Should We Baptize Only in Jesus' Name?
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
—The Lord Jesus Christ
There is a group of people who call themselves "Jesus Only" who say that it is wrong to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. They say that the only correct baptism is to baptize in Jesus' name ALONE--not the Father and the Holy Ghost. Please look at Matthew 28:19 one more time and see how JESUS said to baptize—
Ummm... how can anybody that professes to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, say that it is wicked evil to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost? Ain't that what Jesus just said to do?
I've heard from more than one of these Jesus Only people trying to peddle their error here. In fact I just got an e-mail from one of them (11-23-99) and that is why I am writing this article. I've been ignoring them for a long time but apparently they've made great inroads with those who are as yet ignorant in the word. Incidentally, that's who the cults are successful with--the babes and those that refuse to read the word for themselves.
A reader wrote earlier this month asking me about Jesus Only people. I've gone back and found my response to her. It is herein modified in several areas in order to better expound the points made...
... Yes, I've heard of the Jesus Only people. They have a fundamental problem--the same one found in all who embrace the spirit of error--a twisting of the scriptures to suit their doctrine. These people say that it is WRONG to baptize in accordance with Matthew 28:19. They do not believe in the Godhead either--I wrote an article on the "trinity" at http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/trinity.htm. They believe that the Father and the Holy Ghost are only "titles".
Concerning baptism "in Jesus name only", they skip over Matthew 28:19 and then point out 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."
This is probably their main proof text. But they do err not knowing the scriptures. Since they vehemently reject Jesus' words in Matthew 28:19 they don't even think about looking for the real meaning of Acts 2:38. Jesus gave very explicit instructions on how to baptize in Matthew 28:19 but that ain't good enough for these people. They have to come up with "some new thing" in order to draw converts. But why did Peter tell those people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in Acts 2:38? Let's head off to the scriptures for our answer.
PETER WAS MAKING A DISTINCTION.
A distinction between what and what? A distinction between the baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus Christ! How do I know? The scriptures say so unequivocally! Look at this scripture in Acts 19--
19:2 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.
19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto JOHN'S BAPTISM.
19:4 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.
19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.
This scripture makes it very plain that the baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus were two separate baptisms. The people had received John's baptism (v. 3). Their knowledge was not complete. John only told the people to believe on the one who would come after him. These people didn't know Jesus yet. Therefore Paul preached Jesus to them, the one of whom John spoke. After they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (v. 4-5). Knowing the ministry of John the Baptist was not complete knowledge. We see the same thing with Apollos. Apollos only knew John's baptism so that's what he preached. When Aquilla and Priscilla heard him preaching John's baptism, they pulled him to the side and told him about Jesus --
Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the BAPTISM OF JOHN.
18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquilla and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
SO WHAT WAS PETER TALKING ABOUT IN ACTS 2:38?
In Acts 2:38 Peter was making the distinction between the baptism of Jesus versus the baptism of John. He was not giving the mode of baptism.
One additional note-- In the book of Acts a transition was taking place. You still had folks who only knew about John the Baptist, a righteous man and forerunner of Jesus Christ. These people had only been baptized with the baptism of John. They were ignorant of Jesus' ministry but in the book of Acts while the gospel was going out in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, these people were witnessed to and believed on the Lord Jesus. They therefore had to be baptized in Jesus' name. The Jesus Only people don't understand this. They take one scripture and say it deletes Matthew 28:19 when in actuality it does no such thing. It only confirms that Jesus was an greater than John and that we are to "hear ye Him".
If you will simply believe what the Scriptures say, then the Holy Ghost will open up your understanding so that you can see how they all fit together. Don't ever let a man take away the scriptures from you or tell you they don't mean what they say. People say "Matthew is only for the Jews" but that is a story for another day. Suffice it to say, I won't let anyone take away the scriptures from me.
for Jesus' sake,
...I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. Ezekiel 2:4, 6