By Whose Authority?
By T. Pierce Brown
All of my life I have heard Gospel preachers emphasize that when the Bible uses the expression, “in the name of,” it means “by the authority of.” My study suggests that it is not always so. The error may be so insignificant as to be unworthy of extensive comment, but any error, no matter how small, may cause subsequent errors that may be exceedingly dangerous.
As a case in point, the Bible teaches that baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21). It may have seemed a slight error to teach that baptism saves us because it is a meritorious or sacramental act, but it was not slight or insignificant. If one teaches the wrong thing about how, when or why baptism saves us, he may undermine the whole plan of salvation.
Our subject today may not be that important, but truth is always better than error. Even proper emphasis of a truth is better than improper emphasis, though it may not be vital to salvation. Let us therefore examine the subject in more detail.
expression “in the name” is found at least 28 times
in the King James Version of the New Testament. In about 18 of these it
the authority.” In the other ten, it means something slightly
the expression is from the Greek “en onomati” in
seems always to have reference
to the authority. This is the expression in
when Jesus gave the great commission in
The first time the
expression “eis onoma” is used in
the New Testament is in
same sort of expression is in
is commonly taught that when Peter said in
What Peter is saying is, “On the basis of what I have told you about Christ, you need to be baptized for the remission of your sins.” Of course, since he had taught them that Christ has all authority as the Son of God, in this case it involves doing it by the authority of Christ. We can conceive of no case in which a person does something on the basis of the name of Christ that does not include his doing it by the authority of Christ. The point here is that the expression, does not mean “by the authority of” but involves far more than that.
If you hear all the facts about Jesus that are revealed, including His infinite love for you, and you obey Him on the basis of all those facts, it is far more significant than doing it merely because He said to do it. The implications of this principle are far deeper than we have ever heard anyone express. If a child obeys his father, or does something “en to onomati” of his father, he does it simply because his father says so. He recognizes the authority of his father, and may realize that if he does not submit to it, he may get a spanking. If he obeys his father “epi to onomati” of his father, he does it with reference to all that is involved in his relationship with his father. It may include his father’s need for something, his father’s love for him, his awareness of his father’s concern for his neighbors or other factors. In any case, it will involve not just the authority of the father, but on the basis of his complete relationship with his father. If this helps you to realize more clearly that God uses the words He wants to use to get you to see deeper truths than you would otherwise see, it may be of value.