Jesus said, "...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

However, the early church apparently baptised in the name of Jesus:

Which is correct? Or is there a way to combine these?


7 Answers 7


From this article,

The reason they were baptizing "in the name of Jesus" is not because it was a formula, but because the phrase, "in the name of" means "in the authority of.

They were baptizing with his authority. They were using his authority to baptize believers into a new life.

Another quote from that same site:

Therefore, when someone is properly baptized, they are baptized in the name of Jesus; that is, by the authority of Jesus. Therefore, when they are properly baptized in the name of Jesus, they should say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," just as Jesus commanded us to do.

  • The comment can actually be applied with equally validity to either baptismal formula. IE the argument used by the site is logically inconsistant and the last sentence quoted is a non sequitur. Sep 24, 2014 at 16:33
  • 1
    @bruisedreed - the argument this answer is making is that baptizing "in the name of Jesus" as referred to in Acts actually mean that they were doing it in the way Jesus described and under his authority, thus he is explaining away the apparent contradiction. It appears to argue both points as his argument is specifically that there is no inconsistency. Sep 24, 2014 at 16:50
  • @AJHenderson The 'argument' is inadequate and an example of the 'begging the question' logical fallacy (petitio principii) - it (implicitly) assumes the interpretation of the Matthew passage is a formula, and then goes on to 'prove' the Acts examples are not to be considered as formulae because: a) that would contradict the formula given in Matthew and b) there is an alternative explanation available for their interpretation; so point a) begs the question and b) fails to consider that the alternative explanation is equally applicable to the Matthew passage. Sep 27, 2014 at 1:03

Most Churches will likely follow the words given by Jesus in Matt 28:19 than the Acts of the Apostles, and therefore "...baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Special mention should be given to the Apostolic Church, Apostolic traditions etc. who are more likely to baptise, as you say, in the name of Jesus. For some denominations, this is a real contention point. I don't want to de-emphasise the importance this holds for some denominations.

  • 5
    I'd add that Jesus's words are a commandment, and the three quotes in Acts are just events that are told, and are thus not as authoritative.
    – raphink
    Aug 24, 2011 at 12:43

Taken from Acts 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.

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

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.

Edit: It's pretty clear it's Christ's baptism. "Christ's Baptism" doesn't mean that you become baptised into Christ's name, but you get baptised according to how Christ said you should be baptised. And how did Christ put it?

...baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...

Thus, I would say, each time when baptizing, baptise in the names of the Three Beings of the Trinity:

I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

  • 6
    I think you have a strong argument here, but "Jesus" is not the name of God the Father. God the Father is not God the Son, nor is he the same as God the Son. Aug 24, 2011 at 12:36
  • Learning from feedback and growing in your own knowledge is good. So is editing questions to improve clarity, expound, etc. I don't think combining those too is a good idea! Your answer inexplicably changed from expounding one position to expounding another. If reputation is a mark of how much the community trusts you, this makes their voting (on either view or future questions) unfair. If you hold and believe something, say so. If you were wrong and want to edit your answer, leave a note in the answer saying you had a substantive change from position X to position Y and perhaps include why.
    – Caleb
    Aug 25, 2011 at 19:06

Correct baptism would combine Mathew 28:19 and the referenced scriptures from Acts into a statement such as...

"I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: the Lord Jesus Christ".

Also see John 5:43

John 5:43 (KJV) I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.


Certainly not into the Name of the Creator and of the Redeemer and of the Sanctifier as I've heard some people doing - it's pretty sounding, but not valid.

But, in the Catholic Church at least, you can't have a valid baptism without actually saying, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." in the vernacular of the parish - or Latin I'd imagine.

In fact, we recognize baptism as valid so long as that formula is followed.

