For many years the churches of Christ have used Matthew 28:19 as a baptism that adds to the church that was built by the word of the Lord that went forth from Jerusalem, a baptism that was not present when Israel was told to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Search the scriptures and you will not find this commandment in Jerusalem as the Lord's church was being opened to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. If you look at the dates of these writings you will find that Matthew was not inspired by the Spirit to write the book we know as Matthew until the church had been established for about seven years. If the church of Christ that came by the preaching of the gospel of Christ on the day of Pentecost was built complete seven years before Matthew by the Spirit of God revealed it in the book that carries his name, why are men destined to bring Matthew 28:19 into the church today which is as unlawful as no baptism at all into the lives of the people which cannot forgive sin?

Where is the power of God that will save the people from their sins? Study the promise that Jesus made to the disciples at John 14:26 & John 16:13, this is where you will find the power of God that will save the world from sin. What God translated by His Spirit has harmonized every word that Jesus said to the disciples as long as He was in the world. There is no baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost for the remission of sins that will add anyone to His church. It was not present on the day of Pentecost for the church, it is not present for the church today. Let God lead you into His kingdom, and give up this doctrine that has no strength to save anyone. All scripture is given by the inspiration which is profitable for correction.

When I received the above letter, my first reaction was to discard it since it really wasn't a question, but a promotion of false doctrine. However, my second inclination was to use this misguided man's letter to illustrate how poorly reasoned is this doctrine.

There have been people in the fringes who argue that baptism must only be done in the name of Jesus. In other words, when a person is baptized, only the name of Jesus should be used. Neither God, the Father, nor the Holy Spirit is to be mentioned. The basis of this doctrine are four verses:

Acts 4:12: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Acts 8:16: "They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Acts 10:48: "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord."

Acts 19:5: "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Unfortunately for the advocates of this doctrine, Matthew 28:18-20 causes them severe problems. "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen."

In order to handle the conflict between the doctrine of baptism in Jesus name only and the command recorded by Matthew, the author of the above letter attempts to cast doubt on the timeliness of Matthew's letter. He claims that Matthew letter was written seven years after the establishment of the church and does not represent what was taught in the church during the first seven years.

First, a careful reading of the book of Acts shows that this book covers a far larger period of time than seven years. Yet we find record of the church being established at the beginning of the book. If the author of the above letter is right in regards to Matthew's account being written seven years after the establishment of the church, then Matthew's account was written many years prior to Acts. If we are going to play a game of which doctrine is right based on the age of the writing, then Matthew's account "wins" over Luke's.

Second, this ignorant fellow reluctantly acknowledges that Matthew's gospel is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but he attempts to play one inspired author against another. It reminds me of the child who asks his mother for a favor and not liking the answer, goes to his father with the same request. Most parents quickly become wise to the game. In Corinth, people were attempting to play one preacher against another. "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (I Corinthians 1:10-13). Paul, Apollos, Peter, and Jesus all taught exactly the same doctrine. The division was not in these teachers' teachings, but in the followers' selective application of their teaching. As Paul pointed out, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16). Inspired teaching means it comes from a single source -- God! If both Luke and Matthew are inspired writers (and they are), then there is no contradiction between their records (and there is none).

Third, the author of the above letter appeals to John 14:26 which states, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." And John 16:13 which states, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." By these two statements we can state with assurance that what the inspired writer Matthew recorded was exactly what our Lord stated prior to His ascension. Rather than being a new doctrine that started seven years after the founding of the church, this was teaching of Christ from before the founding of the church. Hence, this teaching was known to Peter and the other apostles on the day of Pentecost. It was present from the very beginning of the church. In essence the writer of the above letter flatly contradicted himself.

Finally, the author of the above letter has no understanding of what the phrase "in the name of" means. The phrase means "by the authority of" or "with the approval of." We use the phrase in the same sense when the police man commands, "Stop in the name of the law!" The order to halt does not come by the police man's personal will, but by the authority the law grants to the officer. When a person is baptized in the name of Jesus, it is a statement that the baptism was not authorized by any man, but is done at the express command of Christ. But even Jesus stated that his authority is not his own. All that he has was received from the Father. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). Hence, anything done by the authority of Christ is done by the authority of God the Father. In addition, look back once again at John 16:13 and you will see that the Holy Spirit also did not act of his own authority. Jesus said of the Spirit, "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14). Therefore, anything done by the authority of the Spirit is also done by the authority of Christ. Such should not surprise anyone. Our God is one! To be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit is exactly the same as being baptized in the name of the Son.

See also:

All in a Name


March 15, 2005