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MT.28 BAPTISM

According to the Oneness view, “Mt.28:19 does not teach the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three separate persons. Rather it teaches the titles of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost identify one name and therefore one being . the verse expressly says in the name, not in the names.”( the Oneness of God p.136)

According to Oneness claims they baptized in Jesus name only and by doing this ,”The church correctly carried out the instructions Jesus gave in Mt.28:19 when the apostles used the name of Jesus in water baptism.”(ibid. p.138)

Oneness claims these are all titles of modes or roles who are all the Spirit (Jesus). So they want us to believe we are baptized into a role God plays. However each time a role is used it is by a person who is according to them the one God. Since God is a person would not these titles also be persons, therefore making them three persons. When each appear in Ccripture they are a person, yet they insist that when all three are together, none of them are different persons, but only one person. But when they appear one at a time, they are one person also. Go figure!

Because the name of Jesus is used throughout the book of Acts for baptism, they reinterpret Mt.28 as saying the name being Jesus for all three. With no distinctions of persons being possible. Does this mean that we disregard the plain reading in the Mt. 28:19 passage, proving that God is singular person. There is overwhelming evidence throughout the whole body of Scripture there is a distinction of three persons. So we should not interpret the name Jesus as the singular name used for the Father, and Holy Spirit as well as the Son. Why? For the same reason Jesus did not. Jesus did not say, baptize in Jesus name, naming all three as himself. Jesus knew the Father as another than himself before his incarnation and during it. These are not titles of one person, but an explaining of a relationship between different persons who are all the one God. They all have different positions and some distinctions in functions but all share of the same essence who is God.

In the administrating of baptism in Mt.28 we have the Father, Son and Spirit. According to the Oneness view, the Father and the Spirit are the only ones who are divine and the Son is only a human. Clearly the intent of the passage is meant to show equality among each, not sameness of person.

What of the name which is singular? Baptize “in the name” is an expression of their unity of essence (nature) in which they all share in as the one God. The name was used throughout the O.T. as one calls upon God. If there is one name that they all share in, it is Yahweh (Elohim), which is consistently found in the Old Testament, it is not Jesus. The name Jesus refers to the Son only, and is given by the Father to the angel who then tells Mary to name him Jesus when she conceived. We find the Father then calling Jesus his Son; there are no exceptions to this.

Names and titles are indistinguishable in the Greek language. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states about a name; to bind anyone to recognize and publicly acknowledge the dignity, or authority of one, to do a thing in one's command or authority, acting on one's behalf. According to Webster's Dictionary, in the name of, means authority of in reference to, as a representative of. Webster's Dictionary states: Name is a title of anything or a person designated. In Acts 4:7 the Apostles are asked, “by what name or power” did they heal the man in and preach in. One’s power comes from his authority; the apostles pointed to the person Jesus. Likewise in Mt. 28:18 Jesus pointed to his Father, saying, “all authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth.” He, now having the authority (being exalted), then commissions the Apostles to preach and baptize in his name.

Baptize “in the name” is an expression of their unity of essence (nature) in which they all share in as the one God. The name was used throughout the O.T. as one calls upon God. If there is one name that they all share in, it is Yahweh Elohim, which is consistently found in the Old Testament, it is not Jesus. The name Jesus is the Son only, which is given to him by the Father to the angel and to Mary when she conceived. We find the father calling Jesus his son, there are no exceptions to this. MT. 28:19 . the phrase into the name name means as in behalf of , or on account of , in reference to his authority. If we read this passage with this in mind it reads like “... baptizing them with reference to all 3 who are the one God. Oneness disagrees saying,” We cannot confine God to three or any other number of specific roles and titles. Neither can we sharply divide him because he is one. Even his titles and roles overlap.” (p.143 the Oneness of God)

