Why Did the Disciples Baptize in Jesus' Name?

By Rev A. F. Varnell

Copyright 1956

      Why did the apostles baptize in the name of Jesus Christ? The above question is a great question. It is a serious question. It concerns eternal salvation. The answer, for many long years, lay buried among the hidden treasures of the Word of God, obscured by the traditions of men.
     But, like a miner clears away the earth in his search for gold and digs out the precious metal, so God is clearing away the rubbish and traditions of men and bringing forth the precious truth concerning the illustrious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

           A Bible Contradiction?

      Infidels have listed two scriptures concerning baptism, namely: Matt 28:19 and Acts 2:38, as contradictions. And some preachers have discarded Acts 2:38 because it didn’t seem to fit with other scriptures. Others have accused the apostles of disobeying the command of Jesus as given in Matt 28:19. But a correct answer to the question: Why did the apostles always baptize in Jesus’ name, will reveal that there is no contradiction, no mistake on the part of the apostles, and no need to discard Acts 2:38.

           How Apostles Always Baptized

      First, we will quote the command left by our Saviour, Himself, as recorded in Matt. 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.” Notice that He said name, not names. Father is not a proper name; Son is not a proper name; Holy Ghost is not a proper name. In fact the name is not revealed in Matt 28:19. It is revealed elsewhere as we will show later.

      Now we will quote the same command as recorded by Luke in chapter 24:46, 47: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Analyzing this verse this is what we find: Repentance and remission of sins is to be preached--in His name--among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The next step will be to go to Jerusalem where the apostles began to baptize and see how they did it. They are the ones who were first given the command to baptize and they are the ones to know how to obey it correctly.

      Peter, standing amidst the multitude that had gathered at Jerusalem on that memorable day of Pentecost, spoke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, those wonderful words recorded in Acts 2:38 which have since largely been discarded and which seem to be out of harmony with Matt 28:19. They are as follows: “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.” There it is--repentance and remission of sins preached--in HIS name--among all nations--beginning at Jerusalem. Matthew said to baptize--in the name. Luke said--in His name. And Peter revealed the name on the day of Pentecost when he said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”

      But, says someone, “only the Jews were baptized in Jesus’ name.” Not so, because Acts 8:14-16 (“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)” and Acts 10:48 “(And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” record that the Samaritans and Gentiles were all baptized in Jesus’ name. Even the disciples of John who had been baptized unto John’s baptism were rebaptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, 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.”). There is no record in the New Testament of any baptism except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.


      But the question at issue is: Why did the apostles baptize in Jesus’ name? Did not Jesus command them to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? yes, He did. And the apostles obeyed Him perfectly, but the secret is in the name. As stated before, neither Father, Son, nor Holy Ghost is a proper name. Jesus is the name, and the only name. There are not three names. If there were three names there would be three Gods.

           The Name of the Godhead

      Well, now for scriptural proof that Jesus is the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

      Although there would really be no need of further proof, the very fact that the apostles always baptized in Jesus’ name after Jesus had commanded them to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost proves beyond any doubt that Jesus is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Otherwise the apostles made a very serious mistake and did disobey Jesus, and if they disobeyed then the whole Christian structure is very shaky. Jesus prayed for all who should be saved through the apostles’ words, John 17:20 (“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”). And on the day of Pentecost 3,000 were baptized in Jesus’ name according to Peter’s word, and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, Acts 2:41-42 (“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”)
      But here is more conclusive evidence that Jesus is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name,” John 5:43. And He also said the Holy Ghost would come in His name, John 14:26 (“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”). If Jesus came in the Father’s name, then the Father’s name must be Jesus, and if the Holy Ghost came in Jesus’ name, the name of the Holy Ghost must be Jesus. How can it be? Simply because Jesus is God the Father--the invisible Spirit manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim 3:16 (“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”), John 1:1 (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”), John 1:4 (“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”), 2 Cor 5:19 (“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”). Philip asked to see the Father one time and Jesus astonished him with these words: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet has thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father?” John 14:9. Another time Jesus said “I and my Father are one,” John 10:30. If Jesus and the Father are one the name is one.

