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In Defense of the Truth of the Great Commission

In Defense of the Truth of the Great Commission-Matthew 28:19

By Ener Cabangis

Majority of Christians today have been taught that Matthew 28:19 is a trinitarian verse because Matthew wrote what he heard from the Lord that they should teach all nations, and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

However, this verse can also be claimed as teaching modalism or tritheism, and it can even be claimed as a non-trinitarian verse because it’s vague enough that it can be liable for any of these interpretations.

But in this article, I’m addressing particularly some of my fellow Seventh-day Adventists who are Anti-Trinitarians, whom I’ll refer to forwardly as “OTG” (acronym for “Only True God”) believers that have embraced the idea that this verse was actually not part of the original Greek manuscript, although every Greek extant that we have today included this text with the baptismal formula (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost), albeit dated only in the 4th century.

Since these extant were from the same century that the Trinity doctrine was established, the OTGs embraced the belief that the baptismal formula was an interpolation of the Catholic Church especially because the Catholic Encyclopedia stated that:

“The baptismal formula was CHANGED from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH in the SECOND CENTURY.” — (The Catholic Encyclopedia, II, p. 263)

The Anti-Trinitarian class in general reject the doctrine of the Trinity because it does not have any Biblical true foundation, and claims such as the one above add more confirmation for them the falsity of the doctrine.

And it’s also been claimed that Justin Martyr was first to use the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19.

“BAPTISM WAS ALWAYS IN THE NAME OF LORD JESUS UNTIL THE TIME OF JUSTIN MARTYR when the Triune formula came into use.” (Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 2, pg. 389)

And there are other historical resources that basically say the same thing, but is it true that “baptism was always in the name of the Lord Jesus” until the alleged change by Justin Martyr?

Well, it depends on how one understands those records of baptism done by the disciples of Jesus Christ in Acts 2:38 (“in the name of Jesus Christ”); Acts 8:16 (“in the name of the Lord Jesus”); Acts 10:48 (“in the name of the Lord”); and Acts 19:5 (“in the name of the Lord Jesus”).

If one takes the position that those baptisms done “in the name of Jesus Christ” as the form of words that the disciples used instead of the words stated in Matthew 28:19 as we have it in the Bible today, then it’s not surprising that historians would conclude that Justin Martyr was the culprit because he was the first person recorded that baptized saying, “I baptize you in the name of God the Father and the Lord of all, and of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost,” and then you have the Catholic Encyclopedia stating that the Catholic Church made the change to the words of the baptismal formula, then how else can one deem those records of baptism done in the name of Jesus Christ in the book of Acts other than those were the true and proper words?

But as a fellow OTG, I felt that I needed to present the other way of understanding those records in Acts.

It is the understanding that Luke, the author of Acts, did not write those records of baptism with this in mind that he was presenting the “form of words” that they baptized with, but instead “referencing the authoritative name of Christ that gave them the right to baptize in the first place, alluding to Matthew 28:18 where Jesus said to them that, “...All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” thus commanded to teach all nations and to baptize. And likewise, it is also by the authority of the name of Christ that we are to get baptized if we have accepted the preaching of the gospel (Acts 2:38), and this is what Luke intended in mind.

Now one of those records of baptism by the disciples we can find in Acts 19:5, but I’ll quote from verse 1.

“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, THEY WERE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.” (Acts 19:1-5)

And here is the insight of that same event in the Inspired Testimonies:

“Then the apostle [Paul] set before them the great truths that are the foundation of the Christian's hope… HE REPEATED THE SAVIOUR'S COMMISSION TO HIS DISCIPLES: ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.’ Matthew 28:18, 19… With deep interest and grateful, wondering joy the brethren listened to Paul's words. By faith they grasped the wonderful truth of Christ's atoning sacrifice and received Him as their Redeemer. THEY WERE THEN BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS...” (AA 282,283)

There is an obvious distinction between “baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” and to be “baptized in the name of Jesus,” but...

“THE TESTIMONIES THEMSELVES WILL BE THE KEY THAT WILL EXPLAIN THE MESSAGES GIVEN, as scripture is explained by scripture.” (Selected Messages, v. 1, pg. 42)

So how does the Testimonies explain the distinction between the two?

