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Frank Jamerson

   The expression in the name of Christ is found several times in the New Testament. It generally means by His authority. Paul said “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).  Peter told the lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). When he was asked “by what power or by what name have you done this?” (Acts 4:7), he said “by the name of Jesus of Nazareth...by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:10).


   The Greek scholar, Joseph Thayer, said the expression “in the name” means “by the command and authority of Christ, rooted (so to speak) in his name, i.e. mindful of Christ: Col. 3:17; Eph. 5:20; to ask a thing, as prompted by the mind of Christ and in reliance on the bond which unites us to him, Jn. 14:13” (p. 448). W.E. Vine says, “for all that a name implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the name covers...in recognition of the authority.” Our words and actions are to be by the authority of Christ. This does not require that we begin every speech or action with the formula, “in the name of Christ,” but it does demand that we speak and act by His authority. Simply saying the words does not make it true. Jesus asked, “But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46).


   Prayer is in the name of Christ. He said, “And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (Jn. 14:13). Paul said, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). This demands that we understand that Christ is the only Mediator, but it is not a formula that must be stated at the end of every prayer. It is good to say, at some point, what we are doing, but the important thing is that we accept Him as the only Mediator. One who prays for the baptism of the Holy Spirit “in the name of Christ,” has not prayed by the authority of Christ, because He did not authorize that request.


   Baptism “in the name of Christ” (Acts 2:38), as well as repentance “in His name” (Lk. 24:47), are acts that Christ authorized and must be done in obedience to Him. Christ told the apostles to baptize people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). We should understand that baptism is into (eis), a relationship with the Godhead.        


   Those who deny the Godhead, either by denying the Deity of Christ or by denying the Deity of the Father (by teaching the “Jesus only” doctrine), cannot obey the command of Christ to be baptized into a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Those who deny that the baptism Jesus authorized in the “great commission” (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15,16; Lk. 24:46,47) was practiced on Pentecost, and afterward, need to tell us when it was practiced and when it ended! If that was not what the apostles did on Pentecost, there is no record of it ever being practiced!


    Again, this is not some formula that must be recited before baptism, but a truth that needs to be understood by the person being baptized. If a person does not understand the Godhead, saying the words will not make his baptism right. If he understands what he is dong, the person doing the baptizing would not have to say anything. The Lord told us what to do, not what to say, though there is nothing wrong with saying what we are doing.


                       Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2014    This page last modified July 03, 2014