The Formula of Baptism
Jesus Himself gave us the formula of Baptism in Matthew 28:19. “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 29:19). However, in the book of Acts, we read that the disciples sometimes baptized in the name of Jesus. Luke wrote, “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). So, why did Peter baptize in the Name of Jesus and not in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?
In Acts 2:38, Luke is not recording the baptismal formula but rather Peter’s exhortation to those who are willing to confess Jesus as the Christ. It is only reasonable that Christian baptism sometimes might be seen as if only in the single name of Christ, since of the persons in the Godhead, it is Christ specifically to whom baptism points. We must always understand the context in which a verse is given. In Acts 2, Peter’s hearers already believed in God the Father; the real test, for them, was whether they would accept Jesus as the Messiah the Savior of the world.
Only by acknowledging Christ could the new convert now come to baptism. The disciples had just experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and thus they were in a ready to accept the meaning of John the Baptist’s prophecy that Christ would baptize them “with the holy ghost and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). The union between the believer and his Lord, made real by the Spirit, is shown in the ordinance of baptism. For, baptism is confessing your sins and believing that Christ’s death on the cross has cleansed them away.
The apostle Paul confirmed the truth that salvation and baptism revolves around the believer’s acceptance of Christ, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore 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” (Romans 6:3-5). It is significant to see that baptism symbolizes not only death and burial of Christ but also His resurrection.
In His service,
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