Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Paul Ferguson: Preacher, Debater, Scholar, Apologist

Paul Ferguson was a prolific debater and teacher in the United Pentecostal Churches from the 1960's through the 1970s. Ferguson's first public debate was in 1969 against, "church of Christ" denomination preacher, Wayne Jackson on the subject of the Godhead. Ferguson's last debate was in 1978 against, "church of Christ" denomination preacher, David Harkrider on the subjects of the Godhead and Spiritual Gifts.

Paul Ferguson, 1969, Ferguson-Jackson Godhead Debate
From 1969 till  1980,  Ferguson debated many times on the subjects of the Godhead, Baptismal Formula, and Spiritual Gifts. At that time, Ferguson held an MA (Greek & Hebrew) and an MDiv from Wheaton College, Illinois and served as an instructor at Western Apostolic Bible College (now Christian Life College), Stockton, California. Ferguson represented one of the top Oneness scholars of this time. Paul Ferguson's debates (that I am aware of) are as follows:
1969 - Wayne Jackson - Godhead
1970 - Wayne Jackson - Written "debate" on Spiritual Gifts i.e. "The Ferguson-Jackson Love Letters"
1971 - Roy Ferris - Spiritual Gifts
1972 - Larry Hafely - Godhead, Baptismal Formula
1973 - Larry Hafely - Spiritual Gifts?
1976 - Ben Shropshire - Spiritual Gifts (at Gateway College, now Urshan College)
1978 - David Harkrider - Godhead, Spiritual Gifts, and Baptismal Formula?
1980 - 3-Man Debate Beaumont, TX: Billy Stanley, David Myer and Paul Ferguson (Pentecostal) vs Max Dawson, Danny Brown And David Watts ("church of Christ") - Spiritual Gifts.
Ferguson went on to complete his PhD (Theology) from Chicago Theological Seminary. He served as Professor of Old Testament for many years at Christian Life College, Chicago until his death in March of 2018.
I first came across some of Paul Ferguson's writings around 1994. Elder C. E. George of Jonesboro, Arkansas gave me a copy of "Five Smooth Stones," Ferguson's apologetic on the Baptismal Formula. I reached out to Bro. Ferguson later that year, and he mailed me a box of his writings which included his commentaries on Acts, Genesis, and John, and written transcripts of public debates with Wayne Jackson and Larry Hafely.
To say that I became a "Ferguson Fan" is an understatement to say the least. His scholarship and debate style (along with Billy Lewis) became very influential to my bible teaching and debating. I even titled my written debate with John Lewis, "The Lewis-Weatherly Love Letters" after Ferguson's correspondence with Wayne Jackson ("The Ferguson-Jackson Love Letters")!
Although I never had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ferguson in person, I did find the opportunity to talk with him on the phone a few times, and we exchanged emails/letters over the past 25 years. Just last year (2017), Dr. Ferguson mailed me one of his MDiv thesis papers on 1 Corinthians 11, his entry in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia on "kephalē," and an article he wrote for a theological journal.  Below are some excerpts from a letter he sent me in 2008:
"February 25, 2008

Dear Jason,

These are some of my attempts to respond to your questions:

1. My first debate was with Wayne Jackson in Stockton CA.  It was around 1968 [NOTE: the debate was actually April 24 & 25, 1969 - JLW] so I think I was about thirty. (The students at WABC got it up.)  I printed it out. I have a   copy in horrible condition I will send you. I put paragraph headings, footnotes and an appendix with 105 things Jackson didn’t answer.  My favorite heading was “Jackson’s Jet” where he took a paragraph to talk about my arguments and changed his rebuttal into an extraneous affirmative.  After he saw my printout, he accused me in his stupid newsletter of not being satisfied with my efforts during the debate.  So my own newsletter had a cartoon of David holding up Goliath’s head. The head was saying, “David was not satisfied with how he slung the stone so he had to cut my head off.”  Can you believe it!  THE GUY ACCUSED ME OF BEING MORBID!!!!  A lively exchange occurred which I printed out in the “Jackson-Ferguson Love Letters.”

 2. My last debate was the one you have was in 1978. So I haven’t done that in about 30 years. There are a couple of things not on the tape. They called point of order on me after the debate for whaling (verbally) on an idiot spectator that came up to insult me.  The best part was the tract I had my henchmen pass out at the door called “Why I’m a member of the Lord’s Church”.  I put it out in their own jargon.  They were not happy campers.  In another debate we passed out the Full Gospel Bus. Men’s book called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Church of Christ Today”. They got up and announced, “Not one of those people are in the Church of Christ.”  My moderator responded, “We’re so ignorant we shout about it anyway.”

 Speaking of “their own jargon” I kept aggravating one of their star debaters to sign on to rebut the following proposition that I wanted to affirm: “The Church of Christ of which I am a member is scriptural in name, origin and doctrine.”  He kept refusing.

 My most unusual debate was in Austin Texas.  It was like a tag team match.  There were three members on each team – a beginner, a middle guy and a veteran. One guy challenged me to go out to the cemetery and raise someone from the dead.  I said that we didn’t need to do that because there were so many dead people around my opponent’s table. Then I quoted from Abraham who said someone who didn’t believe the Bible wouldn’t believe a person coming back from the dead either.  He brought up the challenge the last night so I said, “We might as well go out to the cemetery because I imagine the stiffs at the cemetery could put up about as many arguments as this guy has.”

 3. I think the best opponent was one where I was a moderator. (All the guys I debated were golden-tongued academic idiots.)  Guy N. Woods. He was clever.  My buddy accused him of getting bald butting against the truth. He responded that it wasn’t what you had on the outside but what’s on the inside.”  My hero in the UPC was D.L. Welch from Pensacola FLA.  I also liked Marvin Hicks from Texas. My greatest hero when I was in Bible College in Tulsa was Bishop S. C. Johnson.
 7. You won’t get Heitmueller in English. It wouldn’t sell. Put an ad in the paper for someone to translate parts of it for you.  I had to learn how to read German on the way to the doctoral degree. They said I had to know what the Germans were saying. Then when I had my orals for the dissertation they said, “We’re disappointed in you because you have been too much affected by the Germans.”  That was actually my last debate. It was in Dec. of 1987.  They lied to me.  They said it would be just small questions clarifying minor details in case I wanted to publish it later.  It turned out to be an Indian gauntlet.  There were scholars from Notre Dame, Univ. of Chicago, etc. They invited guests from CTS. 
They gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  The dissertation was on the book of Jonah.  I had written half of it showing that it fit the historical scenario and the repentance could have happened.  They asked no questions about that part but told me I had to throw it away.  I took it out and published it later in other places.  Since then I have been on a Don Quixote quest to settle 50-year-old grudges against professors I had who didn’t believe the Bible. God moved me from the attic to the basement. I am vigorously defending the historical accuracy of the OT.  That’s where all my time goes. (I have a chapter in John Ashton’s Big Argument on reliability of OT which is being sold in a lot of Christian bookstores.)