“The prejudice of the Jews was aroused because the disciples of Jesus did not use the EXACT WORDS of John in the rite of baptism. John baptized unto repentance, BUT THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS, ON PROFESSION OF THE FAITH, BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. The teachings of John were in perfect harmony with those of Jesus, yet his disciples became jealous for fear his influence was diminishing. A DISPUTE AROSE BETWEEN THEM AND THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS IN REGARD TO THE ‘FORM OF WORDS’ PROPER TO USE AT BAPTISM, and finally as to THE RIGHT OF THE LATTER TO BAPTIZE at all.” (2SP 136.3)

So the baptism, “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” are the proper words to use, and according to the quote above, these were the words that the disciples baptized with, contrary to what we read earlier in Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion that said, “baptism was always in the name of the Lord Jesus” until the alleged change by Justin Martyr.

But how about the baptism “in the name of Jesus?” If these are not the proper words to use, how does the Testimony explain this? The Testimonies’ quote above (2SP 136.3) stated that the disciples of John also disputed over what right the disciples of Jesus had to baptize. Here is what that right was.

“WE HAVE THE RIGHT; He has told us to go forth ‘IN HIS NAME.’ He has told us TO BAPTIZE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY GHOST, and to preach His gospel.” (Ms 192, 1905, par. 14)

Just as sure as the quote above is applicable for the ministers of God today, it was also applicable to the disciples as they were commanded to go forth IN HIS NAME. This was their RIGHT to baptize, but when they baptized, they used the proper words as the Lord instructed them in Matthew 28:19.

“Christ assured them, ‘ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME in heaven and in earth.’ THEY WERE TO GO FORTH IN HIS NAME, and he promised them the ministry of his Spirit...” (RH March 15, 1898, par. 3)

Is it getting clearer that those records of baptism in the book of Acts done “in the name of Jesus” were not necessarily referring to the form of words, but to the power or authority of the name of Christ?

Let’s continue reading, but skipping to paragraph 6 of the same article above:

“IN HIS NAME the warfare of truth against error was to be carried forward, subverting the strongholds of idolatry and sin. People were to be stirred to carry the truth to all tongues and nations, giving the trumpet a certain sound, and rousing the slumbering nations from spiritual apathy and death. The disciples were to be his witnesses. THEIR EVERY ACTION WAS TO FASTEN ATTENTION ON HIS NAME, as possessing that vital power by which men may be brought into oneness with him who is the source of all power and efficiency. They were to center their faith in him who is the fountain of mercies, blessings, and power. They were to present their petitions to the Father IN HIS NAME, and then their prayers would be answered...”— RH March 15, 1898, par. 6

Now let’s read to very next lines from the same paragraph:

“‘THEY WERE TO BAPTIZE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.’ ‘CHRIST’S NAME’ was to be their watchword, THEIR BADGE of distinction, their bond of union, THE AUTHORITY FOR THEIR COURSE OF ACTION, and the source of their success. Nothing was to be recognized in his kingdom that did not bear his name and superscription.” — ibid

It’s not too hard to understand is it? The disciples’ badge or authority for their course of action, which included the acts of baptism, was THE NAME OF JESUS.

But because men have misunderstood those records of baptism done “in the name of Jesus” thinking they were the right form of words, and that it’s always been that way until the time of Justin Martyr, they could not help but conclude that Martyr had so greatly influenced the Catholic Church leaders to make the interpolation.

“JUSTIN MARTYR was one of the early Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church WHO HELPED CHANGE THE ANCIENT BAPTISM OF ‘IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST” TO THE TITLES OF FATHER, SON AND HOLY GHOST.’” (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 8)

“Justin...quotes a saying of Christ...as a proof of the necessity or regeneration, but falls back upon the use of Isaiah and apostolic tradition to justify the practice of baptism and the use of the triune formula. This certainly suggests that Justin did not know the traditional text of Matthew 28:19.” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics)

