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As I research the use of "baptized into Christ" (Romans 6:3; Gal 3:27), can we legitimately distinguish this from "baptized into the name of Christ" (Matt 28; Acts 2:38; 8:16; 19:16). One seems to speak to the baptism of the Holy Spirit (into Christ) the other seems to always refer to water baptism (into the name of Christ). Is there anything there? I know some theologians see these as identical. Is there a distinction to be made?

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  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your question. Please remember to take the tour (link below left) to better understand how this site works.
    – Dottard
    Dec 19, 2023 at 21:57
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    I’m voting to close this question because this is a theological question suited to CSE
    – Michael16
    Dec 20, 2023 at 4:33

6 Answers 6

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As an aside, theophilus, before I respond, I thought it'd be good to give you a brief introduction as to what to expect here on the Hermeneutics SE. In theory, Hermeneutics is the main issue that is discussed. But, in actuality, there is no real definition as to what Hermeneutics actually is. So, in practice, people are more than content to pour out their own theology here (Michael16). But, when others do, the very same people try to bar and forbid them, saying that their question is not "Hermeneutics"-based.

So also, in general topics, which all Christians agree on (Trinity, Virgin Birth, Two natures in Christ, etc.), you'll find some unity here. But, when it comes to the sacraments (Baptism, Lord's Supper), you'll find much disunity. And this disunity shows itself in unneeded downvoting of people's answers. I do not find, for example, Dottard's answer all that convincing. But I acknowledge his right to speak. And I don't find a reason to downvote it. His answer illustrates the main failing of our Hermeneutics SE. His answer is a blobbing together of both exegesis and dogmatics. These two naturally belong together. Exegesis and Dogmatics are vital pieces of Hermeneutics.

But it does show how the word, "Hermeneutics" without any boundaries and borders will lead to different conclusions. I offer the following as an alternate explanation, knowing that, historically, any discussion of the sacraments here is often met with verbal vitriol.


In my notes for this theological issue, I have the following:

 Jesus is the Mediator between the Triune God and man.

a) Baptism seals to the recipient the reestablished union between him and the Triune God. 
    Cf Mt 28:19; Nu 6:22-27. (the name of God is in both, but what are you doing with them?  you are putting God’s name on them.  When you speak the benediction you are actually blessing people, you are putting God’s name on them.  The same blessing we recieve in Baptism)

b) This must be clearly expressed when administering Baptism.
    -1) On the importance. 
        cf Ga 3:26,27; Jn 1:12; Ro 8:16. (Gal 3:  υἱός emphasizes the heir, the firstborn, while τέκνα emphasized the children)



    -2) No other words may be found so well adapted to this purpose as the words of Jesus. 
        cf Mt 28:19. 
        cf The Apostolic Creed; all ancient "regulae fidei".

c) Since there is no adoption to sonship by the Triune God except through the mediatorship of Christ: the sacrament may be briefly called a baptism in the name of Christ Jesus.
    Cf Ac 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; Ro 6:3; Ga 3:27,
    cf. Didache, VII, 1.3: . . . βαπτίσατε εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνευμ́ατος. . . ἔκχεον εἰς τὴν κεφαλὴν τρὶς (?) εἰς ὄνομα πατρὸς καὶ ὑιοῦ καὶ ἁγιοῦ πνεύματος  [AF-T, V, did 7:1-3] 
    Coll. Didache IX, 5 μηδεὶς δὲ φαγέτω μηδὲ πιέτω ἀπὸ τῆς εὐχαριστίας ὑμων, ἀλλ’ οἱ βαπτισθεντες εἰς ὄνομα κυρίω·  καὶ γὰρ περὶ τούτου εἴρηκεν ὁ κύριος·  Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσί.  [AF-T, V, did 9:5] 

Jesus is the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5; Hebrews). Point C, in my notes puts it well then: "Since there is no adoption to sonship by the Triune God except through the mediatorship of Christ: the sacrament may be briefly called a baptism in the name of Christ Jesus".

As a result "into Christ" and "into the name of Christ" are the same.

From the passages you list then, we see what baptism is and does. Baptism is a good work that God performs in us, in which water is applied to the person being baptized in the name of the Triune God (Matt 28). What the person receives through this is forgiveness (1 Peter 3; Acts 2; etc.) and freedom from death (Rom. 6).

