In most Bibles, Matthew 28:19 says:
‘...baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’
These words, sometimes called the trinitarian formula, are probably spurious later additions to the Bible. In other words, fake. Why do we say this? Well, it’s not because of old manuscripts. They appear in all surviving manuscripts; but we don’t have any fragments of Matthew from before the 4th century that are large enough to be useful. Those 400 years are mostly a black-box.
However, internal evidence and historical evidence shows quite convincingly that these words were added in the early 4th century. What evidence?
Consider these nine reasons:
1. The 4th century bishop Eusebius quoted this verse several times without the extra words.
In total, he quoted it 18 times between 300 CE and 336 CE. At first, he quotes it as saying, ‘Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.’ As you can see, there no mention of baptism, or of the formula.
However, the baptism formula then suddenly appears in Eusebius’ quotes. When? Right after the Council of Nicaea, at which the Church adopted the Trinity doctrine!
Interestingly, Eusebius himself may have helped to insert these spurious words into the verse. He was one of the most important historical figures in the history of the Church. He was a powerful force in helping the Roman Emperor Constantine to see the political advantages of ending the persecution of Christians, and in establishing Christianity as the official state religion. He was also involved in creating the Council of Nicaea itself!
Given his prominence and the timing, it’s quite possible that he was somehow involved in the adoption of these spurious words – or at least knew those who were. How ironic that we only have Eusebius’ earlier quotations of Matthew 28:18 to prove that the extra words are spurious.
It’s also ironic that his quotations prove what some Trinitarians have always argued, that baptisms should only be done in the name of Jesus. Indeed, the rest of our evidence supports this.
2. Luke 24:47 reports the same event and discourse of Jesus, and makes no mention of these words.
There it only reports: ‘Then in his name, [the message of] repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be preached in all the nations, starting from JeruSalem.’ There’s no trinitarian formula, and no mention of baptism.
3. Acts 1:8 reports the same event, and still fails to mention the words.
It says: ‘However, you will receive power when the Holy Breath comes over you, and you’ll be witnesses of me in JeruSalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.’ Again, we see no mention of the trinitarian formula or baptism. Surely, if this was the true and only formula for baptism, then it would not have been forgotten?
4. Acts 2:38 commands baptism in the name of Jesus only.
It says, ‘Repent, and each of you get baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One, so your sins can be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Breath.’ Same story.
5. Acts 8:15, 16 reports describes people having been baptized in the name of Jesus only:
‘They went [to the Samaritans] and prayed for them to receive the Holy Breath, because it hadn’t come to any of them yet, although they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.’
6. Acts 10:48 reports people being commanded to only be baptized in the name of Jesus:
‘So he commanded that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One.’
7. Acts 19:5 describes people being baptized in the name of Jesus and no-one else:
‘When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.’
8. Romans 6:3 only mentions that people were baptized into Jesus and his death:
‘Don’t you realize that all that were baptized into the Anointed Jesus were also baptized into his death?’
9. And finally, Galatians 3:27 mentions people being baptized into the Anointed One:
‘All that were baptized into the Anointed One have put on the Anointed One.’
So it is quite clear that the words are spurious later additions, likely ordered by 4th century bishops. Therefore, they are crossed out in our Bible. They remind us of the other fake trinitarian words added to 1 John 5:7-8 sometime during the 14th or 15th centuries.
Our Bible uses older manuscripts than most Bibles do. Check us out!