Questions on Matthew 28:19
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
There are two main baptismal formulas practiced by those who call themselves Christians. One is "in the name of Jesus Christ" and the other is "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". People who practice the first one cite many scriptures such as Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:43-48, Acts 19:1-7, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:4, and Colossians 2:12). People who practice the latter cite Matthew 28:19 as their authority. Which one is correct? Does it really matter? The following is list of questions on Matthew 28:19:
1. Was anyone baptized in Mt 28? No
2. Was Mt 28:19 a command to baptize or a baptismal ceremony? A command
3. Who was the Lord speaking to? The eleven apostles (vs 7, 10, & 16)
4. Was anyone else there such as you or I or any modern religious leader? No
5. Who would it be best to ask what Jesus meant? The only people He was speaking to
directly, were there, carried out the command, and wrote the New Testament - the
6. How can we ask the apostles what they thought Jesus meant since they have all died? By
reading what they did and wrote in the book of Acts (Acts was written by Luke, Paul’s
companion and author of Lk 24)
7. Were Matthew and Peter both there in Mt 28 and Acts 2? Yes (Acts 2:14)
8. Did Matthew and Peter agree? Yes (Acts 2:14)
9. Who carried out the command? The apostles
10. How did they carry it out? By baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-41, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:43-48, Acts 19:1-7, Acts 22:16)
11. Did the apostles repeat the command or obey it? The obeyed it.
12. Was anyone baptized in Acts? Yes, thousands (Acts 2:38-41, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:43-
48, Acts 19:1-7, Acts 22:16)
13. Does the statement “I would rather do what Jesus said than what Peter said” violate the
doctrine of the harmony of scripture and effectively make the Bible not the word of God?
14. Should we interpret Mt 28:19 in the light of the context of the passage, other scriptures on water baptism, and the Bible as a whole? Yes. That is a fundamental principle of Bible study.
15. Do the many other scriptures about the name of Jesus Christ such as Is 9:6, Jn 5:39, Jn 14:26, Acts 4:12, and Col 3:17 harmonize with “in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost” or “in the name of Jesus Christ”? In the name of Jesus Christ
16. Does interpreting Mt 28:19 to mean “in the name of Jesus Christ” harmonize with parallel
passages of what is called the “great commission” (Mk 16:14-20, Lk 24:44-53, Jn 20:21- 23)? Yes
17. Are the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost proper names or descriptive titles of God?
18. What is the only proper name of God in the New Testament? Jesus Christ
19. Did God place the power of salvation, remission of sins, healing, miracles, casting out of
demons, and obtaining answers to prayer in the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost or in the name of Jesus Christ? The name of Jesus Christ (salvation - Acts 4:12, remission - Acts 2:38, Acts 10:43, healing - Acts 3:6, Jam 5:14, miracles - Mk 9:39, Mk 16:17-18,
casting out demons - Mk 16:17, Acts 16:18, prayer - Mt 18:20, Jn 14:13-14).
20. Why would the Bible say to do all things including all of those in question 19 in the name of Jesus Christ (Col 3:17), and then say to do only this one thing of baptism a different way? It doesn’t.
21. Why does the phrase “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” only appear one time in the entire Bible if it is so central, while phrases such as “in my name”, “in His name”, and “in the name of Jesus Christ” appear dozens of times?
Because it is not central. The name of Jesus is central.
22. Does Mt 28:18 reflect on the meaning of verse 19? Yes. Jesus has all power.
23. Does Mt 28:20 reflect on the meaning of Mt 28:19? Yes. Jesus said He would be with them even unto the end of the world, yet shortly after that He ascended to heaven. He told them He would leave them and return in another form - the Holy Ghost (Jn 14-16).
24. Does the grammar of Mt 28:19 reflect on its meaning? Yes. It says in the name - singular.
25. Does the interpretation of Mt 28:19 relate directly to views of the nature of the Godhead?
Yes. People who repeat the words of Mt 28:19 as a baptismal formula believe God is three separate and distinct persons. People who use the baptismal formula used by the apostles in the book of Acts of “in the name of Jesus Christ” almost always believe in the absolute unity of the Godhead.
26. Which of the two main baptismal formulas fits better with “buried with Him in baptism
(Rom 6:4, Col 2:12)”? In the name of Jesus
27. Although historical documents and commentaries do not carry the same weight as scripture, should we consider the numerous references including the Catholic Encyclopedia which state the early church baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and the formula was changed later?
28. Was baptism in the name of Jesus only for the early church or only for Jewish believers? No. There are no scriptures that say those things, but there are that contradict them. There was to be no change to the doctrine of the apostles under the severest warnings (Gal 1:6-9, 1Tim 1:3). There is no difference in the new covenant between Jew and
Gentile (Gal 3:28). All people of the world, whether Jew or Gentile, are to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ until the end of the age (Mt 28:19-20, Mk 16:15-16, Lk 24:47, Jn 3:5, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:38-39). There were Gentile Romans and Gentile converts to Judaism in the crowd in Acts 2 (Acts 2:10). Philip baptized Samaritans in the name of Jesus (Acts 8:12-17). Peter baptized the household of the Gentile Cornelius in the name of Jesus (Acts 10:43-48), and Paul baptized people in Ephesus in the name of Jesus
(Acts 19:1-7). The apostles preached the same doctrine at the beginning as they did years later (Acts 11:15, Jude 3), and they preached the same doctrine to Jews and Gentiles. Although there are differences in evangelical approach to Jews who knew the scriptures and Gentiles who did not, the doctrine and proper responses were the same. For example, Peter quoted scripture in Acts 2 to his largely Jewish audience, whereas Paul quoted Greek poetry to the Athenians (Acts 17:28). When the Philippian jailer asked Paul how to be saved, he told him to believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-34). Part of that was being baptized that very night.