If Jesus is the name of the Son only, (the angel told Mary to call his name Jesus), then why include the Son along with the Father and the Spirit in Mt.28. If one takes the position that the son is human   then you have one human and two who are God. But the point of saying in the name singular is to show that all three are the ONE God.   If all three are one person as Oneness claims, then why mention all three, if only one exists. How can we literally be baptized into all three, if three do not really exist simultaneously as persons, and the Son is not God? Are we to take seriously that we are baptized into a role that God plays temporarily. If God is only one person at a time, why use this language of different roles at the same time? According to Oneness, he can be more than three roles, so why limit the phrase to only three roles and discount all the other roles? Simply because these are three persons and not roles. Again why mention all three and include Jesus the Son who is the humanity only? Notice it does not say baptize them in my name. The name “Jesus” is not mentioned, this would be the perfect opportunity to command it, if this is what Jesus meant when he spoke Mt.28:19.

  If Jesus name is the revelation of all three then why is it not used for all three afterwards in the book of Acts or the Epistles. Why continue with the titles Father, Son and Holy Spirit if Jesus is all three?

“Into the name” is the expression which signifies authority which even Bernard admits on p.138. Yet they have double meanings for everything.

There are two ways this can be cleared from the confusion of the Oneness interpretation.

Jn. 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, the life “ Are these three things or one thing. Let me ask you ,Why are these three different things of God, and the Father, and the Son and the H. Spirit are not ?

Jn.19:20 The plaque over Jesus was written in Hebrew, Latin, and it was in Greek.” How many languages was it written in? We would say three, but they are all the languages of man. So why make MT.28 say something other than it plainly does ? Because of their prejudice of their being no triunity they change the plain reading of this text and others.

In the Greek the word for “name” is onoma, means authority, character, which refers to one’s nature. A.T. Robertson says, name means, “for power or authority.” Names and titles can be indistinguishable in the Greek language. The name refers to all three persons mentioned who share in the same nature, being God. The emphasis of this passage is on the three because the definite article appears before each name. The name is expressing the unity of essence (essential nature) in which they all share in. The three are descriptive of persons, not a person. The Greek word for name is used 228 times in the New Testament. In only four places name does not refer to persons, (Mk.14:32; Lk.1:26; Acts24:13, 28:7) Why say it this way, if there is only one person? Why limit it to only three when Oneness readily admits these are only titles, and there are numerous other titles. What it does not say is the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. Without a Father there can be no Son, both are indicative of persons. Since only persons talk to each other, they all must be different. The fact that they communicate shows they are not the same in persons, which qualifies one from being different from another.The evidence throughout the whole body of Scripture is that there is a distinction of three persons. Jesus did not say in Mt.28, baptize them in my name (in Jesus’ name), naming all three as himself. Jesus knew the Father as another than himself before his incarnation and during his life on earth.

When the phrase into the name is used it means in reference to or towards some thing. If we read this passage with this in mind it reads like “... baptizing them with reference to, or on behalf of the Father, and of the Son , and of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 is used as the proof text to be baptized in Jesus’ name only. If we read all of Peters sermon in Acts 2 we find that all three are mentioned v.33 the Father v.34 both the Father and the Son v.36 Jesus v.38 the Holy Spirit.

When baptism is administered in the name of it represents the substance of the message preached before the ceremony. It recognizes the Father, Son , and Holy Spirit which are all active in ones salvation. if one is baptized with the knowledge in rejecting the Trinity, they are denying who God is and how he saves. Since all three are involved in all activities of God one can actually be rejecting the God of the Bible. 

When one comes to the book of Acts we find the statements baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, or in his name, or Jesus Christ, no two times are exactly alike. All this means is that this was not a formulae. (Acts.2:38-8:16-10:48-19:5-22:16)

Baptism is sometimes attached to faith (belief) for salvation. But nowhere does it say “to be baptized to be saved” by itself. However you will find faith separate from baptism for salvation. The greater context in scripture always teaches salvation occurs before baptism. If they were pronounced saved by their faith before baptism then baptism is clearly not part of the gospel.

