Jesus' Name doctrine

Jesus' Name doctrine

Jesus' Name Doctrine is a minority nontrinitarian theology, characterised by a belief that baptism must be performed "in the name of Jesus", rather than the more common Trinitarian formula "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".

The Jesus' Name doctrine includes the "Oneness" of God. This doctrine rejects the mainstream Trinitarian belief of Three Persons in One God, and holds that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three modes of a singular God. Those in Oneness churches believe that "Jesus" is the correct and entire name of God.

Adherents of the doctrine are sometimes referred to as Jesus-Only, but Oneness Pentecostals prefer the phrase Jesus' Name. Pentecostal historian Bernie L. Wade considers that the reference "Jesus-Only" is a slur.[1]



Holders of the Jesus' Name doctrine assert that "in the name of Jesus" is the only valid formula for baptism, and that baptism "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" is invalid.[2] The latter form of baptism being performed by most Christians.

Jesus' Name believers claim the development of baptism "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" is a post-Apostolic interpolation and corruption. Some claim that the "Trinitarian" clause in Matthew 28:19 was added to Matthew's text in the 2nd/3rd century.[3] They cite as evidence that no record exists in the New Testament of someone being baptized with the Trinitarian formula. Other adherents of the Jesus Name doctrine believe the authenticity of Matthew 28:19, but believe that the command is correctly fulfilled by baptizing in the name of Jesus. Such adherents are generally Oneness Pentecostals who believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not to be regarded as distinct persons in the Godhead, and that the name "Jesus" is the supreme revelatory name of the one God who is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.[4]


The views of mainstream Christianity to Jesus' Name baptism is varied. The Roman Catholic Church states that only baptisms performed using the Trinitarian formula are valid. However it does accept that theologians of the past considered baptism in the name of Jesus only to be an acceptable form. St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and Albertus Magnus held the view that the Apostles baptized in this way by special dispensation. Pope Nicholas I wrote to the Bulgarians that a person is not to be rebaptized who has already been baptized "in the name of the Holy Trinity or in the name of Christ only".[5]

Martin Luther in his Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church describes disagreements over the wording of the baptism as "pedantry" and argues for acceptance of baptisms in the name of Jesus if carried out with proper intent.[6]

  • In circa 254, Pope Stephen I[7] in the midst of the baptismal controversies with Cyprian declared that all baptisms in the name of Jesus are valid.
  • St. Gennadius in his work Lives of Illustrious Men states that in the 3rd century, one Ursinus the monk, during the Cyprian controversies, argued that "those who were baptized in the name of Christ [alone], even if by heretics, did not need to be re-baptized."
  • St. John Chrysostom argues for a literal interpretation of the Luke's records of baptisms in the name of Jesus, as accounted in Acts.[8]
  • St. Basil states[9] that, "the naming of Christ is the confession of the whole."
  • St. Ambrose, mentor to Augustine, argued for the validity of baptisms "in the name of Jesus."[10]
  • St. Augustine states that "those baptized into other names need to be rebaptized into Christ."[11] Elsewhere, he states knowledge of those who had been baptized into the name of Christ alone [outside the apostolic era].[12] and likewise argues for a literal interpretation of Acts 2:38 "in the name of Jesus".[13]
  • St. Thomas Aquinas[14] (while arguing for Trinitarian baptism), states that the apostles (Peter, James, John, etc.) baptized in the name of Christ alone by "special dispensation." (Whereas many modern scholars, by contrast, interpret the saying "in the name of Jesus" figuratively instead of literally in an attempt to reconcile the two conflicting passages [Acts 2:38 & Matt 28:19]).
  • The Baptist Standard Confession of 1660[15] declares baptisms in the name of Jesus to be valid.


All Oneness Pentecostals organizations baptize using the name of Jesus.

  • Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare, an Anglican, was the first modern theologian to argue that Matthew 28:19 was a spurious interpolation.
  • Edmond de Pressense, an Evangelical church historian, in his work The Early Years of Christianity Book II, Chap 5, Part I, states that all baptisms during the apostolic era were in the name of Jesus [alone].
  • Robert Young, a Presbyterian, was the first Bible author of the modern era to put Matthew 28:19 in italics in his Bible version titled, Young's Literal Translation (YLT), along with a footnote indicating he believed it to be spurious.[citation needed]
  • Mark Kennicott has noted in his translation and commentary of Matthew 28:19 that the phrase "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" is probably not original, citing Eusebius. However, he argues against the traditional approach other Oneness Pentecostals use to explain Matthew 28:19 as it reads.


  1. ^ Baptism According to Matthew 28:19, From TLFP (Truth, Liberty and Freedom Press), 1986. 2nd Printing, Page 6.
  2. ^ Patterson, Eric; Rybarczyk, Edmund (2007). The Future of Pentecostalism in the United States. New York: Lexington Books. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-0-7391-2102-3. 
  3. ^ Matthew 28:19 text, Baptism in the New Testament, G.R. Beasley-Murray, p 83
  4. ^
  5. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia - see section on "form".
  6. ^ see section 3.14
  7. ^ Epistle of Cyprian # 72.
  8. ^ John Chrysostom.Homily on Acts X.44, 46 XXIV. Interestingly, Chrysostom, in Instructions to the Catechumens, makes several references to Acts 2:38, but does not reference Matt 28:19 a single instance. Additionally, in his Homily on Matthew, Ch XXVIII, he repeatedly quotes Matt 28:19 in what F.C. Conybeare called the "shorter Eusebian form", suggesting the potential that Chrysostom and Eusebius of Caesarea referenced a common, earlier source for the Gospel of Matthew.
  9. ^ Basil. On the Holy Spirit, Ch 12, #28.
  10. ^ Ambrose.On the Holy Spirit, Book I, Ch 3.
  11. ^ Augustine.To Petitianus, Ch 44, sect 104.
  12. ^ Augustine.On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Ch 28.
  13. ^ Augustine.On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Ch 52.
  14. ^ Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica, "On Baptism".
  15. ^ The Baptist Standard Confession of 1660

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