‘In the Name of the Holy Spirit’
“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of . . . the holy spirit.”—MATTHEW 28:19.
1. What new expression did John the Baptizer use in connection with holy spirit?
IN THE year 29 of our Common Era, John the Baptizer was active in Israel preparing the way for the Messiah, and in the course of his ministry, he announced something new about holy spirit. Of course, the Jews already knew what the Hebrew Scriptures said about the spirit. They may have been surprised, though, when John said: “I, for my part, baptize you with water because of your repentance; but the one coming after me . . . will baptize you people with holy spirit.” (Matthew 3:11) ‘Baptism with holy spirit’ was a new expression.
2. What new expression involving holy spirit did Jesus introduce?
2 The one coming was Jesus. During his earthly life, Jesus did not actually baptize anyone with holy spirit, although he did speak of the spirit many times. Moreover, after his resurrection, he referred to the holy spirit in still another new way. He told his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) The expression “in the name of” means “in recognition of.” Water baptism in recognition of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit was to be different from baptism in holy spirit. It was also a new expression involving holy spirit.
Baptized in Holy Spirit
3, 4. (a) When did the first baptisms in holy spirit take place? (b) Apart from baptizing them, how did the holy spirit act toward Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost 33 C.E.?
3 As for baptism in holy spirit, Jesus promised his disciples just before his ascension: “You will be baptized in holy spirit not many days after this.” (Acts 1:5, 8) Shortly thereafter that promise was fulfilled. Holy spirit descended upon some 120 disciples gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem as Jesus, from heaven, performed his first baptisms in holy spirit. (Acts 2:1-4, 33) With what result? The disciples became a part of the spiritual body of Christ. As the apostle Paul explains, “by one spirit [they] were all baptized into one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) At the same time, they were anointed to be future kings and priests in God’s heavenly Kingdom. (Ephesians 1:13, 14; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:6) The holy spirit also served as an initial seal and token of that glorious future inheritance, but that was not all.—2 Corinthians 1:21, 22.
4 A few years earlier, Jesus had said to Nicodemus: “Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5) Now 120 humans had been born again. By means of holy spirit, they had been adopted as spiritual sons of God, brothers of Christ. (John 1:11-13; Romans 8:14, 15) All these activities of holy spirit are in their way more wonderful than miracles. Moreover, unlike one-time miracles, holy spirit did not cease after the death of the apostles but has continued to be active in this way right down to our day. It is the privilege of Jehovah’s Witnesses to have among them the last of the spirit-baptized members of Christ’s body, and these serve as a “faithful and discreet slave” to provide spiritual food in its proper time.—Matthew 24:45-47.
Baptized “in the Name of . . . the Holy Spirit”
5, 6. How did the first baptisms in holy spirit lead to water baptisms?
5 But what of the promised water baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit? Those first disciples who were baptized in spirit did not undergo such a water baptism. They had already received John’s water baptism, and since that was acceptable to Jehovah at that particular time, they did not have to be rebaptized. But at Pentecost 33 C.E., a large crowd of souls did receive the new water baptism. How did this happen?
6 The baptism of the 120 in holy spirit had been accompanied by a loud noise that attracted crowds. These were astonished to hear the disciples speaking in tongues, that is, in foreign languages understood by those present. The apostle Peter explained that this miracle was evidence that God’s spirit had been poured out by Jesus, who had been raised from the dead and was now sitting at God’s right hand in heaven. Peter encouraged his listeners: “Let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.” He then concluded by saying: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit.” About 3,000 souls responded.—Acts 2:36, 38, 41.
7. In what way were the 3,000 baptized at Pentecost 33 C.E. baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit?
7 Can it be said that these were baptized in the name of (in recognition of) the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit? Yes. Though Peter did not tell them to get baptized in the name of the Father, they already recognized Jehovah as Sovereign Lord, since they were natural Jews, members of a nation dedicated to Him. Peter did say: ‘Be baptized in the name of the Son.’ So their baptism signified their recognition of Jesus as Lord and Christ. They were now his disciples and accepted that forgiveness of sins was henceforth through him. Finally, the baptism was in recognition of the holy spirit, and it was undergone in response to the promise that they would receive the spirit as a free gift.