“In Justin Martyr, who wrote between A.D. 130 and 140, there is a passage which has been regarded as a citation or echo of Matthew 28:19 by various scholars, e.g. Resch in his Ausser canonische Parallelstellen, who sees in it AN ABRIDGMENT OF THE ORDINARY TEXT. The passage is in Justin’s dialog with Trypho 39, p. 258: ‘God hath not afflicted nor inflicts the judgment, as knowing of some that still even today are being made disciples IN THE NAME OF HIS CHRIST, and are abandoning the path of error, who also do receive gifts each as they be worthy, being illuminated by the name of this Christ.’ “The objection hitherto to these words being recognized as a citation of our text was that they ignored the formula ‘baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.’ BUT THE DISCOVERY OF THE EUSEBIAN FORM OF TEXT REMOVES THE DIFFICULTY: and Justin is seen to have had the same text as early as the year 140, which EUSEBIUS regularly found in his manuscripts from 300 to 340. —Conybeare (Hibbert Journal)

“IT IS NATURAL TO ‘CONCLUDE’ that baptism was administered in the earliest times 'in the name of Jesus Christ,' or in that 'of the Lord Jesus.' This view is confirmed by the fact that the earliest forms of the baptismal confession appear to have been single – not triple, as was the later creed.” (Encyclopedia Biblica [1899], I, 473)

What these comments are trying to strongly impress us with is the assumption that Martyr had no knowledge of the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19 as we have it today, therefore implying that he wholly invented it, and somehow convinced the church to replace the “ancient baptism” alluding to what they thought must have been the original text of Matthew 28:19, “in my name” instead of the longer form, and the last quote above admitted that “it is natural to conclude” this.

Well, of course it would only be natural to conclude this because this is what the premise calls you to do, but the premise is wrong therefore all these conclusions are wrong. These are not factual evidences, but conjectures.

They also claimed that Eusebius’ “form of text” removes the difficulty for Martyr’s abridged version of the baptismal formula . So let’s take a look at the Eusebian form of text.

“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, ch 6, 132 (a), p. 152)

First of all, who’s to say that Martyr and Eusebius were not expressing the form of words to be used in baptism, but rather the badge of authority just as Luke did when he wrote those records of baptism in Acts?

However if one would continue to insist that Eusebius’ form of words, “in my name” is the correct copy of the original text in Matthew 28:19, then how about his form of words for Philippians 2:9?

It his Demonstratio Evangelica, Eusebius also purportedly “quoted” Philippians 2:9. He wrote:

“God bestowed on him the name above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of things in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

However, the actual text is much longer:

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”

Or his shorter version of Luke 3:19,20?

“adding to all the evil deeds which he had done, shut up John in prison” (Eusebius, Book III, ch. 24.10)

But the actual texts said:

“But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.”

Thus it’s evident that when presenting church history, Eusebius tend to paraphrase or abbreviate the text, but if my fellow OTGs want to treat his version of Matthew 28:19 as the correct one, then will you be consistent and treat his version of Philippians 2:9 and Luke 3:19,20 as also the correct version, and the one we have now in the Bible have interpolations? I doubt you would.

It seems that Eusebius felt free to paraphrase the verses in the Scriptures in his historical writings, but in terms of theology, he actually quoted more fully and stated that this has been his faith as he learned from the Scriptures, believed and taught in the presbytery:

“What was transacted concerning ecclesiastical faith at the Great Council assembled at Nicæa, you have probably learned, Beloved, from other sources, rumour being wont to precede the accurate account of what is doing. But lest in such reports the circumstances of the case have been misrepresented, we have been obliged to transmit to you, first, the formula of faith presented by ourselves, and next, the second, which [the Fathers] put forth with some additions to our words. Our own paper, then, which was read in the presence of our most pious Emperor, and declared to be good and unexceptionable, ran thus:—

“As we have received from the Bishops who preceded us, and in our first catechisings, and when we received the Holy Laver, AND AS WE HAVE LEARNED FROM THE DIVINE SCRIPTURES, and AS WE BELIEVED AND TAUGHT in the presbytery, and in the Episcopate itself, so believing also at the time present, we report to you our faith, and it is this :”—

"We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born of every creature, before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by whom also all things were made; who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge quick and dead. And we believe also in One Holy Ghost; believing each of These to be and to exist, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Ghost truly Holy Ghost, as also our Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, 'GO, TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST,'" (Eusebius' Letter to the Church in Caesarea to the people of his Diocese; June, 325)

The claim made by the Catholic Encyclopedia that the Catholic Church made the change to the words in the second century that we read earlier was an assumption and cannot be factual, because it was based on another false assumption that the original commission only stated “in my name” and Martyr was the first to use a longer form, and influenced the church to replace the words.