This is not a good time to come up. I am up to my neck in books. For every course I teach I write a book on it and sell it to the students for a high price.  Then I give the profit back in student scholarships and aid. I am also getting ready to make a missions trip to Israel.  Last time I was there I gave a 45 minute lecture in Hebrew at Israel Bible College. 

You got me 30 years too late.  I used to know everything.  Now I barely know my own name on some days. If I go back and try to answer questions on doctrine, I may accidentally give the wrong information.  I am a little disgruntled about past debates because Pentecostals I worked with didn’t like that method.  Also the other side was snotty, snooty and often just plain obnoxious. In addition to this all the debates jangled my nervous system.  Someone from the Church of X called me about a year ago. I treated him like a telemarketer.  My story is I won all the debates and there’s no challenge anymore.

  I hope this “off the cuff” ranting helped you, 

  Thanks for thinking of me,

  Paul Ferguson"
Over the years, I  misplaced or lost most of the articles Dr. Ferguson initially mailed to me. However, recently, Elder Robert Fenner, from Texas, entrusted me with his entire collection of Paul Ferguson books, articles, and audio debates. It has become my goal to upload all of this material to public domain on the internet, so that these treasures will never be lost again. Below are links to both Archive.org and YouTube to Ferguson material that has been uploaded.
If any of my readers have ANY old Paul Ferguson books, booklets, articles, journals, and ESPECIALLY audio cassettes of preaching or debates, PLEASE email me. I would love to be able to upload all of these for the world to share.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A.C.T.S. 22:16 Examining the Self-Invocation “Revelation”

Recently some brethren informed me that a so-called Apostolic minister, Mark August, banned me on Facebook and then preceded to rant and make accusations against me concerning Acts 22:16 and baptism in the name of Jesus. I have discussed baptism in the name of Jesus and Mark’s “self-invocation revelation” on several different forums on Facebook. Mark does not appreciate any critiques of his supposed “revelation” of his self-invocation view of Acts 22:16. Frankly, I think it displays a person’s lack of character to block someone on social media and then precede to rail and make accusations against that person, assuming they will never see your posts or have the opportunity to responds. Oh the mighty debater you are. When you are intimidated by any critique of your doctrine, it does not give much credence to your self-proclaimed revelation. This blog article serves as my formal response to Mark’s “self-invocation revelation” and accusations made on social media. If Mark would like to discuss this issue further, I would be more than willing to publicly debate him on this subject.

Mark August is the “Founder and Senior Bishop of the Apostolic Church of Truth in Salvation, (A.C.T.S. Church)” and “founder of Academy of Christian Theological Studies (A.C.T.S. College), a Oneness Pentecostal Think-Tank” (https://acts2216.weebly.com/). Mark claims that in 2014 he prophesied for seven days, during which time he received his “revelation” of self-invocation according to Acts 22:16.

Thus, Mark builds his doctrine of Jesus’s Name baptism on his “revelation” of Acts 22:16, and then works backward, using this “revelation” to explain all other baptism passages in Acts and the Epistles. Briefly, Mark teaches that the biblical way to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” is for the one being baptized to orally invoke the name of Jesus (self-invocation) during the baptismal ceremony. Likewise, Mark teaches that remission of sins (washing away sins) is dependent upon the baptismal candidate self-invoking the name of Jesus in baptism, and any baptism in which the baptismal candidate did not orally self-invoke the name of Jesus is not a valid baptism. In fact, Mark does not teach that it is necessary for the baptizer to invoke the name of Jesus over the baptismal candidate at all. Mark teaches that this is simply a church tradition:

Note: A.C.T.S. does NOT teach self baptism, ministers are commanded to baptise in Math 28 and Bibilical examples can be found in abundance showing the role of ministers baptising peoples, being in water with them. A.C.T.S. encourages the minister to remain in tradition and invoke Jesus Name over the recipient, though we can find no Biblical example of a direct command to do so. (Bold emphasis mine – JLW).

Already, Mark has a faulty understanding of Christian baptism because he does not even understand that the phrase “in the name of” is a biblical idiom meaning, “to make use of the name; naming, calling out, calling upon the name.” For example, in Mark 9:38, John came to Jesus and said, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” How did John know that this stranger casted out demons “in Jesus’s name?” The obvious answer is because John heard this stranger invoke the name of Jesus while casting out a demon. Jackson and Lake, likewise, clarify:

The clearest example of the use of the Name in Mark is ix.38ff. There can be no doubt as to the meaning. The disciples saw a stranger who cast out devils by commanding them in the Name of Jesus. They objected because he was not a disciple, but Jesus pointed out that the man who worked miracles by the use of his Name could not very well then turn about and become his enemy. Here it is not any power, consciously conveyed to the miracle-worker by Jesus, which commands the devils; it is simply the use of his Name by a completely unauthorized person. To cast out a devil by commanding him in the Name of Jesus to go was so fully in accord with the beliefs of the time that it raised no comment. The disciples were not surprised at the success of the measure; they objected to it as unauthorized. Jesus himself had power to cast out devils, and therefore his Name carried the same power, no matter who pronounced it [F. J. Foakes Jackson, Kirsopp Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity (London: Macmillan, 1920), 5:123–4].

A consistent use of the phrase “in the name of” in such actions as “prophesying in the name of,” “bless in the name of,” “swear in the name of,” “teach in the name of,” “pray in the name of,” etc. illustrates that the idiom “in the name of” means, “with use of, or naming, calling out, calling upon the name.” For more scriptural references on “in the name of” in both the Old and New Testaments, see Jason L. Weatherly, Calling on the Name of Jesus: An Apostolic Apologetic of the Baptismal Formula, Chapter 4.

In addition, the Hebrew and Greek lexicons define the phrase “in the name of” as “naming, calling out, calling on the name.” Kohler–Baumgartner define the Hebrew beshem (in the name of) as, “calling the name = in the name of” [Ludwig Kohler, Walter Baumgartner, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), 2:983]. Bauer–Danker, likewise, defines the Greek phrase epi tō onomati tinos as, “when someone’s name is mentioned or called upon, or mentioning someone’s name” [Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, Wilbur Gingrich, Frederick Danker, A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Litrature 2nd edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 288]. I cite many other lexical resources in Chapter 6 of my book.

