christmas but then quickly forget about:
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
So whether we are baptized into “the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” or into “Jesus Christ” it makes no difference--they are both the same thing.
“Ok, but what about the Holy Spirit?”
Many are surprised to learn the Spirit is not an “it”, “it” is a “who”:
"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as He had come on us at the beginning.
So who is this “He”?
Acts 16:6-8 ASV
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Yes indeed, the Holy Spirit too, is Jesus. Confused yet? You are not alone. But it is what the Bible says…
(Hang on now, it is going to get worse…) So the Bible says Jesus is the Father, and the Father is Jesus. It also says the Holy Spirit is Jesus. Jesus is the Son. He was begotten of the Father. But the Holy Spirit also was involved:
But wasn’t it the Father who begat the Son? Yes! So how could Jesus be of the Holy Spirit too? Is the Holy Spirit the Father as well? Remember 1John 5:7 above? It says the Father, the Word (which is the Son), and the Holy Ghost are ONE. This is where faith comes in. Our small, puny minds cannot grasp the true immensity of this notion. This is a very deep concept, one perhaps we will never fully understand until we are in heaven. Perhaps the phrase the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is a more complete, all inclusive, all encompassing name that best describes aspects of God that a singular name cannot. This gives insight into the mystery of God’s very personality, which appears to be of a compound nature. After all, God has shown us this is so from the very beginning:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
So, because the three are one, baptism in “the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” is just as valid as baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Likewise, baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ” is just as valid as baptism in “the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” In Mathew 28:19 Jesus told
The Apostles (Peter being present) to baptize in “the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. In Acts 2:38 we see Peter telling the crowd to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.” It’s a big circle. Peter did not disobey, nor did he improve upon Christ’s commands. This should tell us both wordings are acceptable to God.
Furthermore, the power in baptism does not consist of which exact words or “formula” is uttered at time of immersion. What happens in baptism is done by God.
“Thus, if a person is baptized with an understanding and recognition of the Scriptural purpose of baptism, if a person desires for his/her sins to be washed away by the blood of Jesus, if a person realizes that they are dependent on that precious gift of God through Christ, then surely that person has been baptized "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" and also "in the name of Jesus," regardless of the words spoken at the time.” –Bob Williams
There are many people who acknowledge Jesus Christ as a human being who lived about 2000 years ago. They do not however, acknowledge Him as the Son (of God). If anyone wants to be contentious about this, using their own line of “reasoning” it can be argued (erroneously) that using the name Jesus only does not acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God—and anyone who denies the Son also denies the Father as well:
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
Notice this verse uses “the Son” not “Jesus”. But no one with any understanding will say that if someone confesses “Jesus” they will be denying the Father. This would be a misuse of Scripture.
If someone does something in the name of the President of the United States, it is just the same as saying someone does something in the name of George Bush. One phrasing acknowledges the power and authority of the office while the other phrasing is more personable. But both phrases mean the same thing. It is six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.
Furthermore, much of this dispute seems to arise from a divisive and legalistic mindset among those that should otherwise be unified brothers in the body of Christ. Paul warns against factions and divisions of this nature. We should be careful we do not fall into this category:
…he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw thyself.
If it is to be disputed that baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is invalid because it doesn’t say that in Acts, then the same exact argument can be made that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is invalid because that is not what Jesus Christ Himself said to do. Do you see how ridiculously silly this gets? It is quibbling over semantics. It is a classic case of what Paul warned Timothy about. Notice Paul also mentions that these people like to argue over words and are after financial gain. Currently, there is another site on the Internet that the author has bet anyone $10,000 to find anywhere in the New Testament where it shows baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (other than Matthew 28:19, of course). This is an unhealthy interest in controversy over words for financial gain as quoted by Paul above.
Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures
or the power of God? –Mark 12:24
Click here for another site that explores this question.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there are “baptisms” that are not into Christ at all. They are not into either “Jesus Christ”, NOR “the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In other words, it is not a “Christian” baptism whatsoever. It is a “baptism” where Christ is actually rejected or denied. Even today, Jewish people still practice “tevillah” which is what Christians would call baptism. This is the same type of full water immersion in a “baptistry”—which Jewish people call a “mikvah”. The ancient application of Mikvah is still practiced for several different reasons, one of which is for conversion to Judaism. Click here and here to see an external, Jewish site for more information on Mikvah.
So in view of Mikvah, and Tevillah, it seems pretty silly to argue about the phrasing “Jesus Christ” or “the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” --which both mean the same thing!
This page updated: October 27, 2004