Now according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Catholic Church made the interpolation in the second century, but then this same source also claimed that the Didache, an early Christian treatise written in Koine Greek, which included the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19 must be set in the first century or even before. So how could the Catholic Church be responsible for the alleged interpretation in the second century when the formula was already in the Didache, which this Encyclopedia stated must be assigned in the first century or before?

“On this ground therefore the Didache MUST BE SET either IN THE FIRST CENTURY OR ELSE IN SOME BACKWATER of church life.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, the Didache)

Now regarding the Didache, Jonathan Draper writes (Gospel Perspectives, v. 5, p. 269):

“Since it was discovered in a monastery in Constantinople and published by P. Bryennios in 1883, the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles has continued to be one of the most disputed of early Christian texts. It has been depicted by scholars as anything between the original of the Apostolic Decree (c. 50 AD) and a late archaising fiction of the early third century. It bears no date itself, nor does it make reference to any datable external event, yet the picture of the Church which it presents could only be described as primitive, reaching back to the very earliest stages of the Church's order and practice in a way which largely agrees with the picture presented by the NT, while at the same time posing questions for many traditional interpretations of this first period of the Church's life. Fragments of the Didache were found at Oxyrhyncus (P. Oxy 1782) from the fourth century and in coptic translation (P. Lond. Or. 9271) from 3/4th century. Traces of the use of this text, and the high regard it enjoyed, are widespread in the literature of the second and third centuries especially in Syria and Egypt. It was used by the compilator of the Didascalia (C 2/3rd) and the Liber Graduun (C 3/4th), as well as being absorbed in toto by the Apostolic Constitutions (C c. 3/4th, abbreviated as Ca) and partially by various Egyptian and Ethiopian Church Orders, after which it ceased to circulate independently. Athanasius describes it as 'appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness' [Festal Letter 39:7]. Hence a date for the Didache in its present form later than the second century must be considered unlikely, and a date before the end of the first century probable.”

Draper states in a footnote (op. cit., p. 284), "A new consensus is emerging for a date c. 100 AD."

Here is what was stated in the Didache:

“After the foregoing instructions, BAPTIZE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, in living [running] water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Before baptism, let the one baptizing and the one to be baptized fast, as also any others who are able. Command the one who is to be baptized to fast beforehand for one or two days.” (Didache 7:1)

Another citation that some of my fellow OTG apologists used was the Hebrew translation of Matthew known as “Shem Tob” because it does not include the baptismal formula. Here is the quote:

"Go and teach them to carry out all the things which I have commanded you forever."

It’s amazing that they would even try to use this as proof that the original text in Matthew 28:19 did not include the alleged interpolation, because neither did the Shem Tob mention what they cited in Eusebius’ writing that stated, “in my name.” So are they going with Eusebius’ version or the Shem Tob? Which is it?

What all these historical sources are claiming is that the tri-fold baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19, as it stands today was not in the original text, but should have been “in my name” but according to the Inspired Testimonies, it was the original text.

“BAPTISM IS A PERPETUAL ORDINANCE IN THE CHURCH, AND ‘THE MINISTERS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY’ BAPTIZE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL COMMISSION REQUIRES IT. The terms of salvation stated in this commission were to be held out as long as sinners might be saved.” (3SG 9.4)

And according to Ellen White, this was the word from the Lord that she received:

“The word which the Lord has given to me FOR OUR MINISTERS AND OUR CHURCHES IS, ‘Go forward.’ ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST...’” (TM 417.2)

Here is one of those ministers during her time, and he had this to say:

“Because it is said in Acts 2:38; 8:16, and 19:5, that they were baptized in the name of Jesus, some have inferred that the apostles baptized in the name of Christ only. But this conclusion is very lame. To discover the fallacy of this idea, it will only be necessary to examine the terms of the commission under which they acted.” (J.H. Waggoner, Thoughts on Baptism, pg. 62.2)

The Bible teaches us that there is only one baptism (Eph. 4:5), which is the baptism under the faith in one God the Father (v. 6), therefore the baptismal formula must first and foremost include the Father. And we are to believe in His divine Son if we going to be saved (John 3:16; Mark 16:16), and we are buried with him in our baptismal experience (Romans 6:3,4) therefore the Son must be included, however baptism does not keep the believer buried under water, but he is raised out from it, a symbol of being raised again in the newness of life (ch. 3:5), which can only be wrought by the Spirit of God and Christ (ch. 8:10,11) therefore the Spirit must also be included.

