185. THE FORMULAE OF BAPTISM
IN ACTS AND
(In relation to Matt. 28:19, 20.)
- To some, perplexity, and even distress, is caused by the apparent
neglect of the disciples to carry out the Lord's command in Matt. 28:19,
20, with regard to the formula of baptism. They read the express
words of the risen Lord in the Gospel: then, turning to Acts and
onwards, they find no single instance of, or reference to, baptism in which
the Triune name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is employed.
- On the contrary, from the very first, only ten days after the injunction
had been given, Peter is found (Acts 2:38) commanding all his hearers including
those of the dispersion (the diaspora) to be baptized in
(the texts, except T, read en, not epi, nor eis as
in Matt. 28:19) the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 8:16 (eis);
10:48 (en); 19:5 (eis), are in accord, the formula being
in or into the name of the Lord, or the Lord Jesus. In the
last case, whether this refers to those who heard John or Paul, or whether
the baptism was that of John or Paul, the formula is the same. Rom.
6:3, -- "as many of us as were baptized into (eis) Christ Jesus".
1Cor. 1:13, 15; here baptism "in (eis) the name of Paul" is clearly
contrasted with baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, or Christ Jesus,
which must have been used as to Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas.
- In all the other places where the act of baptism is mentioned,
directly or indirectly, the formula by implication is the same. These
are: Acts 8:38; 9:18 (and 22:16); 16:15, 33; 18:8. Yet on the
other hand there stands the definite command in Matt. 28:19, 20, as to
the discipling of THE NATIONS into (eis) the Triune name
of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The "difficulty" is created by non-observance of the injunction
in 2Tim. 2:15 as to "rightly dividing the word of truth". It comes
by mixing up and thus confusing the "mystery" (Ap. 193) concerning the
church of God during the "times of the Gentiles" with the ordinances and
observances of the "times" of Messiah (Isa. 33:6), with which the command
in Matt. 28:19, 20 has clearly to do, as the discipling of the nations
NATIONS, is expressly declared. It is the commission of the Jewish
ministry at the end of this age. There is nothing corresponding
to this form of baptism in any of the foregoing passages (2), all of which
are connected with individuals or families. Inasmuch as the mystery
is the great secret which was "kept secret since the world began" (Rom.
16:25; cp. Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:26), it follows logically that it must not
be read into the Gospels.
- The "discipling" work of Matt. 28:19, 20 is national work:
its object -- to bring all nations into blessing with Israel. It has nothing
to do with the present dispensation and the "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5) of this
dispensation. Matt. 28:19, 20 takes up the proclamation of the kingdom,
left uncompleted in Matt. 10:5-15, after the church has been called on high.
Therefore, the baptism "in" or "into" the name of the Lord Jesus in Acts,
&c, was the continuation of John's baptism for a while, i.e. during the
transitional period of Acts (see App. 180, 181)
until the mystery was openly revealed and fully proclaimed (see Longer Note,
p. 1694). Then, the baptism of Eph 4:5 supervened and still maintains.
- To hold, as some do, that the disciples had "forgotten", or were
"ignorant of", or else "ignored" the express command of the Lord, is to
charge those spirit endowed men with either incompetence or insubordination!
Peter and John and the rest must have known well the meaning and
future reference of Matt. 28:19, 20; and they knew of John's baptism also:
but until "led on" into more of "all the truth", by the Holy Spirit, and
until the revelation of the secret concerning the church which is His body
was declared, they continued to baptize, as John had done, into the name
of the Lord Jesus.
- This explanation does no violence to the Word of God. It does
not impugn the intelligence or bona fides of the disciples.
It leaves each of the several Scriptures unscathed and in its proper place,
and each as being absolute truth. What it really "touches" is tradition
only and the teaching based thereon.
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