The phrase “baptized in the name of Jesus”, was used as a declaration to the hearers to distinguish it from the other forms of baptisms of their day. The Greeks had pagan baptism rituals (such as to be baptized on behalf of the dead , which the Mormons use today). There was also a Jewish proselyte baptism ( of a gentile converting to Judaism), and various mikvehs. There was John's baptism, which was of repentance, and was not a Christian baptism, since Christ had not died yet. Christian baptism is a statement of identification with the Lord, but is in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. To prove the point that “in the name” was a statement for a Christian baptism, lets look at Acts 19. When Paul asked them “into what then were you baptized ? Unto what or on what basis (Robertson, Grammar, p.592). In other words whose baptism, they responded into John’s baptism. Were they baptized into John? Did John or those baptizing them say John's name over them! Of course not! But this would have to be what transpired according to the Oneness interpretation of the book of Acts and Jesus name.

It simply was a statement to distinguish it from the other types of baptisms. This is what it means to be baptized in his name, whether it was Jesus or John. A.T. Robertson explains, “on the authority of the Lord Jesus as he had himself commanded (Matthew 28:19) and as was the universal apostolic custom. Proper understanding of “Jesus” involved all the rest including the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Luke does not give a formula, but simply explains that now these men had a proper object of faith (Jesus) and were now really baptized.”

What of saying Jesus name to obtain the new birth?  When it says in 1 Cor.10:1-4 they were all baptized into Moses, in the cloud and the sea, this clearly means in reference to Moses' leadership and God's deliverance. Could we say the Israelites were baptized in order to obtain Moses? Was all of Israel literally put in him? Moses’ name was not pronounced over the people as they went through the waters. Nor was the cloud and the sea pronounced over them in passing through the Red sea. Jews did not baptize in people’s names. The Jews never got wet, but Pharoah’s army did ! When it says they were baptized into Moses it means in reference to his delivering them through the waters of judgment.

To be baptized in Jesus name is a declaration by the apostles in the book of Acts 2 which was used almost unanimously every time to a Jewish audience. In Acts 2 Peter proclaims this,” Repent and be baptized in Jesus name for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the promise of the Holy Spirit.” This was a public declaration for the Jews to turn from unbelief to belief, showing their separation from Judaism. The religious leaders had previously lead the people in rejection of their messiah and Jesus had pronounced judgment on them as a nation ( Mt.12:22-45). By being baptized publicly, they identified with the one who died for them, they would be as Peter says in vs.40 “saved from this perverse generation”. They would not be part of the coming judgment that would befall Israel in 70 A.D. when Titus and the Roman army came in and conquered Jerusalem. By being baptized in front of all the nation at their Pentecost celebration illustrated their separation from Judaism showing their new allegiance to the Messiah. Since man cannot know what is in another's heart, responding to this call, showed who they now believed in.

What it does NOT mean is that they said his name only over the baptismal candidate. There is no passage in the New Testament that records what was actually said over someone in the act of any baptism, such as, ‘he said I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ The closest thing we have is the command of Jesus' own words in Mt.28.  What we see is Jesus in v.18 telling the Apostles that all power, authority has been given to him by his Father. According to the Oneness he is receiving this only as a man. according to the Trinitarian belief he received it as the God/man who is now exalted to his former position by His Father. Christ then acknowledges all three persons when one is baptized.

When we read baptism was done in Jesus name or the name of the Lord, it's first referring to the fact that it was Jesus who authorized its administration. It was a statement by Jesus’ disciples used as a declaration to the hearers to distinguish it from the other forms of baptisms of their day. In plain English, the disciples were commanded by Jesus himself to baptize in the triune formula.  When we examine all the passages in Acts that have baptism, we discover that the commands are to the believers themselves and not to the one who would baptize. The recipients of the baptism were said to be baptized in Jesus’ name, meaning they partook, in a Christian baptism. It was an expression distinguishing itself from the other types of baptisms practiced of their day.

