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Christian Baptism

Baptism is the first step a new Christian takes in identifying with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6). As such, it is important that the Biblical pattern for baptism is followed specifically.

Ephesians 4:5

One Lord

One Faith

One Baptism

Baptism in What Name?

Most all churches today follow a literal interpretation of Matthew 28:19, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." It was not always so.

On the day of Pentecost, the inauguration of the Christian Church, Peter commanded the people thusly in Acts 2:38: "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."

Now we must ask ourselves, "Is Scriptural baptism to be performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, or in the name of Jesus?" Is there really a choice to be made?

Does it really Matter?

Both commands are in the Bible. Is one right and the other wrong?

If so, then the Bible cannot be trusted. Is it possible that there is an understanding that the apostles had, that the church somehow lost?

Fact: The act of baptism with the wording as literally stated in Matthew 28:19 - Father, Son and Holy Ghost - Is not only unknown in Scripture, but the wording was not even used in the first two hundred years of Christian history. What happened?


What History Says

Encyclopedia Britannica:

11th ed. Vol. 3, pp.365-366

The baptismal formula was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words, Father, Son and Holy Ghost by the catholic church in the second century.

Encyclopedia Britannica:

11th ed. Vol. 3, p. 82

Everywhere, in the oldest sources, it states that baptism took place in the name of Jesus.

Catholic Encyclopedia :

Vol. 2, p. 263

Here the Catholics acknowledged that baptism was changed by the Catholic church.

Canney Encyclopedia of Religion:

p. 53

The early church always baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until the development of the trinity doctrine in the second century.


New International Encyclopedia:

vol. 22, p. 477

The term, "trinity," was originated by Tertullian, a Roman Catholic church father.

Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion:

Volume2, p. 377

Christian baptism was administered using the words, "in the name of Jesus"

Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion:

Volume2, p. 378

The use of the Trinitarian formula of any sort was not suggested in the early church history.

Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion:

Volume2, p. 389

Baptism was always in the name of "Lord Jesus" until the time of Justin Martyr when the triune formula was used.


Catholic Encyclopedia:

vol. 8

Justin Martyr was one of the early fathers of the Roman Catholic church.

Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion:

vol. 2, p. 

Acts 2:38

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.

NAME was an ancient synonym for "person"

Payment was always made in the name of some person referring to ownership. Therefore, being baptized in Jesus' name one became His personal property. "And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."

1 Corinthians 3:23


What the Bible Says: The Keys to the Kingdom

Matthew 16:19 

"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

In this passage of scripture, we see that Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom. What was the door to the kingdom that needed to be unlocked? The door is Jesus Christ and the key is the revelation of who He is. When this is unlocked to a believer they declare it publicly by scriptural baptism in the correct name." ... Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..."


How, then did Peter use the keys?


Opening the kingdom to the jews

Acts 2:38 " the name of Jesus Christ..."

Opening the kingdom to the Samaritans

Acts 8:16 " the name of the Lord Jesus"

Now to the Gentiles

Acts 10:48 " the name of the Lord"

To those re-baptized upon further understanding

Acts 19:5 " the name of the Lord Jesus"

What did Peter say regarding the name of the Lord Jeus Christ?

1 Corinthians 1:13 "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" From this question we know that we must be baptized in the name of the crucified one.

Colossians 3:17 "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Not Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Paul also said in Colossians 2:9 "For in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." The name of the three offices of God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) is the Lord Jesus Christ. When the church divided God into three persons (the Trinity), this truth was lost.

Notice that in Matthew 28:19 Jesus himself said, "...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The word "name" is singular. There is one name for the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and it is Lord Jesus Christ.

Baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is the understanding the disciples and apostles had of Jesus' command in Matthew 28:19. If we follow the Scriptural pattern we can expect Scriptural results: "...And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Other Scriptures to consider: "Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29, Galatians 3:20, I Timothy 2:5, James 2:19 and Revelation 4:2

Baptism by Immersion or Sprinkling?

Having seen the importance of baptism in the proper name, the next thing to consider is the method of the act itself.

The Greek word, "baptism," means immersion or submersion.


What the Bible says. 

Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

John 3:23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and was baptized.

Acts 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likness of his resurrection.

Colossians 2:12 Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.


What Church Leaders Have Said

John Calvin: Presbyterian "The word 'baptize' signifies to immerse.

It is certain that immersion was the practice of the primitive church."

Martin Luther: Lutheran "Baptism is the Greek word, and may be translated 'immerse'. I would have those who are to be baptized to be altogether dipped."

John Westley

John Wesley: Methodist "The Bible term, buried with him by baptism, alludes to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion."

Wall: Episcopal "Immersion was in all probability the way in which our blessed savior and, for certain, the way in which all early Christians were baptized."

Brenner: Catholic "For the first thirteen hundred years, baptism was an immersion of the person under water."

Stoudza: Native Greek

" The verb, 'baptize,' has only one meaning. It signifies to plunge. Baptism and immersion are identical. To say 'baptism by sprinkling' would be to say 'immersion by sprinkling.'"

Jeremiah: Greek Patriot

"The ancient did not sprinkle the candidate, but immersed him."


Whitfield: Methodist

"It is certain that the word buried, the text, Romans 6:4, alludes to the matter baptizing by immersion."

The apostle, Paul, re-babtized believers who had not been baptized according to the Acts 2:38 formula. 

Acts 19:1-5

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

And He said unto them. Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said , Unto John's baptism.

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Infant Baptism

Acts 2:38 instructs us to "repent and be baptized." Infants cannot repent and have nothing to repent from. Therefore, infant baptism is unscriptural.


If you have been baptized in any form other that full submersion in water in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you have not been baptized according to God's Word. Prayerfully consider being re-baptized, because when God's requirement is met, He will reveal more of Himself to you.

The above information was extracted from a pamphlet published by :

Bro George Smith 

Believers International

P O Box 1000

Elizabethton, TN 37644

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