The Oneness Pentecostal “Baptism Formula”

Jerry C. Brewer

Pentecostal Holiness doctrine erroneously claims a “baptism formula” to be recited over one who is baptized. That formula is derived from their false contention that there is only one person in the Godhead.

“…the sincere student of the scriptures can see that the name is a literal name, and that it is most surely that of Jesus Christ and it is ‘called’ upon us in baptism” (Pastor Billy Lewis, Frayser, United Pentecostal Church, from the tract, The Name of Jesus Called Upon Believers).

“The only way that we can be in the New Testament church, my friend, is to be baptized in water. Of course, first repentance but be baptized, having his name invoked, called out or spoken over you while you going down (sic) into the water to be baptized” (Woods-Lewis Debate, First Affirmative, Dec. 8, 1975).

The phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” in the New Testament, simply means an act done by Jesus’ authority. It has nothing to do with reciting a formula for baptism. In fact, no such formula to recite is given anywhere in the pages of the New Testament. Jesus’ statement in Matthew’s account of the Great Commission indicates that baptism in the name of Christ means by His authority. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:18-19).

The phrase, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” indicates what is to be done, not what is to be said. The command to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ,” in Acts 2:38, means the same thing. It means by Christ’s authority. The word “in” in Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 is translated from the Greek word, eis, which Thayer defines as, “a primary preposition, into, unto, for, in, toward.” That word appears twice in Acts 2:38 and is translated “for” with reference to the remission of sins and “in” with reference to Christ’s name. It simply means that baptism is done by Christ’s authority and has no reference to any “formula” of words to be recited by the one doing the baptizing.

The person who is baptized “in Christ’s name” is baptized by His authority expressed in the Great Commission. That’s the same meaning Paul expressed when he wrote, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). To do a thing “in the name of Christ” is to do it by His authority and baptism is by His authority. Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 and Peter’s inspired injunction in Acts 2:38 are expressive of a thing to be done—not said.

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Author: Editor

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