εἰς τὸ ὄνομα … Should we use “Yahweh” in Baptism?

Here’s what Matthew 28:19 says:


“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…”


This passage has been used to support Trinitarian orthodoxy for millennia. And rightly so. For it implies that there is a single Name shared by three divine Persons, namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

What is “the Name”? Well, surely, the Name is “Yahweh”, the name of the God of Israel (Exo. 3:13-15). Jews today refer to God sometimes as Ha’Shem (“the Name”) as a way of avoiding accidental blasphemy when referring to God. English Bibles use “the LORD” to refer to the tetragrammaton YHWH or Yahweh (although one recent translation has largely dropped this trend). And for us Christians, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all share that one Name of Yahweh. For Yahweh is one God who is tripersonal, as Trinitarianism states.

But so far as I am aware, nobody uses the Name “Yahweh” explicitly in a baptismal service. I’ve been to baptisms in Baptist, Anglican, and Catholic churches. No one uses the Name explicitly.

I wonder why this is? I’m not saying we should have some kind of revolution. But I feel there is a solidified tradition of simply baptism “in the Name of…” rather than “Yahweh.” But I imagine that early Judaism would have used “Yahweh” in the baptismal ritual, and Jesus simply makes the Trinitarian nature of this Name more explicit later in Matthew after his resurrection from the dead.

Another reason I think it is important to at least remember “Yahweh” as the Name of Matt. 28:19 is that, in the Book of Acts, baptism is only done solely “in the Name of the Lord Jesus” and not of the Father and the Holy Spirit also (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:448, 19:5). According to one friend of mine, this has been used by textual critics as a reason to think that the very Trinitarian formula in Matt. 28:19 was probably not an authentic saying of Jesus written by Matthew himself but was inserted later. But if we understand Jesus to be included in what “Yahweh” properly signifies as the eternal Son, then that is logically compatible with what Matthew 28:19 says, and I simply see no reason why we should have to form a textual-critical thesis such as these secular textual critics have done.

So I reckon it would be cool if we started to baptise people explicitly into the Name of “Yahweh, the God of Israel” (who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit). It makes more sense, and seems more authentic.

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