There is not another form of words for the one baptism other than what we have in Matthew 28:19. It invokes the very presence of God and Christ by Their Spirit. Using “in the name of Christ” is not an abridgment of the baptismal formula, and when one continue to use this is either ignorant of the true reference Luke had in mind, or willfully going about doing his own way.

Lastly, when the believers cannot agree on their interpretation of certain Bible passages, we have been given the lesser light of the Testimonies to lead us to the true understanding of the greater light of the Bible, and become united in “...one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4,5)

God bless,

EC


Baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

“GOD HAS A CHURCH UPON THE EARTH WHO ARE HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE, who keep His commandments. He is leading, NOT STRAY OFFSHOOTS, not one here and one there, ‘BUT A PEOPLE’...” (CCh 240.1)

“Christians are to be made complete in the ONE BODY—in Christ; AND THROUGH CHRIST they are one with the Father...” (14MR 178.1)

“Before ascending to heaven, Christ gave His disciples their commission. He told them that they were to be the executors of the will in which He bequeathed to the world the treasures of eternal life. You have been witnesses of My life of sacrifice in behalf of the world, He said to them. You have seen My labors for Israel. And although My people would not come to Me that they might have life, although priests and rulers have done unto Me as they listed, although they have rejected Me, THEY SHALL HAVE STILL ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY OF ACCEPTING THE SON OF GOD. You have seen that all who come to Me confessing their sins, I freely receive. Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. To you, My disciples, I commit this message of mercy. It is to be given to both Jews and Gentiles—to Israel, first, and then to all nations, tongues, and peoples. ALL WHO BELIEVE ARE TO BE ‘GATHERED’ INTO ONE CHURCH.” (AA 27.2)

The church of God is composed of people that believe in Christ as the only begotten Son of God, and the disciples were to preach this truth everywhere and all that will believe are to be “gathered into one church.” By what means are they to be gathered?

“Many believed and received CHRISTIAN BAPTISM. Philip's preaching was marked with so great success, AND SO MANY WERE GATHERED INTO THE FOLD OF CHRIST, that he finally sent to Jerusalem for help. The disciples now perceived the meaning of Christ, when he said, ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’” (LP 39.1)

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. HE THAT BELIEVETH AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED...” (Mark 16:15,16)

“Then they that gladly received his word were BAPTIZED: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord ADDED TO THE CHURCH daily SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED.” (Acts 2:41,47)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19,20)

“CHRIST HAS MADE BAPTISM THE SIGN OF ENTRANCE TO HIS SPIRITUAL KINGDOM. He has made this a positive CONDITION with which ALL MUST COMPLY WHO WISH TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. BEFORE MAN CAN FIND A HOME IN THE CHURCH, before passing the threshold of God's spiritual kingdom, HE IS TO RECEIVE THE IMPRESS OF THE DIVINE NAME, ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ Jeremiah 23:6. Baptism is a most solemn renunciation of the world. THOSE WHO ARE BAPTIZED IN THE THREEFOLD NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, at the very entrance of their Christian life declare publicly that they have forsaken the service of Satan and have become members of the royal family, CHILDREN OF THE HEAVENLY KING. They have obeyed the command: ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, ... and touch not the unclean thing.’ And to them is fulfilled the promise: ‘I WILL RECEIVE YOU, AND WILL BE A FATHER UNTO YOU, AND YE SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, SAITH THE LORD ALMIGHTY.’ 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18.” (Testimonies for the Church, v.6, pg. 91, par. 2,3)

When the believer renounces the world and has forsaken the service of Satan, the Lord commands him to be baptized in the threefold name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Why the Father? The answer given in the quote above was 2 Cor. 6:17,18. Here is the entire of the verses:

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, AND WILL BE A FATHER UNTO YOU, AND YE SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, SAITH THE LORD ALMIGHTY.” (2 Cor. 6:17,18)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...” “Having predestinated us unto THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY JESUS CHRIST TO HIMSELF, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph. 1:3,5)

Therefore the reason why the Lord Jesus included the name of the Father in the baptismal formula is that through the belief in Christ, we are received by the Father as His adopted children, and He becomes to us as our Father and God. The Lord Jesus also included the name of the Son in the baptismal formula, but what does it signify?

