David Lamb Ministries

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lesson 7 - Baptism In Jesus' Name Only

Let’s read the Oneness people’s favorite verse.

Ac 2:38 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. (emphasis added)

Please take special notice to the phrase, “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ”. Oneness proponents dogmatically teach that this is the correct baptismal formula; that the words “In Jesus’ name” must literally be spoken over a person who is being immersed. They teach that anything other than baptism in “Jesus’ name” ONLY is not true Christian baptism; that nothing else will satisfy God! Many of them believe that if you were baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” you are on your way to hell! As far as they’re concerned, you might as well be baptized in the name of Wild Willy, Pecos Bill, and Paul Bunyan!

They antagonistically ask Trinitarians to show them Biblical proof of someone being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ... I submit the same challenge to them! I would like for a Oneness adherent to show me a Biblical or historical example (before the 1900's) of a preacher standing in a body of water with a new convert saying, "I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ" (or any other variation of the name of our Lord, for that matter). I am willing to give them the next twenty years to find just one! In the end, I am afraid their search will have proved to be a disappointment. This severely weakens the Jesus Only position!

Oneness preacher James Anderson, in an article entitled, Water Baptism In the Name of Jesus, stated:

“I would not say that there was a codified baptismal formula in the primitive church. Myself and most Oneness teachers should indicate it was developed, in some sense. However, I do believe that scripture and history indicate to us that the name of Jesus was invoked or implied, in literary devices, by or over the baptized.”

Here’s what he said later on in his article:

“We may contest that there was no EXACT formula for baptism in the New Testament...”

Basically what he is saying is that the Oneness people invented their baptismal formula; that they can produce nothing more than a few misinterpreted passages of Scripture, a couple references in second century writings that they have twisted, and some encyclopedias (predominantly Catholic), to support their baptismal formula! They have nothing substantial, nothing concrete, just delusional speculation!

Four Verses – Three Different “Formulas”

There are basically four different verses of Scripture the Oneness people use to “prove” the Apostles baptized in Jesus’ name only.

Ac 2:38 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. (emphasis added)

Ac 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.) (emphasis added)

Ac 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the NAME OF THE LORD. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (emphasis added)

Ac 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the NAME OF THE LORD JESUS. (emphasis added)
When we isolate each of these “so-called” formulas and compare them to one another we find a very revealing truth emerge. Three out of these four verses have different wording!

Acts 2:38 – NAME OF JESUS CHRIST (Peter)

Acts 8:16 – NAME OF THE LORD JESUS (Philip)

Acts 10:48 – NAME OF THE LORD (Peter)

Acts 19:5 – NAME OF THE LORD JESUS (Paul)

Tell me, how are we supposed to know which “formula” is correct? Is it Peter’s, Paul’s, or Phillip’s? If Acts 2:38 is to be taken as an exact formula, Phillip and Paul didn’t hold to that formula! In fact, when you compare Acts 2:38 to Acts 10:48, you find that even Peter didn’t stick to the original formula. This means, according to Oneness theology, they all deviated from the “so-called” formula of Acts 2:38 and were, therefore, hell bound sinners!

“In the Name Of”

With all things considered, I think we should delve a little deeper into the meaning of the phrase “in the name of”. The phrase “in the name of”, or “into the name”, has very little to do with an actual name. The word name in the Greek is the word onoma, which means authority or character (Robertson’s NT Word Pictures, Acts 2:38). According to Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, it means “upon the name”. According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, name means 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.

Let me show you a couple of Old Testament examples where the word name is used:

Pr 22:1 A GOOD NAME is rather to be chosen than great riches... (emphasis added)

Ec 7:1 A GOOD NAME is better than precious ointment... (emphasis added)

The Hebrew word for name in both of these verses is shem which means character. So, the wise man Solomon is telling us that it is a good character that is better than great riches or precious ointments, not vowels and consonants!

The phrase “in the name of” speaks of coming in the character, authority, and power of someone else, even as a servant would come in the “name of his king” or as a disciple would come “in the name of a prophet”. This was common verbiage in Bible times. For example:

1Sa 25:9 And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words IN THE NAME OF DAVID, and ceased. (emphasis added)

These men were not using a formula, they were merely speaking on David’s behalf. And coming in David’s name certainly didn’t mean they were David! They were simply speaking as representatives of David. They were backed by his power and authority.

