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Biblical Water Baptism, The Formula, Episode III

Updated on March 2, 2014

Referenced Texts

Mt 10:22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Mt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in (Gk “eis” lit. “into”) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Ac 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mk 6:10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place."

Lk 21:17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.

Ac 8:12,16 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. ... 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Ac 10:48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. NASB

Ac 12:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

Ac 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”

Ac 19:1-5 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

Ac 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

1 Cor 1:13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Ga 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Ja 2:7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

Ja 2:7 Amplified Bible: Is it not they who slander and blaspheme that precious name by which you are distinguished and called [the name of Christ invoked in baptism]?

The Didache, or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, though ancient (in part), it is anything but the teachings of the apostles of our Lord. Though there is evidence of very early references to its use, it was not in its present form. True, a document called the “Didache” was in use among the churches in Syria as early as 100 -110 A. D., but not the document discovered by Philotheos Bryennios in 1873 while in Istanbul, in the Jerusalem Monastery of the Most Holy Sepulcher, and made public in 1883. It is demonstrated that this present document has been added to over the millennia. Just how much of the present document belongs to those earliest references is, most likely, impossible to tell.

Didache ch 11:4-6 "Let every Apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord, 5 but let him not stay more than one day, or if need be a second as well; but if he stay three days, he is a false prophet. 6 And when an Apostle goes forth let him accept nothing but bread till he reach his night's lodging;…"

Didache 7:1 "baptize, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," in running water;" 9:5 "But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptized in the Lord's Name."

Water Baptism Q&A, Q's 15-17

Water Baptism Q&A, Q's 18-26

Water Baptism Q&A, Q's 27-30

The Formula of Water Baptism

In this writing we continue our Q&A on the subject of Water Baptism. Our topic is the biblical formula. Extant in Christianity are two major formulas. The most used is: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This is called the triune formula and is used by those who confess the Trinity. The Other formula of which I spoke is shorter and much older; it is: "I baptize you into the name of Jesus." It is our purpose, in this writing, to ascertain which, if either, is the biblical formula.

Here we pick up our Q&A at question 16, and proceed through question 30.

Question 16: What is meant by the Formula of Water Baptism? ∼ Answer: The formula of Water Baptism is the word or words invoked over (or upon) the person being baptized, by the person doing the baptizing. See Acts 19:3 where the question, “Unto what were you baptized?” has the formula (and not the mode) in view.

Question 17: Is Water Baptism administered in any particular formula in the New Testament? ∼ Answer: the New Testament is clear as to the formula used in Water Baptism. Notice the following facts:

  1. In Acts 2:38 alien sinners were commanded to be Water Baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That day about 3000 persons obeyed the command.
  2. In Acts 8:12,16 we read of Philip administering Water Baptism “into” the name of the Lord Jesus.
  3. In Acts 19:1-5 Peter commands the entire household of Cornelius to be Water Baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  4. In Acts 19:1-5 Luke records the re-baptism of 12 disciples of John the Baptist. This re-baptism was administered in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  5. In First Corinthians 1:13 Paul indicates that the Corinthians were Water Baptized into the name of the ONE who was crucified for them; namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. In Acts 22:16 Ananias instructs Saul of Tarsus (later to become Paul the apostle) to get his sins washed away by calling upon the name of the Lord in Water Baptism.
  7. In James 2:7 the brother of our Lord writes of the name which was called upon the believers at one particular time that produced a finished result. The Greek of this text (the verb “called” is epiklēthev “having been called upon” is ariost tense—a one time calling, which produces results that continues) implies that name to be, Jesus. Therefore, the Amplified Bible recognizes this name to be the name of Christ invoked at Water Baptism.

Question 18: What did Jesus say concerning the formula (name) into which one must be Water Baptized? ∼ Answer: The Words of Institution for Water Baptism are recorded in Matthew 28:19. Jesus said that one must be Water Baptized “into” the name (notice that the word “name,” which is onoma in Greek, is in the singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. An honest reading of this passage reveals that Jesus intended a single name to be used in water baptism.

Question 19: What is the Biblical significance of being Water Baptized “into” a name? ∼ Answer: Both Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 show that believers were baptized “into” a singular name. Acts 8:16 further shows that the singular name was the name - Jesus. The significance of this is that in Water Baptism, one becomes the property of the one “into” whom he or she is baptized. (See Galatians 3:27; First Corinthians 1:13; also see question 39).

Question 20: What is the significance of the word “into” (Greek: eis)? ∼ Answer: In relation to Water Baptism, the phrase “baptize into the name” indicates a position one is being placed into. Therefore, although the meaning includes the authority of the name holder, it goes beyond the authority and in a very particular way has position in view. (See Galatians 3:27; Matthew 28:19 and Acts 8:16. See also question 36, #5).

Question 21: What did the disciples of Jesus say about the formula (name) into which one must be Water Baptized? ∼ Answer: The disciples of Jesus were clear as to the formula (name) believers were to be baptized into:

  1. Peter says: Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; see 10:48);
  2. Paul says: Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5; see First Corinthians 1:13);
  3. Phillips says: Lord Jesus (Acts 8:16);
  4. Ananias says: name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).

