Marvin Vincent was a Presbyterian minister and professor of New Testament Exegesis and Criticism at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In his multi-volume work Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent provides this somewhat lengthy commentary on eis in Matthew 28:19—
Another nuance in Matthew 28:19-20 to be considered is the occurrence of the term onoma (“name”) in the phrase “baptizing them in the name (onoma) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (ESV). While the term has a variety of shades of meaning in usage, “in the name of” frequently is used in Scripture as a parallel expression to “by the power or authority of” (e.g., Act 4:7). Hans Bietenhard, Swiss Reformed theologian and Professor of New Testament at the University of Bern, noted that the formula “in the name of Jesus” means “according to his will and instruction.”12 Specifically, in Matthew 28:19, “The literal meaning is that baptism symbolically13 assigns the person baptized to Christ for forgiveness of sins.”14 W.E. Vine, English biblical scholar and theologian, defined onoma in its use in Matthew 28:19 as “in recognition of the authority of (sometimes combined with the thought of relying or resting on).”15 A.T. Robertson cited the use of onoma in Matthew 28:19 as another example where “name” has “the idea of ‘the authority of’”16—“a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority.”17 Joseph Thayer was a biblical scholar, late Professor of sacred literature at Andover Seminary and Professor of New Testament Criticism in the Harvard Divinity School, who served as a member of the American Bible Revision Committee resulting in the American Standard Version, and also produced an influential Greek lexicon at the time. Delineating one usage of onoma as “chiefly Hebraistic,” Thayer explains the meaning of Matthew 28:19 as, “by baptism to bind any one to recognize and publicly acknowledgethedignity and authority of one.”18 He defines baptidzo with eis onoma as “to profess the name of one whose follower we become.”19 Referring back to verse 18, Meyer keys into this notion of authority and notes that “all nations should be brought under His government, and made subject to His sway.”20 Boles well notes the significance of “name”:
Submitting to authority is closely related to the notion of submitting one’s self to the ownership of another in order to become his possession, as noted by Crain: “The phrase ‘into the name of’ indicates becoming the possession of the triune God.”22 F.F. Bruce agrees:
Similarly, James Moulton, British philologist and professor of Classical Greek and other languages at the University of Manchester, and George Milligan, biblical scholar and Kimmer at Warwick University, made the following remarks concerning Matthew 28:19—
Likewise Alexander Souter similarly explained: “When the preposition ei)$ with a noun in the accus. follows, it appears to indicate that through this ceremony the baptized person becomes the property of the person indicated after ei)$.”25 The classic lexicon most recently revised by Frederick Danker says that “into the name” means that “[t]hrough baptism…those who are baptized become the possession of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear.”26
A. Lukyn Williams, English New Testament scholar at Cambridge and Principal of Moore Theological College in New South Wales, explained that the translation of “in” came from the influence of the Latin Vulgate “which does not give the right force to the expression.”27 Instead, the use of eis
Seventeenth-century biblical commentator Matthew Poole explained “in the name” as meaning “in the authority, or…into the profession of the trinity of the persons in the one Divine Being…obliging them to worship and serve God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”29 Meyer explains:
Observe, again, that all of these scholars are in essential agreement as to the design of baptism as it relates to the use of “name” in Matthew 28:19. Whether the significance pertains to transference of ownership of the baptized individual, or thereby becoming a possession of God, or being placed in subjection to and communion with God, or being admitted to His covenant, or being introduced into spiritual fellowship with Him, the design of baptism remains the same. Barnes summarizes:
Drawing together the linguistic insights generated by these two features of the Greek, observe that “baptizing them in (eis/into) the name (onoma/authority) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” refers to the transference of the individual into the sphere of the authority of deity. As McGarvey observed:
While deity actually wields authority over the entire Universe (cf. vs. 18; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:15ff.), no human has willingly placed himself under that jurisdiction or submitted to that authority until he submits to water immersion. A person submits himself to the authority of the Godhead when, having been taught the Gospel generating faith, repentance, and oral confession, he then is baptized into that sphere of authority. Conversely, until a person enacts the divinely designated means by which a person places himself under God’s authority, he remains under the authority and power of Satan. Ownership has not been transferred to deity.
