Is the Trine Baptismal formula (Matt. 28:19) inauthentic text?


I read in your literature that the Trine Baptismal formula stated by Jesus in Matt. 28:19 may not be authentic text. What is your authority for this statement?


Although its authenticity has been questioned by many serious students of Scripture, the so-called Trine Baptismal Formula, (“in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”) does appear in the common manuscripts from which the New Testament is translated. However “it must be remembered that the best manuscripts both of the African Old Latin and of the Old Syriac versions are defective at this point” (“baptism” Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics).

This same entry mentions that some of the earliest church fathers (e.g. Eusebius and Justin Martyr) who quoted this passage of Scripture were not familiar with the Trine Formula; a fact which suggests strongly that the Trine Formula may have been added at a later date.

This is not conclusive evidence of itself, but it supports what we find in the rest of the New Testament, where no mention is made of the Trine Formula or of the Trinity in any form. “On the whole, then, the evidence of literary criticism is against the historical character of the traditional text of Matthew 28:19”” (Hastings).

The Apostles were sent out to preach in the name of the Lord. Besides Matthew 28:19 the New Testament knows only baptism in the name of Jesus (see Acts 2:38; 8:16; 19:4; Gal. 2:27; Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 1:13-15). Even if the Apostles did use the “trine formula” it does not say that the three are one being or one organism, nor does it lend any credence to the common belief in the Trinity. The Apostles often spoke of the Father and the Son, but distinguished them as two separate entities. They speak of God and the Son. The Holy Spirit was also distinct, being a power which was “given” and which they “received.” (see Acts1:7-9; John 7:39).

If Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 was intended to extol the godhead in its association with baptism, Paul totally missed the point or flagrantly disobeyed (either of which seems entirely unlikely) for there is no evidence he complied with the command. Being the apostle to the Gentiles, he was showing the deeper meaning of baptism: the death to sin and sinful tendencies which each believer must complete.