Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Into The Name"

     The phrase "into the name" (eis to onoma) occurs several times in the
New Testament. It occurs at least four times in connection with immersion.
Jesus told his apostles to immerse believers "into the name of the Father
and   of   the    Son    and    of    the    Holy    Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
Luke tells us the people of Samaria "had been immersed into the name of
the Lord Jesus." (Acts 8:16) The same writer says about twelve men in
Ephesus "were immersed into the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5)
A variation is found in 1 Cor. 1:15. Paul asked the Corinthians if they had
been immersed into his name? (eis to emon onoma). The American Standard
Version-1901 consistently translates the phrase as "into the name" in all of its
occurrences in 1 Corinthians and the book of Acts. Other English versions
translate the phrase literally sometimes, and at other times they translate it with
the words "in the name." In the texts where they do not translate it literally, they
generally place the literal rendering in the margin or the footnotes. (RSV; NASB;

     What does it mean to be immersed "into the name" of someone? Adolf
Deissmann, in his book Bible Studies, in which he notes the contributions of
the papyri and inscriptions to the study of the New Testament, says, "Just as,
in the Inscription, to buy into the name of God means to buy so that the
article bought belongs to God, so also the idea underlying, e.g., the
expressions to baptise into the name of the Lord, or to believe into the
name of the Son of God, is that baptism or faith constitutes the belonging
to God or to the Son of God ." (page 146)

     J.H. Moulton and George Milligan state in their Vocabulary of the Greek 
Testament, page 451, that "The phrase eis to onoma tinos is frequent in the
papyri with reference to payments made "to the account of any one...The usage
is of interest in connexion with Mt. 28:19, where the meaning would seem to
be "baptized into the possession of the Father, etc." Bauer-Danker-Arndt-
Gingrich's Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament and Other
Early Christian Literature concurs. The lexicon says on page 713, "Through
baptism eis to onoma tinos those who are baptized become the possession
of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear."

     This is certainly true when we consider Paul's use of a similar phrase in the
Corinthian letter. The Corinthians were claiming to be "of Paul; of Apollos;
of Cephas; and of Christ." Paul asks them, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul
crucified for you? Or were you immersed into the name of Paul? I thank God
that I immersed none of you, except Crispus and Gaius; lest any one should
say that you were immersed into my name." (1 Cor. 1:13-14)  Paul's point
is this: you cannot rightly claim to be "of" Paul because you were not immersed
"into" my name. And since you were not immersed "into" my name, you do
not owe your allegiance to me, for I do not possess you. You do not belong
to me, you belong to Christ! Therefore, to be immersed "into the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" is to become their "property,"
having entered into relationship with them. Christians belong to the Father,
Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Copyright 2011

1 comment:

  1. Impeccable argument, except for a "small detail": NOWHERE in the NT do we find any example of application of the "trinitarian baptismal formula", allegedly given by the resurrected Jesus to the Apostles, whereas in Acts we find repeated examples of baptism eis to onoma, "into the name" of (the Lord) Jesus (Christ): through the baptism into the name of Jesus one simply accepts Jesus as one's own Lord, NOT the three-headed Cerberus ...