Acts 8:15: baptizing in name of Jesus only?


Now when the apostles in Jerusalem
heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,
they sent them Peter and John,
who went down and prayed for them,
that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
for it had not yet fallen upon any of them;
they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them
and they received the Holy Spirit.

Why wasn’t/couldn’t Philip Baptise in the Trinitarian form?


They are only specifying that Philip was given a sacramental Christian baptism, rather than a purely ritual baptism, as performed by John the Baptist and others. Philip’s baptism would have invoked the Trinity.


What is being recorded here is what Philip did, not how he did it.


Perhaps another part of the answer is that we can know from John 17:10-12, “and everything of mine is yours, and everything of yours is mine and I have glorified them (the ones God gave Jesus) And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your Name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me and I guarded them…” that the Name “Jesus” is the name given to the Son by the Father and it was the Father’s name. And we can know that the Father and Son share everything with each other and this sharing is that goes between them is the Holy Spirit whose Name must also be “Jesus” because The Holy Spirit could not be the infinite God if He did not possess the same name, the name that contains all (CCC 2666).
Therefore, by baptizing in the Name of Jesus, Phillip was implicitly baptizing in the Name of the Father and the Name of the Son and the Name of the Holy Spirit.


He actually did. The baptism in Jesus’ name isn’t a formula, but a shorthand way to distinguish the baptism Jesus gave (in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit) with the baptism of John.

One way we can know that this baptism was actually the Trinitarian form is looking at Acts 19. There St. Paul finds some believers in Ephesus, and he asks them if they have received the Holy Spirit yet. They tell him “We have never even heard of the Holy Spirit.” Paul then asks, “In what, then were you baptized?” (Acts 19:3) They tell him they were baptized with John’s baptism, and then Acts says Paul baptized them all in Jesus’ name.

Notice though, when they said they never heard of the Holy Spirit, Paul immediately asks them what baptism they received, and then he baptizes them in the name of Jesus. If the name of Jesus was the actual formula used, why would Paul seem confused about which baptism the Ephesians had received? Why would that make a difference?

Because, if they had been baptized with Jesus’ baptism, they would have heard of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is invoked in that baptism. That’s the formula Jesus himself gave us and that’s the formula the Church has used from the beginning.


I see a conflict with this bible passage and the Creed … Here we have two baptisms and in the creed we “confess one baptism for the forgivness of sins” … Am I missing something?


The baptism of John the Baptist is a non-sacrament baptism of repentance. It was done in preparation for the baptism of Jesus (Trinitarian). It was to prepare the way of the Lord. It was never a sacrament that we describe in the Creed.


Philip was a deacon. He baptized them in the Trinitarian formula (the author of Acts, Luke, is just shortening the reference for brevity’s sake). As a deacon, he could baptize them.

But he was not a priest/bishop, so he could not confer on them the sacrament of Confirmation. That is why Peter and John, as Apostles and bishops, had to come to them and confer Confirmation on them.


May I say that this Bible passage is why the Church set apart the sacrament of confirmation?


Not really. It gives evidence to something that already existed. Christ set up the 7 sacraments Himself. The Church didn’t create them. The Book of Acts was written a couple decades after Pentecost and the event in chapter 8. It only records what happened, the sacrament of Confirmation and Baptism have always been distinct sacraments.

And Confirmation can be administered right after Baptism, as is done at the Easter Vigil for converts, and is done in the Eastern Orthodox churches. The Latin rite has separated them in her prudential judgment, and administers Confirmation to teenagers generally, but this could change if the Pope wished it to be changed.


My understanding of confirmation is already weak. I had better go back to the CCC to read about it. Are you saying seven sacraments could be reduced to six sacraments if the pope infallibly declared so?


NO! He is saying that the common time for conferring the sacrament of confirmation could be moved from adolescence til just after a infant is baptized.


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