      Jesus said that the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, would come again after His departure in the flesh, and then told them plainly that He was the Comforter who would come. John 14:15-18 (“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”) When did Jesus the Comforter come? On the day of Pentecost He came in Spirit. What is the name of the Holy Ghost then? Jesus, of course. So we may rightfully sing, “Since Jesus Came into My Heart.” No one can have Jesus in his heart only in the Spirit and there are not two Holy Spirits. So the apostles must have known what they were doing when they baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. How foolish of preachers today to say that baptism in Jesus’ name is of the devil. If it is, then the apostles preached doctrines of devils, and all the early church were saved through doctrines of devils. Those who baptize in the name of Jesus are accused of denying the Father and the Holy Ghost. If that be true then the apostles denied the Father and the Holy Ghost. But it is not true. In Jesus Christ dwells all the fulness of God, Col 2:9 (“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”)

           A Scholarly Investigation

      Reader, the name of Jesus is far greater than you ever knew it to be. At the name of Jesus every knee will sometime bow. Paul said that God hath highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name. God has revealed Himself by only one proper name and that name is Jehovah in the Hebrew language. In Exo 3-14 “I AM” is the etymology (foundation root) of the name Jehovah. The name JE-HO VAH is a compound of three Hebrew words, which means God is now, God always was, and God always will be.

      God’s proper name is revealed in Exo 6: 2, 3. “My name Jehovah.” (“And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”)

      Jesus referred to Himself as the I AM many times. The outstanding time is in John 8:58, where He said “before Abraham was I AM.” (“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”)

      If the name Jehovah and Jesus is not the same name Jesus would have been a blasphemer when He applied I AM to Himself.

      God’s name (Jehovah) translated in the Greek language is IESOUS, but the Name translated into the English language is JESUS. Jehovah and Jesus is the same name only one is pronounced in Hebrew and the other in English.

      God exalted His Son by Incarnating Him and by giving Him His own Name. Phil 2: 9-11 (“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”)

      The name JEHOVAH is used 6,855 times in the Bible.

           Magnitude of His Name

      Jesus means all that Jehovah meant because He said “Lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” The name Jesus means also a Saviour from sin. The angel said unto Mary: “Thou shalt bring forth a Son and shalt call His name (not son) Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” The name Jesus means: Jehovah has become Salvation. None but God can save from sin and Peter said, “there is no salvation in any other name but the name of Jesus,” for there is no second name, Acts 4:12. (“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”)

      When Jesus was born the angel announced that He was Christ the Lord. He was the Lord God of the Old Testament who had come into the world in the form of man to be the Saviour of the world. The Lord God of the Old Testament is the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament. There is only one Lord. Eph 4:5 (“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”). Deut 6:4 (“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”). Isa 43:10-11 (“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”).

      Soon the Anti-Christ will be revealed and will declare himself to be God and the deceived world will worship him as God. But the Lord is revealing a glorious message of truth concerning God in Christ, and the name of Jesus being the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

           Scriptural Accuracy

      No one is fulfilling the command of Jesus except those who baptize in Jesus’ name. Jesus said to baptize in the NAME of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and no one is obeying Him or can obey Him until he knows what the name is. The apostles knew. They had a glorious revelation of the name of Jesus, and God is restoring that revelation to us today.

           The name is the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 2:38.

           The Purpose and Importance

      And now for a concluding chapter on the purpose and importance of baptism. The Gospel in brief is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, 1 Cor 15:1-4 (“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.)”. No one can be saved without obeying the Gospel, 2 Thes 1:8 (“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:”), 1 Pet 4:17 (“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”). Therefore, every one must die and be buried and rise again. How? By repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost.

      Repentance is DEATH to sin and the world, Rom 6:2 (“God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”).

      Baptism is BURIAL with Christ, Rom 6:4 (“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.”).

      The Holy Ghost is RESURRECTION life, Rom 6:5 (“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”).

      Baptism is not an entrance into a church organization, neither is it a lifeless form nor a non-essential. Peter most surely was not mistaken when he said in Acts 2:38: “Repent (die with Christ) and be baptized (buried with Christ) 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” (resurrection with Christ).

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