Here is a New Testament example:

Mt 10:40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41 He that receiveth a prophet IN THE NAME OF A PROPHET shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man IN THE NAME OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only IN THE NAME OF A DISCIPLE, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. (emphasis added)

Clearly the meaning of this was to receive a prophet, a righteous man, and a disciple, because of the person that sent them, and because of who they were.

In Acts 9:27-29, Barnabas tells the brethren how Paul preached and spoke “in the name of Jesus”. In 1 Corinthians 5:3-4, Paul is dealing with a terrible sexual sin that had slipped into the church at Corinth. He told them to assemble themselves “in the name” of the Lord Jesus Christ and deal with the issue. Obviously, these verses are not proposing a preaching or church attendance formula. They were to gather as representatives and preach in the POWER and AUTHORITY of Jesus Christ. The sad thing is, the Oneness people will agree with that, but for some reason they can’t find the heart to admit that this same principle applies to the Bible’s references to water baptism!

To live in Jesus’ name is to be an ambassador of Christ; it is to represent Him every where we go, and in every thing we do! When the Bible tells us to preach, assemble ourselves, witness, etc., in the name of Jesus, it only means to do so in His authority, power, and stead; water baptism in Jesus’ name is no exception!

Power in the Person

I want to take this just a little bit deeper. Let’s read:

Mr 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; IN MY NAME shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (emphasis added)

Jesus said that in His name we could lay hands on the sick and see them recover! Does this mean you have to actually say the name “Jesus” aloud, like some magic mojo, before the power will come? Is this even referring to the five letters J-E-S-U-S being used audibly? No! Anytime a reference is made to the “name of Jesus” (in respect to spiritual matters) it is a reference to His person, character, and authority!

Please read the following verses with me:

Ac 9:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

Did you notice anything strange about this passage? Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, yet there was no mention of the name “Jesus”! He didn’t have to say, “Tabitha, in the name of Jesus, arise”! The wonderful truth being taught here is, although he may not have spoken the name “Jesus” audibly, it was in Jesus’ power and authority that the miracle was accomplished.

Seven Sons With Empty Guns

Let me show you what happens when you get confused on the meaning of “in Jesus’ name”. Let’s read about the seven sons of Sceva.

Ac 19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

In some ways this is a very funny passage of Scripture! There stood seven sons with empty guns. Men that would remind you of some of today’s so-called faith healers. They used the name “Jesus”, but they didn’t do it in the NAME (authority and power) of Jesus! When all you have is five letters, you end up stripped and running out of the house naked! Brothers and Sisters, it’s not necessarily having the five letters J-E-S-U-S come from your lips, it is having the King of Kings come from your heart!

Colossians 3:17

I want to read Acts 8:16 and Acts 19:5 again and then compare them to Colossians 3:17. I want you to pay special attention to the manner in which the Oneness people interpret these verses inconsistently, rendering them according to what is most convenient for them at that particular time.

Ac 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.) (emphasis added)

Ac 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS. (emphasis added)

In these two verses, according to Jesus Only Theology, the phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus” was the baptismal formula used by the preacher. They say these are the literal words the preachers said while submerging those believers into the water.

With that in mind, I want to look at Colossians 3:17.

Col 3:17 And WHATSOEVER ye do in word or deed, do all IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS... (emphasis added)

Although this verse offers the exact same wording as Acts 8:16 and Acts 19:5, for some strange reason, the Oneness people treat it differently. They DO NOT interpret this to be a formula as they do Acts 8:16 and Acts 19:5, and I want to know why! After all, it is the EXACT same wording!

Paul told the Colossians they needed to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus! Why don’t the Oneness people pronounce the “formula” over every single bite of food they eat? Why don’t they stop between every word they speak and say, “In Jesus’ name”? According to their own methods of interpreting Acts 8:16 and Acts 19:5, they should, but they do not, which only further reveals their gross hypocrisy!

Some Oneness adherents claim Acts 22:16 proves that the early church baptized in “Jesus name” only.

Ac 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

This verse has nothing to do with a baptismal formula! These are the words of Ananias to Saul (a new convert), not to an administrator of baptism! As we discussed in chapter 27, the words “name of the Lord” actually pertain to the command “wash away thy sins”, not “be baptized”. Ananias was simply telling Saul that he could call, nay, should call on Jesus any and every time!

Clearly, all five of these baptismal verses (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16) fall under the auspices of Colossians 3:17: “And WHATSOEVER ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...” and should be interpreted in the same manner!

