‘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 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.