  In Acts they are descriptive of the identity of the baptism but are not a prescriptive formula, so there is no conflict. There would only be a conflict, if it commands to be baptized in “Jesus’ name only”. There is one place it says in Jesus’ name only, Acts 8:16 “For as yet he (the Spirit) had not fallen upon none of them, they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” If being baptized in Jesus’ name means to be saved how could this be, if they did not have possession of the Spirit? Quite a problem for those who promote this legalistic approach to salvation, via baptism.

H.A. Ironside stated it well in that “the baptism was said to be in the name of Jesus, I baptize you into the name of the father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In the name of Jesus was their authority to baptize, as in all the Christian activities we do. 

Just as when Jesus was baptized by John ( Mt.3) we find the Father involved speaking from heaven, the Holy spirit coming down from heaven and resting on him. John taught and instructed and baptized toward the coming savior. In Mt. 28 Jesus commissions the disciples to instruct and teach (make disciples) and baptize. He too gives them the same baptism that he had in which all three (persons of God) were involved. Should we not consider it a reminder of who God is, giving recognition to all three.

In a debate with some very zealous Oneness believers in which one cited Hastings Encyclopedia on his program (this is promoted through their tracs) saying that he writes the triune formulae came later and that it was baptism in Jesus name in the beginning of the church . What he didn’t tell the viewers or those in the debate is that there are four views discussed. That he opted for what Hasting called the least likely of the four alternatives, and that he actually agrees with the three fold name formulae. The same was done when he quoted Schaff -Herzog claiming he supported baptism in Jesus name.

If it is the name that needs to be said precisely that makes God acknowledge us then one can be damned on a technicality of a ritual cleansing. What kind of a portrayal of God is this ? Is not our Lord a God that is looking at the heart to the inner man. Saying the name is not some magic incantation that makes one acceptable to God. If we bring this to it's logical conclusion everything would need to be exact. We would need to be baptized with our head bowed forward as Jesus died, in the nude and pronounce the same language Jesus spoke, for it to be accurate and valid. In Cabalistic thought they believed by saying the ineffable name it brought power and blessing. The similarity of the Oneness legalism of today cannot be overlooked.

1 Pt 3:21 Denies emphatically that baptism conveys either the essence or power of grace. It is not the removal of the flesh (our carnal nature). Baptism saves through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The same Peter who said Acts 2:38 also says in Acts 10:43 Whoever believes in him will receive remission (forgiveness) of sins.

One of the main points that militates baptism conveying the new birth is that baptism presupposes faith. For one to be baptized there were certain conditions to be met. Did they repent, did they believe, otherwise one is baptizing an unbeliever to become a believer. The origin of ones new birth came from the Spirit, and is given at the moment of true faith. It means literally from above, from God . It was not produced from a human effort, from the water below. In Jn.3 When Nicodemus asks how can these things be? In vs.13 he receives his answer because the son of man who has descended has also ascended. It is not John's baptism that is from above because he did not go to heaven. It refers to the one who descended from heaven, Jesus is the baptizer of the Spirit, John baptized in water. John makes this distinction in Mt.3:11 of his water baptism and the one who comes afterward baptizing in the Spirit. Jesus also makes this distinction in Acts 1:5 the new birth is from above, not from the water beneath.

Some of the Oneness promoters claim that Mt. 28 triune baptism did not come until the 300’s.On p.238 Bernard tells us,”… possible references to an emerging trinitatrian doctrine, however, appear in some 2nd century writings, mainly in a few references that seem to point to a triune baptismal formulae….stating we have a biases, we “misrepresent Bible passages such as Mt.28:19. There is a strong possibility that later Trinitarian copyists interpolated passages of their own- a very common practice in church history.” Putting aside the innuendoes, he cannot prove this, there is an enormous amount of early church writings before Nicea  proving otherwise, explaining exactly how it was practiced.

