Does Water Baptism Have a Baptismal Formula?

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:30-32

Although its foundation is the ritual of the purification of the Mosaic Law, as we have seen, it soon moved away from it and identified with a faith, the faith that Jesus rose from the dead. Water baptism was accompanied by the proclamation that Jesus is Lord and that He lives.

It was the central theme of their proclamation. The apostles became witnesses, and they added to their preaching, and we are witnesses.[1] This constancy of preaching filled out all of Jerusalem with this doctrine,[2] a doctrine which over time became known as the doctrine of Christ.[3]

It was the intention to establish that Jesus is the Messiah, that we must submit to his lordship, and that on his return to the earth we would be resurrected, having died by then. This intention is contained in the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom, which the apostle Peter was the first to establish on the day of the second great solemn feast, the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost):

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36

The purpose of water baptism acquired from there a prophetic value, to establish that as Jesus was raised from the dead, so one day, at his coming, we would be resurrected in the same way:

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6.4

And again, likewise, the apostle writes to the Colossian faith community.

Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Colossians 2:12

It is the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. John the Baptist had already begun:

And saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:2

And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

Peter was in charge of leaving it clearly established in each one of his participations:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, Acts 3:19

To that obeys that all references of baptisms in the book of Acts, it is emphasized that they did in the name of Jesus.

For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 8:16

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. Acts 10:48

The most striking case is found in some disciples of Ephesus who Paul re-baptizes because they had not been baptized in the right way:

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:5

It is not a baptismal formula, it is the prophetic proclamation of the Kingdom Gospel that Jesus is alive, has risen from the dead, and therefore Paul also wrote that if we suffer, we will also reign with him:[4]

Paul reports about baptism for the dead,[5] a kind of baptism that was practiced at the time. Baptizing in the name of the Lord Jesus never intended to be a motto of identification to separate themselves from those who practiced heretical baptisms. Paul himself acknowledges that the purpose is to establish the resurrection of Jesus:

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. . 1st. Corinthians 15:12-20

Water baptism is the prophetic testimony that one day, at the final trumpet, on the day of his coming, we will be resurrected. It is the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom:

Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” 1st. Corinthians 15:29-32

A conflict of doctrinal appearance has led many ministries to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We do not deny or question the legitimacy of Matthew 28:19:

Go therefore and make disciples 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 text establishes the manifestations of Jehovah God, that until that moment nobody questions. That is why they are present in all neo testamentary writings. But it is one God, the same one God of the Old Testament:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! Deuteronomy 6:4

In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, says the totality of the God of Israel, the only true God of the Old Testament. It is not meant to be a baptismal formula.

It is not to emphasize the plurality of the manifestations of God what is intended in the text, because nobody questions them. It is intended to emphasize the authority of who is the commissioner. Jesus is the name above every name, and before Him every knee will bow.[6] That is why the text itself is responsible for emphasizing that all authority is given to me in heaven and on earth.[7]

The text of Matthew 28:19 appears within what we know as “The Great Commission,” But we have not understood it as such when it comes to establishing for her the mandate of baptism, and this has provoked a conflict of doctrinal appearance.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is the “Commission”; In the name of the Lord Jesus, is the proclamation.

There is no contradiction; it is just a matter of protocol. We are commissioned, and act on behalf of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in and by virtue of that commission, we baptize, understand, submerged, in the name of who God has made Lord and Christ, in the name that is above every name: Jesus:

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3, 4

The apparent conflict was nurtured by the councils of the first centuries which presented a way of recognizing those who nullified that Jesus, “the Logos”, was with God, and He was God,[8] they emphasized the “Great Commission” as the Baptismal formula

To be congruent with what the Word teaches, we would have to manifest that we are commissioned by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and that by virtue of delegated authority, as ministers of a new covenant, not by the Letter but by the Spirit, we baptize (submerge) in the name (body) of Jesus that has risen from the dead, to death to sin and to walk in newness of life.

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[1] Acts 2.32

[2] Acts 5:28

[3] Hebrews 6:1

[4] 2nd. Timothy 2:12

[5] 1st. Corinthians 15:29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?

[6] Philippians 2:9,10

[7] Matthew 28:18

[8] John 1:1