Baptized in the Name of Whom and What?
“Go therefore and make disciples . . . , baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.”—MATT. 28:19.
1, 2. (a) What took place in Jerusalem at Pentecost 33 C.E.? (b) Why were many in the crowd moved to get baptized?
JERUSALEM was bustling with crowds from many lands. On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., an important festival was in progress and many visitors were sharing in it. But something unusual occurred, after which the apostle Peter gave a stirring discourse that had an amazing effect. Some 3,000 Jews and proselytes were touched by his words, repented, and got baptized in water. Thus they were added to the newly formed Christian congregation. (Acts 2:41) The baptism of so many in the pools or reservoirs around Jerusalem must have caused considerable commotion!
2 What led up to so many getting baptized? Earlier that day, “there occurred from heaven a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze.” In the upper chamber of a house, some 120 of Jesus’ disciples were filled with holy spirit. Thereafter, reverent men and women gathered and were intrigued to hear these disciples “speak with different tongues.” Upon listening to what Peter said, including his pointed comments about Jesus’ death, many “were stabbed to the heart.” What should they do? Peter answered: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ . . . , and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit.”—Acts 2:1-4, 36-38.
3. On the day of Pentecost, what did repentant Jews and proselytes need to do?
3 Think of the religious situation of those Jews and proselytes who heard Peter. They had already accepted Jehovah as their God. And from the Hebrew Scriptures, they knew about the holy spirit, God’s active force used during creation and thereafter. (Gen. 1:2; Judg. 14:5, 6; 1 Sam. 10:6; Ps. 33:6) But they needed something more. It was vital for them to understand and accept God’s means of salvation—the Messiah, Jesus. Hence, Peter highlighted their need for being “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Some days before, the resurrected Jesus commanded Peter and others to baptize people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) That had profound meaning in the first century, and it still does. What is it?
In the Name of the Father
4. As to people having a relationship with Jehovah, what change had occurred?
4 As noted, those who responded to Peter’s discourse worshipped Jehovah and had previously had a relationship with him. They had been trying to follow his Law, which was the reason those from other lands had come to Jerusalem. (Acts 2:5-11) However, God had just made a significant change in his dealings. He rejected the Jews as his special nation; their keeping the Law was no longer the means to obtain his approval. (Matt. 21:43; Col. 2:14) If those listeners wanted an ongoing relationship with Jehovah, they needed something else.
5, 6. What did many first-century Jews and proselytes do in order to have a relationship with God?
5 It certainly was not to turn away from Jehovah, their Life-Giver. (Acts 4:24) No, those responding to Peter’s explanation could see now more than ever that Jehovah was a benevolent Father. He sent the Messiah to deliver them and was willing to forgive even those to whom Peter could say: “Let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.” Actually, those applying Peter’s words would now have even greater reason to appreciate what the Father had done for all who wanted a relationship with God!—Read Acts 2:30-36.
6 Indeed, those Jews and proselytes could now see that a relationship with Jehovah involved recognizing him as the Provider of salvation by means of Jesus. You can understand, then, why they repented of their sins, including that of knowingly or unknowingly sharing in killing Jesus. And it is equally understandable that during the following days “they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles.” (Acts 2:42) They could and would want to “approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness.”—Heb. 4:16.
7. How have many today changed their view of God and been baptized in the name of the Father?
7 Today, millions of people from various backgrounds have learned from the Bible the truth about Jehovah. (Isa. 2:2, 3) Some were atheists or deists,* but they became convinced of the existence of a Creator with whom they could have a meaningful relationship. Others worshipped a triune god or various idols. They learned that Jehovah alone is the almighty God, and they now address him by his personal name. That is in line with the fact that Jesus said his disciples should be baptized in the name of the Father.
8. What did those who had no concept of Adamic sin need to realize about the Father?
8 They have also learned that they inherited sin from Adam. (Rom. 5:12) This was something new that they had to accept as true. Such ones can be likened to a sick man who was unaware of his illness. He may have had some symptoms, such as an occasional pain. Yet, having no diagnosis of a specific disease, he might have imagined that he was basically in good health. The facts proved otherwise, however. (Compare 1 Corinthians 4:4.) What if he got an accurate diagnosis of his illness? Would he not be wise to seek and accept a known, proven, and effective treatment? Similarly, upon learning the truth about inherited sin, many have accepted the Bible’s “diagnosis” and have come to understand that God is offering the “cure.” Yes, all who are alienated from the Father need to turn to the One who can “cure” them.—Eph. 4:17-19.
9. What did Jehovah do to make a relationship with him possible?
9 If you have already dedicated your life to Jehovah God and have become a baptized Christian, you know what a wonderful thing it is to have a relationship with him. You can now appreciate how loving your Father, Jehovah, is. (Read Romans 5:8.) Although Adam and Eve had sinned against him, God took the initiative so that their descendants—including us—could have a good relationship with him. In doing that, God had to face the pain of seeing his dear Son suffer and die. Does knowing this not help us to recognize God’s authority and obey his commands out of love? If you have not yet done so, you have reasons to dedicate yourself to God and be baptized.
In the Name of the Son
10, 11. (a) How indebted are you to Jesus? (b) How do you feel about Jesus’ dying as a ransom?
10 Think again, though, about what Peter said to the crowd. He stressed accepting Jesus, which is directly linked to being baptized “in the name . . . of the Son.” Why was that vital then, and why is it vital now? Well, accepting Jesus and being baptized in his name means recognizing his role in our relationship with the Creator. Jesus had to be hanged on a torture stake in order to remove the curse of the Law from the Jews; however, his death had a greater benefit. (Gal. 3:13) He provided the ransom sacrifice that all mankind needed. (Eph. 2:15, 16; Col. 1:20; 1 John 2:1, 2) To that end, Jesus endured injustice, reviling, torture, and finally death. How much do you appreciate his sacrifice? Imagine you were a 12-year-old boy traveling on the Titanic, the ship that struck an iceberg and sank in 1912. You try to jump into a lifeboat, but it is full. Then a man on the lifeboat kisses his wife, jumps back onto the deck, and puts you into the lifeboat. How do you feel? Certainly you are grateful to him! You can understand how one boy who really had that experience felt.* Yet, Jesus did much more for you. He died so that you can gain endless life.
