So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2Th 2:15 ESV)
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11 ESV)This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Act 4:11-12 ESV)
This verse says that there’s no name other than that of the Lord Jesus Christ that does the saving. There are variations in that the verse may say the name of the Lord, name of Jesus, name of Jesus of Nazareth etc, but they all refer to Jesus Christ who has the power vested in him. These scriptures do not mention the name of the Father, or the Holy Spirit. Rather, scripture is very plain in that it is the name of our Lord Jesus Christ alone in which the power is vested.
Remember the admonition from Deuteronomy about changing scripture:
“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. (Deu 12:32 ESV)
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. (Act 3:6-8 ESV)And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (Act 4:7-11 ESV)And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Act 4:29-31 ESV)And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. (Act 9:26-28 ESV)men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Act 15:26 ESV)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20 ESV)
We have addressed this verse in both Original Christianity Did Everything in the Name of Jesus [Christ] and
Matthew 28:19 – Legitimate Verse that was not Carried Out by the Apostles or Scribal Forgery? and now it’s time to address it in even more detail. When I was in Catholic High School, over 50 years ago, the abnormality of this verse was brought up in Class by a Catholic Brother, who admitted that while officially this was always in the Bible, unofficially this verse was understood to be changed by the Catholic Church to conform to Catholic doctrine hundreds of years after the Apostles died. Furthermore, do a google search and you will find numerous sources that say that Matthew 28:19 in its current form with the trinitarian formula cannot be the original. Here is a quote from Edmund Schlink, a German-Lutheran theologian, that says just that:
“Most probably baptism was probably performed in the name of Christ and this was later expanded, as in the later expansion of the Christological confession into the Tripartite creeds. In that case, the baptismal command in its Matt 28:19 form cannot be the historical origin of Christian Baptism. At the very least it must be assumed that the text has been transmitted in a form expanded by the church” i
Schlink, in the above quote, references the movement in the early centuries after original Christianity to change the name of Jesus Christ standard to the tripartite (trinitarian) formula. When Schlink says, “At the very least it must be assumed that the text has been transmitted in a form expanded by the church”, he is saying that they changed scripture because expanding scripture (adding the Father and the Holy Spirit to the recognition of the Son’s power to emphasis the newly promoted trinity doctrine in the centuries after the apostles) means adding to scripture which is changing scripture!
Here is Matthew 28:18-20 in Youngs Literal Translation of the Holy Bible:
And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, ‘Given to me is all authority in heaven and on earth; having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.’
What is significant here is the parenthesis around “baptizing the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” which is Young’s technique for calling attention to sections of scripture that are doubtful.
Also, remember that one reason that there are no manuscripts earlier than the 4th century with Matthew 28:19 wording is Diocletian’s persecution in 303AD and other document destructions of the age. Rome just didn’t make martyrs of the saints, they burned the texts, along with killing the Christians and they even burned their houses and possessions! Ones they didn’t kill were often maimed and tortured hideously. So there are no manuscripts with Matthew 28:19 earlier than the fourth century, but as mentioned in the above-cited articles there are references in early writings that refer to Matthew 28:19 without the trinitarian formula.
In the New American Bible, a Catholic bible, a note on Matthew 28:19 reads “the baptismal formula reflects the church’s gradual understanding of God as three Persons.” This is a roundabout way of saying this wording was not in the original and was added later in the Catholic tradition to promote the trinity. Thus it was not part of the apostles’ doctrine in original Christianity. Now, remember Jesus’ charge to the Jewish leaders who made the word of God of no effect by substituting their tradition for the word of God. The Catholic Church substituted its tradition for the word of God and even changed the manuscripts to reflect the change!
Let’s keep looking at the places where it is cited that when something was done in apostles’ time it was done exclusively in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. (Act 16:16-18 ESV)
And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all. (Act 19:4-7 ESV)
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. (Act 19:11-17 ESV)
The above records cite places where the use of the name was practiced. Below are some more places where the usage of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is taught:
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13 ESV)
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: (1Co 1:1-2 ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:17 ESV)
Part of what makes this important is what Paul tells us about intercession:
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1Ti 2:5 ESV)
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
(Rom 8:34 ESV)
Let’s just read the words in a verse that has Jesus, God and the spirit:
And such were some of you. But you were washed (apolouo, not baptizo), you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1Co 6:11 ESV)
This verse says that the actions of washing, sanctifying, justifying were accomplished by the Spirit of our God. But it is certain, it was done not in the name of the Spirit, or the name of God, but in the name of Jesus Christ.
Here’s a tribute to the power of the name of Jesus :
For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1Co 15:27-28 ESV)
There are clear distinctions about who has the power here, according to this scripture. The Father has given the power to the Son, but the Son is still subject to the Father. For the process of redemption to be accomplished, Jesus Christ paid the price. And his reward is to reclaim the power given to Adam as ruler of the earth with complete dominion. The following verses show this:
If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. Yes, we are also found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn’t raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ’s, at his coming. Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (1Co 15:14-26 WEB)
“He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” “He will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power.” It’s not that God the Father doesn’t have power, it’s that the plan for redemption was that Jesus Christ would be given the power until the final victory is complete! That’s why only the name of Jesus Christ has the power. That is what the apostles both taught and practiced. That is the apostles’ doctrine and tradition. It is the standard of original Christianity.