The Bible states, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). What does this mean?
United Pentecostals (Oneness) believe Peter’s command to baptize “in the name of Jesus Christ” means the name “Jesus” must be verbally spoken at baptism (cp. Acts 2:38). They say if the name “Jesus” is not called out, then the baptism is invalid. For instance, the baptizer must declare, “In the name of Jesus I now baptize you.” They reduce Peter’s command to a formula.
The problem is, there is no such formula. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Thus, a dilemma arises. Are we to say, “in the name of Jesus Christ,” or “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?” Friends neither is a requirement of the gospel. “In the name of…” simply means by the authority of. When Peter was asked “By what power or by what name have you done this,” he replied, “by the name of Jesus Christ…” (Acts 4:7, 10). He was stating the authority and power of Jesus were behind the miracles and message of the apostles.
Some brethren believe prayer must end with “in the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.” If it does not end in this, it is deemed to be invalid. After all, Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If we must literally say “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” then must we literally give thanks “always” — every second of every day? This would require constant prayer, with no time to teach, sleep, read, encourage, etc. Besides, have you ever read a prayer in the New Testament that ended with “in Jesus’ name I [we] pray, Amen”?
Again, “in the name of” means by the authority of. If it means we must say, “in the name of,” then we must say it when we brush our teeth, turn on the TV, drive our car, say goodbye, pay for our groceries, etc., because Colossians 3:17 tells us to do all things, in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Is it wrong to say “in the name of Jesus” or “in Jesus’ name” at a baptism or when offering a prayer? No. It is perfectly acceptable. Is it a requirement. No. If something is done scripturally, it is done “in Jesus’ name.”
Steven F. Deaton