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. Thayers 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. Ones 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
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
In the Greek the word for name is onoma, means authority, character,
which refers to ones 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 Johns 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 peoples names. The Jews never got wet, but Pharoahs 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
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 didnt 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
300s.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
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.
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