August 1, 1991 Issue
by Ronny F. Wade

Question: Why did the Lord try to kill Moses and why did his wife Zipporah call him a bloody husband because of the circumcision Ex 4:24-26

Answer: Some background information will he helpful in answering the above question. Ehezer was the second son born to Moses and his heathen wife Zipporah. The rite of circumcision which God established with Abraham required that all male children be circumcised on the eighth day following their birth. It is evident that Zipporah regarded this rite as both barbarous and unnecessary. It would also appear that she had successfully persuaded Moses to go along with her in refusing to circumcise the child. In verse 24 we are told that God met Moses i.e. "visited him with a sharp attack of illness, which threatened to he fatal." (Ellicott) This was an indication of His displeasure with Moses for failing to carry out the divine command, and is so interpreted by both Moses and Zipporah. There is no doubt, at this point, that God intended to kill Moses for refusing to obey his commandment. Realizing this Zipporah takes a stone knife and performs the circumcision herself. She then threw the foreskin at his (Moses) feet, which was an indication of her dislike for the rite itself. The phrase "A bloody husband thou art" has been interpreted at least two ways. Ellicott feels the expression means "you are a husband who causes the blood of his children to he shed unnecessarily for some unintelligible reason," hence a "husband of bloods." Another view holds that since Moses had been as good as taken from her because of his refusal to comply with God's command, that she had in effect purchased him back from death by the shedding of her son's blood in the act of circumcision, hence he was a "'blood bridegroom." Both Glass and Kurtz hold this position. It would seem to this writer, however, that the first view i.e. that Moses was a bloody husband because of his belief in and insistence upon circumcision, is the correct interpretation. At any rate when the circumcision was complete God let Moses go i.e. allowed him to recover. This incident should he a powerful reminder to all of us that God never has, nor does he now, regard lightly our refusal to obey his commands.

Question: Can we baptize in the name of Jesus only, or does Mt 28:19 give the full formula for baptism? 

Answer: First of all, let me assure the querist that we cannot baptize in the name of Jesus only and please God. To baptize in the name of Jesus only is to disregard the teaching of Jesus in Mt 28:19 i.e. into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Those who contend for "Jesus only" baptism do so generally because of the claim that the accounts in Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; and Acts 19:5 all present a uniform formula for us to follow today. Close examination reveals, however, that the uniformity claimed does not exist. Even in English there are obvious variations, and according to Guy N. Woods, the variety in the Greek is even more striking. Take for example Acts 2:38 "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." If this represents the correct formula, then Peter and John varied from it in Acts 8:16 for they baptized in the name "of the Lord Jesus." So also was the case with Paul at Ephesus. There he baptized "n the name of the Lord" Acts 10:48. All these instances confirm that not only is there no uniformity of formula, but that obviously none was intended.

To baptize in the name of Jesus is merely to baptize by the command or authority of Jesus. In all the above instances in the book of Acts these men were acting in behalf of Jesus and by his authority in baptizing men into Christ. The only way one can baptize in the name of Jesus is to baptize people in harmony with the Lord's command i.e. "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Thus the correct procedure for administering baptism is given by our Lord in Mt 28:19.

It should be noted, however, that Jesus is regulating what we do in Mt 28:19 and not necessarily what we say. In all the accounts in Acts to which we referred, we are told what these men did and not what they may or may not have said. One may do a thing without saying he is doing it. For example we are told in Col 3:17 "whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." One may do a good deed in the name of the Lord Jesus without saying "I am doing this in the name of Jesus." By the same token, one may baptize another scripturally without saying a prescribed set of words. One may not, however, say something that connotes an unscriptural concept or procedure and be right. There is certainly nothing wrong with stating what you are doing at the time you baptize someone. To insist, however, that an unvarying set of words (formula) must be spoken, is to demand something for which there is no scriptural justification.

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