Jesus' baptism - trinitarian formula used?


I wasn’t sure where to post these questions. I’ve tried searching and couldn’t come up with any concrete answers. Does anyone know if Jesus would have been baptised by John with the trinitarian formula? If so, can you provide a source? Our belief is that a baptism is not valid unless the formula is used along with water (earthly element). So logic would tell me he must have been but I couldn’t find anything in scripture. John recognized Jesus immediately as “the Lamb of God”, so it stands to reason he recognized him as the Son. What formula was John using prior to Jesus’ baptism?

Thanks for any help in advance!


Hi Convert,

The baptism of John was a baptism of repentance. Christian baptism is a baptism of cleansing from any sin, original or otherwise. How the rite wa administered by John the Baptist is unknown. He certainly did not use a trinitarian formula, since the Trinity was revealed to us after the mission of John the Baptist.



What they were actually doing was the Jewish ritual immersion called the mikveh. The mikveh was used in ancient Judiasm for purification and for conversion. Many modern Jewish communities maintain a mikvah bath for purification to this day.


Keep in mind that the Gospels were written in Greek. The word baptism comes from the Greek baptisma which was a term for the ritual washing of the Hellenistic Jews. It refers directly to the mikveh purification/conversion bath. Essene Jews underwent this ritual purification bath every morning.

Jesus’ ritual baptisma in the Jordan was at the very beginning of his ministry where he raises the mikveh to the level of a sacrament. There was no Trinitarian form for the mikveh which Jesus underwent. Jesus added the Trinitarian form the the end of his ministry, after the ressurection, right before his Ascension.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19)



Christian baptism removes sin.
The baptism of John the Baptist did not remove sin, and of course in the case of Jesus there was no sin to remove.


I’ll approach this differently.

Yes, He was; just not as we are. Jesus is One in the Trinity and He was Baptized with the full presence of the Trinity. Jesus being the second person of the Trinity and yet the full essence of the Trinity being there:

Mark 1:10 And when he (Jesus) came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. "

The fullness of the Trinity was present at Christ’s Baptism.


Yes, certainly the Trinity was present, and Jesus’ baptism is one of the events we point to when demonstrating the existence of the three Persons, but the question was whether the Trinitarian Formula was used.

Unless God chose to reveal the Trinity to John at that moment and inspire him with the words (and we have no indication of that), it would seem that John could not have used the formula, since the Trinity was unrevealed and Jesus did not command baptism in the name of the Trinity until nearly the end of His ministry, after John’s death.

As others have said, Jesus’ baptism was not a Christian baptism, and nor were any of the other baptisms performed by John. As with marriage, Jesus took a pre-existing rite (Jewish ritual washing, and specifically the variation practiced by His forerunner John) and raised it to the status of a sacrament.

Since Jesus gave the Great Commission and commanded us to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” that has been the required form of the sacrament. Before that, the sacrament as such did not exist. (Well, it’s possible that some of the baptisms the Apostles did while Jesus was alive were Christian baptisms, but we’re only told about Jesus giving us the proper form near the end of His ministry.)

It’s possible that the Twelve and Jesus’ other early followers were never baptized in the familiar way and received their regeneration extra-sacramentally from Jesus. (We know Paul was baptized a Christian, but nothing is said about the original Apostles except that they performed a few baptisms.) Then again, maybe He baptized them Himself or had them baptize each other. The Scriptures do not tell us.



One thing we do know is that John’s Baptism was not the same as the Christian Baptism. When Apollos arrives in Ephesus, he only knows the Baptism of John (Acts 18:24-28), and apparently baptizes a small community, so when Paul arrives (Acts 19:1-7) he instructs them about the Holy Spirit, and baptizes them as Christians, “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Interestingly, this text does not speak of a Trinitarian formula, as does the Great Commission in Matthew.

So, I suspect that Jesus was not baptized by a Trinitarian formula, and that it is even possible that some early Christians were not baptized with a Trinitarian formula. (But that does not give us permission to do the same!)


Thanks for the replies! I always enjoy learning from so many folks here on CAF that have great knowledge of the Scriptures. Cheers!


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