Why Don’t We Say Jesus’ Name When Baptizing?


This question has been asked of me several times, and I think it is a good one. Why don’t we specifically use the name “Jesus” when baptizing?

When baptizing, we say “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” but we don’t actually call out their names.  Is there a reason for this? Is it time for a change in our methodology?

Probably not. Here’s why I think churches almost universally baptize “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

1. Jesus Commanded Us This Way

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
-Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20

Really… Isn’t that enough of a reason?

2. Baptism Is Powerful, But Not Essential

There is something deep and eternal going on in baptism. When we baptize “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” we are making an appeal to heaven. There is no salvation without all three persons of the Trinity actively involved, and part of the beauty of baptism is this recognition. But, baptism isn’t salvation. A person is baptized because he is saved… Not in order to get saved. So, while it is powerful, and while it is a direct command from Jesus, it is not required for salvation. (Eph 2:8-10)

3. The Authority Of The Trinity

This phrase “in the name of…” is regarded as an idiomatic phrase in the NT, meaning “in the authority of.” That is why Peter, after healing the lame man, is asked “by what power, or by what name do you do this?” This is a question of authority. Peter’s response is “by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene…” (Acts 4:7-10) Peter is claiming that his authority comes from higher than the elders and scribes that were questioning him. His authority over disease comes from Jesus Christ Himself.

In other words, “in the name of Jesus” means that it is by His authority. That is why the name of Jesus is so important to invoke when doing spiritual warfare. The enemy cannot stand against the name of Jesus, right? AND, at the NAME of Jesus, every knee shall bow, and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. (Phil 2:10)

Jesus himself told us to pray in his name, asking for anything “in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13)

So, in baptism, we don’t just appeal to the name of Jesus, but also to the other two members of the Trinity.  This is one very comprehensive area of authority that we are commanded to use in Scripture.

4. It Isn’t About Pronunciation

Is it simply the pronunciation of the name “Jesus” that carries this power? Nope… Because if that were true, then how could his beautiful name so often be used as a filthy curse word in our culture today? How could his name be used in modern art to depict deception and despair? How could his name be so abused by the prosperity gospel illusionists of television? How is it that so many lost people in the world are literally named “Jesus?”

The writers of the NT use the phrase “in the name of Jesus” to appeal to the authority of Jesus a lot. They claim to be speaking with Jesus’ authority by invoking the “name of Jesus. ” (Acts 3:6, 16:18, 1 Cor 5:4-5, 1 Cor 6:11, Eph 5:20, 2 Thess 3:6)

So, Biblically, “in the name of Jesus” speaks to the authority of Jesus. When we speak, act, pray, or anything in the “name of Jesus,” we aren’t just putting a name tag on what we’re doing… We are invoking the authority of Jesus.

So, back to my first point, there is no salvation without all three persons of the Trinity involved, so I feel that it is totally appropriate to baptize exactly the way Jesus described it for us… “In the name (authority) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

So, does that all make sense?  What do you think?  Have you been baptized?  We’re having a baptism on Sunday, January 3.  You can sign up to be baptized right here.

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