In the Name of – a Study in Greek

The phrase ‘in the name of’, as applied to baptism, has sparked many debates over the years. The Popular view of the baptismal formula comes from Matthew 28:19, which uses the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. An argument that is used against the formula ‘in the name of Jesus’, as seen in the book of Acts, is that the phrase ‘in the name of’ means ‘by the authority of’. This study will look at the Greek words in this phrase to see what was meant when Jesus and the Apostles said “in the name of’.

One argument against baptism in the name of Jesus is that the phrase ‘in the name of Jesus’ only refers to the authority of Jesus. It is true that ‘in the name of’, and ‘in his name’, is in reference to the power and authority of Jesus (Bernard, p. 72). It is by Jesus’ authority that we use His name, because Jesus has all power.

Matthew 28:18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Jesus told His disciples to use His name.

Mark 16:17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Luke 24:47  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Jesus uses the same phrase during the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

We see this phrase in the book of Acts in reference to baptism.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 8:16  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Acts 10:48  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord

Acts 19:5  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

If the phrase ‘in the name of’ only means ‘by the authority of’ then we would not have a baptismal formula because Matthew 28:19 also uses the same phrase. If we have no baptismal formula, Paul would not have needed to rebaptize the disciples of John. But Paul did rebaptize the disciples of John, and he used the name of Jesus.

The verse in Matthew and the verses in Acts use the same phrase, ‘in the name of’, but they are not all the same in Greek. The preposition ‘in’ has three different prepositions in the Greek text- eis with the accusative case, en with the dative case, and epi with the dative case. Here are the Greek definitions of the words ‘in’ and ‘name’:

1519 eis {ice} Meaning:  1) into, unto, to, towards, for, among

1722 en {en} Meaning:  1) in, by, with etc.

1909 epi {ep-ee’} Meaning:  1) upon, on, at, by, before 2) of position, on, at, by, over, against 3) to, over, on, at, across, against

3686 onoma {on’-om-ah} Meaning:  1) name: univ. of proper names 2) the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, i.e. for one’s rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds etc. 3) persons reckoned up by name 4) the cause or reason named: on this account, because he suffers as a Christian, for this reason

Matthew 28:19 uses the same phrase as Acts 8:16 and 19:5. This Greek phrase is eis to onoma tou kuriou Iesou (in the name of the Lord Jesus). This phrase literally means ‘into the name’ (Bauer, et al, p. 228). This literally means that the one who is baptized becomes the possession of, and is under the protection of, the one whose name he bears (Bauer, et al, p. 228). When we are baptized in Jesus name we become His possession because He bought us with His own blood. This is how we are baptized into His death.

Romans 6:3-7  3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Eis, which means ‘into the name’, shows us that Matthew 28:19 commands us to be baptized into the name. What is the one name we are to be baptized into? We see in the book of Acts this name is Jesus.

Acts 10:48 uses en. The phrase is en to onomati Iesou Christou (in the name of the Lord). The phrase literally means verbally calling the name (Bauer, et al, p. 572). This literally means to say the name of Jesus Christ at baptism. Bauer, et al, says that the use of en seems to be a formula (Bauer, et al, p. 572). Bauer, et al, gives the following examples of the name being uttered as a formula.

Mark 9:38  And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

Mark 16:17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Luke 9:49  And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

Luke 10:17  And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Acts 3:6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Acts 4:7  And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Acts 4:10  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.

Other examples include:

John 15:15  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

John 16:23  And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

John 20:31  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Acts 16:18  And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

1 Corinthians 6:11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Philippians 2:10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Colossians 3:17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

James 5:14  Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

These verses, as in Acts 10:48, speak of verbally calling the name. Peter was telling Cornelius to be baptized with the name of Jesus verbally called over him.

In Acts 2:38 the Greek phrase is epi to onomati Iesou Christou (in the name of Jesus Christ). This phrase literally means ‘on (or in) the name’ (Bernard, p. 79). This indicates that the name is literally called out (Bauer, et al, p. 573). This shows that we should call out the name of Jesus during baptism. Here are some other verses that use epi:

Acts 4:17-18  17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.  18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 5:28  Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

Acts 5:40  And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Jesus uses epi in Great Commission that we find in Luke.

Luke 24:47  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Jesus was saying to speak His name.

F. F. Bruce stated that a study of the Greek prepositions shows that Matthew 28:19 is a symbolic reference, while Acts 2:38 refers to a specific invocation of the name (Bruce, p. 57). En to onomati refers to ‘in the name’ and ‘on the authority of’, while eis to onoma implies a transfer of ownership (Bruce, p. 57). The idea is that we call on the name of Jesus in baptism, and we receive remission of sins that He bought with His own blood. We become His through the new birth experience of water and Spirit baptism.

The Greek text shows that water baptism is to be performed with the name of Jesus being called out.  When the name of Jesus is called over us during baptism we are dedicating our lives to the one that died for us. Through faith in His name, we are expressing His authority to remit our sins. We are devoting our lives to God and proclaiming Jesus as the Lord of our lives. We proclaim Jesus as both Lord and Christ.