For further study, you can look up Acts 9:29 and 1 Corinthians 6:11. Although these verses use the same wording as Acts 8:16 and 19:5, the Oneness people interpret them entirely different, too.

In summary, Scripturally and historically, the Oneness people don’t have a leg to stand on! Don’t forget what David Bernard said about Oneness believers in written history, “It appears that most Oneness believers did not leave a written record.” Well, it also appears that most Oneness believers “forgot” to chronicle their baptisms and baptismal formula, too! Don’t let the Oneness people intimidate you with bogus dates and quotes from Catholic encyclopedias. They are grasping for straws. The Bible and church history emphatically states that baptism has always been performed according to Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.

Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Obviously, I reject the Oneness ideology that the correct baptismal formula is “in Jesus’ name” only. My rejection is not based on a detestation of Jesus’ name, or a belief that His name doesn’t possess sufficient enough power to save. In fact, I would be hesitant in saying a person was going to hell exclusively for being baptized in “Jesus’ name” only. It seems to me that if a man can be saved having never been baptized, he can be saved having been baptized in Jesus’ name only too. We must not allow ourselves to become as legalistic about water baptism as the Oneness people have.

My rejection of baptism in “Jesus’ name” only is based on the grounds that Jesus, in Matthew 28:19, provided us with the correct baptismal formula (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost) making baptism in Jesus’ name only un-Scriptural. I believe that once this is understood, any person that was previously baptized in Jesus’ name only should be re-baptized.

I will concede that the word name in Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 are both translated from the same Greek word onoma which means “authority”. But I have found that Matthew 28:19 is unique in a couple different ways. First, where we see no exact word pattern concerning baptism in “Jesus’ name” only, Matthew 28:19 IS an exact syntactical formulation.

Another unique, and often overlooked, characteristic of Matthew 28:19 is to whom it was addressed. Whereas all five baptismal verses in Acts were directed toward new converts (those that were going to be baptized), Matthew 28:19 was directed to the administrators, or BAPTIZERS! Matthew 28:19 is what JESUS told PREACHERS to do; Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, and 22:16 is what preachers told NEW CONVERTS to do! These preachers were simply telling them to be baptized in the authority and power of Christ, but Christ gave the preachers the formula to do the baptism with (Mt 28:19)!

Biblical Evidence For Baptism According to Matthew 28:19

As I previously stated, many Oneness proponents mockingly assert that there is no Scriptural precedent for someone being baptized according to Matthew 28:19, but I disagree.

While traveling through the upper coasts of Ephesus, the Apostle Paul came upon a band of Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:1-5). He asked them two very revealing questions. The first of which was, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” They replied, “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” He then asked them, “Unto what then were ye baptized?”

Tell me, why did Paul ask about water baptism after hearing they were unfamiliar with the Holy Ghost? What relation did water baptism and the Holy Ghost have to each other? The only logical explanation is Paul’s baptismal formula was based upon Matthew 28:19, not Acts 2:38! Simply put, had those Ephesian disciples been baptized with the correct formula, they would have heard of the Holy Ghost!

Historical Evidence For Baptism According to Matthew 28:19

Oneness adherents deceitfully tell people that the Catholic church changed the baptismal formula in the second century. They love to submit quotes from encyclopedias (especially Catholic encyclopedias) to prove this. Let’s look at a few of them.

“Baptism was changed from the name of Jesus to the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the 2nd Century” (Britannica Encyclopedia, 11th Edition, Volume 3, pg. 365).

“The early church baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until the second century” (Canney Encyclopedia of Religion, pg. 53).

“Christian baptism was administered using the words, ‘in the name of Jesus."
“Baptism was always in the name of Jesus until the time of Justin Martyr” (Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 2, pgs. 377, 389).

The main thing I’ve noticed is, these encyclopedias never offer any historical documentation to prove their assertions. Their claims are always a matter of supposition, there is never any solid proof. Just because the Catholic church takes credit for initially promoting baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost doesn’t make it true. I was baptizing people according to Matthew 28:19 long before I knew anything about the Catholic church’s claims. I received my baptismal instructions from Jesus Christ Himself (Mt 28:19), who–in case you have forgotten–pre-dates the Catholic and Oneness churches!

