Baptise only with the name of Jesus? (Acts 2:38)


Hi guys.

I was talking with my friend the other day about how Catholics believe in the Trinity. Somehow this conversation lead to the concept of baptism and my friend says that you should only be Baptised in the name of Jesus (he kept referring to Acts 2:38). I told him that Jesus himself said that you should baptize people in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19) but said this was just a symbol :confused: and that if this was what Jesus really wanted Peter would of said similar words in Acts 2:38 when it comes to baptism. I tried telling him about when Jesus was baptised how the Trinity was present (which might not be relevent but I thought was worth a shot). He doesn’t believe in any of the early church fathers so I’m not sure what else I can do to convince him.

Also this was the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say this. I thought all of the denominations baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He said he was a Pentacostal so I was wondering if this is a general belief of Pentacostals or do only certain branches of the Pentacostal faith believe this?


Baptism “in the name of Jesus” is presented in Acts vis-a-vis the baptism of John. Thus, the phrase refers to baptizing on the authority of Jesus rather than being a liturgical formula.


To my knowledge, all the mainstream Protestant Christian denominatins believe in the Trinity, and a Trinitarian baptism. Jehovah’s Witnesses are usually not considered “Chritstian” but off-shoots of Christianity as they reject certain core and common beliefs, like the Trinity (JH deny Christ’s divinity). I have heard it said that Mormons are also not considered Christians, but I do not know much about them.

I am not familiar with any Christian denomination that does not go along with trinitarian baptism. It sounds like your friends is involved with a group well out of the mainstream.


This is an excellent example of the impossibility of understanding scripture outside of the light of the Church. Here we plainly have two conflicting scriptures, and we must somehow resolve the conflict. Your friend’s resolution is completely unconvincing, but somebody else arguing the opposite point would also be completely unconvincing. Therefore, the only path left open (and, conveniently, also the correct path) is to ask the Church how to resolve the conflict. And the Church answers that it has been a part of the faith revealed to her and handed down from age to age, that baptism is to be in the name of the Trinity. There is no other authoritative answer. Everything else is just opinion, totally unbinding on any person, even the person holding the opinion.


From the Catholic Answers “This Rock” archives:

For a sacrament to be valid, three things have to be present: the correct form, the correct matter, and the correct intention. With baptism, the correct intention is to do what the Church does, the correct matter with which to do it is water, and the correct form is baptizing “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

Not all religious organizations use this form. Jehovah’s Witnesses sometimes use no formula at all in their baptisms, and an even larger group, the “Jesus-Only” Pentecostals, baptize “in the name of Jesus.” As a result, the baptisms of these groups are invalid—they are not Christian but pseudo-Christian.

Both groups also reject the Trinity. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Jesus is not God, a heresy known as Arianism (after its fourth-century inventor, Arian), and the “Jesus-Only” Pentecostals claim that there is only a single Person, Jesus, in the Godhead, a heresy known as Sabellianism (after its third-century inventor, Sabellius).

“Jesus-Only” Pentecostals note that Jesus told the apostles to baptize in “the name” (singular) of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, but they make the mistake of assuming that name is Jesus. In reality, if the term name is to be taken literally in this passage, the single name shared by the three is likely Yahweh (the personal name of God in the Bible).

This name is applied to both the Father and the Son in the New Testament. In Acts 2:34–36, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1, applying the term Lord to the Father, but in the Old Testament original, the term Lord is actually Yahweh.

In Philippians 2:10–11, Paul quotes Isaiah 45:19–24, applying a prophecy about the Lord to the Son. And in the Old Testament original, the term Lord in this passage is Yahweh. Jesus also applied the name Yahweh (“I Am”) to himself in John 8:58. His audience understood exactly what he meant and tried to stone him for claiming equality with God.

Since the Bible applies the name Yahweh to the Father and the Son, it is almost certainly possessed by the Spirit and thus is a name of all three persons of the Trinity.

“Jesus-Only” Pentecostals also argue that the New Testament talks about people being baptized “in the name of Jesus,” but there are only four such passages (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, and 19:5). Further, these passages do not use the same designation in each place (some say “Lord Jesus,” other say “Jesus Christ”), indicating that they were not technical formulas used in the baptism but merely descriptions by Luke. These four descriptions are not to be considered as a substitute for or contradiction of the divine command of the Lord Jesus Christ to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).


Oneness/Holiness Pentecostals baptize in the name of Jesus only. They go by a few different names but that’s the one I seem to here most often. Out here in my part of Oklahoma they are becoming a very strong presence. I personally know several and see many all the time when I’m out and about. The women have a distinctive form of dress. They also do not believe in the Trinity. They believe that Jesus is the Father. That He is the Son, and that He is the Holy Spirit. They are also hugely into to speaking in tongues.

If the op friend is Pentecostal then my guess is he is Oneness/Holiness. I could be wrong though.


I understand that “In the name of” means “in accordance with”. So when you Baptize “in the name of Jesus”, you’re supposed to be baptizing according to how Jesus taught us.

How is that?

Teach them all I have commanded, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Paraphrasing).


Sabda, you are correct, it’s the Pentecost. The women wear no makeup or pants, and neither sex wears jewelry (except maybe a wedding band). I think all the women go to the same hair-dresser, too!!! :wink:

The odd thing is, there seems to be some tenet of their faith that stipulates that they can only have a TV in their bedroom closet (Those familiar with our Pentecostal brothers will appreciate this joke…).

Also, they do frequently speak in tongues, thinking they can call on the Holy Spirit at their every whim.


No, all Pentecostals do not believe this. Only certain groups with in the Pentecostals movement do. The Assembly of God church, for example, is Trinitarian, and they are also Pentecostal.


Some believe that so/so is going to hell for simply watching tv. Didn’t matter what the show was. :eek:

I also think they go to the same hairdresser. :wink: They also don’t believe that woman should cut their hair so all the women have waist length hair.


Yes, they are common down here in Southeast Texas. But the running joke is that they all have a small TV in the bedroom closet, that they can pull out to watch at night. Unless the pastor does “bed-checks”, they don’t get caught.


So even if there is a TV show by some Pastor from their Church does that mean they will go to Hell by watching him? :confused:


Their Pastor will not do TV.


Whoa. They do take this seriously, don’t they? :eek:


Sounds like you are dealing with Sabellism which is in some protestant pentecostal demoninations like United Pentecostal Church or Apostolic… They believe that there is only one person in the godhead, Jesus. that the father and Holy Spirit are simply modes or appearances of Jesus in a different costume in a matter of speaking.

For some reason, they ignore the next part of their proof text

Acts 2:38

38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. **And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. **

The third person of the trinity is immediately introduced to them, and that is ignored by oneness people. In Acts 13:2 the third person, uses the word “I” or ego for himself which is the hallmark of personhood.

In context, Luke is writting about Jewish people, who often asked, by what authority did you heal people? By what authority did you teach? Luke is simply speaking from the authority of Jesus, these people are being baptised.

Acts 13:2 (New International Version)

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Ask him if he ever read the early church manual called the Didache? It gives us a clear picture of how baptism was performed by the early church.

7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.

Ask him if he fasted a few days before his baptism?


I have an article on my old site on this subject: Baptism in Jesus’ Name or Holy Spirit Baptism:


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