The Lord indicated that whoever believes shall be baptized (Mark 16:16),

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, AND PREACHED UNTO HIM JESUS. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; AND HE BAPTIZED HIM.” (Acts 8:35-38)

“Philip was directed to go to the Ethiopian and explain to him the prophecy that he was reading... The scripture that he was reading was the prophecy of Isaiah relating to Christ: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation?’ for His life is taken from the earth.” “Beginning at the same scripture, he ‘preached unto him Jesus.’” (AA 107,108)

The Lord made it a requirement to accept Jesus as the Son of God, our Savior before anyone receives baptism, because there is no greater Gift that God could give to mankind for our salvation than the giving away of His only begotten Son, which was the manifestation of the depth of His love for us, and “...the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4), and “...will give them repentance TO THE ACKNOWLEDGING OF THE TRUTH” (2 Tim. 2:25).

All who would be baptized need to acknowledge the truth pertaining to life eternal, and baptism is the sign that we have been welcomed in the beloved as children of our Father above, and only through the Son of God can we be adopted hence the name of the Son in the baptismal formula.

How about the name of the Holy Spirit? Why did our Lord include the name in the baptismal formula?

“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? And they said unto him, WE HAVE NOT SO MUCH AS HEARD WHETHER THERE BE ANY HOLY GHOST. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE ON HIM WHICH SHOULD COME AFTER HIM, THAT IS, ON CHRIST JESUS. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:1-5)

“These brethren knew nothing of the mission of the Holy Spirit. When asked by Paul if they had received the Holy Ghost, they answered, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.’ ‘Unto what then were ye baptized?’ Paul inquired, and they said, ‘Unto John's baptism.’
“Then the apostle set before them the great truths that are the foundation of the Christian's hope. He told them of Christ's life on this earth and of His cruel death of shame. He told them how the Lord of life had broken the barriers of the tomb and risen triumphant over death. HE REPEATED THE SAVIOUR'S COMMISSION TO HIS DISCIPLES: ‘ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH. GO YE THEREFORE, AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST.’ MATTHEW 28:18, 19. He told them also of Christ's promise to send the Comforter, through whose power mighty signs and wonders would be wrought, and he described how gloriously this promise had been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.
With deep interest and grateful, wondering joy the brethren listened to Paul's words. By faith they grasped the wonderful truth of Christ's atoning sacrifice and received Him as their Redeemer. THEY WERE THEN BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS, and as Paul ‘laid his hands upon them,’ they received also the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which they were enabled to speak the languages of other nations and to prophesy. Thus they were qualified to labor as missionaries in Ephesus and its vicinity and also to go forth to proclaim the gospel in Asia Minor...” (AA 282.2 to 283.1)

The name of the Holy Ghost in the baptismal formula invokes the promise of the Lord that His presence will continue to abide with them by the Holy Ghost, which was the Spirit of God the Father (John 15:26) sent in Christ’s name (John 14:26), and “...if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).

This is the significance of why the Lord instructed His disciples to baptize in the threefold name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. It signifies the promise of God that He will be our Father and God when we accept Jesus as His Christ and Son, and then receiving the promise of His Son to give to us His Spirit.

“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (v.10)

But the promise of God is contingent upon obedience to the truth. Read again above in Testimonies for the Church, v.6, pg. 91, par. 2,3.

There is only one baptism taught in the Bible, and this is it. If any man comes to you preaching of another baptism is preaching another Jesus because the true Jesus gave a clear instruction in Matthew 28:18-20 how we are to bring new believers into the spiritual kingdom of God, and find a home in the church.

God bless,

EC


An Unwarranted Application

I would like to examine this quotation in Early Writings, pages 220,221 with you because some have used this and applied it to the 2nd Century when the alleged interpolation of Matthew 28:19 occurred committed by the Catholic Church. In this article, I will present that this is an unwarranted application because the timeframe is incorrect.