11 How did you feel upon learning what the Son of God did for you? (Read 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.) Likely you felt deep gratitude. That helped to move you to dedicate your life to God and to ‘live no longer for yourself, but for him who died for you.’ Being baptized in the name of the Son means acknowledging what Jesus has done for you and accepting his authority as “the Chief Agent of life.” (Acts 3:15; 5:31) Previously, you had no relationship with the Creator, and actually you had no valid hope. But by exercising faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ and being baptized, you now have a relationship with the Father. (Eph. 2:12, 13) “You who were once alienated and enemies because your minds were on the works that were wicked,” wrote the apostle Paul, “[God] now has again reconciled by means of [Jesus’] fleshly body through his death, in order to present you holy and unblemished.”—Col. 1:21, 22.
12, 13. (a) How should being baptized in the name of the Son affect your reaction if someone offends you? (b) As a Christian baptized in Jesus’ name, what obligation do you have?
12 Though you were baptized in the name of the Son, you are keenly aware of your own sinful inclinations. That awareness is helpful every day. For example, if someone offends you, do you bear in mind that both of you are sinners? You both need God’s forgiveness, and you should both be forgiving. (Mark 11:25) To emphasize this need, Jesus gave an illustration: The master of a slave canceled his debt of ten thousand talents (60 million denarii). Later, that slave would not release his fellow slave who owed him 100 denarii. Jesus then made this point: Jehovah will not forgive the one who does not forgive his brother. (Matt. 18:23-35) Yes, being baptized in the name of the Son means recognizing Jesus’ authority and striving to follow his example and teachings, including that of being willing to forgive others.—1 Pet. 2:21; 1 John 2:6.
13 Being imperfect, you are not able to imitate Jesus fully. Nevertheless, in line with your wholehearted dedication to God, you want to imitate Jesus to the best of your ability. This involves continuing to work at putting away the old personality and putting on the new. (Read Ephesians 4:20-24.) When you come to respect a friend, you likely try to learn from his example and good qualities. Likewise, you want to learn from Christ and imitate him.
14. How can you show that you recognize Jesus’ authority as heavenly King?
14 There is another way you can show that you understand what is involved in having been baptized in the name of the Son. God “subjected all things under [Jesus’] feet, and made him head over all things to the congregation.” (Eph. 1:22) Thus, you need to respect the way Jesus directs those dedicated to Jehovah. Christ is using imperfect humans in the local congregation, particularly the spiritually older men, the appointed elders. The provision of having such men appointed is “with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, . . . for the building up of the body of the Christ.” (Eph. 4:11, 12) Even if an imperfect human makes a mistake, Jesus as King of the heavenly Kingdom is able to handle the matter in his time and way. Do you believe that?
15. If you are yet to be baptized, what blessings can you look forward to after baptism?
15 Again, some have not yet dedicated themselves to Jehovah and been baptized. If you have not, can you see from the above that recognizing the Son is the reasonable and appreciative thing for you to do? Being baptized in the name of the Son will bring you in line to receive grand blessings.—Read John 10:9-11.
In the Name of the Holy Spirit
16, 17. What does being baptized in the name of the holy spirit mean to you?
16 What does it mean to be baptized in the name of the holy spirit? As noted earlier, those hearing Peter on the day of Pentecost were aware of the holy spirit. In fact, they could see proof right before their eyes that God continued to use the holy spirit. Peter was one of those who had been “filled with holy spirit and [who had] started to speak with different tongues.” (Acts 2:4, 8) The expression “in the name of” need not imply the name of a person. Today, many things are done “in the name of the government,” which is not a person. They are done by the authority of the government. Similarly, one who is baptized in the name of the holy spirit recognizes that the holy spirit is, not a person, but Jehovah’s active force. And such baptism means that one acknowledges the role the holy spirit plays in God’s purpose.
17 Have you not come to know about the holy spirit through studying the Bible? For example, you have come to appreciate that the Scriptures were written under the inspiration of holy spirit. (2 Tim. 3:16) As you made spiritual progress, you likely gained a deeper appreciation of the fact that ‘the Father in heaven gives holy spirit to those asking him,’ including to you. (Luke 11:13) You have probably seen holy spirit working in your life. On the other hand, if you are yet to be baptized in the name of the holy spirit, Jesus’ assurance that the Father gives holy spirit means that you have real blessings ahead as you receive that spirit.
18. What blessings come to those being baptized in the name of the holy spirit?
18 It is evident that today, too, Jehovah guides and leads the Christian congregation through his spirit. That spirit also helps us individually in our daily activities. Our having been baptized in the name of the holy spirit involves recognizing its role in our life and gratefully cooperating with that spirit. Some may wonder, though, how we can live up to a dedication made to Jehovah and how the holy spirit is involved. We will consider that next.
Those with deistic thoughts believe in the existence of God but do not think that he is interested in his creation.
See Awake! October 22, 1981, pages 3-8.
Do You Recall?
• What does being baptized in the name of the Father involve for you?
• What does it mean to be baptized in the name of the Son?
• How can you show that you appreciate the significance of getting baptized in the name of the Father and the Son?
• What does being baptized in the name of the holy spirit mean?
[Pictures on page 10]
After Pentecost 33 C.E., the new disciples came into what relationship with the Father?
By permission of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem