Copy of US Declaration of Independence, Utah State Capitol
Monday, 17 October 2022
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. Acts 10:48
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Peter had just asked those with him (obviously meaning the Jews who came with him), if any could forbid the water, meaning baptism. This was because the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit just as the Jews had. With that noted, it next says, “And he commanded them to be baptized.”
This is parallel to Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 1:17 –
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”
Peter’s main mission was to preach the gospel. He did this, and he now instructs those with him to perform baptism upon the new Gentile believers. Paul, likewise, had a main mission of preaching the gospel. This does not mean that neither Paul nor Peter baptized others. It means that this was not their main focus. As in Acts 6, there is an area of focus for the apostles and there are responsibilities that devolve to others –
“Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’” Acts 6:1-4
With this obvious truth understood, Peter continues with, “in the name of the Lord.” Some texts say, “in the name of Jesus Christ.” The latter would be nearly in accord with Acts 2:38. The difference is the preposition. In Acts 2:38, it is epi (upon) the name of Jesus Christ. Here, it is en (in).
As for this verse in Acts 10, regardless of which is the correct rendering, it does not contradict Jesus’ words of Matthew 28:19. The actual baptism, when performed, is “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The meaning here in Acts 10 of “in the name of the Lord,” or “in the name of Jesus Christ,” is not so much for the actual rite of baptism but for the designation of the baptism.
In other words, there was the “baptism of John” found in Acts 1:22. That wasn’t a baptism into the name of John. Rather it was a baptism designated by the ministry of John. It was a baptism of preparation for the coming Messiah. The baptism now mentioned by Peter is en (in) the name of the Lord (or of Jesus Christ). And yet, when performed, if done properly and in obedience to the words of Jesus, it is done eis (into) the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
As such, there is no contradiction. When one is baptized in the name of the Lord (or in the name of Jesus Christ), it is a designation of the type of baptism. When that type of baptism is performed, it is to be into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Peter did the commanding, the Jews with him performed the rite, and the Gentiles would have been obedient to the command. With that complete, the verse and the chapter end with, “Then they asked him to stay a few days.”
This obviously occurred as will be seen in the opening of chapter 11. Peter was not to call common what God had cleansed. He had seen the realization of his trance in the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Jesus Christ.
Life application: A lot of heresies or really bad doctrine can be cleared up with a careful, thorough reading through the book of Acts. Mostly, understanding the nature of the writing is of paramount importance. Acts is a descriptive account of what occurred. It prescribes almost nothing, but it does provide a clear look into what establishes sound doctrine because of what is considered normative and what is not. Determining the difference takes careful study, but the result is a student of the Bible that is properly trained in what is right for his life and practice within the faith.
Be sure to not jump on a particular bandwagon because it sounds convincing. And this is especially so with people who use one particular, faulty, translation to come to unfounded conclusions. A careful study of where error in translation occurs will help clear up a lot of the muddy waters of unsound theology.
Most glorious and gracious heavenly Father, how we thank You for what You have done for us. We are undeserving of the least of Your favor, and yet You lavish goodness upon us daily. And even when we were Your enemies, You sent Christ Jesus to reconcile us to You. Thank You for what You have done, and may Your glorious name ever be praised as we walk in Your presence. Amen.