Question 22: Why do some use the formula of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? ∼ Answer: Some present-day denominations use the invocation of the words “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” (or Holy Spirit) because of a misunderstanding of the Words of Institution from Matthew 28:19.

Question 23: Are there any biblical records (example) of believers receiving Water Baptism in the formula of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?∼ ∼ Answer: None whatsoever.

Question 24: What is the earliest date found for the use of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost formula? ∼ Answer: The earliest mention of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost formula is from a Syrian document dating to the second or third century. This document is called the Didache, or Teaching.

Question 25: Is the Didache a reliable document? ∼ Answer: There are some things in the Didache which teach directly opposite from the teachings of Jesus. An example is its teaching on the conduct of traveling preachers. Jesus taught to stay in one house (home) while in a particular town (Mark 6:10), but the Didache teaches otherwise (chapter 11). Therefore, it is most likely a document of some fringe Christian sect. In that the Didache contains both the single name formula for Water Baptism as well as that of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (chapters 7 and 9 respectively), it is very likely that it is a revision of an original which may have been more reliable.

Question 26: Why is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost formula called the triune formula? ∼ Answer: The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost formula is called the triune formula because of its association with the doctrine of the Trinity (the belief in three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead). The triune formula is used to place the baptized person into the Trinity. (See questions 19 and 20.)

Question 27: Are there historical witnesses to the innovating of the formula of Water Baptism from the single name of Jesus to the triune titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? ∼ Answer: History books clearly record the priority of the single name formula and the beginning of triune Baptism.

  1. Dictionary of the Bible, by James Hastings, 13th Edition, volume 1, page 241. “The original form of words was ‘into the name of Jesus Christ;’ baptism into the Trinity was a later development.”
  2. Canney Encyclopedia page 53. “The early Church always baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus until the development of the Trinity. Afterward they were baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

For further witnesses see the following references:

  1. New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Volume 13, Page 1012.
  2. Encyclopedia Americana, 1957 in Edition, Volume 26, Page 69.
  3. World Book Encyclopedia, 1975 Edition, Volume T, Page 363.
  4. Britannica Encyclopedia, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Page 365, 366.
  5. New International Encyclopedia, Volume 22, Page 476.
  6. Encyclopedia International, Volume 18, Page 226, 1975 Edition.
  7. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 1, Page 396.

Question 28: What reasons do the historical records give for the formula innovation? ∼ Answer: The reasons given by the historical records for forsaking the single name formula in favor of the triune one are basically two in number:

  1. The development of the new doctrine called the Trinity. The new formula of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost was chosen to accommodate the plurality of persons in the Trinitarian godhead.
  2. Anti-Semitism. Jesus is a semitic (Hebrew) name. The name in Hebrew is “Yohowshua.” Water Baptism is a legal transference of the person being baptized over to the property of the one named in the baptismal formula (see question 39). To require a Gentile to become the property of a Jew was considered anti-productive to worldwide evangelism. (See the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, 1962, Volume 4, page 711 under “Trinity”.)

Question 29: What was offensive about the invoking of a Jewish name at Water Baptism? ∼ Answer: See question 28.

Question 30: How does this type of offense fulfill the prophecy of Scripture concerning the name of Jesus? ∼ Answer: The anti-Semitism of the Gentile world, which led to the rejection of the name of Jesus in Water Baptism, fulfill the prophecy that the world would be offended at his name (Matthew 10:22; Luke 21:17).

We may conclude this paper by observing that the shorter formula of "I baptize you into the name of Jesus" is what is found in holy Scripture. We may also conclude that the innovation in the formula was out of a prejudice against the name "Jesus."


Apostolically Speaking

☩ Jerry Hayes

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    • Bishop J L Hayes profile image
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      Jerry Lynn Hayes Sr 3 years ago from Texas City, Texas

      Joen, thank you very much for your comments. You have received such a great revelation.May the Lord of all truth bless you and inspire you to share this Jesus Name message throughout the earth.

    • Joen Eriksen profile image

      Joen Eriksen 3 years ago from Tórshavn

      Since the title of being a father, being a son or being a spirit, is not names, we have to get the revelation of the NAME of the titles, to baptize anyone. The baptizm in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts, is the revelation of God the Father, being made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord.

      God revealed in flesh, the word made flesh, was given the exact same name, as he who IS in Heaven. The name of the Father is Jesus. (Which means Jehovah saves)

      God IS spirit. The gift of God, is the spirit of God, given to the world in Gods own name, Jesus. This is the reason why the baptizm in the one and only name (not names) of the titles, is the true baptizm of the titles.

      To baptize anyone in the NAME of the titles of the father, the son and the holy spirit is in act, baptizing them in the Name. Jesus Christ is the ONLY name given by which you can be saved. Not by titles. By revelation.

      The name of the Father is revealed in the son.

      The baptizm in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the baptizm in the NAME of those three titles, plural. The baptizm in the NAME of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    • Bishop J L Hayes profile image
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      Jerry Lynn Hayes Sr 3 years ago from Texas City, Texas

      The formula of Water Baptism is the word or words invoked over (or upon) the person being baptized, by the person doing the baptizing. See Acts 19:3 where the question, “Unto what were you baptized?” has the formula (and not the mode) in view.