The Truth About Water Baptism

An Exhaustive Bible Study using Scripture

God bless you as you study further with us now into the word of God concerning the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and what Jesus meant when He spoke in Matthew 28:19. This scripture, by the way, is the only scripture from which the Trinitarian theory is drawn. Other scriptures from the New Testament as well as the Old have been used, but inconclusively.

Some authoritative references concerning the history of the "trinity" theory


The New Catholic Encyclopaedia (Volume XIV, Pg. 306)

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the oldest evidence is in the Pauline epistles, especially 2 Corinthians 13:14, and 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. In the

gospels evidence of the Trinity is found explicitly only in the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19.

The New Encyclopaedia Britanica, 15th Edition (Volume X, Pg. 126) Trinity, the doctrine of God taught by Christianity that asserts that God is one in essence but three in "person," Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: "Hear, 0 Israel: The lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Because of the trinity dogma or doctrine, a conflict has arisen in today's religious world over the method of ministering baptism to people accepting Christ. The question is; should it be performed in the name of Jesus Christ or in the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?

Let us look more closely. An important point to notice in the scripture Matthew 28:19 is that Jesus' own words to his twelve apostles were, "...baptizing them in the name of..." Jesus did not say "titles" but said "name." Notice too that the word "name" in this scripture is singular in tense, not plural. How is that significant? To answer that, let us turn to examples of how the early church carried out Christ's commandment in Matthew 28:19. In the book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles), the method of baptism was "In the name of Jesus Christ." One example is the scripture Acts 2:38:

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

and Acts 10:47-48:

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Verse 48 states that Peter, preaching to Cornelius and all his household, commanded the to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Some might point out that the name "Lord" is used here instead of "Jesus Christ." Well, who is Lord? Jesus is, of course, as we can read earlier in the same chapter (Acts 10:36):

36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

Another example of water baptism performed in the days of the early church is recorded in the book of Acts. Here Paul is baptizing some of John's disciples in Jesus' name (Acts 19:5):

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Paul also exhorts the church in his letter to the Galatians (Galatians 3:27) to remember that they have been baptized into Christ:

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Let us look back to Acts 19 again where Paul rebaptized certain of John the Baptist's disciples because they had not been baptized in Jesus' name. John preached the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus. His baptism was unto Christ, but now, after Jesus has glorified His name and given the great commission in Matthew 28:19, we are baptized into Christ. That's why Paul spoke as he did in Galatians 3:27 when he said. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

We also read in Acts 8:12 & 16 that the Samaritans received the word of God and were baptized in Jesus' name:

12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

In I Corinthians 1:13, Paul, speaking to the church in Corinth, reproves the people for being divided saying:

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

If anything, this proves that the performance of baptism included using a name. Why else would Paul ask, "were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" Based on verse 17 in the same chapter, some people say that Paul didn't baptize at all:

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Indeed, Paul was a preacher. No doubt, he was a preacher of all time. It would be foolish to think that Paul would have to do all the work himself. Let us not forget that there were deacons and helpers in the church to assist in the ministering to the people. Should Paul have to do all the preaching and all the baptizing too? It is also foolish to think that he did not baptize when he preached baptism and was baptized himself (Acts 9:18). In the 14th and 16th verses of the same chapter of the book we are discussing (I Corinthians 1), Paul himself tells us that he baptized Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas. He also rebaptized John the Baptist's disciples in Acts 19:5.

In St. John 3:29, John the Baptist, or the Baptizer, refers to Jesus as the "bridegroom." In the book of Revelation 21:9-10, we, the church, are referred to as "the bride" of the Lamb, the Lamb being Christ. How then can a bride be married to a bridegroom without taking the groom's name? It is through water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ that we take on the name of the groom, the family name.

Thus far we have seen that the formula or mode of baptism used by the early church, according to the Scriptures, was "in the name of Jesus Christ." In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11`h Edition, we find that the Roman Catholic Church even practiced this form of baptism in its early stages of development:

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition (Volume III, Pg. 365,366)

The teaching of the Apostles, indeed, prescribes baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but on the next page speaks of those who have been baptized into the name of the Lord- the normal formula of the New Testament. In the 3'd century baptism in the name of Christ was still so widespread that Pope Stephen, in opposition to the Cyprian of Carthage, declared it to be valid. From Pope Zachariah (Ep. X.) we learn that the Celtic missionaries in baptizing omitted one or more persons of the Trinity, and this was one of the reasons why the church of Rome anathematized them; Pope Nicholas, however (858-867 AD), in the Responsa ad censulta Bulgarorum, allowed baptism to be valid tantum in vomine Christy as in the Acts.

Until the year 325 AD, baptism was performed using the name "Jesus Christ." It was then changed to the titles "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," by the Catholic Church at the Synod (or Council) of Nicea. The practice of submerging the baptismal subject was changed later at the council of Ravenna or Vienna in 1311 AD:

The World Book Encyclopaedia (Volume 16, Pg. 7270)

But the doctrine of the three in one is considered to be a mystery for which there is no adequate explanation. The first authoritative statement of belief in Father, Son and Holy Ghost was made by the earliest general council of churches held at Nicea in 325 which also declared the Son to be of equal substance with the Father.

