Did Peter Make a Mistake at Pentecost?

by Tad Lindley

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

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

Full of contradictions?

People like to say that the Bible is full of contradictions. Usually the person making this bold claim has not read much of the Bible. Having read the Bible many times, and five different translations, I have to say that I have not found contradiction in scripture, unless Peter made a mistake at Pentecost.

Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 28:19 the disciples were to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. Matthew 28:19 occurred right before Jesus ascended into heaven, one week prior to the day of Pentecost. Now flip to Acts 2:38. Peter is preaching his salvation message. He is telling people to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ”, not, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Did Peter make a mistake at Pentecost? 

If we stack the two events together, Jesus vs. Peter, it would look like Peter had a memory loss over the week between Jesus ascending to heaven and the day of Pentecost. It also means that there is a contradiction in scripture.

If Peter made a mistake, then…

It goes deeper than just Peter though. The evangelist Philip also baptized people in Jesus’ Name. …when they believed Philip preaching concerning the things of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women…in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:12, 16)

Not only did Peter and Philip baptize in Jesus name, but so did Ananias. When Ananias baptized Saul of Tarsus, he did it “calling on the name of the Lord”. (Acts 22:16)

The Apostle Paul also baptized in Jesus’ name. In Acts 19:5 Paul re-baptizes followers of the late John the Baptist “in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Was the whole Church disobeying Jesus?

What is going on here? It would seem that the entire New Testament church was in direct conflict with the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 to baptize people in the name of the Father, and the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Ghost. Not only that, but the book of Romans says that the believers in Rome were baptized into Jesus Christ (6:3). The church in Corinth was also baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:11). In Galatia, they were also baptized in Jesus’ name (Galatians 3:27). Presumably the church in Ephesus was also baptized the same way, since there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5, Acts 19:5). The Colossian church also was buried with him (Jesus) in baptism (Colossians 2:12).

Should we amputate part of the Bible?

There is no record anywhere in the Bible of a person being baptized “in the name of the Father, and the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Ghost”. Either the church got off to a bad start that would not be corrected for almost 300 years, or we need to take a second look at Matthew 28:19.

If the church got off on the wrong foot by baptizing in Jesus name, then we should cut out the books of Luke, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians, since they seem to contradict the commandment of Jesus Christ to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

No contradiction

Obviously the church got off to a right start. Jesus had just opened their minds to the scriptures and given them direction for spreading the gospel. The apostles understood that Jesus said, “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, not, “the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. There is only one name that can accurately fulfill this command, and that name is Jesus. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Baptism is for salvation (see Mark 16:16). If you have not been baptized in Jesus’ name like the saints in the Bible were, don’t hold back, ask your pastor to baptize you in Jesus’ name today. Eternity is too long to be wrong.

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.