In Matt 28:19, Jesus commissioned His apostles to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Since, Mark August holds to a form of Oneness theology (I would compare his view as more “Jehovah-Angel doctrine”), we both understand that Matt 28:19 refers to the One Name of Jesus Christ. Notice, however, in Matt 28:19 and Luke 24:47 (“that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name”), the responsibility is upon the BAPTIZER to baptize “in the name of” Jesus. How would the apostles have accomplished baptizing someone “in the name of Jesus?” They would have accomplished this act the same way they did any other action “in the name of Jesus,” and that is by INVOKING the name of Jesus while baptizing the convert. The baptizer invoking the name of Jesus while baptizing the convert is not simply some type of church “tradition” (as Mark claims) but is the ONLY way a minister can obey the Great Commission of Matt 28:19 and Luke 24:47. If the baptizer does not invoke the name of Jesus over the candidate in baptism, then the baptizer truly has not baptized “in the name of Jesus.” For over 2000 years, Bible-believing Christians have understood the phrase “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38) to mean that the baptizer invoked the name of Jesus over the candidate. This is the obvious meaning of the passage. In fact, Jackson and Lake comment:

It cannot be doubted that the meaning of the editor is to describe Christian baptism (i) as containing the formula “In the name of Jesus” (cf. Acts viii.16, x.48, xix.5) … A convert knew perfectly well when he said that he had been baptized in the name of Jesus, he meant someone had said, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus,” or something similar [Jackson & Lake, Beginnings of Christianity, 4:26, 5:124].

In addition, Wilhelm Heitmüller, in his scholarly treatise, Im Namen Jesu, explains:

The naming or calling on the name of Jesus Christ, which is described in epi tō onomati and en tō onomati Iēsou Christou, was not on the part of the person being baptized, but from other sources, presumably on the part of the baptizer … The same is undoubtedly true for the Acts of the Apostles: the expressions epi tō onomati and en tō onomati respectively, indicate at both places the name of Jesus Christ was somehow named on the part of the baptizer. [Wilhelm Heitmüller, Im Namen Jesu (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1903), 92–3]. (Note special thanks to Susanne Wagner, PhD, Assistant Professor of German Studies, University of Arkansas at Little Rock for translation into English).

Thus, Mark builds his entire “revelation” on a faulty foundation because he attempts to conform the natural meaning of baptismal passages in Acts to his misunderstanding of Acts 22:16. The reason why Mark is intimidated by critiques of his doctrine is because if his view of Jesus’s Name baptism and Acts 22:16 is proven false, then it will likewise invalidate any supposed “prophecies” he proclaimed in 2014. His entire “A.C.T.S.” movement is built upon this so-called “self-invocation revelation.”

Mark claims, “1st Century Baptism also included SELF INVOCATION.” His proof is a reference to Hasting’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 2:378 which states, “This appeal MAY (emphasis mine – JLW) refer especially to the invocation of the Name by the candidate in answer to the baptizer’s interrogation as to his acceptance of ex animo of the true allegiance.” This quote, at best, only SUGGESTS an oral confession of Jesus as Lord by the baptismal candidate, but does not offer conclusive proof. Interestingly enough, these comments in Hasting’s Encyclopedia are not in regards to Acts 22:16, but to 1 Peter 3:21! Notice the Hastings’s quote in its full context:

This is perhaps the key to the description of baptism in 1 P 321, ‘not a putting away of the filth in the sphere of the flesh (as by water), but the appeal of a good conscience directed to God,’ as pledged to give part and lot in Christ’s resurrection to those who yield ‘obedience of faith’ to God in Him. This appeal may refer specially to the invocation of the Name by the candidate, in answer to the baptizer’s interrogation as to his acceptance ex animo of the true allegiance; whereupon the latter sealed the reception of the candidate into the holy community INVOKING ‘the fair name’ of the Lord Jesus UPON his head (see Jas 27, cf. Rev 73 94 141 224) [James Hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 2:378].

Note that, not only did Mark misrepresent the comments concerning the candidate’s answer, but also omitted the statement that the baptizer invoked the name of the Lord Jesus UPON the head of the candidate! Taken in its context, this quotation offers NO proof for Mark’s “self-invocation revelation” in that it only offers the possibility (“may refer”) of the candidate invoking Jesus’s name in answer to the baptizer’s question and the quote specifically mentions the baptizer invoking the name of Jesus over the baptismal candidate.

Mark, indeed, displays poor scholarship in misrepresenting his sources, particularly by omitting key statements from his resources. In his exegesis of Acts 22:16, Mark states:

The participle form (the “ing”) shows ongoing action and a relationship to baptism and the middle voice indicates that this is something the subject (Saul or Paul) is doing to benefit himself. “Calling on the name of the Lord” in Acts 22:16 is not a reference to prayer. Imagine, Saul is “on his knees” in prayer when Ananias comes in and tells him to arise or get up and be baptized to wash away his sins, now that Saul is standing, Ananias tells him to return to prayer. This is especially interesting in view of the usual denominational spin on “calling on the name of the Lord” is how Saul obtained the washing away of sins…” –Ref: BibkeFacts.net (sic).

Notice the ellipses (…) at the end of Mark’s reference. This indicates that he has omitted something from this source. I questioned Mark about this several times on Facebook, and he would never cite his source. Instead, Mark responded with a smart-aleck, “I don’t get paid to do your research.” Note, “BibkeFacts.net” is an incorrect spelling, and not even the name of the source website. I found the source of this quote, and the reason why Mark was not willing to list his source material. Once again, Mark’s “scholarly” resources do not match his “self-invocation revelation” of Acts 22:16. The quote is actually from BibleTruths.net, which is a “church of Christ” denomination website run by Don Martin. The “church of Christ” denomination do not (typically) explain Acts 22:16 as Saul’s “self-invocation” of the name of Jesus in baptism. Rather, they explain “calling on the name of the Lord” as a euphemism meaning, “doing what God told you to do, by being baptized” (see Pat Donahue, “Baptismal Formula Debate.” Chart 21. n.d. Bible Debates. www.bibledebates.info). Martin fully disclosed this interpretation of “calling on the name of the Lord,” yet Mark August felt it necessary to omit this from his quote. Martin goes on to explain “calling on the name of the Lord” as:

“Calling on the name of the Lord” in Acts 22:16 is incapable of being viewed detached from “arise, and be baptized” (the participle form connects it). When one humbly submits to baptism, one is in effect “calling on the name of the Lord.” Even if it could be showed that the grammar means calling on his name is the source of the washing away of sins, we still have baptism involved because it is part of doing the Lord’s will (Mk. 16:16) [http://www.bibletruths.net/archives/BTAR247.htm].

Repeatedly, Mark August misrepresents his source material in order prop up his so-called “revelation” of self-invocation in Acts 22:16. Before moving on to an exegete of Acts 22:16, I want to point out, briefly, how Mark misrepresents other source material as confirming his “self-invocation revelation.”

