Baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ

by Rev. Paul Wong

  It is unfortunate that Christianity is divided over what is called the baptismal formula. The Roman Catholic and the majority of the Protestant churches baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28:19). A small but growing number of churches that are called Apostolic baptize "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38). Some ignorantly call this division a conflict of choosing the commandment of Jesus Christ and the commandment of the apostle Peter. Actually there is no conflict between the Savior’s words and Peter’s words. They harmonize with one another.

Name of the Father Let us consider the statement of our Lord Jesus Christ. What did He mean by "the name of the Father"? We all know that the word "Father" is not a name. What is the Father’s name? Moses asked the same question in a subtle way: "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM’ has sent me to you.’" (Ex. 3:13-14). The Name of the Eternal God "I AM WHO I AM" is "YAHWEH" in Hebrew. The Jews consider the name of the Father so sacred that they do not pronounce it. The New International Dictionary of the Bible has this explanation: "The Jews, due to their interpretation of Leviticus 24:16, read "ADONAI" to avoid pronouncing "YAHWEH" (the supreme name of God alone)." In the Jewish temples or synagogues, whenever the name of the Father "YAHWEH" appears in the Bible they will read it as "ADONAI", that means "Lord" in English. Today in most English versions of the Holy Bible, whenever the name of the Father YAHWEH appears it is translated in the capital letters "LORD".

We need to understand this important fact. When the Great Commission was given by our the Lord Jesus Christ He was speaking to His disciples who were all Jews. There was not a single Gentile present. He spoke to them in Aramaic, the common native tongue of the Jews in those days. When our Lord commanded them to baptize "in the name of the Father . . . . ." the disciples understood that He meant "YAHWEH". Being Jews, they would call Him "ADONAI" a revered name that means "LORD". Now you can understand why the apostle Peter, a Jew who spoke Aramaic, "commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." (Acts 10:46)

Name of the Son In the Old Testament there is a question: "What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know?" (Pro. 30:4) We have just learnt the name of the Father is YAHWEH and it is also respectful to call Him "ADONAI" or "LORD" in the English language or any other language. All Christians know the name of the Son of God is "JESUS", but many do not know the name of the Father is also in the name of the Son. There is a prophecy that God’s name would be in the Savior (Ex. 23:20-21). Our Lord Jesus Christ declared: "I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me, . . . . . . ." (Jn. 5:43) How does the name of the Father be in the Son? It may be explained in this way. In most civilized cultures all sons carry the names of their fathers. If the father’s family name is Smith, so will the son’s name be Smith. In the same way, since God’s name is YAHWEH, therefore His Son will also have the same name.

There is, however, a problem with the Jews who do not pronounce the sacred name YAHWEH as we have discussed earlier. Praise the LORD, this problem had already been solved by God a long time ago. Remember how God revealed His name to Moses? "And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM." And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you. . . . . This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’" (Ex. 3:14-15) In addition to His sacred name "I AM WHO I AM" (YAHWEH) God had also revealed His memorial name "I AM" that is pronounced "YAH" in Hebrew. This is like calling "Tim" instead of the full name "Timothy". It is highly significant that our Lord Jesus Christ applied God’s memorial name "I AM" (YAH) to Himself. He said: "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." (Jn. 8:58) The New King James Bible records this name "YAH" in Psalm 68:4; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4 and 38::11. The Jews do not have any problems in pronouncing this name "YAH". In fact they use this name all the time. Take the names of the prophets in the Bible for instance. "Isaiah" means salvation of YAH, "Jeremiah" means exaltation of YAH, "Elijah" means God is YAH and "Zechariah" means YAH is renowned. When the Jews praise God in the temples they say "Hallelujah" which means "Praise You YAH". We now come to an important name "YAHSHUA" that means YAH is Savior. This name is sometimes mispronounced "Joshua" but the correct pronunciation is "YAHSHUA" because the Hebrew language do not have the letter "J". "YAHSHUA" is the Hebrew pronunciation. of the Greek/English name "JESUS".

Just before our Lord gave the Great Commission He proclaimed His supreme powers as King of the heaven and the earth. He said: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Mt. 28:18) The word "authority" in this verse is translated from the Greek "exousia", that means the Lord Jesus Christ have supreme power over everything in the universe. The authority is in His name "YAHSHUA". "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus (YAHSHUA) every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil 2:9-11). The authority of the name "YAHSHUA" (JESUS) is so powerful that prayers are answered when invoked in this name (Jn. 14:13-14). Miracles, signs and wonders are performed through the name of Jesus (Acts 2:22; 3:6-9; 4:30; 9:34). Even demons are subjected to the name (Lk. 10:17; Mk. 9:38; 16:17; Acts 16:18).

It is not enough to just believe who Jesus is. Even the demons and unclean spirits know and confess that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God (Lk. 4:41; Mk 3:11). Belief in the power of the name and what it can do does not count either (Acts 19:13-17). What God wants Christians to do is to believe, trust, make a commitment in the authority and power of the name YAHSHUA - JESUS (Jn. 1:12; 3:18). "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." (1 Jn. 5:13)

The most important aspect of the name of YAHSHUA (JESUS) is this: ". . . . Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) God has given this universe the name of YAHSHUA (JESUS) for the purpose of salvation. God gave this revelation concerning the purpose of this name. "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." (Mt. 1:21) The native Hebrew/Aramaic name of "YAHSHUA" must have been spoken by the angel to Joseph since the Greco-Roman/English name of JESUS does not have the meaning of salvation. YAHSHUA means "YAH is Savior" in the Hebrew/Aramaic language. There is power and authority in this name. Christians must believe that through this name YAHSHUA (JESUS) he or she can be saved from sins, just like the angel’s revelation. "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." (Acts 10:43).

How can we receive remission of sins through the name of YAHSHUA (JESUS)? All the apostles knew the answer. "Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) This is very clear. The person who repents and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ will have the remission of sins. During the conversion of Saul, who later became known as Paul, Ananias urged him: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) Sins are washed away when a person is baptized while "calling on the name of the Lord." Paul wrote: ". . . And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:11) What a great description of the remission of sins - to be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Holy Spirit.

It is a factual truth that although our Lord instructed the apostles to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” but none of them ever did it that way. On the Day of Pentecost Peter and the apostles publicly announced that baptism is administer in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). In Samaria Philip preached “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ,” before the baptism (Acts 8:12). The Samaritan Christians were “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 8:16) After Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10:47-48). Paul rebaptized the Ephesian Christians in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:3-5). Why did the apostles and the Early Church baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ instead of the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Were they defiant and went against the instructions of their Lord and Savior? Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit taught them the truth (Jn. 14:26; 16:13-14). They understood the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the Lord Jesus Christ.

| Back to Bible Studies |