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.

No one living in the days of the early Church was 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 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’ landmark work entitled Ecclesiastical History, he 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:

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’ [Therefore] ‘Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name,’ teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Great Commission:

Matthew 28:18-20 is well-known as 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… Luke also has Jesus during his ministry dispatching disciples, including the seventy disciples, sending them to all the nations …” (Wikipedia, Great Commission, 3/31/2023)

A parallel version of the Great Commission 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)

Luke’s Great Commission mentions Jesus Christ’s name.

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.

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

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