“I saw that God had especially guarded the Bible; YET WHEN COPIES OF IT WERE FEW, ‘LEARNED MEN’ HAD IN SOME INSTANCES CHANGED THE WORDS, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, by causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition. But I saw that the Word of God, as a whole, is a perfect chain, one portion linking into and explaining another. True seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the Word of God plain and simple in declaring the way of life, but the Holy Spirit is given as a guide in understanding the way to life therein revealed.” (EW 220.2 - 221.1)

She’s taking us back to the time when “copies” of the Bible were few, and she referred to the “learned men” of that time that “in some instances” made changes to existing words, “thinking that they were making it more plain.”

“THE TESTIMONIES THEMSELVES WILL BE THE KEY THAT WILL EXPLAIN THE MESSAGES GIVEN, as scripture is explained by scripture.” (Selected Messages, v. 1, pg. 42)

Therefore we need not speculate because the Testimonies will make it clear for us.

“BEFORE THE REFORMATION THERE WERE AT TIMES BUT ‘VERY FEW COPIES’ OF THE BIBLE IN EXISTENCE; but God had not suffered his Word to be wholly destroyed. Its truths were not to be forever hidden...” (GC88 79.1)

“IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY arose in England the ‘MORNING-STAR OF THE REFORMATION.’ John Wycliffe was the herald of reform.” (GC88 79.3)

“While Wycliffe was still at college, he entered upon the study of the Scriptures. IN THOSE EARLY TIMES, WHEN THE BIBLE EXISTED ONLY IN THE ANCIENT LANGUAGES, ‘SCHOLARS’ WERE ENABLED TO FIND THEIR WAY TO THE FOUNTAIN OF TRUTH, WHICH WAS CLOSED TO THE UNEDUCATED CLASSES. Thus already the way had been prepared for Wycliffe's future work as a Reformer. MEN OF LEARNING HAD STUDIED THE WORD OF GOD AND HAD FOUND THE GREAT TRUTH OF HIS FREE GRACE THERE REVEALED. IN THEIR TEACHINGS THEY HAD SPREAD A KNOWLEDGE OF THIS TRUTH, AND HAD LED OTHERS TO TURN TO THE LIVING ORACLES...” (GC 80.3)

“Except among the Waldenses, THE WORD OF GOD HAD FOR AGES BEEN LOCKED UP IN LANGUAGES KNOWN ONLY TO THE LEARNED; BUT THE TIME HAD COME FOR THE SCRIPTURES TO BE TRANSLATED, and given to the people of different lands in their native tongue. The world had passed its midnight. The hours of darkness were wearing away, and in many lands appeared tokens of the coming dawn...” (GC88 79.2)

“But the greatest work of his [Wycliffe] life was to be the translation of the Scriptures into the English language. In a work, On the Truth and Meaning of Scripture, he expressed his intention to translate the Bible, so that every man in England might read, in the language in which he was born, the wonderful works of God...” (GC 87.2)

“At last the work was completed—the first English translation of the Bible ever made. The word of God was opened to England...” “THE ART OF PRINTING BEING STILL UNKNOWN, IT WAS ONLY BY SLOW AND WEARISOME LABOR THAT COPIES OF THE BIBLE COULD BE MULTIPLIED. So great was the interest to obtain the book, THAT MANY WILLINGLY ENGAGED IN THE WORK OF TRANSCRIBING IT, but it was with difficulty that the copyists could supply the demand.” (GC 88.2,3)

“I saw that God had especially guarded the Bible; YET WHEN COPIES OF IT WERE FEW, ‘LEARNED MEN’ HAD IN SOME INSTANCES CHANGED THE WORDS, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, by causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition. But I saw that the Word of God, as a whole, is a perfect chain, one portion linking into and explaining another. True seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the Word of God plain and simple in declaring the way of life, but the Holy Spirit is given as a guide in understanding the way to life therein revealed.” (EW 220.2 - 221.1)

The location of time specified in this quote was during the dawn of the Reformation when copies of the Bible were few, and available only in ancient languages that only the “scholars” or the “learned men” had access to in their studies. Wycliffe was called the “morning-star” of the Reformation because he translated the Bible in its entirety into the English language, and drew wide interest and demand, and henceforth men began to make copies, but these “learned men” had “in some instances changed the words,” thinking that they were aiding to make them plainer, but in reality, the effect made them to lean towards their established views, which were governed by tradition. Notice that it was the established views of those learned men, and not the established views of the Catholic Church per se, that she described. These “learned men” were in reality part of the Reformation movement, but were they free from tradition? Of course not. They lived during the time of the Dark Ages where tradition pervaded.