I find it terribly disingenuous for a Oneness adherent to say the Catholic Church is the “great whore” of the seventeenth and nineteenth chapters of Revelation, yet turn around and use their resources to argue against Trinitarian theology. If the Catholic Church is comprised of lying murderers, why do the Oneness people trust their resources so much? And why don’t they esteem these Catholic resources to be authoritative when it comes to the doctrines of Apostolic Succession, transubstantiation, and purgatory? The reason is very simple: outside of their own Oneness literature, the Catholic church is about the only place they can find material to support their agenda!

It is actually quite simple to expose the Oneness people’s claims as fraudulent distortions of the truth. You see, unlike the Oneness movement, Trinitarians can produce a massive amount of historical evidence to support their baptismal formula (Mt 28:19). The two earliest documents are the Didache (di-dah-kay), and Justin Martyr’s First Apology.

The Didache (di-dah-kay) is a book that chronicles the doctrines and teachings of the Apostles. According to many Bible scholars, it was written in approximately 70 A.D. It submits the following:

"After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water…. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Didache 7:1 [A.D. 70]).

Though I don’t necessarily think sprinkling is the Biblical manner in which a person should be baptized, that’s not the point. The point is, we have historical documentation stating what baptismal formula was being used during the days of the Apostles! Do you realize that this was only forty years after the death of Christ and that the Apostle John was still alive? If the Didache does nothing else, it shatters the Oneness people’s lie that baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost was a second century invention!

The second oldest piece of historical documentation showing Matthew 28:19 to be the baptismal formula of the early church is Justin Martyr’s First Apology (chapter 61). It was written somewhere around 153 A.D. and perhaps as early as 120 A.D. The manner in which Justin wrote indicates the Trinitarian formula was the recognized formula of the Church at that time. This means Justin did not originate the use of Matthew 28:19, but had it handed down from those that taught him. It just so happens that Justin Martyr was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. I think it would be safe to say that Justin Martyr did not change the baptismal formula that Polycarp and the Apostle John had taught him.

For further historical evidence supporting water baptism according to Matthew 28:19, you can study the works of Tatian the Syrian (The Diatesseron 55) 170 A.D.; Hippolytus (The Apostolic Tradition 21) 215 A.D.; Tertullian (Against Praxeas 26) 216 A.D.; Origen (Commentary on Romans 5:8) 248 A.D.; and many others!

“Name” - Singular or Plural?

Many Oneness people make a big deal out of Jesus saying, “baptizing them in the name (and not names) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” They say that because the word name is in the singular, it speaks of only one name. They declare that that one name is “Jesus”, the new name of God! They assert that Matthew 28:19 shows Jesus secretly revealing the oneness of God to us, that He is in actuality the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all by Himself.

Since the word name is in the singular, they will ask, “What’s the name of the Father? What’s the name of the Son? What’s the name of the Holy Ghost?” They then follow that up by saying, “The name of the Father is ‘Jesus’! The name of the Son is ‘Jesus’! The name of the Holy Ghost is ‘Jesus’!” By this same means of eisegesis, they teach that Acts 2:38 is the fulfillment of Matthew 28:19.

Tell me, if Jesus’ name is the revelation of all three modes of God, why is it not used for all three modes of God afterwards in the book of Acts, or in the Epistles, or in the book of Revelation? Why does the Holy Ghost continue inspiring the writers to use the “titles” Father, Son, and Holy Ghost if Jesus is indeed all three Himself? If Jesus is the only person in the Godhead, this would be very deceptive on the part of the Spirit.

The measures Oneness people take to propagate this idea are incredible. Take into consideration the logic David Bernard uses to show that Jesus is actually the Father incarnate. He starts with John 5:43.

Joh 5:43a I am come in my Father's name...

Bernard teaches that Jesus’ statement “I am come in my Father's name” actually means He had come BEARING the Father’s name. In other words, since Jesus’ name is “Jesus”, and He come bearing the Father’s name, “Jesus” must be the name of the Father (The Oneness of God, pg. 126).

By using this same absurd means of interpretation, Bernard (and most Oneness adherents) also teach that the name of the Holy Ghost is “Jesus” (The Oneness of God, pg. 129)! They use the following verse as “proof”:

Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Did you catch the phrase, “Holy Ghost ... whom the Father will send in my name”? From this verse they teach that since Jesus’ name is “Jesus”; and the Father sent the Holy Ghost in Jesus’ name; the Holy Ghost and Jesus are the same person, therefore the Holy Ghost’s name must be “Jesus” too! Incredible, isn’t it?

