FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT
Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus gave a final command to his disciples: “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” (Matthew 28:18-20). Baptism, therefore, is rooted in the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations, an act marked by baptizing new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Though the word “name” is singular, the trinitarian expression illustrates the individual roles of each person of the Godhead in salvation: the Father sends the Son (1 John 4:14), the Son secures salvation on the cross (Revelation 5:9), and the Holy Spirit applies that salvation to his people (John 6:63).
IN THE NAME OF JESUS
Historically, baptism as a custom existed prior to Christ, as seen throughout Scripture (2 Kings 5:1-14; Mark 1:4). Foreshadowing the baptism that was to come in Christ Jesus, events like the ark’s provision during the flood (1 Peter 3:20-21) and God’s rescue mediated through Moses at the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) were displayed by Scripture as a foretaste of the salvation Christ would secure for his people. This is why New Testament authors can refer to the final and culminating baptism as being “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5), since there is only one name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12).
WASHING OF REGENERATION
The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word baptizó, meaning “to plunge” or “to submerge.” Baptism is depicted biblically as the body’s immersion in water (John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39) and is intended to be a visible testimony of a profound spiritual reality: the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:23-28; Matthew 3:11; John 3:5-8). Titus 3:4-6 tells us that “when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Therefore, the act of baptism visibly portrays God’s work of regeneration on the human soul and is described by Peter as an “appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21).
UNION WITH CHRIST
The physical act of baptism signifies a believer’s union with Christ in both his death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-11), a union that occurs when someone receives the person and work of Jesus Christ by grace through faith (Acts 16:29-34). Colossians 2:12 shows us this profound reality: “having been buried with [Christ] in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Therefore, in baptism we physically display the spiritual reality that we have been buried (lowered below the water) with Christ and raised (lifted above the water) with Christ, such that for the one baptized: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Raised from the dead with Christ, we now “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
INTO ONE BODY
In addition to this, physical baptism signifies the spiritually reality of every believer being baptized into one body—the body of Christ—with all other members of the community of faith: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This is reiterated as Paul makes his plea for unity in the Ephesian church: there is only one baptism, and it unites all believers together in the body of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:4-6). So, in this way baptism eradicates any social, cultural, or ethnic divisions by displaying the unity all Christians have with each other in Christ Jesus.BACK TO BELIEFS