Mark quotes Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges and Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, neither of which affirm that the candidate invoked the name; only that the Textus Receptus presents Acts 22:16 as “calling on the name of the Lord” to adopt the phrase to the language of Acts 2:21. Likewise, Mark references Barnes’s Notes, which clearly describes baptism as “emblematic” and that “calling on the name of the Lord” was “extraordinary prayer” which attended baptism. In addition, Mark appeals to John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, which certainly offers no support for his doctrine because Gill adamantly declares, “[T]he name of the Lord is not only to be used BY THE ADMINISTRATOR of baptism in the performance of it; but it should be called upon by the person who submits, both before and at the administration of it …”

Mark, also, lists several translations that he believes support his doctrine. I pointed out on social media that Newman and Nida explain, “Most translations are about as ambiguous as the Greek here …” [Barclay Newman, Eugene Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on The Acts of the Apostles (New York: United Bible Society, 1972), 426]. Most English Bibles simply translate Acts 22:16 as “calling on the name of the Lord” or “calling on His name” without any indication of “who” invokes the name. A handful of translations do interpret Acts 22:16 as Saul “calling on His name.” However, as I pointed out to Mark on social media, these are typically individual translations which hold to the Calvinist view that Saul’s sins were washed away prior to baptism when he “called upon His name” in prayer for three days. What Mark did was a simple comparison of Acts 22:16 on Biblehub.com and quoted a few translations he thinks supports his “self-invocation revelation,” conveniently overlooking the majority of ambiguous translations “calling on His name,” and ignoring the obvious Calvinist translations of the passage. For example, Mark quotes the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, “while you call upon his name” which is an individual translation by George Lamsa, who many Evangelicals do not regard as even being a Christian! It is interesting to me, that in his search of various translations of Acts 22:16, Mark failed to list: Bible in Basic English, “giving worship to his name;” Good News Translation, “by praying to him;” The Message Bible, “personally acquainted with God;” or New Century Version, “trusting in him to save you.”

Another blatant misrepresentation of source material and facts is Mark’s handling of church history. For example, Mark states the following:

“Jews and Gentiles, fully believing as they ought, are in like manner baptised”, by, “invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus.” –Anonymous Apologist, writing against Cyprian 3rd Century.

This quote (actually Mark’s gross misrepresentation) comes from Roberts and Donaldson’s The Ante-Nicene Fathers 5:674 from “A Treatise on Re-Baptism By An Anonymous Writer.” The argument of the treatise is “That they who have once been washed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, ought not to be re-baptized” [Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 5:667]. The statement Mark misrepresents actually states:

And thus men of both of these kinds, that is, Jews and Gentiles, fully believing as they ought, are in like manner baptized. But heretics who are already baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ must only be baptized with the Holy Spirit; and in Jesus, which is “the only name given under heaven whereby we must be saved,” death is reasonably despised, although, if they continue as they are, they cannot be saved, because they have not sought the lord after the INVOCATION of His name upon them … [Ante-Nicene Fathers, 5:674].

The entire argument of this Anonymous Treatise involves the invocation of Jesus’s name by the baptizer UPON the baptismal candidate, NOT the candidate’s “self-invocation!” The treatise fully establishes:

[T]hat they should be baptized in the name of Christ Jesus, except that the power of the name of Jesus invoked upon any man by baptism might afford to him who should be baptized no slight advantage for the attainment of salvation, as Peter relates in the Acts of the Apostles, saying: “For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” [Ante-Nicene Fathers 5:670].

The issue of this baptismal controversy in the 3rd Century hinged upon what words were invoked OVER the candidate –– not the words confessed by the candidate. Mark goes on to list “JESUS NAME Water Baptism ; Encyclopedia References” such as Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition, 3:365–6 and other sources commonly listed in UPCI water baptism tracts which indicate that the original baptismal formula, that is the words invoked by the BAPTIZER –– not the candidate, was “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Mark concludes his article on “self-invocation”:

Though, there are many examples in the Bible given of Christian Baptism in JESUS NAME and THE COMMAND GIVEN to perform it, we will explore the two most comparable to Acts 22:16 when it comes to a direct command to invoke. Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:28. Matthew 28:18: Instructs the ministers to baptize “in the name of” but NEVER instructs to INVOKE (G1941). Acts 2:28: Instructs the recipients to be baptized “in the name of” but NEVER instructs to INVOKE (G1941). A.C.T.S. CONCLUSION: The preponderance of the evidence, both grammar and hermeneutics, supports our view of Acts 22:16 (All-caps emphasis – original).

            As pointed out previously, Mark’s “self-invocation revelation” stems from his faulty understanding of baptism “in the name of Jesus.” Grammar, hermeneutics, and the preponderance of evidence actually proves that baptism “in the name of Jesus” (Acts 2:38) means that the baptizer invokes the name over the candidate. This has been the natural understanding of the passage for 2000 years. J. A. Robinson, in his study of “in the name of” in The Journal of Theological Studies, concludes:

[T]he baptizer acted authoritatively in that Name: he had a right to invoke the Name, and to bring into play the power which accompanied the naming of the Name … enough, I hope, has been said to shew that what appears to be the most natural translation of the Greek is capable of reasonable and adequate interpretation, if we approach it in the light of the prevalent conceptions of the earliest age [J. Armitage Robinson, “In The Name,” The Journal of Theological Studies (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906), 7:198].

Now, let me offer a detailed exegete of Acts 22:16. Most of this information (and a great deal more) is also available in Chapter 7 of my book, Calling on the Name of Jesus. Acts 22:16 contains two aorist imperatives (baptize and wash) and one aorist participle (calling). Calvinist, in an attempt to reject the salvific nature of baptism, manipulate this passage to suggest that Saul’s sins were washed away prior to baptism by Saul “calling on His name” in prayer for three days. In his comments on Acts 22:16, John Calvin, himself, originally connected “calling on His name” with the baptismal formula (which he attempted to explain the connection of “His name” with Father, Son and Holy Spirit of Matt 28:19), but then asserted that “calling on His name” actually means that Saul’s sins were washed away in prayer:

In calling on the name of the Lord. It is out of question that he meaneth Christ, not because the name of Christ alone is called upon in baptism … Wherefore, Ananias doth not mean, that the name of Christ must only be named, but he speaketh of prayer, whereby the faithful do testify, that the effect of the outward sign is in the power of Christ alone. For the sacraments have neither any power of salvation included in them, neither are they anything worth of themselves. [John Calvin, Commentary Upon the Acts of the Apostles trans. Christopher Fetherstone, ed. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 2:303–4].

However, the Calvinist exegete does not fit the grammar of the passage. The aorist participle (calling) does not denote antecedent action. Rather, the aorist participle when related to an aorist main verb (such as “baptize” or “wash” in Acts 22:16) is often contemporaneous or simultaneous to the action of the main verb [Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 624]. This is what grammarians refer to as the “participle of means.” Wallace further explains that the participle of means is almost always contemporaneous with the time of the main verb since the participle defines how the action of the main verb is accomplished [Wallace, Greek Grammar, 629]. Culy and Parsons likewise concur:

While we cannot argue with the theology of taking epikalesamenos as a participle of means, the syntax and semantics, which closely link the two imperatives, disallow taking it as a modifier of apolousai alone and suggest that it instead introduces an attendant circumstance: the whole process of baptism, washing of sins, and calling on the Lord’s name is portrayed as a single complex event [Martin Culy, Mikeal Parsons, Acts: A Handbook on the Greek Text (Waco, Baylor University Press, 2003), 429].