  • 2
    The Creator is God the Father, The Redeemer is The Son, The Sanctifier is The Holy Spirit. What's so wrong about that?
    – John
    Aug 25, 2011 at 3:16
  • @John. It's not a valid baptism according to Canon Law. Priests who do so aren't doing anyone any favors.
    – Peter Turner
    Aug 25, 2011 at 17:57
  • I believe that even in Catholic law a baptism is valid as long as the intent is right. If a priest were to baptize in the name of the Creator Redeemer and Sanctifier he would indeed be committing an error, but as long as the priest was intending to baptize them validly (and they were intending to be validly baptized) that would not invalidate the baptism. That goes double for non-Catholic baptism, which are (sometimes) recognized as valid. May 25, 2012 at 16:50
  • @DJClayworth The Church will recognize a baptism of desire in the event of death before a proper baptism can be performed. But, the formula for a proper baptism is as Peter stated it. I've seen no official documents thus far to suggest the Church will recognize any deviation from the accepted formula. If you have a link supporting baptism by intent, I'd be interested to see it.
    – svidgen
    Nov 10, 2012 at 21:15
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    The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith agrees with Peter Turner that such invented baptismal formulas are invalid. See for example freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1978353/posts or google the combination of "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" and "Brisbane" for other sources. (A rebellious priest in Brisbane was using such formulas, and this is apparently what resulted in the CDF's decree.) Aug 12, 2014 at 2:23

If I write you a valid check for all the money in my bank account and sign it as Son, but not my name, they could not and would not cash it.

We must only baptize in Jesus' name for it is "the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12

Jesus is the Name of GOD. Isa 9:6,Matthew 1:21-23,etc. For His name actually means Jehovah-Savior, or Jehovah has become our salvation. Therefor when you are baptized in Jesus' name you are baptized into salvation. The apostles understood what Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 28:19 and they obeyed it by baptizing in Jesus' name. Father, Son, Holy Ghost aren't names, but they are titles. Titles are not valid, that is why the 4 or so accounts of baptisms in the book of Acts were all done in the Name of Jesus. Not in Father, Son, Holy Ghost. There is no Biblical proof of that. only baptism in Jesus Name. We must not only believe part of the Word of God, but we must believe it all and rightly divide it.

  • 1
    If we should baptise only in the name of Jesus then why Jesus say to baptise in the name of the Father and the Holy Spirit too?
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 12, 2014 at 13:57
  • In this forum, we refrain from proclamation/preaching. As such, I am going to remove the last line. This is a site for asking questions and providing answers. Proclamations like "Believe it" are out of bounds.
    – Narnian
    Sep 24, 2014 at 14:10
  • @curiousdannii the answer effectively says that 'the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost' is Jesus Sep 24, 2014 at 16:07

If we should baptise only in the name of Jesus then why Jesus say to baptise in the name of the Father and the Holy Spirit too? – curiousdannii

Because he wanted to determine who actually understood the keys to the kingdom. Recall he asked his disciples in Matthew 16:13 who people of the day thought he was. A lot of titles were rattled off, but Peter was the only one who got it right when he said, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." But the best part is what Jesus said following that statement: "Blessed are you Simon....for flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven." The actual Greek text transliterated reads, "the Father of me who is in the heavens." And this is very important and something that the KJV really does not do justice in transition. Recall the "father" of Jesus was actually the Holy Ghost because Matthew 1:18 indicates the Holy Ghost (the Spirit of God) conceived a child in Mary. But God's Spirit was "locked" up in heaven as John 7:39 indicates, "But this He spake of the Spirit, which the that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

Returning to Peter's revelation of who Jesus really was, Jesus follows himself and says in Matthew 16:18, "...you are Peter and upon this rock will I build my church..." Now fast forward to Acts chapter 2, Jesus had ascended back into heaven after his resurrection (thus making the pouring out of the Holy Ghost possible -John 7:39), and the day of Pentecost was fully come. Those in the upper room were baptized with the Spirit of God, evidenced by their speaking in languages they didn't learn, and Peter rose to the occasion and declared Acts 2:38, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

It was the revelation of who Jesus was that prompted Jesus to declare that His church would be built upon that revelation, and it would be Peter who would start the construction, the most important element of which is found in Acts 2:38.

When the great commission is written, Jesus already knows "the name of the Father, the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Ghost" because it's His name. And when the revelation of who Jesus really was (100% God, 100% man) was given to Peter, it marked the pathway to salvation.

This is why you wont find any account of baptism after John's baptism of faith that uses anything other than the name of Jesus. And since we will all be judged by our obedience to God's Word, not any "church's" word, I would follow the Word over any church.