8. (a) In addition to water baptism, what other baptism have anointed Christians received? (b) Who besides the 144,000 receive water baptism in the name of the holy spirit?
8 Those baptized in water on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. were also baptized in spirit, being anointed as future kings and priests in the heavenly Kingdom. According to the book of Revelation, there are only 144,000 of these. So those baptized in holy spirit and finally ‘sealed’ as Kingdom heirs number only 144,000. (Revelation 7:4; 14:1) However, all new disciples—whatever their hope—are baptized in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit. (Matthew 28:19, 20) What, then, does baptism in the name of the holy spirit imply for all Christians, whether of the “little flock” or of the “other sheep”? (Luke 12:32; John 10:16) Before answering that, let us note some of the activities of the spirit in the Christian era.
The Fruitage of the Spirit
9. What activity of the holy spirit is important to all Christians?
9 An important activity of holy spirit is in helping us to develop Christian personalities. True, because of imperfection we cannot avoid sinning. (Romans 7:21-23) But when we sincerely repent, Jehovah forgives us on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice. (Matthew 12:31, 32; Romans 7:24, 25; 1 John 2:1, 2) Moreover, Jehovah expects us to struggle against our tendency to sin, and the holy spirit helps us to do this. “Keep walking by spirit,” said Paul, “and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all.” (Galatians 5:16) Paul went on to show that the spirit can produce the finest of qualities in us. He wrote: “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”—Galatians 5:22, 23.
10. How is the fruitage of the spirit developed in a Christian?
10 How does the spirit make possible such fruitage in a Christian? It does not happen automatically just because we are dedicated and baptized Christians. We have to work at it. But if we associate with other Christians who display these qualities, if we pray to God for his spirit to help us develop specific qualities, if we avoid bad associations and study the Bible for counsel and good examples, then the fruitage of the spirit will grow in us.—Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 5:24-26; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
Appointed by Holy Spirit
11. In what way are elders appointed by holy spirit?
11 Paul, when addressing the elders of Ephesus, introduced another activity of holy spirit when he said: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28) Yes, congregation overseers, or elders, are appointed by holy spirit. In what way? In that appointed elders must meet the qualifications outlined in the inspired Bible. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9) They can develop those qualifications only with the help of holy spirit. Further, the body of elders that recommends a new elder prays for the guidance of holy spirit to discern whether he meets the qualifications or not. And the actual appointment is made under the supervision of the spirit-anointed faithful and discreet slave.
Be Guided by the Spirit
12. How can the spirit influence us through the Bible?
12 Christians recognize that the Holy Scriptures were written under the influence of holy spirit. Hence, they delve into them for spirit-inspired wisdom, as did Jehovah’s pre-Christian witnesses. (Proverbs 2:1-9) They read them, meditate on them, and let them guide their lives. (Psalm 1:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:16) They are thus helped by the spirit to ‘search into the deep things of God.’ (1 Corinthians 2:10, 13; 3:19) Guiding God’s servants in this way is an important activity of God’s spirit for our time.
13, 14. What did Jesus use to deal with problems in the congregation, and how does he do the same today?
13 Further, in the book of Revelation, the resurrected Jesus sent messages to seven congregations in Asia Minor. (Revelation, chapters 2 and 3) In them he revealed that he had inspected the congregations and discerned their spiritual condition. Some, he found, were setting a fine example of faith. In others, the elders had allowed sectarianism, immorality, and lukewarmness to corrupt the flock. The congregation at Sardis, apart from a few faithful souls, was spiritually dead. (Revelation 3:1, 4) How did Jesus handle these problems? With the holy spirit. When giving counsel to the seven congregations, Jesus’ message concluded in each case with the expression: “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.”—Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.
14 Today, too, Jesus inspects the congregations. And when he discerns problems, he still handles them by means of holy spirit. The spirit can help us recognize and overcome problems directly through our reading of the Bible. Help can also come through Bible literature published by the spirit-anointed faithful and discreet slave. Or it can come from spirit-appointed elders in the congregation. Whatever the case, whether the counsel is to individuals or to the congregation as a whole, do we heed Jesus’ words: “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says”?