Bauer, W., Arndt, W. F., Gingrich, F. W., and Danker F., (1979). A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 2nd ed.

            Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Bernard, David K. (1992). In the name of Jesus

            Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press

Bruce, F. F., (1984). The Books and the Parchments, rev. ed.

            Old Tappan: Revell


David K. Bernard In the Name of Jesus

1 Comment

  1. I really appreciate this website: http:/ I have just completed reading the article: In the Name of – a Study in Greek, which Randy A. Brown has posted here.
    I hope I am allowed to post my comment concerning this subject which is evidence of our Savior’s hallowed, eternal and saving name stated in the scrip and language of the Hebrews. That fact does not make His name of Hebrew origin because His name, like His being, has always existed, cf. Isaiah 63:16,”our Father, our Redeemer, from everlasting is your name;” and compare Isaiah 45:21, “the only Righteous God and Savior.” Indeed, Yah is the “Everlasting Father, Mighty God, and the Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6, the God-man who, as the Son of God/Son of Man/Son of David, (‘The Root and Offspring of David,’ Rev. 22:16), who loved us while we were all sinners and laid down His life to save us (Ro. 5:8), and sent His promises Spirit to fill us, cf. Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-39.

    Gospel of Matthew written in scrip of the Hebrews.
    Larry Stone, a son of Yah, and teacher of Truth.
    Yah, who is Salvation, (Yah-oshua) as the Son and Anointed One, prayed for his disciples in John 17:17, saying, “Sanctify them by your word; your word if truth.” Therefore, since truth is the elements that separates and sets apart His disciples from sin and lies, and fills us with His love (Ro. 5:5) so that ‘we love Him because he first loved us,’ 1st John 4:19, and so we ‘love one another’ which is what identifies His disciples in the world (cf. John 13:35); let us pursue truth with a pure heart.
    Eusebius, a 4th century AD historian, wrote in Ecclesical History Vol. 10, when Pantaenus, who was the head of the catechetical school in Alexandra, Egypt, went on a mission to India, c.180 AD, it is reported that his arrival with the good news of Salvation that it had been “preceded by the Gospel of Matthew” among those who knew our Savior there because “Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to them and left behind Matthew’s writing in the script of the Hebrews.”
    Since it is believed through critical evidence that all 27 books of the New Testament were written by the end of AD 100, then should realize for the original Gospel of Matthew existing in the script of the Hebrew existed 80 years later is certainly within the realm of reason.
    The reality of the Gospel of Matthew written in the script of the Hebrews certainly eliminates any idea or valid claim that Matthew wrote it or any part of it in the script of the Grecians. Let us grasp the fact that the people in India were taught by Bartholomew the good news of Salvation from the Gospel written by Matthew in the script of the Hebrews. Therefore, in Matthew 1:21 what name did Matthew record for virgin Mary’s firstborn son? Matthew certainly would not have stated a Greek name, a Latin name, an English name, or any name other than the only name wherein is Salvation; the name of the one who came to this earth “to save His people from their sins.”
    Matthew 1:1, nor any other verse in Matthew’s writing would have the Greek word, ‘kristos,’ the English transliteration of which is “Christ,” printed in his record. Matthew 1:1 would be addressing the Hebrews in their language, in their script, to establish the Hebrew “genealogy of Yah-oshua” (Yah, who is Salvation), “Mashiyach” (translaiterated in English, ‘Messiah,’ and translated into Greek as, ‘kristos,’ when transliterated into English is: ‘Christ,’ all meaning: Yah’s ‘Anointed One,’ Cf NIV study notes for Matthew 1:17), “the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
    The NIV study notes for Matthew 1:21 reads: “Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means: ‘the LORD saves.’” Notice in the NIV study note the upper case spelling of the word, ‘LORD,’ which the translators of the NIV have explained in its preface: “In regard to the divine name YHWH, commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton, the translators adopted the device used in most English versions of rendering that name as ‘LORD’ in capital letters to distinguish it from, ‘Adonai,’ another Hebrew word rendered, ‘Lord.’” Therefore, they are telling us that ‘Joshua’ means, ‘Yahweh saves,’ but they also told us: ‘Jesus is the Greek for of Joshua.’
    The word, ‘Jesus,’ in The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance (ISBN:0-310-26285-2) which is a computer generated concordance from the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words, refers us to word # 2652 in its Greek dictionary. It shows us that word #2652, ‘Iesous,’ is used ‘916 times’ in the Greek versions of the Bible, and its translated: “Jesus, Joshua” and means, “Yahweh saves.”
    The word, ‘Jesus,’ in The New strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (ISBN: 0-7852-4539-1) refers us to word # 2424 in its Greek dictionary. It show us that word # 2424, ‘Iesous,’ is a substitute for the Hebrew original word # 3091, which is translated: Jesus (i.e. Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) others Israelites.
