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§ 8. The Formula of Baptism.

This is authoritatively prescribed in Matthew xxviii. 19. Christ gave a command perpetually binding on his Church to baptize men “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In this passage the preposition εἰς (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα) means unto, or, in reference to. Paul asks the Corinthians, “were ye baptized εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Παύλου;” (1 Cor. i. 13. Did your baptism make you the disciples of Paul?) He tells them (1 Cor. x. 2) that the fathers, “were baptized unto Moses” εἰς τὸ Μωσήν, they were made and professed to be the disciples of Moses. So in Romans vi. 3, it is said we “were baptized εἰς Χριστὸν Ιησοῦν unto Jesus Christ.” Galatians iii. 27, “Baptized into (εἰς) Christ.” According to this formula, he who receives baptism as a Christian rite, thereby professes to stand in that relation to the Father, Son, and Spirit which those who receive the religion of Christ sustain. That is, he professes to receive God the Father, as his father; God the Son, as his Saviour, and God the Holy Ghost as his teacher and sanctifier; and this involves the engagement to receive the Word, of which the Spirit is the author, as the rule of his faith and practice.556556Fritzsche on Romans vi. 3, says: Loquutio, βαπρίζω τινὰ εἰς τινα (εἰς τι) per se non minus late patet, quam vernacula Jemandem auf Jemanden (aut etwas) taufen. Non enim nisi hanc generalem notionem complectitur: aliquem aquæ ita immergere, ut ejus cogitationes in aliquem (aliquod) dirigas, Jemanden unter Beziehung, Hindeutung auf jemanden (etwas) taufen. At multis de causis ei qui lavatur res memorabilis monstrari potest, v. c., ut in aliquo fidem collocet, ut aliquem ducem sequatur, ut aliquid pie revereatur, ut aliquid effectum reddat, ut aliquid sibi evenisse sciat et sic porro. . . . . Sic dubitare non potest quin βαπτίζω τινά εἰς Χριστόν (Gal. iii. 27), aquæ aliquem sic immergere, ut animum ad Christum applicare eum jubeas, valeat ita aliquem aqua lustrare ut Christo fidem habendam esse ei significes (Act. xix. 4), et βαπτίζω τινά εἰς τὸ ὄνόμα τοῦ Πατρός, κτλ. . . . . notet lustro aliquem reverentia, quæ Patris — nomini debeatur, eum obstringens.” Edit Halle, 1836, vol. i. pp. 359, 360.


There are several cases in which baptism is said to have been administered ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι in, or on, the name of Christ, instead of εἰς τὸ ὄνομα into, or, in reference to. And in Acts ii. 38, the preposition ἐπί is used, ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι. It is doubtful whether anything materially different was intended to be expressed by this change of the prepositions and cases. To baptize, ἐπί, or ἐν ὀνόματι, means to baptize “upon the name,” sc., of Christ, that is, upon the authority of Christ. The rite is administered in obedience to his command, in the form in which he prescribed, said with the intent for which he ordained it.

In the Acts it is repeatedly said that the Apostles baptized their converts in “the name of Christ.” It is not to be inferred from this fact that they departed from the form prescribed in Matthew xxviii. 19, and administered the ordinance in the use of the words, ‘I baptize thee in the name of Christ;’ or, ‘I baptize thee εἰς Χριστόν unto Christ.’ Such inference is unnecessary; as baptism administered in the way prescribed in Matthew xxviii. 19, is a baptism both in the name, or, by the authority of Christ, and unto or in reference to Him. As this inference is unnecessary so it is improbable. It is in the highest degree improbable that the Apostles would have departed from the form so solemnly prescribed by their Divine Master; and it is moreover improbable that any such departure took place from the fact that the form prescribed in Matthew has been used in all ages and parts of the Church.

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