1 Scholars have debated endlessly the nuances of meaning to be found in the parallel expressions “in the name,” “on the name,” and “into the name.” While it makes sense to permit each preposition to maintain its own usual, central thrust and thereby convey a variety of nuances, so far as this study is concerned, it is enough to note that the design of each is the same, i.e., to demonstrate the altered status of the individual from lost to saved, from non-Christian to Christian. Eis vividly portrays this transference. Cf. C.F.D. Moule (1977 reprint), An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (New York: Cambridge University Press), second edition, p. 50; F.J. Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake (1933), The Beginnings of Christianity: The Acts of the Apostles (London: Macmillan), p. 124—“A convert knew perfectly well that when he said that he had been baptized in the name of Jesus he meant that someone had said ‘I baptize you in the name of Jesus’ or something similar, and that in consequence he had attained the way of Salvation.”
2 p. 67, italics in orig.; cf. Nigel Turner (1963), Syntax, in A Grammar of New Testament Greek, ed. James Moulton (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark), 3:254.
3 Nigel Turner (1976), Style, in A Grammar of New Testament Greek, ed. James Moulton (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark), 4:42. Carson agrees with this observation: “Matthew…apparently avoids the confusion of eis (strictly ‘into’) and en (strictly ‘in’) common in Hellenistic Greek; and if so, the preposition ‘into’ strongly suggests a coming-into-relationship-with or a coming-under-the-Lordship-of…. It is a sign both of entrance into Messiah’s covenant community and of pledged submission to his lordship” (p. 597, emp. added).
5 1963, 3:255, italics in orig., emp. added.
6 R.T. France (2007), The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 1116, italics in orig., emp. added.
8 Marvin Vincent (1946 reprint), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:149-150, italics in orig.
9 Eiselen, p. 995, italics in orig., emp. added; also Alan M’Neile (1965), The Gospel According to St. Matthew (New York: St. Martin’s Press), p. 436.
10 Alford, 1:307, italics in orig., 2nd emp. added.
11 Robert Milligan (1975), Exposition and Defense of the Scheme of Redemption (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), p. 405.
12 Hans Bietenhard (1976), “onoma,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2:654.
13 Observe that the insertion of the word “symbolically” constitutes subjective interpretation rather than objective linguistic analysis. The same may be said for the theory that maintains that, since a person already has received the saving grace of God by which sins have been cleansed the moment he believes, then baptism serves the purpose of providing an outward demonstration or public declaration that the person has already been saved. The claim is that baptism is a symbol—a visible expression of the forgiveness already received at the point of faith. Hence, baptism is “an outward sign of an inward grace,” a post-conversion “testimony” or “public profession” that the person is already saved, like a “badge” or “uniform” worn by a policeman—merely an outward indication of what the wearer has already become. For example, after praising Mantey’s “causal” eis concept, Kenneth Wuest states: “Thus, we have the scriptural meaning of water baptism. It is the testimony of the person to the fact of his salvation. The only proper recipient of water baptism therefore is one who has received the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour, and is trusting in His precious blood for salvation from sin”—(1943), Treasures from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 78, emp. added. The only problem with such theologizing is that the New Testament makes no distinction between actual forgiveness and an alleged post-salvation “symbolical” forgiveness. If a person is forgiven, it would be superfluous to “symbolize” that forgiveness after-the-fact. Once a person dismisses the plain and self-evident import of the New Testament’s repetitive declaration that baptism is for the remission of sins, it follows that he must invent an alternative purpose for baptism. The “symbol,” “testimony,” “picture,” and “badge” concepts are undoubtedly creative and as good as any that might be fabricated to avoid the obvious fact that the New Testament posits remission of sin coincident with water baptism and not before. The only problem is that no shred of biblical evidence, grammatical or otherwise, exists to substantiate them. Baptist scholar J.W. Willmarth rightly asked: “Where is the example of the use of ei)$ to denote a relation between an act as a symbol and some past event or accomplished fact, which such symbol is intended to set forth as emblem or declaration or commemoration?” “If it be but a MERE symbol, or object lesson, or a profession of accomplished facts, what meaning is there in language? or how shall we ever hope to understand the Gospel, as it fell from inspired lips, clothed with human words?”—J.W. Willmarth (1877), “Baptism and Remission,” The Baptist Quarterly, ed. Henry Weston (Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society), July, 11:299,317, capitals in orig. Or as J.W. McGarvey explained: “It is a common assumption that Saul’s sins had been really forgiven before his immersion, and Ananias required him only to formally wash them away. But this is a mere combination of words to hide the absence of an idea. How can a man formally do a thing which has already been really done, unless it be by going through a form which is empty and deceptive? If Saul’s sins were already washed away, then he did not wash them away in immersion, and the language of Ananias was deceptive. But it is an indisputable fact, that at the time Ananias gave him this command he was still unhappy, and, therefore, unforgiven. Immediately after he was immersed, he was happy; and the change took place in the mean time, which connects it with his immersion”—(1872), Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Lexington, KY: Transylvania Printing & Publishing), seventh edition, p. 135, italics in orig. Albrecht Oepke, associate professor and New Testament Chair at the University of Leipzig, in his discussion of “the saving significance of baptism” and its “connection with purification from the guilt of sin,” debunks the “symbol” idea: “The significance of baptism thus depends on the fact that it is a real action of the holy God in relation to sinful man. Hence both a superstitious and also a purely symbolical understanding are excluded…. To baptism as a mere rite or realistically developed symbol no such incomparable efficacy could be ascribed in the NT world of thought”—from his article “ꞵάπτω, ꞵαπτίζω” in Gerhard Kittel, ed. (1964), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:540. Or as J.J. Van Oosterzee explained: “Baptism is styled ‘laver of regeneration,’ not because it obligates to regeneration, nor because it is the symbol of regeneration, but because it is really the means of regeneration, if truly desired and received in faith (which is tacitly assumed in respect to those adult Christians who by their own free act were baptized)”—(1870), The Epistle of Paul to Titus (New York: Charles Scribner), p. 20, italics in orig.
