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By Derrick Gillespie
In such a controversial Biblical review it is not only critical that the general word “name” be defined, but the word must also be defined in the various Biblical ways. It is also crucial that Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 28:19 be harmonized with all accounts of baptisms in Acts, being ever careful that no contradictions exist between both realities. What is most critical is to find a definition of the word “name” (singular) that was consistently common to Father, Son and Holy Spirit at all times when baptism was done in Jesus’ “name” throughout the book of Acts. Was it the “authority” exercised by the person Jesus Christ, or as centered in Jesus Christ on earth that was always common to all three, i.e. Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Or was it a voiced name i.e. “the Lord” or “Lord Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” that was always common to all three? Let’s now find out. The dictionary defines “NAME” as:
“what somebody or something is called: a word, term, or phrase by which somebody or something is known and distinguished from other people or things” – Microsoft Encyclopedic Dictionary (2009)
The Webster’s Dictionary gives the most comprehensive definition of the word, as seen below. “NAME - That by which a thing is called; the sound or combination of sounds used to express an idea, or any material substance, quality or act; an appellation attached to a thing by customary use, by which it may be vocally distinguished from other things. A name may be attached to an individual only, and is then proper or appropriate, as John, Thomas, London, Paris; or it may be attached to a species, genus, or class of things, as sheep, goat, horse, tree, animal, which are called common names, specific or generic; Reputation; character; that which is commonly said of a person; as a good name; a bad name; Renown; fame; honor; celebrity; eminence; praise; distinction; Remembrance; memory; Authority…When a man speaks or acts in the name of another, he does it by their authority or in their behalf, as their representative.” The two dictionary definitions above make it plain that the word “name” is multi-faceted in meaning, and hence covers a wide range of meanings in terms of a proper noun labeling, a common noun labeling, a description, a title, and even something or someone’s authority. Hence there is no contradiction when any or all of the above meanings are appealed to when the word “name” is being defined. Do we see the reality of this varied meaning in the Bible as well? Certainly!! The word “name” in the Bible denotes proper and common noun labeling of individuals, places, and things (e.g. Jehovah, Jesus, Satan, Sodom, snakes, trees, etc.). In the Bible the word “name” also denotes
one’s reputation, fame, title, authority, etc. Sometimes “names” are titles in nature, and titles are sometimes called “names” in the Bible. The very fact that Jesus, in Rev. 19:11-16, has on his vesture a NAME “King of kings and Lord of Lord” (Rev. 19:11-16), and there he is also said to be NAMED “the Word of God”, then it means clearly that he can also be NAMED a title, and title can also be his NAME in Biblical understanding!! Now, if Jesus makes plain that baptism must be in the “name” (singular) of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), then this word meaning of “name” in that passage must identify either a proper noun labeling, or any of the other definitions of the word “name” that is ALWAYS COMMON to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit SIMULTANEOUSLY!! That is a must!! This is where the “Jesus only” (Oneness) doctrine has a HUGE problem, because the proper name of God the Father was/is NEVER “Jesus Christ”! If it ever was then that proper name “Jesus Christ” would dominate the Old Testament whenever the name of the Father was being called. But interestingly and compellingly true is the fact that the proper name “Jesus Christ” NEVER once occurred in all of the Old Testament…the larger part of the entire Bible; only in the New Testament! The proper name “Jesus Christ” is plainly the human name of “the Word” or “Logos” of God, whom we now recognize as the Son of God. Fathers do not inherit the name of their sons, but a son ALWAYS inherits the name of a father, and so it is nonsensical to ever utter the ridiculous idea that the proper name of God the Father is “Jesus Christ”. It is so plain that this is the Son’s human name, which he took going forward into eternity future since his coming to earth. The Father’s main and proper name from eternity past is YHWH, or Yahweh, or Jehovah, or “LORD”, or “the Lord”. So if Jesus was to take/inherit his Father’s name it must have been “Lord” or “the Lord” (i.e. “Jehovah”), and that is what he was commonly called along with his human name “Jesus Christ”. It stands to reason that if any proper noun name was/is to be voiced at baptism it must ALWAYS be common to both Father and Son, and also common to the Spirit. The best answer would be “Lord” or “the Lord” or “Jehovah”, since even the Spirit is identified as “the Lord” or “Jehovah” in 2 Cor.3:17. But interestingly we see that baptism in the apostolic Church was regularly either in the NAME of “the Lord”, “the Lord Jesus” or in the NAME of “Jesus Christ” (and even in other variations). But we already know that God the Father’s proper name was NEVER “Jesus Christ”, neither was it designated the name of the Spirit; it is always the human name of the human Son. Remember, it is a MUST that the definition of the word “name” that is to be invoked at baptism must ALWAYS be common to all Three, even while directly related to Jesus Christ the human Son, and even when he alone is mentioned. This MUST either be the name “Lord” or “the Lord” (i.e. “Jehovah”) and/or the singular AUTHORITY of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as exercised by Jesus on their behalf, and as centered in Jesus the Messiah when his proper human name is invoked. Thus the emphasis of the invoked “name” at baptism was/is upon the common “NAME”, “the Lord” or “Jehovah”, or the common AUTHORITY of the Jehovah the Father, the Lord (or Jehovah) Jesus Christ, and that of the Holy Spirit (whom is also identified as “the Lord” manifested invisibly everywhere; 2 Cor. 3:17; Ps. 139:7-10).