    The NIV concordance has a Crossover section in the back of that book which will allow the reader to compare Strong’s word numbers with the NIV word numbers. Strong’s Hebrew word #3091 crosses over the NIV Hebrew word # 3397, Yahoshua, which means, “Yahweh saves,” and is translated ‘Joshua’ 203 times.
    Having reviewed this matter, we should understand that Matthew did not ever write the English name, ‘Jesus,’ nor the Greek name, ‘Iesous.’ Furthermore, Matthew did not write the Latin name, ‘Iesvs,’ because Matthew, a Hebrew, wrote in the script of the Hebrews. Therefore, Matthew wrote our Father/Saviors name: ‘Yahoshua.’ The Hebrews understood it meaning, “Yah Saves.”
    Now let us consider Acts 7:44-45 and Hebrews 4:7-8 in the King James Version, Acts 7:44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he has seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David.” Hebrews 4:7-8, “Again, he limited a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today, after so long time; as it is said. ‘Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’(Psa. 95:7,8); Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.”
    The reason why the KJV has the name, ‘Jesus,’ in Acts 7:44-45 and Hebrews 4:7-8, is because it was translated into English from a Greek version instead of from the Hebrew original. Since the exact Greek word, “Iesous,” was substituted for the Hebrew word, ‘Yahoshua,’ the new name for the son of Nun in Numbers 13:16, and for Mary’s firstborn, Matthew 1:21.
    The very idea that anyone can claim that the Gospel was preached to Hebrews in the Greek language make no sense and serves only to promote their religious bias.
    Before he ascended on high, our Savior, Yah0shua, said to his disciples and apostles in Luke 24:46-49, “This is what is written: The Anointed One (Hebrew, ‘Mashiyach’) will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached IN HIS NAME to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Yah-rusalem, the city that bears his name, Yah’s city of peace). 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you WHAT my Father has promised (Joel 2:28ff); but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Cf Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
    Interesting, to say the least, is the statement at the top of the Book of Hebrews in the Authorized Version of the King James Bible, AD 1611, digital copied ISBN: 978-0-310-44029-1, which says: “The Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to the Hebrews.” See also the introduction of Hebrews in the NIV study Bible, ISBN: 0-310-92573-8. Obvious, from the content of the book of Hebrews, it was written to the Hebrew people, but the person who penned the words appears not to be Paul, but may have well been Barnabas, cf. Tertullian’s De Pudicitia, 20, (c.200AD).
    The theme of the Hebrews is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of YahOshua, the Anointed One, as revealer and mediator of God’s grace. The Anointed One is God’s full and final revelation, far surpassing the limited revelation given in the Scriptures to His prophets, who searched for the date and time for the Anointed One was to arrive and provided the “everlasting salvation,” Isaiah 45:17/Joel 2:28-32/Acts 2:1-39.
    Let us consider Matthew’s record of YahOshua and the devil tempting him in Matthew 4:1-11. We may confidently believe and understand that the Anointed One quoted Yah’s original words in Deut. 8:3/Mt. 4:4, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on ever word that comes out of the mouth of God;” and in Deut. 6:16/Mt. 4:7, “do not put Yahweh your Elohim (Supreme Being/God) to the test;” and in Deut. 6:13/Mt. 4:10, “Worship Yahweh, your Elohim (Supreme Being/God), and serve him only;” and in all Scripture that He quoted he would never make a mistake when quoting it, and he would not be quoting the LXX, the Greek version of the Scripture, for translations are not done by ‘inspiration,’ God-breathed.
    Moreover, Matthew, an apostle of the anointed One, and filled with Yah’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, would not be reliant on the flawed LXX, a Greek version of Scripture, as he wrote in the Script of the Hebrews. Therefore, in Matthew 21:9, 15, he said, “Hosanna to the son of David!” (Save us son of David). “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh!” (See also Mt. 23:39). “Hosanna in the highest!” Psalms 118:26. And, in Matthew 21:42/Psalms 118:22-23, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; Yahweh has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
    Let us not overlook Yah’s word in Matthew 22:37-40/Deut. 6:5; Mt. 22:37 “’Love Yahweh your Elohim (Supreme Being/God) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Deut. 6:5). 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Lev. 19:18). 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    After the Pharisee answered our Savior’s questions, ‘Whose son is the Mashiyach?’ and said, ‘David’s son,’ he asked them in Matthew 22:43-45; Mt.22:43 “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit. Calls him, ‘Adon?,’ for (in Psa. 110:1) he says, 44 ‘Yahweh said to Adon: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ 45 Since David calls him, ‘Adon,’ how can he be his son?”
    He makes a valid point in Mt. 23:15, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” A message for false teacher today!
    The Father’s name is, ‘Yah,’ who is also the Son, Psalms 68:4, 18/Eph. 4:7-8, who functions with his Spirit Joel 2:28ff/Acts 2:17ff, referred to in Acts 2:4 as ‘Holy Ghost’ in KJV, and ‘Holy Spirit,’ NIV. Notice the definite article ‘the’ before the word, ‘name,’ in Mt. 28:19. That is why baptism is in the name of Yah, who saves! “Yah,” the Voice from heaven Acts 26:14-15.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.