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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Identity of the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: What Is the "Name" of the Holy Spirit?

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What Is the “Name” of the Holy Spirit?

The Identity of the Holy Spirit – Question 19

In Matthew 28:19, we have what is called the “Great Commission.” In it, Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to make other disciples and then baptize these believers in the “name” of the three members of the Trinity. We read His command as follows.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19 NLT).

What does He mean by the term “name?” Is it similar to modern usage such as, “in the name of the law?” What exactly does this verse teach us?

1. The Holy Spirit Is a Person

First, we learn the Holy Spirit is a distinct person. He is mentioned on an equal basis with two other persons – God the Father and God the Son. In addition, these are “divine” Persons with which He is equated. This is another evidence of His deity.

2. The Word “name” Is Singular

The Greek word translated as “name” is singular, not plural. Therefore the command is to baptize believers in the name of God the Father, and in the name God of the Son, and in the name of God the Holy Spirit – three distinct Persons.

There are other points that need to be emphasized.

Name Is Almost Always Used of Persons in Scripture

When the word “name” is used in the New Testament it is almost always used of a person. The Greek word onoma, translated “name,” is used over 225 times in the New Testament and it always refers to a person except for four verses (Mark 14:32; Luke 1:26; Luke 24:13; Acts 28:7). In these instances in refers to place names. It is never used of some impersonal force.

Therefore the normal usage of the term “name” for the Holy Spirit implies a person – not some impersonal force.

The Term Name Stands for the Power and Authority of a Person

The word “name” can also stand in Scripture for “the power and authority of.” However, it is always a person that it stands for the power and authority of – never some impersonal force. It is not possible for some impersonal force to have personal power or authority. This is a crucial point to understand.

The Term Name Is Not Used in the Modern Impersonal Sense of the Word

Furthermore, in New Testament Greek we do not find the word “name” used in the modern impersonal sense such as, “in the name of the law” or “in the name of my country.” The term was not used in this manner in the New Testament. It was only used in the personal sense. Therefore it is not proper to read the modern idiom back into the New Testament.

The Great Commission Gives Testimony to the Deity of the Holy Spirit

In sum, the fact that Jesus told His disciples to baptize believers in the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit demonstrates that that they are three distinct personages. Furthermore, each of these personages is God Himself. This is the mystery of the Holy Trinity. There is one God who consists of three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Summary – Question 19
What Is the “name” of the Holy Spirit?

In what is known as the “Great Commission,” Jesus Christ told His disciples to baptize converts in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What does this mean?

In Scripture, the word “name” is used as another way of referring to the person. The word “name” is used in the Bible for the “power and authority of” but only in reference to a person. We do not find the term “name” used in the modern impersonal sense of something other than an actual person

Thus, the word name in this context has to do with the person of the Holy Spirit. In other words, new believers are to be baptized into the name of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Actually we learn a number of things from this passage. First, the three members of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another. Second, each of the three members, though distinct, is God. This is the mystery of the Trinity. There is only one God who exists but He consists of three distinct persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is mentioned on an equal basis with two other divine Persons, the Father and the Son, is a further indication of His personality and Deity.

Whom Does the Holy Spirit Proceed From? ← Prior Section
Who Are the Seven Spirits? Next Section →
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