Mt.28:18-19 is not questioned by any Greek scholars of its authenticity there are no variant readings. The question is if they believe the scriptures why do they want to remove this passage or change it ? Because it implies exactly what the Trinitarians believe. But you can't reject it, and then turn around and use it as authentic. Especially when the new revelation that started the modern Oneness movement in 1913 came from this passage. 

Claims are that the council of Nicea changed the baptism to introduce the Trinity. History proves otherwise. The threefold name baptism was practiced, and not invented nor inserted as a text by the Church. All through the next centuries we have Christian testimony of this fact. The Didache one of the oldest record outside the Bible written as early as 60-80 A.D.(J.B Lightfoot states the internal evidence proves this) or possibly as late as 100 (dated to the 1st cent, found in 1056 A.D), was used as a church manual.

The Didache says “As regards baptism, baptize in this manner, having first given all the preceding instruction baptize in the name of the father, and of the son and of the Holy Spirit and immerse 3 times in running water”. Even those who Bernard claims are associated with Oneness deny his teaching. Justin Martyr in his apology “I shall now explain our method of dedicating ourselves to God after we have been created anew through Christ…for they make their ablution in the water in the name of God the Father and Lord of all, and of our savior Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit.” (First Apology 6 1.3.) Ignatius wrote “Wherefore also the Lord, when He sent forth the apostles to make disciples of all nations, commanded them to “baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” not unto one [person] having three names, nor into three [persons] who became incarnate, but into three possessed of equal honour.” (Letter to the Philadelphians 2) Hippolytus writes in 215 A.D. “When the one being baptized goes down into the water, the one baptizing him shall put his hand on him and speak thus: `Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?' And he that is being baptized shall say: `I believe.' Then, having his hand imposed upon the head of the one to be baptized, he shall baptize him once. Then he shall say: `Do you believe in Christ Jesus… ?' And when he says: `I believe,' he is baptized again. Again shall he say: `Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the holy Church and the resurrection of the flesh?' The one being baptized then says: `I believe.' And so he is baptized a third time” (The Apostolic Tradition 21). Cyprian of Carthage ,”He (Jesus) commanded them to baptize the Gentiles in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. How then do some say that though a Gentile be baptized . . . never mind how or of whom, so long as it be done in the name of Jesus Christ, the remission of sins can follow-when Christ himself commands the nations to be baptized in the full and united Trinity?” (Letters 73:18 253 A.D.). Much more can be said although this should be sufficient.

What started as a new baptism formula from modern Oneness actually became a restoration of a lost gospel -- salvation by water. It is not salvation in Jesus name but salvation by baptism in Jesus name. Saying the right name was never used as a audible formulae for salvation simply for the reason no one is saved from baptism. One cannot erase the sin nature by water. The Bible states it is by the blood (death) of Christ that one is forgiven and cleansed.( Heb.10:10) Creation is never the means to convey the grace of God. The substance of water is a illustration of cleansing but has no power to cleanse, only the blood of Christ can cleanse. Jesus said it is finished on the cross, not it is continued. Baptism is a symbol of a burial-- not of the new life.

The new covenant is ratified by the blood of Christ, his death. Its not water, baptism is the seal of the covenant but not the covenant itself. The veil of the temple was ripped open when he died not when he was baptized. There is no forgiveness without the blood of Christ, there is forgiveness without baptism.

 

Introduction to the Oneness Movement  Oneness Theology The Word One     Mt.28 Baptism 
  The Word Persons   God Does not change Are Tongues and Baptism Necessary ?
  Proofs of the Trinity    Preexistence of the Son Who died on the Cross ? 
  The Trinity in the Resurrection The Grace of God Jn.1:1   The Son being Sent 
History of Heresies   The Right Hand of God  Today I have Begotten Thee
From the mouth of Two or three Witnesses  Oneness Pentecostals and Trinitarians Unite
Modern beginnings of Oneness The Early Church on Oneness Who was manifested in the flesh?

 

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These are excerpts from the book Who is Jesus? Answering Oneness Pentecostals attacks on the Trinity.  Spiral book by Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries HI 96786

 

 

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