Baptism “in the Name of Christ”

Brother Lipscomb: There is a people among us who deny the authority in Matthew 28:19, where Jesus says: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” They say this baptism is not in the name of Christ, and they claim all the authority we have to baptize was given by Peter on the day of Pentecost; that that was in the name of Jesus Christ, and not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They say Christ is head, and we must be baptized in his name only; and in so doing we honor Christ first, and in honoring him we honor God and the Holy Ghost. They further say that Peter had power to bind and loose whatsoever he would on earth and it should be bound in heaven; and he nowhere bound baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Please give us your views through the Gospel Advocate. Please state if the baptism in Matthew 28:19 is in the name of Christ. Did Peter have power to bind or loose anything that Christ did not bind or loose?

 

Either our brother misunderstands the people of whom he speaks or they fail to understand very plain and simple matters. To do a thing in the name of a person is to do it by the authority of that person. To baptize in the name or by the authority of Jesus, one must have his authority. He must authorize them to do it. The apostles, as well as others, must baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. He must give that authority. In Matthew 28:19 there is no account of any baptism being performed. It only tells that Jesus authorized his disciples to go and baptize. They did this first at Pentecost. “All power [all authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore [by my authority], and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20.) In this Jesus authorizes the apostles to teach and baptize by his authority, or in his name.

On Pentecost, about ten days after his ascension, the Holy Spirit came, and the apostles did what Christ authorized them to do in Matthew 28:19. They, in his name, or by his authority, preached and baptized. The authority was Matthew 28:19. They acted on this authority at Pentecost; they preached in the name of Jesus Christ. The two scriptures stand related to each other as the giving of a command and the obeying it. Jesus, in Matthew 28:19, commands the disciples; on Pentecost, they obeyed this command. What Jesus commanded, the apostles did. One is doing what the other commanded to be done. Whatever is done in the name of Jesus Christ is done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; for these three are one. Jesus commanded what he had heard of his Father, and the Holy Spirit was sent in the name of Jesus Christ, to call to their remembrance all things they had heard of Christ (John 14:26). “He will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of [or from] himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak” (John 16:13). Whatever is done in the name of one is done in the name of the three.

Again, a man must come into a house before he can live and act in it; so we must come into the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before we can act in his name. Then persons must be baptized into Christ before they can act in him or by his authority. In Matthew 28:19 the proper translation as given in the Revision and in all late translations is: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” They are put into the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit by baptism. They are then in condition to act in his name, as members of his body and as his servants; and when they were baptized into these names, the apostles were to teach them to do all that Jesus had commanded them, which included teaching and baptizing others, all people, of every nation. They are to be baptized into his name, then in his name, or by his authority, they are to baptize others, just as the apostles did. Jesus told the apostles: “But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Neither Peter nor the apostles were authorized to do anything save as the Holy Spirit guided them to do what Jesus had taught them.

David Lipscomb

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The Meaning of “At Hand”

 

A Baptist brother, preaching on “The Establishment of the Kingdom,” quoted Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16-21. In explaining Matthew 3:2, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he says it means “already there.” He gave for an example that having received a letter, to which we were going to reply, we would say: “Yours of — is at hand.” Please give us your views on the same.

The Greek verb rendered by the phrase “is at hand” in our Common Version literally signifies to approach, to draw near. The perfect tense is used in this passage in the Greek, and would be correctly rendered has come near, has approached. To draw near is one thing, and to be actually present, set up, is another.

We have the very same Greek word, in the same tense, differently rendered, in Luke 10, where the Savior, in giving instructions to the seventy, tells them if they entered a house or city that would not receive them, to shake the dust from their feet against them, and tells them to say: “Notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” This shows exactly what is meant in Matthew 3 — that the kingdom was nigh unto them. The kingdom of God was near when John began his preaching, and this is just what is said in the passage. John began the preparatory state of the kingdom, and this preparatory state continued till the crucifixion of Jesus, and the church was fully set up when the Spirit came upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost. The kingdom was present in its preparatory state when John began his preaching, and this explains the passages that speak of the kingdom as present while Christ was still on earth, such as when Jesus says: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The kingdom was present, in its preparatory state and suffered violence before Jesus died; but after this Jesus said: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The words will build signify something to be done in the future, as everyone knows; and as this was said after the other passage which speaks of the kingdom as already suffering violence, the first one must refer to the preparatory state, in which it was then present, while the other refers to the full establishment of the church, which was then in the future, but was fully established on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand entered by a law that was never preached to men on this earth till that day.

Elisha G. Sewell

The Definite Article in Greek

Brother Lipscomb: I see an article in the Baptist, Volume XI, No. 11, page 327, headed “The,” in which it is said that Rom. 3:1 should read “the circumcision.” On Romans 3:4 it says that “our translators have inserted ‘the’ before ‘law,’ making the passage refer to some particular law, moral or ceremonial, when it is not in the original text.” Further on it says: “It is by works of law, any law — moral, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical — and, therefore, not by baptism, as the law of pardon.” Now, I want to know if this champion, who fears none and debates with all (except Brethren Brents and Swee­ney), is correct in his rendering, or does he not make void the truth of the gospel by trying to establish a human-made plan of salvation?

The writer in the Baptist is not the first to discover a wonderful “mare’s-nest” in the use of the Greek article with the term law. Several of our learned brethren about Lexington, Kentucky some years ago advanced the same idea in reference to its use. They only made a different application of it. It is likely the editor of the Baptist borrowed the mistake from them, as he has but little originality of thought. There is nothing in it. Mr. Griffin presented the same idea in a discussion we held with him. The use of the article in Greek is a very indefinite matter, and is oftener used or not used for the sake of euphony than on any other grounds. Take, for instance, this sentence. The article is attached in Greek to the word circumcision, but it does not necessarily mean the Jews. The article is attached to the word God in the next verse. Does this mean some particular god among many gods? The term God is frequently used in the same sense without the article attached. In verse 5 the word God is twice used. It refers to the same great Jehovah in both instances. In the first instance it has no article; in the second the article is attached. It is simply a matter of sound. Following some words, the term God would be harsh and difficult of calling. Then the article is used to give a soft and flowing style, easily pronounced. This use or non-use of the article is common in the New Testament with reference to the term God, the term law, and various other terms.

Our brother evidently misquotes his reference to the use of the article with law; but we give an example to show that the article is used or absented even when the Mosaic law is referred to: “The law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law?” (Gal. 3:17-­19.) Now, there is a distinct reference to the law of Moses given four hundred and thirty years after the promise made to Abraham; but there is no article connected with it, either in verses 17 or 18. In verse 19 the article is connected with it. In verse 21 it is used again with the article first, afterwards in the same verse without the article. No sane man can doubt that all these refer to one and the same law. It shows conclusively that the article is used for other purposes than distinguishing between a specific law and law in general. The article did not occupy precisely the same office in Greek that it does in English. The pronominal adjective fills this office.

 David Lipscomb