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Particulars of Christianity:
309 Baptisms


Water Baptism in Jesus' Name

Preface for Baptisms Article Series
Baptisms: Introduction and Historical Background
Original Proclamations about Baptism
Two Baptisms Occurring Separately
Baptizo: Two Baptisms, One Greek Word
Synonymous Phrases: Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Water Baptism in Jesus' Name
No Record of Paul's Water Baptism
Is Baptism Essential to Salvation?
Acts 1: Parallel Account of the Great Commission
Necessity of Water Baptism: 3 Common Arguments
Survey 1: Baptisms in Acts
The Baptism of Crispus (and Assuming Evidence)
Survey 2: Baptism from Romans to Revelation
Baptism and Hebrews 10:22
Conclusions: When and How Are We Reborn?
Survey 3: Baptism and the Ante-Nicene Authors
Closing: Water Baptism for the Right Reasons



It is important for us to note that the early Church did practice water baptism after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. And when they performed this act, Acts 8:14-18 tells us that they did so in the name of Jesus. However, we must also assume that when the Apostles laid hands on people and prayed for them to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is also recorded in Acts 8:14-18, they would have done so in the name of Jesus as well. But the notion that the apostles baptized people in the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus is not just an unfounded assumption. It is established by scripture.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Because of the grammatical structure of this verse, we should not conclude that it was only the justifying that was done in Jesus' name and by the Holy Spirit. Rather, Paul is listing all three of these events ("washed," "sanctified," and "justified") and stating that all three of these things were done "in the name of the Lord Jesus" and "by the Spirit of God." And, it is important to note that the word "by" in this verse is the Greek word "en" (Strong's 1722.) This phrase "en" the Holy Spirit is the same phrase that occurs in all of the following passages as spoken by John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Paul.

Matthew 3:11 he shall baptize you with [1722] the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Mark 1:8 he shall baptize you with [1722] the Holy Ghost.

Luke 3:16 he shall baptize you with [1722] the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John 1:33 he which baptizeth with [1722] the Holy Ghost.

Acts 1:5 but ye shall be baptized with [1722] the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 11:16 but ye shall be baptized with [1722] the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by [1722] one Spirit are we all baptized [907] into one body...

So, by saying that the Corinthians have been "washed" "en" the Holy Spirit, Paul is clearly referring to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. And, by saying they were "washed" "in the name of the Lord Jesus" we can clearly see that when they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it was done "in the name of Jesus." So, we know from 1 Corinthians 6 that baptism in the Holy Spirit, which usually was conveyed by the laying on of hands, was performed in Jesus' name, just as water baptism in Acts was performed in Jesus name.

In this way, both forms of baptism in Acts were no doubt performed in Jesus' name. Because of this and because both forms of baptism were referred to using the same Greek word ("baptizo") by John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Paul, we cannot assume which form of baptism is meant when we read the phrase "baptized in Jesus' name."

So, the next question is, after the ascension, was this practice of water baptism in the name of Jesus considered the same as the baptism of John?

In short, the answer to this question is "yes" for several reasons.

First, if post-resurrection water baptism in the name of Jesus was not the same as the water baptism of John, then there are no less than three baptisms in the New Testament. There is the baptism of John, which was a water baptism. There is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which according to John the Baptist, was the baptism of Jesus Christ. And then there would be water baptism in the name of Jesus.

The problem with this simple theory is that there is no passage in the New Testament articulating this third form of baptism. At no place in the New Testament is this new form of water baptism introduced through teaching, distinguished from John's baptism, or explained as a distinct practice for the Church to carry on. With regard to such a baptism we can easily confirm that neither Jesus, nor John the Baptist, ever introduced, practiced, anticipated, or predicted it. Neither is such a "new form of water baptism" distinct from Johnís water baptism ever articulated by the Apostles.

And there are other reasons why such a theory does not hold up. Inherent to the theory (that water baptism in Jesus' name is distinct from the water baptism practiced by John) is the central notion that it is this new water baptism that is essential to the life of every believer. In other words, according to this view water baptism in the name of Jesus would by definition be the act through which an individual enters the believing community.

But, there is good reason to reject this theory. First, we have no record of any of the apostles or other original 120 disciples ever being "re-baptized" in water, this time in the name of Jesus, after the resurrection. And who would have performed such a baptism? Certainly not John the Baptist, for he was dead. And if all the Apostles needed to be re-baptized with water in Jesus' name then none of them could have performed this act for the others. That would require a man who himself needs to be baptized baptizing others before he himself has received it.

So, the only way that the apostles and the other 120 disciples could have been re-baptized with water after the resurrection is to suppose that the resurrected Christ himself took them to a place of water and re-baptized them in his own name even though scripture simply does not record for us such a significant event.

In fact, as we will discuss in greater detail later, there is no concrete evidence that Paul was ever water baptized. He was baptized, but the only two scriptural accounts of this event both point to baptism in the Holy Spirit. And we will show that in the scripture.

However, for now it is important to point out only that not one of the 120 followers in the upper room in Acts 1 and 2 was ever re-baptized in water. But if water baptism in the name of Jesus was distinct from water baptism as practiced by John and none of the 120 in the upper room (including the 12 apostles) was ever "re-baptized" in Jesus' name, then we are left with only one conclusion. If water baptism in the name of Jesus was understood by the early Church to be distinct from John's water baptism, then it was certainly not considered a necessary act for all believers. For, if it was considered necessary, the 120 would have had to undergo a second water baptism, but according to scripture, no such event occurred.

This leads us to the second example. In Acts 18, we find a short segment about Apollos, which goes as follows.

Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Here again, we have no mention of Apollos ever being water baptized in the name of Jesus. Just like the apostles and the rest of the 120 in the upper room, the only evidence of Apollos ever being water baptized, is the baptism of John. That means that for all these cases, the apostles, the 120, and Apollos, the water baptism of John was considered by the early Church to be "accredited." Or in other words, the water baptism of John sufficed and it was not necessary for them to be water baptized a second time, this time in the name of Jesus.

Based on this information we must conclude one of the following to be true regarding water baptism in the name of Jesus. Option one, water baptism in the name of Jesus was considered by the early church to be one and the same as the baptism of John. Option two, water baptism in the name of Jesus was considered by the early church to be distinctly different from the baptism of John, but was not universally required of believers and as such was not essential for salvation. Either one of these views would be allowable from a biblical standpoint, although there is no evidence for option two since, as we have said, nowhere does scripture ever introduce or explain a new form of water baptism distinct from John's. Moreover, such a concept was inherently contrary to the most basic teaching about baptisms in the New Testament: water baptism came by John and the Messiah would bring, not water baptism, but baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Consequently, it should be concluded that water baptism in Jesus' name was considered by the early Church to be one and the same as the baptism of John. As such, we are forced to accept the conclusion that it was not necessary for salvation. As we have demonstrated earlier in our study that Jesus, John, and Peter unanimously taught the superiority of baptism in the Holy Spirit over John's baptism in water.

At this point we will move on to demonstrating that the New Testament record unequivocally bears this out. To insist otherwise would be to reverse the priority of baptisms that was given by both Jesus and John. We would be forced to suppose, without scriptural warrant, that after Pentecost water baptism in Jesus' name assumed priority among the early church over baptism in the Holy Spirit in terms of both practice and necessity for salvation. Such a scenario would naturally contradict the anticipation expressed in the statements of John the Baptist and Jesus regarding the coming of baptism in the Holy Spirit.