            Mark August (as well as Calvinists) misapply Acts 22:16 by coupling it with Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Thus, Mark’s “revelation” of Saul’s “self-invocation” at baptism. However, baptism is NOT even in the context of Romans 10:13. Just because a form of the Greek verb epikaleō appears in all three verses does not indicate a similar context. It is interesting that Mark avoids both Acts 15:17 and James 2:7 like the plague where epikaleō most definitely describes a name invoked OVER an individual. Romans 10:9–12 fully explains the prophetic “call upon the name of the Lord” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21) as “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” and links this verbal confession with “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9). Belief is an action with PRECEDES baptism (cf. Mark 16:16). Given that baptism is nowhere in the context of Romans 10:9–13, and the fact that “confess” is coupled (and – kai) with “believe,” which precedes baptism; it is only natural to conclude that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13) describes a verbal pronunciation of the name of Jesus on the part of the candidate BEFORE baptism. In addition, the ONLY scriptural example of the baptismal candidate confessing Jesus is found in Acts 8:37 where the Ethiopian eunuch confessed, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God” before commanding the chariot to stop or even entering the waters of baptism! G. R. Beasley-Murray concedes this point:

That the Name was on the lips of the candidate baptized as well as uttered by the baptizer is harmonious with the dual nature of baptism as an act of man and act of God. Taking the former aspects first, it is to be observed that the declaration of the Name was made before man and before (unto!) God. It was therefore uttered in confession and prayer … It is but natural that what is involved in the event itself should be brought to explicit mention and that the confession, ‘Jesus is Lord’, be uttered by the one baptized. Surprisingly enough, we have no certain instance in Acts of this confession being made at baptism, but the well known Western text of Acts 8.36ff provides one. The Ethiopian eunuch, on hearing the gospel, asks Philip what prevents his being baptized; according to this tradition Philip replies, ‘If you believe with your whole heart, it is permissible’, and the eunuch affirms, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’; upon this he is baptized” [G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), 100–1].

Comparing Acts 8 with Romans 10 illustrates their synonymous contexts. In Acts 8:37, Philip answers the eunuch’s desire to be baptized with, “If you believe with all your heart.” Romans 10:9 teaches, “That if you … believe in your heart.” Likewise, in Romans 10:9 there is a verbal confession “with your mouth,” and in Acts 8:37 the eunuch says, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Romans 10:9 couples “confession” with “believe.” Romans 10:10, also, connects “believe” with “confession.” Lastly, Romans 10:14 concludes, “How then shall they call (epikaleō) on Him in whom they have not believed?” Thus, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13) refers to a verbal pronunciation of the name of Jesus on the part of the penitent believer in confession or repentance BEFORE being baptized.

However, the word “calling” in Acts 22:16 translates from epikalesamenos, the aorist middle participle form of epikaleō. Used adverbially, the participle form further explains or defines the action of the main verb. As mentioned before, this is the participle of means. “Calling” in Acts 22:16 modifies and explains “wash away” and expresses the means by which baptism washes our sins away. Thus calling in Acts 22:16 refers to an action simultaneous with baptism - the place where "washing away" occurs.

The words baptize, wash, and calling (Acts 22:16) are in the middle voice (causative or permissive) in Greek. The causative or permissive middle voice means to get or have something done to you. The causative or permissive middle resembles the passive voice, in that Saul would be the receiver of the action [Wallace, Greek Grammar, 425–6]. A. T. Robertson in explaining the causative explains:

It is not to be forgotten that originally there was no passive form at all. The verb-idea and the context then alone decided the voice as between middle and passive … Some few of these causative middles could be explained as passives, but by no means all … In Acts 22:16, we have the causative middle, one a direct, the other an indirect middle, “get yourself baptized and get your sins washed away” … There is nothing of a distinctive nature to say about the voice of the participle in addition to what has already been said (see ch. on Voice). The voices run in the participle precisely as in the verb itself All the nuances of the voices appear in the participle. Cf … the middle in “epikalesamenos” (Acts 22:16) [A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research (New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1923), 808, 1110].

The testimony of the most authoritative New Testament Greek grammars agrees that the causative or permissive middle voice resembles the passive voice, in that these commands indicate actions that Saul would GET done to him, not that he would do for himself.

The word baptize in the causative middle voice means, “Get yourself baptized.” Ananias commanded Saul to get baptized, not baptize yourself. The word baptize occurs in the passive voice all throughout the New Testament, except for Acts 22:16 and 1 Cor 10:2, which use the middle voice. However, the middle voice in both passages denotes allow yourself to be baptized, as translated by almost all English versions.

The word wash in the causative (permissive) middle voice means, “Get your sins washed away.” Ananias commanded Saul to get his sins washed away, not wash away your sins yourself. No one affirms that we actively wash away our own sins in baptism. The washing away of sins is the result or blessing believers receive via baptism.

Therefore, it seems that the word calling in the same verse, the same voice, and the same context should have the same meaning. Thus, we should understand calling in the middle voice (Acts 22:16) as a causative or permissive middle—by getting called upon you his name or by calling over you His name. Ananias commanded Saul, Get His Name called upon you, not go call on His name for yourself.

The participle calling modifies and explains the aorist imperative wash away. It makes no sense to say that the middle voice of baptize and wash away expresses that Saul would be the receiver of the action, then all of the sudden in the same context, the same (middle) voice of calling indicates that Saul would actively perform the action for himself. A. T. Robertson specified that all the nuances of the causative middle voice of the verbs baptize and wash away appear in the participle epikalesamenos, or calling upon (Acts 22:16). Notice this context as illustrated in the following diagram: 

“Calling on His name” modifies and explains “wash away,” and is simultaneous with “baptize.” All three (baptize, wash away, and calling) appear in the middle voice. The fact that Paul would be the “receiver” of baptism and the washing away, it only seems natural that Saul would likewise receive the name of Jesus called upon him, “getting called upon you His name” or “by calling over you His name.”

Of course, Mark August in his rant (that he blocked me seeing––how appropriate) claims that he asked me for one translation that supports my view of Acts 22:16 and that I provided him with “absoloutly (sic) ZERO” response. The truth is that I provided Mark with some information concerning translations and the fact that I have an email from Daniel Wallace admitting that the translation is possible. In addition, I responded with to two, lengthy follow-up posts (much of that evidence has been posted in this blog) giving even more information on translations and commentaries, to which Mark made little to no responses besides copying and pasting his talking points from his blog article. Yet, he claims in his rant that he asked me for the email evidence from Wallace ––– which he never did ––– and that I made no response whatsoever.

