More on Baptism in the Name of Jesus Only

More on Baptism in the Name of Jesus Only
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Monday, September 7, 2009 at 4:24pm

This is a follow-up to my earlier note on “Baptism in the Name of Jesus Only.” One of the comments that followed that note was by Tom Lawson; see that note for its content. Then another comment was added by Titus Chapman, as follows:

“tom its not as clear to me maybe you can explain it to me. I have not found anyone who can use other scriptures or examples for bapt ecpt mt 28 19 to explain why it wasn’t a formula but as you can see I gave several scriptures which shows a pattern of baptism.I have been privy to many theories and refferd to many books but after I read them they were personal insight as to the
why not. So if the apostels did it why aren’t we? Now when jesus did mircales that wasn’t a formula cause there were many diff examples of how he healed differntly. Worshiping God that’s not a formula cause there were biblical examples of various ways. Prayer that’s not a formula again many biblical examples of various prayers but baptism only biblical example were the apostals baptzing in jesus name that’s a pattern thus a formula? Right? Let’s pretend it doesn’t really matter what name you are baptized in wouldn’t you feel safer doing it as it was done in the bible? What I really don’t like is when some penticostals say you are not saved unless you are baptized in jesus name. I think that kind of comment is unhealthy for the body. But please don’t dismiss the true intent and desire to be biblically correct..from dr cottrell perspective I see reason from jesus bapt side I see scriptures. Please no disrespect to anyone but I am searching and questioning the highest christian intellectuals I know and dr cotrell is the most knowledgable intellectual I have access too, and I am gratful for that. Just for the record my comments are only in response to dr cottrell’s original statement on baptism…. please understand I’m a lover not a fighter a student not a rebel thanks my friend.”

Here are some thoughts I am directing to this last comment by Titus:

Titus, I love the spirit in which you state your views. I appreciate the fact that you do not see a person’s salvation hinging on the exact words spoken at his or her baptism. Neither do I. I have suggested that Matt. 28:19 is not a formula that MUST be used every time someone is baptized. I think you agree with this. If this is not intended to be a formula, then we can see that there is no contradiction between Matt. 28:19 and the texts from Acts that you cite: 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; and 19:5. You do assert, though, that these four texts provide an intended PATTERN, even a FORMULA, for baptism. In view of this, let me point out something for you to think about. In the Greek language in these four texts, the words used in connection with baptism and Jesus’ name ARE NOT THE SAME.

In Acts 2:38 the baptism is EPI to onomati Iesou Christou . The word epi means ON.
In Acts 8:16 the baptism is EIS to onoma tou Kuriou Iesou . The word eis means INTO.
In Acts 10:48 the baptism is EN to onomati Iesou Christou . The word en means IN or BY.
In Acts 19:5 the baptism is EIS to onoma tou Kuriou Iesou . Again, eis means INTO.

The fact that three different prepositions are used raise legitimate questions about whether these statements constitute a pattern or formula. (That Jesus is twice “Jesus Christ” and twice “the Lord Jesus” also raises questions, but this difference is not as significant.) So if we are going to follow the “pattern,” do we baptize ON the name of Jesus, INTO the name of Jesus, or IN or BY the name of Jesus? Or does the exact wording really matter?

Here is one more thing to think about. Despite the variety of the actual wording of the Greek expressions, we can agree that one should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ or in the name of the Lord Jesus or in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord etc. But in view of this variety of actual wording, AND in view of the fact that NONE of these four texts actually SAY “in the name of Jesus ONLY,” do we have the right to EXCLUDE the (name of) the Father and the Holy Spirit in the baptismal wording? Is it possible that we are ADDING TO the Word if we read into these expressions the word “ONLY”? A basic rule of Biblical interpretation is that silence about something is not the same as a prohibition of it. Does this apply here? I.e., if the word “ONLY” does not appear in these various expressions, and we proceed on the assumption that it does, are we adding a prohibition that does not really appear in God’s Word?

Again, these are just things to think about. We seem to be on the same page on many of the items involved here.

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