If Jesus said to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, why did the apostles baptize only in the name of Jesus?

Email Received:

You have stated in your basic beliefs that you feel baptism should be done in accordance with Matthew 28:19. If Jesus did indeed command that we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, why did the apostles not do so in Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, and 19:5? In these cases, they baptized only in the name of the Lord Jesus or Jesus Christ.

Ted's Response:

I have thought about how Jesus stated how people were to be baptized; yet His disciples did not seem to do it exactly this way. I do not have a concrete answer for you, but I can give you a few thoughts.

Jesus used the word "name" in Matthew 28:19, which is a singular noun. I suggest that He was referring to the one, single God who has multiple facets, as described in my singular and multiple section.

Jesus was including all of God's facets—Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit—in the usage of that singular noun "name," of which He Himself was/is an integral component. Perhaps by using the general term "name," Jesus was referring to "Yahveh" (or "Yahweh"), the "I Am" and the Hebrew name by which God referred to Himself when speaking to Moses (Exodus 3:13,14). Jesus also said, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I Am!" (John 8:58).

In any case, to Peter and the other apostles, Jesus was the primary manifestation of God that they knew personally and could relate to, so they used His name when baptizing. Jesus had said that He had come in His Father's name (John 5:43). He also had said that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in His (Jesus') name (John 14:26). Paul differentiated between the baptism of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus (Acts 19:4,5). The common denominator among all of these is Jesus, who should be the primary focus when it comes to salvation.

When Peter spoke about baptism in Acts 2:38, he had just been filled with the Holy Spirit, along with eleven other apostles, on Pentecost. Presumably, he was speaking under the anointing of the Holy Spirit when he told the other Jews standing there to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

Therefore, I have to assume that it was and is permissible to baptize in the name of Jesus, who is one facet of the Trinity. Evidently, the apostles saw Jesus as equivalent to the Father and the Holy Spirit and believed that His name could include all the members of the Trinity.

I personally would advocate baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is what was said at my baptism, and I do not recall hearing only the name of Jesus at other baptisms that I have witnessed. However, I would not consider someone any less than fully baptized if only the name of Jesus were used while doing it.

The act of baptism is a public display of a person's faith in the one, true God and represents one's pledge to follow and obey Him. It also shows an acknowledgement that Jesus—who was sent by the Father and in whose name the Father sent the Holy Spirit—is the Savior whose blood has provided atonement for our sins, enabling us to obtain eternal salvation.

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