BAPTISM INTO THE TRINITY
On the day I was baptised by a WCG minister in 1989, I experienced one of the greatest shocks I have ever encountered in all my time in the Church. Just before one of our local ministers in Sydney put me under the water, he said he was baptising me in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I remember going down into the water in absolute bewilderment.
In the three years prior to my baptism, I had studied many of Herbert Armstrong's (HWA) books and booklets, including the teaching on the Trinity, and I was in no doubt that mainstream Christianity's view on this subject was false and founded in paganism. I believe I was also aware, at this stage, of the fraudulent insert in I John 5:7 that was placed there by believers in the Trinity.
Hence my absolute shock at hearing the trinitarian formula used at my Church of God (COG) baptism.
Amazingly, this formula is still used by most ministers in the COG's today.
I had never attended a baptism before and so was unaware that this phrase would be used. Looking into this matter later, I learned of course that we get the phrase from Matthew 28:19. Along with the notorious I John 5:7 insert, I periodically wondered about this influential but questionable passage of Scripture. I had lingering doubts as to its authenticity, but never had any real evidence to challenge it.
Over the years, I'd heard it said in God's Church that the apostle Matthew wrote his gospel specifically for the Jews. Some time ago, I read in some article or perhaps a commentary, I'm not sure exactly where, that his gospel was most probably originally written in Hebrew, i.e. a Jew writing for Jews would logically write in Hebrew.
If Matthew wrote in Hebrew, one might expect to find evidence of this from some sources in early Christian literature. This is indeed the case:
-- Papias of Hierapolis in the first half of the second century wrote: "Matthew compiled the sayings in the Hebrew language……….." (Quoted by Eusebius, Church History 3.39)
-- Irenaeus, in the second half of the second century, wrote: "Matthew also issued a written gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect" (Against Heresies 3.1.1)
-- Origen of Alexandria, in about the mid third century wrote: "...... the four gospels........first to be written was by Matthew............who published it in Hebrew for Jewish believers". (Quoted by Eusebius, Church History 6.25)
-- Eusebius in the first half of the fourth century wrote: "Matthew had first preached to Hebrews and.........transmitted in writing in his native language the gospel according to himself............” (Church History 3.24)
-- Jerome in the latter half of the fourth century or early fifth century wrote: "Matthew, who wrote the gospel in the Hebrew language............” (Epistle 20:5)
I did a search on amazon.com typing in “Hebrew Gospel of Matthew” and found and purchased a book with that exact title by Professor George Howard from the University of Georgia, which contains a Hebrew version of Matthew from the 1300s, with an English translation.
Reading this version of Matthew is similar to reading an alternative translation of Scripture from one you're accustomed to. The stories are familiar, but the wording is somewhat different with some interesting variant readings, omissions, additions etc.
The big shock however is at the very end of chapter 28. The entire phrase "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" is missing !!
This book, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, refers to early writings and their quotes from Scripture, particularly by Eusebius (c 263 – 339 AD), one of the most significant Christian historical writers.
This is where things get really interesting.
Eusebius wrote a lot about the Scriptures, and frequently quoted from them. In his book published in English as “The Proof of the Gospel” (Original title “Demonstratio Evangelica”), my version of which has a Scripture index in the back (1981 version - Baker Book House), it can be found that in just this one book he quoted Mt 28:19 no less than seven times - sometimes in part, sometimes in full.
Not once in Eusebius’ seven quotes of Mt 28:19 does the phrase “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” appear !!
When he quotes the whole sentence, it reads as follows:
“Go, and make disciples of all the nations in My Name, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”
(The Proof of the Gospel, 132a) (shown below)
The Proof of the Gospel was completed a decade or two before the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, at which time Constantine began to force the doctrine of the Trinity on the established Church. Eusebius was a contemporary of Constantine and attended the Council of Nicea as Bishop of Caesarea.
After the Council of Nicea, Eusebius' writings all of a sudden contain the trinitarian baptismal formula in Matt 28:19, when in all Eusebius' works prior to Nicea this reading is not found. Incredibly, a total of 16 partial or full quotes of this Scripture can be found in his writings prior to Nicea; all of them read "in my name" rather than "baptizing in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit". It seems quite evident that Constantine forced theologians from this point on to toe the Catholic line.
If one looks at the entire passage of Proof of the Gospel 136: a-d (shown below), it is nearly impossible to come to any conclusion other than that in the decades prior to Nicea, the trinitarian phrase in Mt 28:19 did not exist in the text used by Eusebius.
Eusebius here specifically explains what he thinks “in my name” means (quoting it twice), as it follows the phrase “Go, and make disciples of all the nations”.
Surely he couldn’t quote it and comment on it, if it wasn’t there in the text.
Please remember this was written somewhere around 310AD, well before Nicea, and well before the later known copies of Scripture that include the trinitarian phrase at this point.
In Eusebius’ Church History 3:5 he again quotes “Go and make disciples of all nations in my name” as he does in many of his other works. This appears to Eusebius to have been a very significant command from Christ. Again, how can this be if it wasn’t in the text?
Just to be very clear, other early church writings prior to Eusebius do contain references to the Trinity, and this is no surprise as we know that many cultures worshipped a threefold godhead, which has been elaborately detailed in Alexander Hislop's "The Two Babylons". This concept was likely introduced early into the false church by Simon Magus and his followers. Threefold washings were also practised long before Christ in the rituals of these religions.