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  • Apologies, friends. I am new to this board. I thought the meaning of the phrase 'baptized into Christ" vs baptized into the name of Christ was a hermeneutic issue. Again, apologies if this violated the intended course of discussion. Feel free to close the board.
    – theophilus
    Dec 21, 2023 at 14:22
  • @theophilus There is no need to apologize at all. Your question was just fine. My comments were for your sake, but directed towards others. You have done nothing out of place. It grieves me when I see newer people to SE who ask honest questions that have a right to be asked, and then have people vote to close down the question for no other reason than that they don't like the question. Ask away.
    – Epimanes
    Dec 21, 2023 at 15:25
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What escapes the notice of many people as they study the NT is that "Christ" is not identical to "Jesus." Just as "Jacob" referred to an individual man, it also came to be a synonym for the People, Israel. The NT authors all refer to "Christ" as a corporate Body, as well being individual members of this Body, those in the New Covenant are also Branches of God's True Vine, Subjects of the Son of David, God's Sheep under the care of God's Good Shepherd, etc.

I think we can say this:

  • baptizing "in the name of [the LORD] Jesus, the Christ" refers to the authority of the baptism: Jesus

  • "baptized into Christ" refers to what one is joining, and that is to become part of the New Covenant People of God: Christ corporate

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  • I understand your suggestion. However, have you seen Rom 6:3 and Gal 3:27?
    – Dottard
    Dec 19, 2023 at 21:25
  • Do you see "in the name of" in either passage? What is your concern?
    – Ruminator
    Dec 19, 2023 at 22:15
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    It is your assertion that "into Christ" suggests corporate membership appears to ignore the fact that in each case, an explanatory clause follows which suggests otherwise.
    – Dottard
    Dec 19, 2023 at 23:07
  • Your first point is somewhat correct because Christ took first shape in Jesus when he was 30 years old, after he received Holy Spirit anointing. Your second point that Christ is the body of believers in him is a little bit dodgy. Christ means Messiah, and only applies to him. Although believers in Christ are Christians. But that is different. Jan 24 at 2:09
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First, the only places in the NT that discuss being "baptized into Christ" are the two listed by the OP:

  • Rom 6:3 - Or are you unaware that as many as have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
  • Gal 3:27 - For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Thus, according to these two references, being "baptized into Christ" means two things:

  1. being baptized into His death, ie, accepting Jesus death as our vicarious death, both for the expiation of sin and death to the old way of life.
  2. putting on Christ, ie, living a life dedicated to imitating the life of Christ, ie, the new life in Christ.

By contrast, "baptized in/into the Name of Christ/Jesus/Lord" is much more frequent, eg, Matt 28:19, Acts 2:38, 8:12, 16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16, etc. That is, when a person is baptized into Christ, one takes the name of "Christian" and thus leads a life dedicated to imitating Christ. The above references spell this out in more detail. Being baptized into the Name of Christ means:

  • becoming a "Christian" in name
  • publicly showing one's repentance (Acts 2:38)
  • becoming a disciple/student/follower of Christ (Matt 28:19)
  • initiation into a life of Christian service empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-6)
  • starting a new life of forgiveness and one where one's sins are "washed away" (Acts 22;16)

In summary, I see little difference between the NT expressions of being "baptized into Christ" and being "baptized in the Name of Christ".

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It may help to understand exactly what is meant by the term “eis to onoma” – “into the name of.” In the classical style of the first century language, the phrase “eis to onoma” – “into the name of” was often used as a legal term. This expression is found among ancient legal documents that recorded the transfer of property. If one purchased a section of land or a dwelling for example, a title transfer would be drawn up to show that this property was now eis to onoma – in the name of - the new owner. When Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to every creature and “baptize them into the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit,” what he is commanding them to do is to baptize them into the possession of God. Christians are the objects of a property transfer – “out of the kingdom of darkness and into his marvelous light.” Baptism then is a property transfer. This same language is used in Acts 2:38 Peter commanded those present to be baptized "en to enomati – into the name of – thus, into the possession of Jesus Christ. This was for a two-fold purpose:

  1. For the removal of sin – Spiritual circumcision, Colossians 2:9-13.
  2. To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the seal of the transfer of property, Ephesians 4:30, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. He is the seal of ownership to show that we have been bought with a price.
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There is power in the name of Jesus. You must be baptised "in" the name of God - Jesus to be saved.

1 Corinthians 1:13-15

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

Acts 4:10-12

10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

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Baptism in the name of Christ means being baptized confessing faith that Jesus is the Messiah. Baptism into Christ is baptism as the means, condition, instrument of incorporation into Christ. Matthew 28:19 is as BAGD says baptism into the possession of the Son.

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