The premiere passages in the New Testament that assign symbolic value to baptism simply do not expound the post-conversion concept. True, baptism is, indeed, a symbol. But what does baptism symbolize? It symbolizes: (1) Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, as per Romans 6:3-4; (2) the act of “cutting off” as in circumcision (sin vs. skin), as per Colossians 2:11; and (3) the waters of the Noahic Flood, as per 1 Peter 3:20-21. How could anyone get out of these explicitly stated symbolic meanings that baptism symbolizes past forgiveness that was achieved prior to being immersed? Jettisoning theological presuppositions enables the honest exegete to conclude that the Bible nowhere expounds a post-forgiveness role for baptism. Quite the contrary, the symbolism which the New Testament explicitly associates with water baptism (i.e., Christ’s burial, cutting of skin, and Flood waters) further verifies the essentiality of immersion as a mandatory prerequisite to forgiveness. See Dave Miller (2003), “Is Baptism a Symbol?” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1232&topic=379.
14 Bietenhard, 2:655, emp. added.
15 W.E. Vine (1966 reprint), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell), p. 100, emp. added; cf. Wesley Perschbacher, ed. (1990), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), p. 294.
16 1934, p. 649, emp. added. Paul undoubtedly intended to key into this concept when he chided the Corinthians for their divisive ways by posing three critical questions, the third of which was: “Or were you baptized in (eis-into) the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). The question obviously echos Matthew 28:19. Paul sought to prick the Corinthians with the fact that when they were baptized in water, they were placing themselves under (eis-into) the authority of Christ—not Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or anyone else.
Observe also that his remarks in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 further underscore the absolute essentiality of water baptism to salvation: “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (vss. 11-13). What did Paul mean when he used the expression to be “of” someone (“I” [ Ἐγὼ] with the genitive of the person)? He alluded to an authoritative positioning of a person beneath another. To be “of” another means to have been saved by and come under the jurisdiction of that other and, hence, to “belong to” (R.C.H. Lenski , The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel [Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg], p. 42; cf. ISV,NRSV,RSV) or “follow” (NIV,CJB,CEV,ESV, GNT,NCV,WEB) that person. This relationship is inherent in the three questions Paul asks the Corinthians—questions that pinpoint essential prerequisites to being counted “of” someone. First, in order to be “of” someone, that someone must accordingly be qualified for others to follow him, devote themselves to him, and place themselves under his exclusive rule, Lordship, and control. That person must be “undivided.” To be undivided means that he must have no rivals (e.g., Paul, Apollos, etc.), or competing factions, he must be your sole Savior Who is singular, unique, and unsurpassed by all others. His followers constitute a single body, of which He is the only Head. Hence, the indivisible Christ makes no allowance for other heads, lords, or bodies. He possesses “right over all” (Henry Alford , Alford’s Greek Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint], 2:477). Your loyalty must be directed to Christ alone. Second, that person must be crucified for you. Third, you must be baptized into his name. As discussed in the section on onoma, to be baptized into the name entails submitting oneself to the authority of the one named, or as explained by John Locke, “to enter himself a Disciple of him into whose Name he was baptized, with Profession to receive his Doctrine and Rules, and submit to his Authority”—(1751), A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians, I&II Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians (London: S. Birt, J. Walthoe, et al.), p. 94, emp. added. (Also Macknight, p. 144; Robertson, Word Pictures, 4:75).