Whether or not Eusebius had access to Matthew in Hebrew only, or in Greek as well, is not clear. Either way though, it is very clear how the correct text read to him in his time.
See the following quotes by Jerome (around 400AD) and the “discrepancies” that had crept in. Note also that Pamphilus is the predecessor of Eusebius in Caesarea and that Eusebius worked in the library mentioned.
“Matthew also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered”.
- Jerome “Lives of Illustrious Men” Chapter 3
“I am now speaking of the New Testament. This was undoubtedly composed in Greek, with the exception of the work of Matthew the Apostle, who was the first to commit to writing the Gospel of Christ, and who published his work in Judaea in Hebrew characters. We must confess that as we have it [Matthew] in our language it is marked by discrepancies, and now that the stream is distributed into different channels we must go back to the fountainhead”.
- Jerome “Preface to the Four Gospels”
Below are quotes from a range of different sources regarding this matter:
"Eusebius cites in this short form ["in my name"] so often that it is easier to suppose that he is definitely quoting the words of the Gospel, than to invent possible reasons which may have caused him so frequently to have paraphrased it. And if we once suppose his short form to have been current in MSS of the Gospel, there is much probability in the conjecture that it is the original text of the Gospel, and that in the later centuries the clause "baptizing.........Spirit" supplanted the shorter "in my name".
The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament
S. Driver, A. Plummer, C. Briggs
A Critical & Exegetical Commentary of St. Matthew
Third Edition, 1912, pages 307-308
"The historical riddle is not solved by Matthew 28:19, since, according to a wide scholarly consensus, it is not an authentic saying of Jesus, not even an elaboration of a Jesus-saying on baptism."
The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, 1992, page 585
Matthew 28:19 - "the Church of the first days did not observe this world-wide command, even if they knew it. The command to baptize into the threefold name is a late doctrinal expansion. In place of the words "baptizing....... Spirit" we should probably read simply "into my name," i.e. (turn the nations) to Christianity, "in my name," i.e. (teach the nations) in my spirit."
Peake's Commentary on the Bible, 1929, page 723
"It is clear, therefore, that of the MSS which Eusebius inherited from his predecessor, Pamphilus, at Caesarea in Palestine, some at least preserved the original reading, in which there was no mention either of Baptism or of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It has been conjectured by Dr. Davidson, Dr. Martineau, by the present Dean of Westminster, and by Prof. Harnack (to mention but a few names out of many), that here the Received Text could not contain the very words of Jesus".
History of New Testament Criticism, F C Conybeare, 1910, page 75
“This formula is perhaps a reflection of the liturgical usage of the writer's own time”.
Footnote to Matthew 28:19
The Jerusalem Bible (1974 version)
The page "THINGS THAT DON'T ADD UP" has the 1966 version of this footnote.
Appendix 185 in the Companion Bible reflects the absolute confusion regarding this passage. The author sees that the command of Mt 28:19 has not been carried out by the Apostles, as testified in the book of Acts, and instead assigns it a place yet in the future after Christ's return. Only then, supposedly, will the nations be baptised into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost !!
Young's "Literal Translation of the Bible" puts the trinitarian phrase in Mt 28:19 in brackets.
It is also noteworthy that Sabbath keeping author George Carlow, writing in 1724, quotes Matt 28:19-20 as "Go disciple all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" ("Truth Defended", reprinted in 1847 as "A Defense of the Sabbath", this quote from p8). Carlow doesn't elaborate or explain in any way the absence of the trinitarian phrase in his quote. However, knowing that this post-Reformation generation was desperately trying to weed out errors introduced into Christianity by Rome, and that the rite of baptism by immersion was one of the first things identified as absent from the practices of Catholicism, it is very logical that the words spoken during the baptism ceremony would also have been something given deep consideration.
Just a few more Scriptural points that I feel add weight to this subject:
1) In 1 Cor 1:13, Paul asks "Is Christ divided, was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptised in the name of Paul?" From this statement, it certainly appears that believers ought to be baptised in the name of the One who was crucified for them. As Acts 4:12 says, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Rom 6:3 says that we "were baptised into Christ Jesus". The next verse says "we were buried with him".
2) The disciples are never on record as having baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost:
(Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16)
3) The parallel account in Luke 24:47 seems to add weight to the argument that Mt 28:19 has been tampered with: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations."
4) Christ himself frequently used the expression “in my name”:
(Matthew 18:5, 18:20, 24:5)
(Mark 9:37, 9:39, 9:41, 13:6, 16:17)
(Luke 9:48, 21:8)
(John 14:13, 14:14, 14:26, 15:16, 16:23, 16:24, 16:26)
Other than Mt 28:19, there is no record of Christ using the phrase “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”.
5) Baptism is obviously intrinsically linked to Passover. We are baptised into Christ's death, while the Passover annually commemorates His death. It is His body and His blood that were broken and shed. Scripture calls it the Lord's Passover. Therefore it makes perfect sense that we would be baptised into His name.
It is quite astonishing that with all the information available today, the trinitarian baptismal formula is still used by the Churches of God as they continue to follow HWA. Although he supposedly "restored all things", he was blissfully unaware of this Satanic insert in Scripture.