            In regard to Daniel Wallace’s admission that “Get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away, getting called over you His name” is a “possible” translation of Acts 22:16: back in 2008, a colleague of mine, David Walden emailed Daniel Wallace concerning a consistent use of the causative (permissive) middle in Acts 22:16 and whether, “I will get myself baptized by another and I will get my sins washed away by another by me getting called upon myself His Name by another” is a possible translation of Acts 22:16. This is, in fact, just a lengthy way of translating Acts 22:16 as “Get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away, getting called over you His name” or “Get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away, calling over you His name.” Daniel Wallace’s complete response was:

David, thanks for the question. I believe you're assuming that consistency must mean that the same voice has the same meaning, even though the lexeme is different each time. I think the combination of lexeme and voice is a rather adequate reason for seeing the participle as having a different force entirely. The verb επικαλεω occurs 30 times in the NT. Only once is it in the active voice. When it has the idea of invoking, calling upon, the middle or passive forms are always used. The passive is used as a true passive, but the middle has the force of calling upon for oneself, and thus fits the indirect middle notion quite well. I would say, therefore, that although your view is possible it is not likely.


 Daniel B. Wallace, PhD
 Executive Director
 Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

The first thing to point out is that Wallace admits that “Get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away, getting called over you His name” IS a possible translation of Acts 22:16. As I will show later in this blog, other Greek scholars agree that “calling on His name” refers to the baptizer calling the name, which again affirms the translation, “Get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away, getting called over you His name.”

Now, Wallace indicates that he does not think that this translation is “likely” and cites that when epikaleō is a passive it is a true passive, but “the middle has the force of calling upon for oneself.” However, I think Wallace overlooks the unique structure of Acts 22:16. What Wallace says concerning “calling,” we could also say for “baptize.” The word baptizō appears in the active and passive voices all throughout the New Testament. Only in Acts 22:16 and 1 Cor 10:2 does baptizō appear in the middle voice. Likewise, apolouō (“wash away”) only appears in two verses (Acts 22:16; 1 Cor 6:11) BOTH times in the middle voice. Yet, every grammarian recognizes “baptize” and “wash” as causative or permissive middles–––meaning that Saul would be the RECEIVER of the action. Given the participle’s (epikalesamenos “calling”) relationship to the two main verbs (participle of means) as “a single complex event” [Culy, Parsons, 429], it only makes grammatical sense that if the two main verbs are causative middles, then the connected participle (of means) should also be understood as a causative middle.

A. T. Robertson specified, “The voices run in the participle PRECISELY as in the verb itself … ALL THE NUANCES of the voices appear in the participle. Cf … the middle in ‘epikalesamenos’ (Acts 22:16)” [Robertson, Large Grammar, 1110]. Notice this, A. T. Robertson explained both “baptize” and “wash” as causative middles, translating them as “Get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away” [Robertson, Large Grammar, 808]. Then when explaining the participles, Robertson stated that the “voices run in the participle PRECISELY as in the verb itself.” He went on to say, “ALL the nuances of the voices appear in the participle,” and then specifically references the participle epikalesmenos (“calling”) in Acts 22:16!

Given the fact that Robertson explains “baptize” and “wash” as causative middles (get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away) and that the voices run in the participle (“calling”) precisely as in the verb itself (specifically referencing Acts 22:16), I conclude that the middle voice of the participle “calling” runs “precisely” as the (causative) middle voice of the verbs (“baptize” and “wash”) and “all the nuances” of the verbs (“baptize” and “wash”) likewise appear in the participle (“calling”); meaning that the participle “calling” should also be understood as a causative or permissive middle! The same voice in the same verse with the same context has the same meaning.

Of course, Mark August will state that “no translations” render Acts 22:16 in such a way. However, as I have already responded, and mention again, Newman and Nida point out that the majority of translations are ambiguous! The vast majority of translations simply render Acts 22:16 as “calling on His name” or “calling on the name of the Lord.” Even a translation such as the Amplified Bible, “by calling on His name” is ambiguous and only indicates in a footnote that “calling” is a “circumstantial participle expressing manner or means.” Now, this is actually one of my arguments for understanding “calling” as a causative or permissive middle! Since “calling” denotes a “participle of means” and explains the action of the main verbs (“baptize” and “wash”), and the main verbs are both causative middles, then it only makes grammatical sense that the participle (of means) would likewise be causative middle (“getting called over you His name”). Two translations that come close to expressing this are:

New English Bible ––– And now why delay? Be baptized at once, with invocation of his name, and wash away your sins.

R. A. Knox translation ––– Come then, why art thou wasting time? Rise up, and receive baptism, washing away thy sins at the invocation of his name.

By the way, I mentioned both of these translations in my response to Mark. Likewise, I pointed out that every translation is a special type of commentary, and every commentary is a special type of translation. This means that if a commentator recognizes “calling on His name” in Acts 22:16 to be a reference to the baptizer calling the name over the candidate, then they likewise validate the translation, “getting called over you His name” or “calling over you His name.”

            In the past decade, between writing a book on the baptismal formula, studying for my undergrad, and currently working on an MDiv degree, I have researched approximately 200 or more commentaries on the book of Acts. I have personally researched EVERY commentary on Acts in both the Story Library at Central Baptist College (Conway, Arkansas) and Beckett Library at Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas) in addition to multiple commentaries at Urshan College (Florissant, Missouri) and Harding Graduate School (Memphis, Tennessee). I can say with confidence that Mark August is just dead wrong when he thinks that commentaries support his view of Acts 22:16. Now, what Mark does is that he finds a commentary that says that Saul invoked the name in Acts 22:16, and then proclaims that the commentary agrees with his view. However, if one would simply take the time to read what the commentary actually says, you will find that what that particular commentary actually teaches does not agree with Mark’s “self-invocation revelation.”

            The majority of commentaries on Acts fall into one of two categories: (A) they do not even comment on Acts 22:16 or (B) they apply a Calvinistic approach to Acts 22:16 by saying that Saul “washed away” his sins by “calling on His name” when he prayed for three days prior to being baptized. The minority of commentaries, likewise, fall into two different categories: (A) that Saul called on His name in confession prior to baptism, while the baptizer also invoked the name of Jesus over the candidate in baptism [for example F. F. Bruce] or (B) that “Calling on His name” answers to “in the name of Jesus” in Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; & 19:5 and denotes the baptismal formula invoked over the candidate by the baptizer. Let me provide commentary evidence that Acts 22:16 “calling on His name” describes the baptismal formula invoked by the baptizer (which then validates the translation “getting called over you His name” or “calling over you His name”) [Note: some of these commentaries were cited in my response to Mark on social media.]

1. Calvin’s Commentary –– As mentioned earlier, Calvin originally explained “calling on His name” in terms of the baptismal formula, but expressed that “calling on His name” does not mean that the name of Christ alone should be invoked in baptism, but that it is a reference to prayer prior to baptism. The fact that Calvin opposed the view that “calling on His name” means that Christ’s name alone is invoked in baptism indicates that there were those during the Reformation that must have taught that this is exactly what “calling on His name” means i.e. that only the name of Jesus Christ should be invoked in baptism in contrast to the titles Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We know assuredly those Reformers such as Calvin and Luther “encountered disputes over the formula” [Vinson Synan, ed., Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins (Plainfield: Logos International, 1975), 158]. For more information on the history of the baptismal formula, see Jason L. Weatherly, Calling on the Name of Jesus, Chapter 1.

