It is often stated that in the Bible when we find the expression, “in the name” it means “by the authority.” If we are talking about the expressions in the King James Version where “in the name of” is used, that statement is not necessarily so. Sometimes the expression means “by the authority” as in Col. 3:17 where it says, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Other times, such as in Matthew 28:19, where it says, “–baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” it does not mean that, but means “into the name” and suggests a change of relationship, not by the authority. The authority is suggested by the previous verses where Jesus affirmed that all authority was given unto him in heaven and on earth.

However, my point in this article is that simply saying something is in the name of Christ does not make it so. Perhaps most of us have seen on television a person who claims to be an exorcist, or have other miraculous powers, smite a person on the forehead and say to the one who is apparently demon possessed, “In the name of Jesus, come out!” The seven sons of Sceva (Acts19:13-14) claimed to do that by the name of Jesus, and got what they deserved. It should be clear that claiming to do something in obedience to Christ, or in his name and doing it in obedience to Christ, or by his authority are two different things.

A person may claim that he is baptizing someone or is being baptized in the name of Jesus, but it may really be by the authority of some denomination, or by the authority of his mother, or his pastor, or any number of other things. Just because a person claims he is doing something in obedience to Christ, and even believes that what he is doing is obedience to Christ does not make it so.

For example, a person may say, “I want to be baptized by the authority of Jesus, or in his name, by following his example. He was baptized confessing that he was a son of God, and was without sin, not needing baptism to save him. This is my confession, and on that confession I was baptized by the authority of Jesus, or in obedience to him.”  One would assume that any thoughtful gospel preacher would immediately see that although this person might have thought he was being baptized by the authority of Jesus, or in obedience to him, it is not so. Jesus did not confess that he was A son of God, but THE only begotten, unique, one of a kind Son of God. If you confess that, you confess something that is not so. Jesus confessed that he always did the will of the Father, and thus had never been guilty of sin. If you confess that, you lie, according to 1 John 1:8-10. So the “bottom line” is that Jesus did not authorize anyone to be baptized on that basis, regardless of the fact that they assume it is pleasing to him. There is not the remotest hint in the Bible that he ever authorized anyone to be baptized that did not know they were lost in sin, and wanted the salvation that could be obtained through obedience to him. Any other kind of baptism is not by the authority of Christ. As we do preaching and personal evangelism (in case we ever get around to doing that), we need to try to make sure those whom we teach know the difference in thinking and saying, “I am doing this in obedience to, or by the authority of Christ” and actually doing something by His authority.

T. Pierce Brown

1068 Mitchell Ave.

Cookeville, TN. 38501


Phone: (615) 528-3600

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