Thankfully, Bernard is consistently inconsistent! Just like every other area of doctrine, he contradicts himself here, too. In his book, The Trinitarian Controversy (pg. 160), he compares Jesus taking on the name of the Father to us taking on Jesus’ name. This presents him with a serious problem. If he believes Jesus is the Father because He took on the Father’s name, shouldn’t us taking on Jesus’ name make us Jesus? Furthermore, Jesus was literally called “Jesus”, so why are we not literally called “Jesus”?

Let’s take this a little further. In light of Mr. Bernard’s belief that coming in the name of someone makes you that person, I wonder if he’s willing to stick to his guns when presented with 1 Samuel 17:45?

1Sa 17:45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I COME TO THEE IN THE NAME OF THE LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. (emphasis added)

Do you think Mr. Bernard and his Oneness fans interpret this verse to mean David was Jehovah incarnate? After all, he did say, “I come to thee in the name of the LORD”, didn’t he? Although I am sure that Bernard believes this verse only means that David came in the authority of Jehovah and not that David was Jehovah himself; it certainly proves Bernard is just like the rest of his followers ... he doesn’t mind making things up as he goes!

Let’s read Isaiah 9:6:

Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his NAME shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (emphasis added)

Did you notice that the word name is singular, yet five different names are listed?

Let’s look at Galatians 5:22-23.

Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Did you notice how the word fruit is in the singular, yet nine different fruits of the Spirit are listed? In other places Paul used the word fruits to emphasize plurality (2Co 9:10, Php 1:11, 2Ti 2:6), so why not here? This clearly indicates that (in some cases) the singular form of a word can be used to indicate more than one person or thing.

There is simply no reason to think that Jesus was cryptically referring to Himself in an elusive manner in Matthew 28:19. There’s not one reference in the New Testament of Jesus being the Father, yet He is called the SON over two-hundred times! Furthermore, throughout the New Testament, the Father is referred to as distinct from Jesus over two-hundred times and over fifty times Jesus and the Father are combined within the same verse. I would like to ask our Oneness friends why there is such an overwhelming emphasis on Jesus being the Son of God, and being distinct from the Father, if in fact the Bible also wants to enigmatically teach us that Jesus is Himself the Father? The fact that practically no one throughout church history has understood Jesus to be doing this proves that either the Oneness interpretation is wrong, or Jesus was a lousy communicator (and on a point which is supposedly a heaven or hell issue).

Before I move on, let’s entertain the idea that Jesus’ use of the word name in Matthew 28:19 does mean that only one name is intended. Could it be that one of the names of the triune God is “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”? After all, Webster’s Dictionary defines name as a word or PHRASE by which a person or thing is designated. Have you ever considered Exodus 3:15 where God said His name was the phrase “The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac”? Without wresting Webster’s definition in the slightest, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” can easily be considered a name (singular) of the triune God.

As I shared with you in an earlier lesson, several Oneness preachers have challenged me, asserting that three persons cannot share one name. I have been directing them to Mark 5:9 where Legion said, “My name (in the singular) is Legion: for we are many.” The vast majority (if not all) of those devils had individual names. That means there could have been as many as six-thousand individually named devils in that one man, yet when unified within one body, they went by only ONE name!

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Are Names, Not Exclusively Titles

Out of all my conversations with Oneness people, as well as all the Oneness literature I have read, only a couple of them have ever given a definition for name! Would you like to know why? It’s terribly incriminating to what they are propagating!

We have already talked about what the word name means in the Hebrew and Greek, so let us look at its definition in a few English Dictionaries. According to the Oxford University Press Dictionary, the word name means a word or words by which someone or something is known, addressed, or referred to. As I previously stated, Webster’s Dictionary defines name as a word or phrase by which a person or thing is designated. The American Heritage Dictionary defines name as a word or words by which any entity is designated. Did you notice that none of these popular dictionaries defined name as Billy, Tom, Willy, or Jack? They all three affirmed that a name is a word, words, or phrase someone is addressed as, referred to as, designated, or known by.

