What words to use when baptising…

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Discipleship, Misused Bible verses
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‘…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…’ (Matthew 28:19 NIV) ‘On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus…’ (Acts 19:5 NIV) The issue of what specific words you should use when baptising is close to what Paul warns Timothy about: ‘quarrelling over words’. (2 Timothy 2:14) The formula ‘In the name of Jesus’ or ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ is not about what specific words to use in a baptism ceremony (although the trinitarian formula is a good one to use and had been used by the church over 2000 years). The ‘in’ means ‘into’ – ie. water baptism symbolises your entry into the life of God, into the new creation, into the hope God gives in Jesus, into the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost. Likewise, being baptised “in(to) the name of Jesus” means entering into all that Jesus has done and is for the believer. The words we use when baptising someone help communicate that, but obviously there is no magic or spiritual power in the actually words we use. To demand a specific term, or the full name of Jesus (‘The Lord Jesus’ instead of simply ‘Jesus’) to distinguish him from anyone else called Jesus is not only silly, but is bordering on witchcraft – thinking that our words or incantations will release some kind of spiritual power or make God act. If you were to follow that logic fully, you would need to use the Aramaic version of Jesus rather than the English translation of the Greek, and even then if you mispronounce it you may end up baptising people into the name of some other guy called Yohoshua or Yaheshua…

  1. Trevor says:

    maybe James, it would be good to spell out ‘The Lord Jesus Christ’ a bit more, say, among Hispanic people, where millions of young lads would be called Jesus.