Let’s further prove that the baptismal “NAME” common to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is “THE LORD”, “the Lord” or “Jehovah”, by looking at Bible prophecy. In the final analysis, all of the saved will symbolically bear upon their foreheads the NAME of the Father (Rev. 14:1; Rev. 22:4). The name of the Father is plainly “Jehovah” or “the LORD”, and it is only fitting that his children on earth be identified with the symbolic stamp of his name in their foreheads, to show His ownership of them, and that his character is reflected in their lives. And again this name is plainly “the Lord” or “Jehovah”, since no one would ever dispute that the Father’s very name is “Jehovah” or “the LORD”. Interestingly we find that not only is this name “the LORD” or “Jehovah” the Father’s name, but Rev. 3:12 tells us that this name is also the “new” name of the glorified Son, Jesus Himself. Notice, his “new” name he would write upon the saved!! What name was Jesus fully ‘granted’ upon his ascension and he being “glorified” as a man? The very same name of His Father; not the name “Jesus Christ” which he already bore as a condescended human! This is what Philippians 2:9-11 makes plain without a doubt. Jesus’ “new” name is the name “the Lord” (obviously in a sense higher than he bore it as the condescended human). That is why it is now his “new” NAME, because he was glorified as “the Lord” in a “new” way upon his ascension. His full pre-human glory was restored, and for the first time he bore the full and glorious divine nature as a glorified human (1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 17:31; Matt. 24:30). And so “every knee will [eventually] bow” and “every tongue confess” that is what he REALLY is called (as a glorified man)… i.e. “the Lord”, or “Jehovah”, just like the Father! And of course, if the only name that is “above every name” that is ever named is “Jehovah” or “the LORD”, or “the Lord” (in the highest sense), it again tells us why the saints will also have in their foreheads the COMMON name of the Father and the Son (Rev. 3:12). One final prophetic proof, that the NAME symbolically stamped upon the saints is “Jehovah” or “the LORD”, is found in Jeremiah 23:5, 6. Here it is plain that the person called “the Branch” would be called “the LORD” or “Jehovah” “our righteousness”. Zech. 6:12,13 makes plain that it must be Jesus who could be the only man who bears the title of “the Branch”, since it is only he the Bible makes plain would sit on the very throne of Jehovah as both King and Priest (Rev. 3:21; Rev. 22:1,3). Keep in mind that only One who rightfully shares the “exact copy” or very nature of Jehovah could have the right to sit upon his very own throne, and this is what Heb. 1:3 tells us plainly without any doubt, and is further confirmed in Rev. 3:21 and Rev. 22:1,3 (as will be the case into eternity future). Since all true sons take the very name of their father and fully own it, then it is no wonder the Father Himself called Jesus his own name “LORD” or “Jehovah” in Heb. 1:10-12, as he applied a description of Himself as Creator in Ps. 102:1, 2427 to His own, or “only begotten” Son. This Psalm (Ps.102) had David originally directing prayer to “the LORD” or “Jehovah (verse 1), and with he acknowledging “the LORD” as Creator and the fact that he will endure forever future (verses 24-27). Lo and behold, the Father Himself also applies his own NAME (Heb. 1:10) and his own description (Psalm 102:1, 24-27) to Jesus in Heb. 1:10-12. No wonder Stephen (an inspired disciple; one filled with Holy Ghost) acknowledged this supreme revelation and so unreservedly directed prayer on his knees to the glorified Jesus
in the very presence of the Father (Acts 7:55-60). Why? The Father himself already made it plain in Heb. 1:3, 6, 8, 10-12 and Philippians 2:9-11 that it is OK so to do. But in the final analysis, what this proves is that it is the NAME “Jehovah” or “the LORD” that is common to Father and Son (especially in His glorified state today) and it is this name that is stamped upon the saints to show their united ownership of them. In fact, Jeremiah 33:14-16 prophesied that the very same NAME of the Father, “the LORD”, the very NAME that Jesus as “the Branch” was properly called, shall be applied to the citizens of the New Jerusalem! Not that the saints will become divine, since they will be glorified only to a level “equal unto the angels”; nothing higher; Luke 20:36! But Rev. 3:12 and Rev. 14:1 shows the TRUE fulfillment of that prophecy in which the saints are stamped symbolically in their foreheads with the COMMON name of the Father and the “new” name of the glorified human Son (whom of course was, is, and always will be higher than the angels). This is what baptism initially signifies (a stamp of ownership), and it is plain that the “name” in which baptism is to be done is either the voiced COMMON NAME and identification of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, i.e. “the Lord” or “Jehovah”, and or the COMMON authority borne by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), but as centered in and exercised by Jesus Christ on behalf of all three. The foregoing is the best explanation that simultaneously satisfies Matthew 28:19, even while harmonizing all accounts of baptisms in the book of Acts (and all miracles and deeds in the New Testament that were done in the name or authority of the Lord Jesus Christ), and even while not presenting any contradiction!! And this proper explanation effectively debunks the erroneous reasoning of “Jesus only” or “Oneness” adherents regarding their view on the baptismal “name” being “Jesus Christ”. It is not, was not, and never will be….no matter the protestations to the contrary by misguided “oneness” preachers.
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