The Spirit and the Preaching Work
15. How did the spirit act toward Jesus with regard to the preaching work?
15 On one occasion when Jesus preached in a synagogue in Nazareth, he showed yet another activity of the spirit. The record tells us: “He opened the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release.’ Then he started to say to them: ‘Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.’” (Luke 4:17, 18, 21; Isaiah 61:1, 2) Yes, Jesus was anointed by holy spirit to preach good news.
16. In the first century, how was holy spirit deeply involved in the preaching of the good news?
16 Shortly before his death, Jesus foretold a grand preaching campaign to be accomplished by his followers. He said: “In all the nations the good news has to be preached.” (Mark 13:10) These words had an initial fulfillment in the first century, and the part played by holy spirit was noteworthy. It was holy spirit that directed Philip to preach to the Ethiopian eunuch. Holy spirit directed Peter to Cornelius, and holy spirit directed that Paul and Barnabas be sent out as apostles from Antioch. Later, when Paul wanted to preach in Asia and Bythinia, holy spirit in some way prevented him. God wanted the witness work to move into Europe.—Acts 8:29; 10:19; 13:2; 16:6, 7.
17. Today, how is holy spirit involved in the preaching work?
17 Today, holy spirit is again deeply involved in the preaching work. In a further fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1, 2, Jehovah’s spirit has anointed Jesus’ brothers to preach. In the final fulfillment of Mark 13:10, these anointed ones, aided by the great crowd, have preached the good news literally in “all nations.” (Revelation 7:9) And the spirit supports all of them in this. As in the first century, it opens up territories and guides the general progress of the work. It strengthens individuals, helping them overcome timidity and develop their teaching skills. Moreover, Jesus told his disciples: “You will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. However, when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak . . . , for the ones speaking are not just you, but it is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you.”—Matthew 10:18-20.
18, 19. In what way does the spirit join the bride in inviting meekhearted ones to “take life’s water free”?
18 In the book of Revelation, the Bible again stresses the involvement of holy spirit in the preaching work. There the apostle John reports: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” (Revelation 22:17) The bride, represented by the remaining ones of the 144,000 still on earth, invite all to take of life’s water free. But notice, the holy spirit also says “Come!” In what way?
19 In that the message being preached by the bride class—today assisted by the great crowd of other sheep—comes from the Bible, written under the direct influence of holy spirit. And that same spirit has opened the hearts and minds of the bride class to understand the inspired Word and explain it to others. Those who are baptized as new disciples of Jesus Christ delight to take of life’s water free. And they are thrilled to cooperate with the spirit and the bride in saying “Come!” to yet others. Today, more than four million share with the spirit in this work.
Living Up to Our Baptism
20, 21. How can we live up to our baptism in the name of the holy spirit, and how should we view this baptism?
20 Baptism in the name of the holy spirit is a public declaration that we recognize the holy spirit and acknowledge the role it plays in Jehovah’s purposes. It implies that we will cooperate with the spirit, doing nothing to hinder its operation among Jehovah’s people. Thus, we recognize and cooperate with the faithful and discreet slave. We cooperate with the elder arrangement in the congregation. (Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-4) We live by spiritual, not fleshly, wisdom and allow the spirit to mold our personality, making it more Christlike. (Romans 13:14) And we join wholeheartedly with the spirit and the bride in saying “Come!” to the millions who may yet respond.
21 What a serious thing it is to be baptized ‘in the name of the holy spirit’! Yet, what blessings can result! May the number of those thus baptized continue to increase. And may all of us continue to live up to the meaning of that baptism, as we slave for Jehovah and continue to be “aglow with the spirit.”—Romans 12:11.
What Do You Remember About the Holy Spirit?
◻ In what ways was holy spirit active at Pentecost 33 C.E.?
◻ How can we produce the fruits of the spirit?
◻ In what way are elders appointed by holy spirit?
◻ How does Jesus handle problems in the congregation by means of holy spirit?
◻ How is the spirit deeply involved in the preaching work?
[Picture on page 15]
The baptism Peter preached was also in the name of the Father and the holy spirit
[Picture on page 17]
The spirit is deeply involved in the preaching of the good news