New Catholic Encyclopaedia (Volume X, Pg. 437)

Nicene Creed: A profession of faith agreed upon, although with some misgivings because of it's non-Biblical terminology, by the bishops at Nicea I (325) to defend the true faith against Arianism.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11" Edition (Volume VII, Pg. 395)

The Nicene Creed of the liturgies, often called the Constantinopolitan Creed, is the old baptismal creed of Jerusalem revised by the insertion of Nicene terms.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15`h Edition (Volume 2, Pg. 747) Meanwhile, Basil tried to secure general support for the former semi-Arian Meletius as bishop of Antioch (one of the five major patriarchates of the early church) against Paulinus, the leader of the strict Nicene minority, since he feared that the extreme Nicenes at this point were lapsing into Sabellianism, a heresy exaggerating the oneness of God.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition (Volume 8, Pg. 420)

It endorsed the Trinitarian doctrine of three equal persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as thought by Gregory and expressed in the "creed commonly called the Nicene," which is still regarded as authoritative in East and West alike, including most leading Protestant churches.

Dictionary of the Bible, by Scribners (Volume 1, Pg. 241)

The original form of words were into the name of Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus. Baptism into the Trinity was a later development. Dictionary of the Bible, by James Hastings

It has been customary to trace the institution of the practice to the words of Christ in Matthew 28:19, but the authenticity of this passage has been challenged on historical as well as textual grounds. It must be acknowledged that the formulas of the three fold name, which is here enjoined, does not appear to have been used by the primitive church, which so far as our information goes, baptized "in" or "into" the name of Jesus, or Jesus Christ, or the Lord Jesus, without any reference to the Father or the Spirit.

When we look at these references, we can see both that the change was made and that it was made with no scriptural backing. Why is such a change significant? Let us not forget that, according to Ephesians 4:5, there is only "One Lord, one faith, and one baptism." If one does baptize in Jesus' name while another baptizes in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost, then we have two baptisms instead of one. There can only be one baptism unto salvation! Therefore, one must choose to either believe the scriptures or the dogmas and philosophies of the theologians.

By the above scriptures and historical references, it is evident that the first and true form of baptism was changed and that it was changed largely through simple conjecture. Even the theologians responsible for the changes could not fully explain their theories. Note too their lack of scriptural support. Remember, if something is not based totally on the word of God it cannot be acceptable as truth:

Canney Encyclopaedia (Pg. 53)

The early church always baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until the development of the Trinity, afterward they were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The New International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Volume 1, Pg. 395-396)

The formula for baptism: The formula for Christian baptism or mode which prevailed is given in Matthew 28:19 "1 baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." But it is curious that the words are not given in any description of Christian baptism until the time of Justin Martyr, and there they are

not repeated exactly but in a slightly extended form. In every account of the performance of the rite in Apostolic times a much shorter formula is in use. The 3000 believers were baptized on the day of Pentecost in the name of Jesus Christ. The same formula was used at the baptism of Cornelius, and those that were with him, indeed it would have appeared to have been the usual one, from Paul's question to the Corinthians, where Paul asks them, "Were you baptized in the name of Paul?" No record of the Trinitarian formula can be discovered in the Acts of the Apostles. The difficulty was considered by the Fathers.

Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (Volume XII, Pg. 458 [b])

In the New Testament we do not find the doctrine of the Trinity in anything like it's developed form, not even in the Pauline and Johnanine theology, although ample witness is born to the religious experience from which the doctrine springs.

Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (Volume XII, Pg. 461 [5])

At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian in the strictly ontological reference. It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as we reflected in the New Testament and other early Christian writings. Nor was it so even in the age of the Christian apologists.

Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (Volume XII, Pg. 461[b])

In other words, in thinking about the Trinity they arrived at the Trinity. Nonetheless the greatest and most influential of the Christian fathers, Origen, Athanasius, Basil and the Gregorys, Augustine, all acknowledge that, for all the light thrown upon it in Biblical revelation, the divine nature remained for them a mystery transcending reason.

Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (Volume XII, Pg. 461,462[f])

In the system of Christian theology the doctrine of the Trinity does not usually fit well into the general doctrine of God, and often bears the character of a doctrine apart

Cambers Encyclopaedia (Volume 2, Pg. 112)

That the first recipients of baptism were adults. Infant baptism was a later development that led to sprinkling.

New Catholic Encyclopaedia (Volume II, Pg. 59)

(Formula) With regard to the form used for baptism in the early church, there is the difficulty that although Matthew (28:19) speaks of the Trinitarian formula which is now used, the Acts of the Apostles (2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5) and Paul (I Corinthians 1:13; 6:11.;Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3) speaks only of baptism "in the name of Jesus." It has been proposed that we assume that the one being baptized had to confess the name of Jesus and that then the

minister pronounced a Trinitarian formula (Crehan 76, 81). This remains, however, an arbitrary conjecture.

In the last reference above we find that there is a great deal of confusion as the result of "arbitrary conjecture." The early church baptized in Jesus' name. It is contradictory to think that the recipient of baptism would confess Jesus' name while the minister would confess trinity at the same time. Why base your salvation on mere conjecture that has no scriptural backing whatsoever? On the other hand, we know according to scripture what the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost is: JESUS IS His name! Look again at Jesus' words as He spoke to his disciples in Matthew 28:19: He said to baptize "in the name of," not "in the titles of." Remember, the Bible does not contradict itself, people do.

Jesus gave us baptism as a commandment in Matthew 28:19. At that time He had, and still has, the authority to do so because He is Lord over all. In Matthew 28:19 we read, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying All Power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Who then has given man the right, the authority to change or disannul the commandment of the One who has all power in heaven and in earth? In fact, we read in Hebrews 13:8: 

8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 


Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.