Matthew 28:19 — Rich Kelsey

Matthew 28:19

Matthew 28:19

Out of all the verses found in scripture, Matthew 28:19 is the hallmark of Trinitarian proof texts:

“… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19)

Yet, there are problems with Christ’s supposed saying.

It’s an anachronism:



“a person, thing, or idea that exists out of its time in history, especially one that happened or existed later than the period being shown …” (Cambridge Dictionary)

Example of an Anachronism:

Envision watching a movie with a scene from the days of the apostles, in which an early Christian is praying the rosary:

“… Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

That portrayal of early Christianity would be anachronistic, because the title,

“Mother of God”

was given to Mary during the Third Ecumenical Council, in 431 A.D.

And, the words,

“… Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

was composed over a thousand years later.

People living in the days of the early Church were not using that type of language.

Likewise, neither Jesus Christ nor people in Jesus’ day, used language found in Matthew 28:19:

“… in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

On this subject, the Catholic Church acknowledges:

Only in the 4th Century did the formula ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ become customary.” (Vatican II Edition Bible Catechism p. 164)

Baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ:

One might wonder, if Jesus told his apostles to baptize people using,

“… a Trinity of names,”[1]

then why didn’t the apostles do what Jesus told them to do:

■ “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” (Acts 2:38, NASB)

■ “And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ… ” (Acts 10:48, NASB)

■ “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:5, NASB)

In reality, the last thing Jesus told his disciples had nothing to do with baptism or the Trinity.

Early Version of Matthew 28:19:

Eusebius of Caesarea is known as the Father of Church history.

Eusebius had access to writings which are now lost.

One such manuscript was,

“… a copy of the original Aramaic version of the Gospel of Matthew.” (Eusebius, Wikipedia)

■ In Eusebius’ work entitled Proof of the Gospel, written about 313 A.D., Eusebius quotes from that Gospel of Matthew:

“With one word and voice He said to His disciples: ‘Go, and make disciples of all nations in My Name, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,’” — (Proof of the Gospel by Eusebius, Book III, chapter 6, p. 152)

■ In Eusebius’ landmark work entitled Ecclesiastical History, written about 324 A.D., Eusebius again quotes from that Gospel of Matthew:

“But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, ‘Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.'” (Ecclesiastical History, Book III, 5, ii)

Notice that the words,

“… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”

are missing.

And because Matthew 28:18 speaks of Jesus receiving authority, the version of Matthew 28:19 quoted by Eusebius, makes more sense.

Matthew 28:19 The Great Commission:

“In Christianity, the Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples to spread the gospel to all the nations of the world… ” (Wikipedia, Great Commission, 3/31/2023)

A parallel version of the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19 is found in the Gospel of Luke:

“and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47, NASB)

What is missing from Luke’s Great Commission are the words:

“… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”

which is more evidence that Jesus Christ was not the source of that Trinitarian saying.

The Likely Source of Matthew 28:19:

The Didache, also known as The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations, began as,

“… a Jewish catechetical work which was then developed into a church manual.” (The Didache, Wikipedia)

Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. “… baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.” (The Didache)

The Council of Nicaea:

Eusebius sent a letter to the people of his diocese documenting what was asserted[2] during The Council of Nicaea. In the council’s statement of faith, the traditional reading of Matthew 28:19 is spelled out:

“We believe each of these to be and to exist, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Spirit truly Holy Spirit, as also our Lord said when he sent forth his disciples to preach, ‘Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Concerning which things we confidently affirm that this is what we maintain, how we think, and what we have held up until now, and that we will maintain this faith unto death, anathematizing every ungodly heresy.” (Letter of Eusebius of Caesarea to his church regarding the Council of Nicaea, Section 5.)

Eusebius’ letter is a historical account of what took place during the council, it did not represent Eusebius’ personal convictions.[3]

First Council of Nicaea Continued:

The Council of Nicaea consisted of fiercely heated debates; it lasted almost two months.

One purpose of the Council was to resolve disagreements arising from within the Church of Alexandria over the nature of Jesus in his relationship to the Father: in particular, whether the Son had been ‘begotten’ by the Father from his own being, and therefore having no beginning, or else created out of nothing, and therefore having a beginning. St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius took the first position; the popular presbyter Arius, from whom the term Arianism comes, took the second. The Council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly (of the estimated 250–318 attendees, all but two agreed to sign the creed, and these two, along with Arius, were banished to Illyria).” (First Council of Nicaea – Wikipedia)

Oration in Praise of Constantine — Eusebius, 335 A.D.:

Ten years after the First Council of Nicaea, Eusebius still maintained that Jesus Christ had actually said:

Go, and make disciples of all nations in my name.”

“… after his victory over death, he spoke the word to his followers, and fulfilled it by the event, saying to them, Go, and make disciples of all nations in my name. He it was who gave the distinct assurance, that his gospel must be preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations, and immediately verified his word: for within a little time the world itself was filled with his doctrine.” (Oration in Praise of Constantine — Eusebius, 335 A.D., section 8.)

Jesus Christ’s Name in the Book of Acts:

■ “But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!'” (Acts 3:6, NASB)

■ “‘And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.'” (Acts 3:16, NASB)

■ “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead— by this name this man stands here before you in good health.” (Acts 4:10, NASB)

■ “And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:18, NASB)

■ “while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:30, NASB)

■ “They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.” (Acts 5:40, NASB)

■ “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.” (Acts 8:12, NASB)

■ “… and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.” (Acts 19:17, NASB)

Christ’s Name in the Gospels:

■ “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20, NASB)

■ “In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21, NIV)

■ “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24, NASB)

■ “… these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, NASB)

Those using the baptismal formula:

“… in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”

to make disciples, are at odds with the biblical commandment to use the name of the Lord Jesus:

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17, NASB)

Other related articles:

■ Who is Jesus Christ? — Rich Kelsey

■ Trinitarian Terms — Rich Kelsey

■ And Then Along Comes Mary — Rich Kelsey

Full Article Index / Christian Articles



1. “The Didache is considered part of the group of second-generation Christian writings … The document is a composite work, and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with its Manual of Discipline, has provided evidence of development over a considerable period of time, beginning as a Jewish catechetical work which was then developed into a church manual. … Scholars generally agree that [Chapter 9], which speaks of baptism ‘in the name of the Lord,’ represents an earlier tradition that was gradually replaced by a trinity of names.” — Didache, Wikipedia

2. “In the same way we also accepted the phrase “begotten, not made,” since the council asserted that “made” (poiētos) was a term used to designate other creatures which came to be through the Son, to whom the Son had no similarity. So according to their reasoning, he was not something made that resembled the things which came to exist through him, but was of an essence which is too high to be put on the same level as anything which was made. The divine sayings teach us that his essence was begotten from the Father, and that the mode of his being begotten is inexpressible and unable to be conceived by any nature which has had a beginning of its existence.” (Letter of Eusebius of Caesarea to his church regarding the Council of Nicaea, Section 11.)

3. “According to the Editor of the Christadelphian Monatshefte, Eusebius among his many other writings compiled a collection of the corrupted texts of the Holy Scriptures, and ‘the most serious of all the falsifications denounced by him, is without doubt the traditional reading of Ma 28:19’”. (Evidence For and Against the Phrase in Matt. 28:19)