2. Ernst Haenchen –– Verse 16: The accomplishment of baptism (with invocation of the name of Jesus) and its meaning (washing away of sins) are indicated as in 2.38 [Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary (Philadelphia: West Minster, 1971), 627].

Concerning Acts 2:38, Haenchen states, “Luke presupposes the form of baptism practiced in his own community: the name ‘Jesus Christ’ is PRONOUNCED OVER the candidate.” [Haenchen, 184]. (Bold emphasis mine – JLW). Haenchen, a German minister and professor at the University of Münster, Germany, identified “calling on His name” (“with invocation of the name of Jesus”) as being the name of “Jesus Christ” pronounced OVER the baptismal candidate.

3. Horatio Hackett –– V. 16. Baptisai, be baptized, or, with a stricter adherence to the form, have thyself baptized. One of the uses of the middle is to express and act which a person procures another to perform for him … and wash (bathe) away thy sins. This clause states a result of the baptism, in language derived from the nature of the ordinance … epikalesamenos to onoma autou supplies essentially the place of epi tō onomati Iēsou Xristou in 2,38; see note on that clause [Horatio Hackett, A Commentary on the Original Text of the Acts of the Apostles (Boston: Gould & Lincoln, 1858), 365–5].

On Acts 2:38, Hackett acknowledges “in the name of” as the baptismal formula and points out, “The usual formula in relation to baptism is eis to onoma, as in 8,16; 19,5. It may have been avoided here as a matter of euphony, since eis follows in the next clause” (Hackett, 68–9). Notice, that in 1858, Hackett, a Baptist scholar who taught Greek at various colleges and universities, recognized “calling on His name” as referencing the baptismal formula “in the name of Jesus” invoked by the baptizer.

4. C. S. C. Williams –– (16) A reference to Baptism and washing away of sins is typical of the conclusion to the Kerygma. His name; Baptism was at first into Jesus’ name; later the threefold formula of Matt. xxvii. 19 was evolved [C. S. C. Williams, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (New York: Harper & Row, 1957), 244].

This is Williams’s entire comment on Acts 22:16. Williams, an Anglican priest and Oxford Professor, easily recognized the phrase “calling on His name” to describe the “Jesus’ name” baptismal formula, which is invoked by the baptizer.

5. Richard Pervo –– 16 Ananias’s question corresponds to that of Paul in v. 10. He then directs baptism, which involves the invocation of “his name.” This will result in purgation of sins … Removal of sins denotes, in Christian terms, a sacramental act, while the verb epikaleō (“invoke”) presumes an attendant formula. Footnote 64 Cf. 2:21 B74 reads “invoke” in the present tense. This aorist is more compatible with later liturgical use: one confesses Christ as Lord and is then baptized, presumably “in the name of Jesus” here. [Richard Pervo, Acts: A Commentary ed., Harold Attridge (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009), 565].

Notice, Pervo (Episcopalian priest and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary Professor) contrasts the present tense epikaleō in Acts 2:21 with the aorist tense of 22:16, stating that one confesses Christ and is THEN (or afterwards) baptized “in the name of Jesus” here (Acts 22:16). Thus, Pervo recognizes “calling on His name” NOT as Paul’s action of confessing Christ, but as “an attendant formula” in baptism i.e. the baptismal “formula” in the name of Jesus invoked by the baptizer.

6. David Lipscomb –– 16. Now why delay? He was lying down; so, in order to be baptized, it was necessary for him to get up from the prostate condition, that he might go to where there was water … Dr. Clarke says: “Take now the profession of Christ’s faith most solemnly upon thee by being baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Let this washing of thy body represent to thee the washing away of thy sins, and that this washing away of sins can be received only by invoking the name of the Lord.” “Calling on the name of the Lord” was invoking his name as a declaration of our reliance and trust in Jesus Christ in complying with the conditions of remission. “On the name” corresponds to upon the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:28). [David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1896), 202].

In commenting on Acts 22:16, Lipscomb, church of Christ minister, founder of the Gospel Advocate magazine, and co-founder of Nashville Bible College (now Lipscomb University), quoted Adam Clarke’s comments on Matt 28:19 regarding the words invoked by the baptizer! Likewise, Lipscomb associated “calling on His name” with the baptismal formula “in the name of Jesus” (Acts 2:38).

7. Joseph Fitzmyer –– 16. Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, by calling on his name … The refrain of the “the name” recurs, see NOTE on 2:38 [Joseph Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 707].

Fitzmyer notes on Acts 2:38, “Some believe that Luke knew of baptism being administered in the early church “in the name of Jesus Christ” (as in 8:16; 10:48; 9:5; 22:16) and not with the Trinitarian formula derived from Matt 28:19.” [Fitzmyer, 266]. Fitzmyer goes on to discuss commercial language of “into the name of” equaling possession of the person. The main point here is that Fitzmyer, a Catholic priest and biblical language professor at several colleges and universities, equates “calling on His name” with “baptism being administered … ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’.” That is, the administrator of baptism invokes the name over the candidate.

8. C. K. Barrett –– epikaleoumenos to onoma autou helps to interpret the use of eis to onoma, en (epi) tō onomati, in other baptismal sayings. The name is not a magical instrument effecting supernatural results; the name is invoked, that is, it signifies faith and obedience directed towards Christ [C. K. Barrett, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 2:1043].

Then on Acts 2:38, Barrett, a Methodist minister, professor at the University of Durham, and regarded as one of the greatest British NT scholars of the 20th Cent., acknowledged “in the name of” as the baptismal formula (invoked by the baptizer) and states, “Acts is not consistent in its use of prepositions with the name in baptism. At 8.16 Luke uses eis; at 10.48, en; at 19.5 eis. We should probably be right in thinking that for Luke the preposition was relatively unimportant; what mattered was the name (which is used also in other contexts, notably the working of miracles (e.g. 3.6))” [Barrett, 1:154]. Thus, Barrett associated “calling on His name” (22:16) as interpreting the baptismal formula of the other Acts passages, which involves orally invoking the name by the administrator similar to the working of miracles in 3:6.

9. Paul Ferguson –– In verse 16 Ananias says, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up and get baptized and get your sins washed away by having His name called over you.” [Paul Ferguson, The Acts of Jesus Christ (Elgin: Real Truth Pub., 1971), 83].

Paul Ferguson earned two Masters Degrees (MA & MDiv) from Wheaton College and a Doctorate from Chicago Theological Seminary. Dr. Ferguson served many years as OT Professor at New Life College.

10. M. D. Treece –– And now what are you going to do? Get up, get yourself baptized and wash away your sins, having His name called upon you. [M. D. Treece, The Literal Word Acts II (Shippensburg: Treasure House, 1993), 240].

