What does it mean to do something in Jesus’ name?


What does it mean to do something in Jesus’ name? For far too many people, it is a matter of being sure to say the precise words, “in Jesus’ name.” This mindset is a silly, but tragic, mistake.

The two most frequent reasons this issue comes up are baptism and prayer. What does it mean to be baptized in Jesus’ name? What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?

Regarding baptism, please read the following article: https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-Jesus-name.html. To summarize, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus instructed the apostles, “...baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...” However, in the book of Acts, it records the apostles baptizing in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38; 8:12-16; 10:48; 19:5). Is this a contradiction? Were the apostles disobeying Jesus’ command and/or doing baptism incorrectly? Or, as some in the “baptism in Jesus’ name only” movement claim, does Matthew 28:19 not truly belong in the Bible?

Let’s dispense with the ridiculousness. The simple answer to this apparent dilemma is that baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and baptism in Jesus’ name are the exact same thing. It is not the words that are said during baptism that make a baptism valid. Saying “I baptize you in Jesus’ name” is not a magic formula. It is not an incantation.

Baptism in Jesus’ name is baptism according to Jesus’ commands. It is baptism in identification with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. It is baptism as a public declaration of your faith in Jesus and commitment to follow Him in discipleship. Baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is baptism in submission to the Father, in identification with the Son, and in harmony with the Holy Spirit.

Regarding prayer, please read the following article: https://www.gotquestions.org/pray-Jesus-name.html. To summarize, in John 14:13, Jesus states, “Whatever you ask for in my name, this I will do...” Does this mean that if we say, “I pray this in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayer, Jesus is obligated to give us everything we ask for in the prayer? Of course not. Praying in Jesus’ name is not saying “in Jesus’ name” as part of the prayer. Praying in Jesus’ name is the same thing as praying according to the will of God. Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for things that glorify Jesus. It is praying for the things that Jesus would want us to be praying for.

Should “I baptize you in Jesus’ name” or “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” be uttered when a person is baptized? Likely so. The words communicate what is occurring in the baptism. But, the presence of the spoken words does not make a baptism valid. And, the absence of the words would not make a baptism invalid.

The baptizer could say, “I baptize you in the name of the Savior,” or “Yeshua,” or “Christ,” or “the Anointed One,” etc., etc. The point is not the words being said. The point is whether what is taking place agrees with what the Bible say about baptism.

Should we say, “in Jesus’ name” in our prayers? If the things we are praying for will glorify Jesus, yes, absolutely. But, the words themselves have no value or power if the things you are praying for are outside of or against God’s will.

Being baptized in Jesus’ name is baptism done according to Jesus’ command and in the manner His Word describes. Praying in Jesus’ name is praying in a way that glorifies Jesus.

Saying “in Jesus’ name” is not a magic formula. The phrase contains no power if it is misused or misunderstood. Something is “in Jesus’ name” only if it is for His glory and done in the manner He prescribes.

S. Michael Houdmann

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What does it mean to do something in Jesus’ name?