Barry Newman's Blog

February 28, 2012

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

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 5:49 am

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

This section focuses on the phenomenon of the “name” in Matthew 28: 19 being applied to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as a unity.  A suggestion is also made as to how this reference to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit functions as part of the literary structure of the Gospel.

What an intriguing phrase it is.  For starters, would it have surprised us if the words had simply been, “in the name of Jesus Christ” or “in the name of Jesus the Lord” or “in my name”?   Perhaps we would have expected it.  One cannot be sure but the Acts of the Apostles may have been in circulation before Matthew’s Gospel and given its references to being baptised “in the name of Jesus …” one might have been more than surprised to find the reference to “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 28.

But the phrase is what it is and surely we are meant to think of some sort of unity between Father, Son and Holy Spirit because of the one “name”.  It is their name!  That Jesus should utter these words is highly significant.  He, the son sees himself as one with the Father and one with the Holy Spirit.  They are one together.  There is a unity to the Godhead.  Each was caught up in the one plan.  It was their plan.  And this unity is relational and of a specific kind.  Jesus could have referred to “God the Creator”, “Myself, the Messiah” and “The Spirit who will come upon you.”  But he did not.  He is the Son to the Father and the Spirit is the Holy Spirit, the one who comes from God the Father.

And see how they acted together in the one enterprise

An angel of the Lord God – the Father disclosed to Joseph that Jesus, the Son, was to be born through the activity of the Holy Spirit: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother had been betrothed to Joseph before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit … But as Joseph considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’” (Matthew 1: 18, 20). And the Lord God – the Father put his Spirit upon his servant, Jesus, his Son and the activity of the Spirit was evident in the works of the Son: “And many followed him and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known.  This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.’” (Matthew 12: 15 – 18).

While there are over 40 references to the “Father” in Matthew there are only 12 references to the Spirit, identified as the “Holy Spirit” on five of those occasions.  But all three – the Father, the Son and the Spirit are only clearly mentioned together on a few occasions.  In addition to the two just referred to, all three are mentioned together at the baptism of Jesus.  Perhaps it is the most striking instance partly because it is very dramatic in itself, but perhaps also because on that occasion of a water baptism, “baptising”, “immersing” was also strikingly mentioned in a metaphorical sense.  John proclaimed, “I baptise you with water for repentance but he who is coming after me is mightier than I … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire … Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John … And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him, and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3: 11-17).

This text of Matthew 3, with a foretaste of some of its content in Matthew 1 and the one we are focussing on, Matthew 28: 19, appear to act as “book ends” to his work.  And somewhat half way through, we were kept informed of the basic scenario, in Matthew 12.  The story that began, that developed, that continued and that had a conclusion is a story of the one name, their plan, their activity – the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!


1 Comment »

  1. […] 1Baptising in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (part XVI) « Barry SUBMIT […]

    Pingback by Resources for Matthew 1:18 - 20 — February 28, 2012 @ 10:04 am | Reply

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