Barry Newman's Blog

February 11, 2012

Baptising in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (part XI)

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 9:11 pm

Immersed “eis” the name

We turn now to four of the five instances where “eis” is used in association with “baptizo” and “the name”.  Additionally, we will examine three texts where “baptizo eis” is used but instead of the reference being to “to onoma”, the person is named.

In Acts 8: 16 and 19: 5 the name into which people are to be immersed is that of “the Lord Jesus” or “Jesus, the Lord”[1] – the Samaritan believers in Acts 8: 16 and the Ephesian disciples in Acts 19: 5.   Perhaps we are to see that the reference to “Jesus, the Lord” is more appropriate for these non-Jews (identifying who the Ephesians really were, is problematic) than the term, “Jesus, the Christ” used on the Day of Pentecost and with the God fearing Gentiles – Cornelius and his company.  Furthermore, as suggested earlier, “eis” is a preposition suitable for use in conjunction with “baptizo” when both the “immersing” and the medium into which the “immersion” takes place are considered significant. The Samaritans and Ephesians are to be immersed into the name of the Jesus, the Lord, that is, I suggest, immersed into “who this Jesus, the Lord is” and the water ceremony of immersion will symbolise this.  They will come under his authority.  They will recognise him as Lord.  They will understand to some extent, what his relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit is and what he has accomplished.

In both Acts 8 and Acts 19 the situation was that the believers had not yet received the Holy Spirit. In both instances, the Holy Spirit came upon them after the laying on of hands.  It would seem that in each instance those present are to witness this special manifestation of the Spirit coming upon these new believers as a sure indication of God’s blessing not only upon Jews and God fearing Gentiles but also upon the Samaritans and other Gentiles as well.

Contrary to the situation that applied in Acts 8 and 19, in Acts 2 the disciples had already received the Spirit and Peter promised the giving of the Holy Spirit to all those who would repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus, the Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  And in Acts 10 the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the new believers even before the command given for them to be baptized. Their baptism could not be denied given that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on them.

The 1 Corinthian 1: 13 and 15 texts are exceptional in that they amount to a denial of “being immersed in the name of” and the person being referred to is Paul.  The context is that of Paul’s concern with divisions that had arisen amongst the Corinthians.  Perhaps these divisions had come about because different ones saw themselves attached to, obligated to, or as having learnt from different Christian leaders or because they believed some leaders deserved more esteem than others.  Whatever the root causes of these divisions, Paul refers to each one of them saying, “‘I am of Paul’ and ‘I of Apollos’ and ‘I of Cephas’ and ‘I of Christ’”. And in retort he writes, “Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you was he? Or were you baptized (‘immersed’) in the name of Paul (‘eis to onoma Paulos’)? I thank God I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius so that no one would say you were baptized in my name (‘eis to emon onoma’). Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanus; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other” (NASB).

In this response he resists mentioning Cephas or Apollos a second time probably finding it more suitable to simply refer to himself.  And by using “eis” (although it has been noted that he always uses “eis” in connection with “baptizo”), he may have been pointedly drawing attention to what the immersion was into – himself.  And this for him was what made it so appalling.  Christ had been crucified for them, no one else.

Note that he begins by referring to the notion of some Corinthians being “of Paul” (“Paulou”), others “of Apollos” (“Apollo”), others of Cephas (“Kepha”), and yet others of Christ (Christou”), rather than their being “baptised”, “immersed”.

As an aside, why did Paul mention Christ along with the others as though Christ was on par with the others? Was it really the case that some saw Christ as comparable though superior to the others?  Or did Paul mention him and locate him in last place as a way of focussing on the one in whom there were no divisions, the one, the only one, who had died for them?

More significantly, in the present discussion, what was intended by Paul, to begin with,  simply using the genitive without any reference to “baptised”, ”immersed”? Perhaps it was Paul’s way of dealing with the fact that there were a variety of reasons why different Corinthians appealed to different leaders, without these differences being simply ones associated with “baptism”, “immersion”. Perhaps when he first raises the matter of “baptising”, “immersing” he intends to use the word, “baptizo” somewhat metaphorically, rather than by way of making a reference to a water ceremony. He has rhetorically asked, “Paul was not crucified for you was he?  Why then do some of you consider yourselves “immersed” in my name, in who I Paul am?

As mentioned earlier, “baptizo” can be used in a metaphorical sense and a couple of examples of this were given earlier – “being ‘swamped’ in or by taxes, or in or by debt”.  Paul is after all not so much concerned with a ceremony but under whom the believers are to consider themselves subject, to whom they are to consider themselves obligated or something similar.  Then not unnaturally having used the word “baptizo” perhaps metaphorically he then uses it to refer to the water ceremony. “I thank God I baptized none of you so that no one would say you were baptized in my name.”

Finally he asserts, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (v. 17).  However we are to precisely understand Paul’s text in vv. 12 to 16, we cannot escape Paul’s view of the relative importance of the water ceremony – he was not even sent to perform it!  Instead he was sent to preach the gospel.

[1] I think that it is more likely that at the baptismal ceremony, the sense is “Jesus, the Lord” rather than the Lord Jesus.  I will tend to refer to “Jesus, the Lord” hereafter particularly when a baptismal ceremony of the New Testament is being discussed.



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