In view of these realizations, three additional questions are in order: (1) Is Jesus’ unique, indivisible status(i.e., His divine identity) essential to salvation? Certainly. (2) Is Jesus’ crucifixionessential to salvation? Absolutely. (3) Is baptism in His name essential to salvation? If the answer to the first two questions is “yes,” the third must be as well. Since the text, by implication, answers all three of these questions in the affirmative, it further follows that a person is not “of Christ” unless and until he is baptized into His name. Baptism is so important to salvation, Paul was glad he had baptized so few, so that he did not contribute to the division afflicting the Corinthian church. Due to the divisive climate in the church at Corinth, Paul ran the risk of leaving the impression that baptism was disconnected from salvation in Christ. As Willmarth explained: “lest the faith and reverence due to Christ might be ‘divided’—and a part transferred to the distinguished administrator” (p. 313). “We should note how inseparably connected in Paul’s thought were the sacrifice of the cross and the baptism which makes us partakers in its benefits”—J.W. McGarvey (1916), Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans (Cincinnati, OH: Standard), p. 54. Indeed, as Paul stressed later in the same epistle, the Corinthians had been baptized into one body—the body of Christ (12:13). Chapter 12:12 is a virtual commentary on the “schisms” (1:10—Σꭓίσματα): “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Even as Christ is undivided, so His body (the church) is to be undivided. Far from minimizing the importance of baptism, or proving that baptism is unessential to salvation, quite the opposite is the case. 1 Corinthians 1:13 proves the essentiality of baptism. Without a divine Lord, His crucifixion, and water baptism, there could be no Christians. No one could be “of Christ.”
17 A.T. Robertson (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press), 1:245, emp. added.
18 Joseph Thayer (1977 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), p. 447, emp. added.
20 p. 301, italics in orig., emp. added.
21 H. Leo Boles (1952), The Gospel According to Matthew (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), pp. 564-565, emp. added. See also Lange (1884), 1:557—“a baptism under the authority of, and unto the authority of the triune God.” Also G.G. Findlay (no date), St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 766—“‘The name’ connotes the nature and authority of the bearer.” For more discussion of the concept of authority, see Dave Miller (2012), Surrendering to His Lordship (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
22 Sellers Crain (2011), Truth for Today Commentary: Matthew 14-28 (Searcy, AR: Resource Publications), p. 484.
23 F.F. Bruce (1963), The Books and the Parchments (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell), p. 66, emp. added.
24 James Moulton and George Milligan (1930), Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-literary Sources (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982 reprint), p. 451, first emp. in orig., second emp. added.
25 Alexander Souter (1917), A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press), p. 46. Souter served as professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at Mansfield College, Oxford, and later succeeded William Ramsay as Regius Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen. He published an edition of the New Testament Greek text on which the English Revised Version of 1881 was based (the British precursor to the ASV).
26 Frederick Danker, rev. and ed. (2000), “ὄνομα,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press), p. 713.
30 p. 302, italics in orig., emp. added. Cf. David Schneider (2017), “Reconsidering the Greek Preposition ‘EIS’ in the Baptismal Theology of Matthew 28 and Romans 6,” Concordia Theology, https://goo.gl/6dDhgW—“Baptized ‘into the name’ pictures the person being transferred from outside God’s name to inside the name—God’s family—with all of the family blessings and responsibilities.”
31 p. 323. Cf. Lars Hartman (2013), Approaching New Testament Texts and Contexts: Collected Essays II (Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck), pp. 145ff. See also Murray Harris (1978), “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament,” in Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 3:1209, who summarizes three views: “it may denote a transference of ownership” in which “the person being baptized passes into the possession of the Triune God,” or it can denote “to endow a person, through baptism, with the benefits of the salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ,” or “denoting the fundamental reference or purpose of some thing, rite or action.” Observe that all three of these views presuppose that baptism precedes salvation. Cf. Wilhelm Heitmuller (1903), Im Namen Jesu (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht).
32 J.W. McGarvey (1875), The New Testament Commentary: Matthew and Mark (Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing), p. 254, italics in orig., emp. added.
33 G.R. Beasley-Murray (1966), Baptism Today and Tomorrow (New York: St. Martin’s Press), pp. 93-94.
34 Adolf von Schlatter (1955), The Church in the New Testament Period, trans. Paul Levertoff (London: SPCK Publishing), p. 26.
35 Johannes Lindblom believed that maqhteuvsate (“make disciples”—DM) could just as rightly be rendered Хριστιανοὺς ποιήσατε (“make Christians”—DM) in (1919), Jesu missions-och dopbefallning, Matt. 28:18-20, tillika en studie överdet kristna dopets ursprung (Stockholm: Svenska Kyrkans Diakonistyrelses Bokförlag), p. 132.