With that in mind, let’s look at Matthew 28:19-20 again:

Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

I weary of hearing Jesus Only believers say that “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Ghost” are merely titles, not names. Please take note that Jesus did not say, “Baptize them in the name of [a] Father, [a] Son, and [a] Holy Ghost.” He said to baptize them “in the name of [THE] Father, and of [THE] Son, and of [THE] Holy Ghost.” Not just any father, THE Father! Not just any son, THE Son! Not just any ghost, THE Holy Ghost! In every sense, and by every definition of the word, “Father” is a proper name of God the Father; and “Son” is a proper name of God the Son; and “Holy Ghost” is a proper name of God the Holy Ghost.

Unbelievably, the vast majority of Oneness people have no trouble conceding that “The everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6 is another name for Jesus. Doesn’t their subsequent refusal to admit the same for “Father” in Matthew 28:19 smack of hypocrisy?

The facts of it are, nearly every one in Christendom readily recognizes who is being spoken of when we call the three persons of the Trinity “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”. I think the only place in the world these three designations are not names is in the minds of Jesus Only adherents!

When I ask my little toddlers what my name is, do you know what they say? They say, “Daddy”! You see, I’m not just any ol’ dad, I’m their dad! Do you remember how Webster’s dictionary defined name? It defined it as a phrase by which a person or thing is designated. Daddy is a word my children have designated to me and to me alone! They know there are other dads in our church, but none of them are “DADDY”!

In reference to this, a Oneness pastor wrote me saying something to the effect, “I would like to see you go down to the bank and sign your name as ‘Daddy’.” Well, I would like to see him go down to the bank and open up an account in his own personal name, but only after he told them he was the omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal, creator of all things! They would take him away in a straight jacket! You see, there are many fathers, but we’re talking about God THE Father, whom there is only one! Trust me, if God had a checking account, and signed His name as Father, no one except these Oneness adherents would object! When will these people ever learn that it’s folly to use earthly analogies to describe God?

To the bank I am an impersonal entity, so “dad” would be a title to them, but I am not an impersonal entity to my children. Could this be why “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Ghost” are impersonal titles to these Jesus Only adherents? Is it because they don’t know the God of Heaven personally enough to address Him as we Trinitarians do? Perhaps!

I remember listening to a debate where the Oneness people laughed at a Trinitarian after he said God’s name was “God”. They actually thought it was funny! I wonder how funny they think Exodus 6:3 is?

Ex 6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of GOD ALMIGHTY... (emphasis added)

Tell me, who’s laughing now?

All of this title business gets very interesting when you take into consideration the same argument about titles and names which the Oneness people aim at the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost can be used against the name (Lord Jesus Christ) which they use to baptize! All three of these designations can fall under the heading of title or office. The Greek word for “Lord” is kurios, which can be translated as “Sir” (Joh 4:11) or “master” (Col 4:1). The Greek word for “Christ” is Christos, to which a prefix is added in Mark 14:61, and is translated “the Christ”. Even David Bernard concedes “Christ” is a title (Oneness of God, pg. 86), and Oneness author Frank Ewart, in his booklet The Phenomenon of Pentecost (pg. 55), also admits that “Christ” and “Lord” are titles!

Even the wonderful name of “Jesus” could be considered a title! It is derived from the Hebrew word Jehoshua, which means “Jehovah the Savior”. Consider this next passage of Scripture:

Joh 19:19 And Pilate wrote a TITLE, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20 This TITLE then read many of the Jews.... (emphasis added)

So, as you can see, this entire argument backfires in the Oneness people’s faces. If we Trinitarians wanted to play by the same rules as they do, we could assert that it is they that are baptizing in three titles, not us!

As I conclude this lesson, I think it has become very clear that all of this harping over Trinitarian baptism is nothing more than a Oneness smoke screen. It is in fact the Jesus Only adherents that lack Biblical and historical support for their baptismal formula. On the other hand, Biblical and historical evidence emphatically points toward Matthew 28:19 as the baptismal formula of the Church. Dear listeners, Peter DID NOT forget what Jesus had told him only fifty days prior to Acts 2:38!

So, as you can see, when the day is over, it is the Trinitarian that stands on the right side of the fence. The Oneness doctrine is the invention of devils and propagated by men. I would like to encourage any of you listeners that have come out of Trinitarian churches and are now dabbling in this Oneness mess, don’t walk out of those churches, you run out and never look back! You are going to be sucked into cesspool of filthy doctrine that you may never recover from.

Well, thanks again for listening. I hope this lesson was informative and a help to you. May the triune God of heaven bless you mightily!

Copyright 2009 by David Lamb

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