Question: Regarding baptism in Jesus’ name only, how do you reconcile Matthew 28 and Acts 2?. What practical consequences are there for holding to or not holding to the teaching of baptizing in Jesus name only.
Scripture: Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 2:38
Answer: First, it is important to study the context. For example, in Matthew 28, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, commissioning them to do world evangelism. In Acts 2:38, Peter is addressing the Jews in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost. Many of these Jews had witnessed and consented to the crucifixion of Christ. Peter argued that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they crucified, was both Lord and Christ.
The issue in Acts 2 was the Jews’ acceptance of Christ as the Savior-Messiah. [The phrase, “be baptized for the forgiveness of sins,” should be translated “because of the forgiveness of your sins.”] The Acts passage cannot be used to exclude the Father and Son in the baptismal formula. Both God and the Holy Spirit are mentioned in the passage. The Acts passage is not a command to baptize in a specific formula, but is primarily a validation of Jesus as the Messiah. The Acts passage does not invalidate or replace the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20.