Barry Newman's Blog

November 13, 2012

The Sacraments (part XX)

Filed under: The Sacraments — barrynewman @ 9:26 pm

In the Name of

In the Old and New Testaments and in the Greek literature external to the New Testament, “the name” within the phrase, “in the name” is often a reference to a specific aspect of a person, for example, his power or his authority.  However in some instances it is not so limited. For example, in the Old Testament the phrase “in the name” with reference to God and in the New Testament the same phrase with reference to Jesus often carries with it, to a lesser or greater degree, “who the person is”.  The Old Testament speaks of glorying in the name, speaking in the name, calling on the name, help being in the name of Yahweh, trusting in the name of Yahweh, serving in the name of Yahweh.  The New Testament with respect to Jesus records, “many will say that they prophesied in his name, cast out demons in his name and did mighty works in his name”, “whoever receives such a child, as the one he held in his arms, in his name, receives him and whoever receives him receives him who sent him”, “his disciples will be hated by all for his name’s sake”,  “whatever the disciples would ask the Father in his name he would give to them”, “the name that he obtained is more excellent than the name of angels”. In particular, it seems that when “in the name” is used in association with the words, “Jesus the Christ”, “Jesus the Lord” and arguably, “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, it is a reference to something like, “who the person is”.

Matthew 28: 19, 20a

Matthew 28: 19, 20a consists of one imperative clause and three participles or participle phrases which hang on this clause and derive their imperative force from it.  The imperative is to make disciples of all nations, that is, disciples of Jesus.  Making disciples of all nations implies having Jews and Gentiles informed about who Jesus is and what he taught and having them adhere to Jesus and what he taught.  The first participle phrase is “going”.  Those to whom the imperative is given will have to get up and go beyond their homeland if the disciples to be made are to come from all nations. The final phrase is “teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”.  “All that I have commanded you” is most likely a reference not only to those strict commands that Jesus uttered but to all his teaching in general.  For a person to be a genuine disciple of Jesus his teaching must be adhered to. He or she will need to obey. The emphasis in this participle phrase is “obey” and “command”.

The phrase yet to be discussed is, “baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Whatever we are to make of this phrase, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one.  They have the one name.  They have a unique relationship with each other. The would be disciples are to be baptised in all that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit stand for, in all that they really are.

A question: Where in this final instruction of Jesus as recorded in the book of Matthew is there an explicit reference to “teaching about who Jesus is, indeed who the Father and the Holy Spirit really are”?  Gentiles and even many Jews will know little if anything of who Jesus is.  Most Jews will know little if anything of the relationship between the Father and the Holy Spirit and the Son Jesus.  The Gentiles will know nothing of who the Father and the Holy Spirit is let alone the relation they have with the Son.  A great deal has to be taught about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit before a person could become a disciple.  Where is any explicit reference to the necessity of this instruction?

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