I'll also add that anyone who is baptized as an infant is not being baptized according to scriptural teachings. Recall Jesus said in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." An infant can't believe because it doesn't understand, and it doesn't matter whether or not mom and dad believe. Jesus is crystal clear when he says you must believe and be baptized. This is an individual requirement and each of us will stand alone on the day of judgement to determine whether the actions we took in this life line up with the requirements dictated in God's Word. So the formula of salvation according to the Bible appears to be: believe in the power of the blood of Jesus to remit your sins, find someone who will baptize you as Peter commanded, and seek the infilling of God's Spirit because it is promised to you after repenting and surrendering your life to God's purpose.

I've never heard this before. So, you're saying the Holy Spirit is Jesus' Father. So, Jesus returned to heaven and then sent His Father to us. Who, then, is the First Person of the Trinity? Is He "Our Father" or "The Father"? And is Jesus the name of all Three? What did Jesus mean when He said to baptize in the name of the Father--but not His Father--the Son--Himself--and the Holy Spirit--His Father, but not ours. Which tradition believes this? – Narnian

According to Matthew 1:18, the Holy Ghost conceived in Mary. That's scripture, not tradition. To respond to your comment about tradition, I don't care about tradition because the Bible is pretty clear about tradition: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col 2:8)

Perfect example: the concept of the Trinity - nowhere to be found in scripture, an idea purely conceived out of convenience by the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325.

My God is a single deity, not three different persons. Paul made this very clear when he wrote to the Colossians: "For in him (speaking of Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Col 2:9) Notice he used the word "dwelleth" not "dwelt"...indicating it is a continuous dwelling, even to this day. So when the day of judgement occurs, there's only going to be one entity sitting on the thrown that day and his name is Jesus.

Regarding your question about Jesus' return to heaven and His Spirit returning to Earth: "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." (John 14:26) Recall earlier in John where the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit/Comforter - all the same characteristic nomenclature of God's Spirit - could not be poured out on mankind because Jesus was still on Earth and 100% of that Spirit (as Paul mentioned) was dwelling in His physical body. Once the transfiguration occurred and the flesh of Jesus was converted back into Spirit during His ascent into Heaven, it freed up that Spirit to become omnipresent once again - which was made manifest on the day of Pentecost as written in Acts 2.

@bruised reed: "Would it be fair to say this is an example of Oneness Theology?"

Personally, I'm not big on titles or categorizations. All that's important to me is what saith the Word of the Lord. And my Bible tells me that there's one God, not three distinct persons. As the scripture I quoted says the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus. Further Jesus said in John 10:30, "I and my Father are one." And He goes one step further in response to Philip in John 14:9, "...Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?"

Clearly, Jesus was pretty disappointed in that question, but then we know that Peter was apparently the only one who received the revelation of who He was as I mentioned earlier.

Ignore the traditions of men, pick up the original Greek text with an interlinear, and just discover the truth for yourself by reading the Word for yourself.


I wasn't attacking you - just encouraging you to not take any tradition as gospel as Paul cautioned. Regarding to whom Jesus was praying...Paul provides insight into this in Romans 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Did Jesus need to pray? No, because He was 100% God; but He was also 100% flesh. And that flesh was just like ours (yet without sin - conceived out of perfection via the Spirit of God) complete with the potential to fall and also with the same desire to LIVE. The Spirit within Him was making intercession on behalf of the flesh to help Him overcome His own fleshly desires, set them aside, and die on a cross for my salvation.

  • I've never heard this before. So, you're saying the Holy Spirit is Jesus' Father. So, Jesus returned to heaven and then sent His Father to us. Who, then, is the First Person of the Trinity? Is He "Our Father" or "The Father"? And is Jesus the name of all Three? What did Jesus mean when He said to baptize in the name of the Father--but not His Father--the Son--Himself--and the Holy Spirit--His Father, but not ours. Which tradition believes this?
    – Narnian
    Sep 24, 2014 at 14:30
  • @bruisedreed I approved it. I've seen this happen before and it does look like it is from the OP.
    – user3961
    Sep 24, 2014 at 16:04
  • I've put your posts together here together with inline quotes from the comments you're responding to - I hope this fits with what your intentions? If so, feel free to delete your other post now. Sep 24, 2014 at 16:20
  • Would it be fair to say this is an example of Oneness Theology? Sep 24, 2014 at 16:21
  • No need to blow up at me... When I said tradition, I meant which theological framework? Calvinist, Armenian, etc. Are you coming from the perspective of one who denies the Trinity as @bruisedreed suggested?
    – Narnian
    Sep 24, 2014 at 16:55

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