“Some look to us gravely and say, ‘Don't you think there might have been some mistake in the copyist or in the translators?’ THIS IS ALL PROBABLE, and the mind that is so narrow that it will hesitate and stumble over this possibility or probability would be just as ready to stumble over the mysteries of the Inspired Word, because their feeble minds cannot see through the purposes of God. Yes, they would just as easily stumble over plain facts that the common mind will accept, and discern the Divine, and to which God's utterance is plain and beautiful, full of marrow and fatness. All the mistakes will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble, that would not manufacture difficulties from the plainest revealed truth...” (1SM 16.2)

Notwithstanding these “mistakes” or the changing of words, she was confident enough to use some of the modern translations of the Bible as you will find quoted in her many writings.

“I TAKE THE BIBLE JUST AS IT IS, as the Inspired Word. I believe its utterances in an entire Bible. Men arise who think they find something to criticize in God's Word. They lay it bare before others as evidence of superior wisdom. These men are, many of them, smart men, learned men, they have eloquence and talent, the whole lifework [of whom] is to unsettle minds in regard to the inspiration of the Scriptures. They influence many to see as they do. And the same work is passed on from one to another, just as Satan designed it should be, until we may see the full meaning of the words of Christ, ‘When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:8)...” (1SM 17.3)


The SDA Pioneers View on Baptism and of the Name of Jesus

“The word which the Lord has given to me FOR OUR MINISTERS AND OUR CHURCHES IS, ‘Go forward.’ ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST...’” (EG White - TM 417.2)

“1. We are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Matt. 28:19. By this we express our belief in the existence of the one true God, the mediation of his Son, and the influence of the Holy Spirit.” (Uriah Smith, 1858, The Bible Students Assistant, pages 21, 22)

“When his ministers are sent forth to preach ‘in his name,’ they are also commanded to baptize in his name: ‘Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.’ Acts 2:38. If the preaching has been done in his name, the baptizing can be done in his name. Otherwise not, for in that case the persons to be baptized will not know his name; and if they do not know his name, how can they be baptized—buried, overwhelmed, lost sight of—in his name; for this is what baptism in his name signifies.  

“For a person to be baptized in his name, signifies much more than merely to have the phrase recited over him and then to be buried in the water. To be baptized in the name of the Lord, really signifies that just as the person is buried, overwhelmed, and lost sight of, in the water, so also is he buried, overwhelmed, and lost sight of, in the name, the character, the nature, of the Lord. It signifies that that person’s old, original nature and character are no more to be seen in the world; but in their stead the nature and character of the Lord. It signifies that he is no more to be manifest in the world; but that God, instead of himself, is to be manifest in him in the world.  

“This is what baptism ‘in his name’ signifies, both in the Greek words and in the doctrine of the Scripture. But how shall the people be baptized in his name, if they do not know his name! And how shall they know his name, if they are not instructed in his name, and to make manifest his name to the people? O, let the preaching be all ‘in his name’ indeed, that the people may be truly baptized ‘in his name,’ that the promise may now be fulfilled, ‘My people shall know my name!’” (A.T. Jones, ARSH October 1,  1895, page 633.2-ARSH 633.1895)

“IN THE NAME OF JESUS - This means simply that they shall be indeed a Church of Christ-members of His body. This is evident from the fact that the church is the body of Christ, and people become members of it by baptism (See 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27, which have already been quoted); and further that those who are thus baptized into Christ are baptized into the name of the Son, as well as that of the Father and of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 18:19 [should be 28:19]. To be assembled in the name of Jesus, therefore, is to be assembled in humble subjection to Him as the only Head of the church, and the only one having authority to issue commands to it...” (E.J. Waggoner, PTUK May 30,  1895, page 339)

“Because it is said in Acts 2:38; 8:16, and 19:5, that they were baptized in the name of Jesus, some have inferred that the apostles baptized in the name of Christ only. But this conclusion is very lame. To discover the fallacy of this idea, it will only be necessary to examine the terms of the commission under which they acted.” (J.H. Waggoner, Thoughts on Baptism, pg. 62.2)