In whose name should baptism be conducted?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Christian baptism is the means by which a person makes a public confession of faith and discipleship. Baptism is an outward testimony of the inward change in a believer’s life. Baptism illustrates the believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Water baptism symbolizes the believer’s total trust in, and total reliance on, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the commitment to live obediently to Him.

The apostle Paul wrote, “We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:4–6).

It is essential to know that baptism symbolizes not only death and burial but also resurrection. The ceremony points in two way, back to our death to sin and forward to our new life in Jesus. As the death of Christ had the resurrection in view (Romans 4:25), so also the ministry of grace does not terminate with the Christian’s death to sin. Rather, this death to sin anticipates a newer, holier, and better life. Justification looks forward to the believer’s full sanctification.

The believer needs to consider the following steps before baptism:

  1. Learn God’s requirements (Matthew 28:19, 20).
  2. Believe the truth of God’s Word (Mark 16:16).
  3. Repent and turn away from sins and experience conversion (Acts 2:38).
  4. Ask for God’s power to do His will (Matthew 7:7,8).

In Whose Name Should Baptism Be Conducted?

Some have wondered about Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 in relation to whose name should the Christian be baptized. The baptismal formula is clearly given in Matthew 28:19 by Jesus Himself, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

As to Acts 2:38, Luke is not recording the baptismal formula but rather Peter’s call to those who are ready to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). It is only logical that Christian baptism sometimes might be spoken of as if only in the single name, since of the persons in the Godhead, it is the Son of God specifically to whom baptism refers.

Believers must always understand the context in which a verse is given. In Acts 2, Peter’s listeners already believed in God the Father. But the true test, for them, was whether they would receive the Son of God as their personal Savior and Redeemer from sin. As Christ had taught, baptism was given “in the name,” in living relationship with the Son of God. Only by thus acknowledging Him could the repentant sinner come to baptism.

The disciples had just received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and thus they were in a place where they could understand the meaning of John the Baptist’s prediction that Jesus would baptize them “with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). This mystical unity between the believer and his Redeemer, made real by the Spirit, is symbolized in the beautiful ceremony of baptism.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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