11. Talmadge French –– Most significant is the use of epikaleō in the specific aorist middle participle (epkalesamenos): invoke, call upon, call by name, appeal to, etc. The use of the middle rather than the usual passive, parallels the two prior middles, baptisai and apolousai, both aorist middle imperatives. The middle stresses here the subject’s participatory role: not “baptize yourself,” or “wash your own sins away,” but “get yourself baptized and have your sins washed away.” Therefore, the participle follows similarly: “having the name called over yourself!” … The circumstantial participle is non-articular and non-specific, “as the name is called,” “having the name called,” etc. [Talmadge French, “Baptism ‘In Jesus' Name’ and The New Testament Greek: Preliminary Considerations for the Defense of Baptism In the Name of The Lord Jesus Christ,” Journal of the Apostolic Theological Forum (Kearney: Morris Pub., 2006), 102].

Dr. French holds a BA in Ancient Language (Greek) and a PhD from the University of Birmingham, England, and served as an instructor at Indiana Bible College.

            Bible commentators, language experts, and scholars of various denominational beliefs all recognize “calling on His name” (Acts 22:16) to describe the baptismal formula “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38) invoked over the baptismal candidate. This couples perfectly with 1 Cor 6:11, the only other verse where apolouō crops up:

And such were some of you: but ye are washed (apolouō), but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The word “washed” in this passage is an aorist middle indicative in Greek. The aorist indicative points to the past action of having been “washed” in baptism. Thus, we have a synonymous context between Acts 22:16 and 1 Cor 6:11. “Calling on His name” in Acts 22:16 should be interpreted in light of “in the name of the Lord Jesus” in 1 Cor 6:11, an obvious reference to the baptismal formula, invoked by the baptizer. Beasley-Murray [163] notes:

The coincidence of the language between “you had yourself washed … in the name of the Lord Jesus” and that used by Ananias to Paul, “Get baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16) is so close as to make it difficult to dissociate the “washing” of 1 Cor. 6:11 from the baptismal cleansing … “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” reflects the use of the Name in the baptismal formula.

            The New Testament confirms that the name of Jesus was INVOKED OVER believers, specifically at baptism. In Acts 15, James the Lord’s brother validates Gentile conversion by appealing to the words of the prophet Amos:

Acts 15:17 –– That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, UPON WHOM my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

Notice to validate Gentile conversion, James appealed to an Old Testament passage (Amos 9:12 LXX) that references the name of the Lord being CALLED UPON the Gentiles. Apparently, something in the Gentiles’ conversion related to the name of the Lord being CALLED OVER them. That fact that this passage prophesied of the name of the Lord being CALLED OVER the Gentiles is confirmed by the redundant use of the preposition epi (“over”) with the compound verb epikaleō (“call upon” same verb as in Acts 22:16). Acts 15:17 literally translated states:

kai panta   ta ethnē       eph’ hous
  and all    the Gentiles     upon who

  epikeklētai       to onoma mou
is called upon    the name my

ep autous legai kurious
upon them says the Lord

Where in the Gentile conversion is the name of the Lord even referenced? At their baptism! Acts 10:48, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” James echoed this phrase, in relation to Jewish persecution, in James 2:7:

Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was INVOKED OVER you? (NRSV)

The Revised Version and American Standard Version include the translation “which was CALLED UPON you” in their marginal notes. Once again, the fact that this was a name INVOKED OVER believers is confirmed by the redundant use of the preposition epi (“over”) with the compound verb epikaleō (“call upon”):

         to   kalon   onoma          to   epiklēthen          eph’   humas
     the    good     name    that [was] called upon over you

Bauer-Danker lexicon likewise confirms that the preposition epi signifies that the name of Jesus was INVOKED OVER believers:

Of persons, over which something is done, speak the name of Jesus OVER someone Ac. 15:17 (Amos 9:12); Js. 2:7 [BAGD, 288].

Likewise, a legion of Bible scholars and commentators recognize both Acts 15:17 and James 2:7 as a reference to the name of Jesus being INVOKED OVER the baptismal candidate. I. Howard Marshall translates Acts 15:17 as “all the nations over whom my name has been called” and further explains, “But this phrase is also used in James 2:7, probably with reference to Christian baptism” [I. Howard Marshall, “Acts,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament eds., G. K. Beale, D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 592]. Other commentators include:

E. C. Blackman –– There may be a reference to the ceremony of baptism, and in that case it is better to translate: the honourable name which was INVOKED OVER you, i.e. by the minister who pronounced some such formula as “I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ.” The single rather than the triune invocation was the original practice of the Church, cf. Acts 2:38; 8:16 [E. C. Blackman, The Epistle of James: Introduction and Commentary (Naperville: Allenson, 1957), 82–3].

J. W. Roberts –– In view of this background the probability is that the reference is to the INVOCATION of the name of Jesus Christ UPON the believer at baptism (Acts 2:38, “in the anem of Jesus Christ”; and see 8:16; 10:48). [J. W. Roberts, A Commentary on the General Epistle of James (Austin: R. B. Sweet Co., 1963), 95].

Hans Conzelmann –– (Commenting on Acts 2:38) epi tō onomati has the same meaning as “en”: “in the name” (10:48). The choice of the preposition here (epi) is coherent with the epikalein, “name by which you are called,” of Jas. 2:7, where the sense is to pronounce someone’s name over someone else. A baptismal formula of a single sentence is presupposed [Hans Conzelmann, Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 22].

I reference many other commentaries on the Acts baptismal passages and James 2:7 in my book. The prophecy of Amos 9:11–12 reveals that the heathens (Gentiles) would also have the name of the Lord called upon them, whereby He could take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15:14). James quoted these words from the LXX at the Council of Jerusalem to demonstrate fulfillment of the words of the prophet through the conversion of the Gentiles.

In the Old Testament, the name of the LORD was pronounced over the people en masse. However, in the New Testament believers have the name of Jesus pronounced upon them (Acts 15:17; Jas 2:7) individually in baptism. These actions conform to what is said about baptism eis to onoma making believers the possession of Jesus Christ, when the name of Jesus is pronounced over them in baptism (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16).

            In conclusion, concerning Acts 22:16:

1. Jesus commanded the apostles to baptize “in the name of” Jesus Christ (Matt 28:19; Luke 24:47)

2. The phrase “in the name of” means “to make use of the name; calling, calling out, calling upon the name.”

3. Consistent biblical use of the idiom “in the name of” illustrates that when the apostles performed an act “in the name of Jesus” (such as baptism or casting out demons) they invoked the name "Jesus" while performing the action.

4. Thus, in order for the apostles to obey the command to baptize “in the name of Jesus Christ,” they would have baptized the candidate while invoking the name of Jesus Christ.

5. Acts 15:17 and James 2:7 confirm that the name of Jesus was in fact invoked over believers.

6. Romans 10:9–12 fully explains “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13) as confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, which is joined with believing which precedes baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:37–8).

7. The translation “Get yourself baptized, get your sins washed away, calling over you His name” is not only grammatically possible, but Bible scholars of various denominational beliefs explain it as such.

8. Theologically speaking, this translation/exegete is the best explanation of Acts 22:16 when compared to similar baptismal/washing passages which utilize the baptismal formula “in the name of Jesus” (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor 6:11).

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