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Trinity: Investigating The Authenticity of Matthew 28:19

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Recently I and Br. Younes Al Maghribi wrote an article on Matthew 28: 19 and we provided a massive amount of evidence that the verse in question:- “Father the son and Holy Spirit” is not genuine but was added by the Church Fathers to form their Trinitarian belief. We had feedback from some Christians who were not impressed with the information and one of them even said to me: “you are cherry picking quotes.” They are still insisting that Matthew 28: 19 is genuine/authentic. I thought just to be fair to my Christian brethren/sisters to write another piece for them on Matthew 28:19 just to show/prove with more available information to me that verse with the Trinitarian formula “Father the son and Holy Spirit” is not authentic but a forgery.

It is a fact that the early Church Fathers believed that Matthew originally wrote the Gospel in Hebrew. There is evidence from Jerome’s saying that there was a Hebrew Gospel of Matthew available Caesarea. Check out the following quotes by the early Christians who are well known by Trinitarian Scholars:

Papias (150-170 CE) – Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able. [A quote by Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 3:39]

Ireneus (170 CE) – Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect. [Against Heresies 3:1]

Origen (210 CE) – The first [Gospel] is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a tax collector, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ who having published it for the Jewish believers, wrote it in Hebrew. [A quote by Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 6:25]

Eusebius (315 CE) – Matthew also, having first proclaimed the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to the other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings. [Eccl. Hist. 3:24]

Epiphanius (370 CE) – They [The Nazarenes] have the Gospel according to Matthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters. [Panarion 29:9:4]

Jerome ( 382 CE) – Matthew, who is also Levi, and from a tax collector came to be an Apostle first of all evangelists composed a Gospel of Christ in Judea in the Hebrew language and letters, for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed, who translated it into Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Furthermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Borea to copy it. In which is to be remarked that, wherever the evangelist…. makes use of the testimonies of the Old Scripture, he does not follow the authority of the seventy translators, but that of the Hebrew. [Lives of Illustrious Men, Book 5] [1]

So if this true what Jerome stated, then Shem Tob’s Matthew must be the original one who was passed down generation to generation. One thing people need to know is, there is no manuscript in Hebrew for Matthew’s Gospel; this is according to Christians of today. But according to some of respected Church fathers there was a Hebrew Gospel of Matthew available in their day. So the question Christians need to answer is: where is the manuscript of Gospel of Matthew? There is a manuscript of Matthew in Hebrew from 1385 and some Scholars believe this is a copy of the original one that was passed down.

Thanks to the Internet I managed to get my hands on a copy of Shem Tob’s (or Shem Tov) Hebrew Gospel of Matthew which is translated from Hebrew to English by George Howard. Here is a picture for Matthew 28:19

Shem Tov's Matthew Gospel

As you have read you would have noticed that verse 19 in Shem Tob’s Matthew Gospel does not have the part with: “Father the son and Holy Spirit.” Let’s look at the credibility of Shem Tob’s Gospel now and see what Professor George Howard says.

Professor of religion George Howard says in ‘Preface of the second edition’ on Shem Tob’s Matthew Gospel:

“The main thrust of this second edition is to demonstrate that the Hebrew Matthew contained in Shem- Tob’s Evan Bohan predates the fourteenth century. In my judgement, Shem Tob the polemist did not prepare this text by translating it from the Latin Vulgate, the Byzantine Greek, or any other know edition of the Gospel of Matthew. He received it from previous generations of Jewish scribes and tradents.”

George Howard goes further on page 190 – 191 and says:

“Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew is the most unusual text of the First Gospel extant. It contains a plethora of readings which are not to be found in any of the Christian codices of the Greek Gospel. Its unusual nature may be explained by the fact that it underwent a different process of transmission than the Greek, since it was preserved by Jews, independent from the Christian community. A textual profile of Shem-Tob’s Matthew reveals that it sporadically agrees with early witnesses, both Christian and non-Christian. Sometimes it agrees with readings and documents that vanished in antiquity only to reappear in recent times. The profile thus suggests that a Shem-Tob type text of Matthew was known in the early Christian centuries.” [2]

Furthermore we have seven citations that attests, agrees with Shem Tov’s Gospel Matthew from Eusebius that verse 19 with the triune formula was not part of the original. This is proof enough that these words: “Father the son and Holy Spirit” were added later. From these citations we have evidence that Eusebius (265 A.D. – 339 A.D.) as a proclaimed Bishop of Caesarea had access to the Library of Caesarea and the references for Matthew 28:19 from more ancient manuscripts that are not available to us today.

Ferrar, William John
Eusebuis quotes:

(1) “Go ye, and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” What could He mean but the teaching and discipline of the new covenant? Since, then, I have proved my facts, let us proceed to investigate together the character of the new covenant, and the new song and the new law that were foretold. [3]

(2) Such was the message to all nations given by the word of the new covenant by the teaching of Christ. And the Christ of God bade His disciples teach them to all nations, saying: “Go ye into all the world, and make disciples of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.” [4]

(3) With one word and voice He said to His disciples: “Go, and make disciples of all the nations in My Name, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” [[Matt. xxviii. 19.]] [5]

(4) I am irresistibly forced to retrace my steps, and search for their cause, and to confess that they could only have succeeded in their daring venture, by a power more divine, and more strong than man’s, and by the co-operation of Him Who said to them: “Make disciples of all the nations in my Name.” [6]

(5) Whereas He, who conceived nothing human or mortal, see (136) how truly He speaks with the voice of God, saying in these very words to those disciples of His, the poorest of the poor: “Go forth, and make disciples of all the nations.” [[Matt.xxviii. 19.]] “But how,” the disciples might reasonably have answered the Master, “can we do it? How, pray, can we preach to Romans? How can we argue with Egyptians? We are men bred up to use the Syrian tongue only, what language shall we speak to Greeks? How shall we persuade Persians, Armenians, Chaldrearis, Scythians, Indians, and other (b) barbarous nations to give up their ancestral gods, and worship the Creator of all? What sufficiency of speech have we to trust to in attempting such work as this? And what hope of success can we have if we dare to proclaim laws directly opposed to the laws about their own gods that have been established for ages among all nations? By what power shall we ever survive our daring attempt?”

But while the disciples of Jesus were most likely either saying thus, or thinking thus, the Master solved their difficulties, by the addition of one phrase, saying they should (c) triumph “In MY NAME.” For He did not bid them simply and indefinitely make disciples of all nations, but with the necessary addition of ” In my Name.” And the power of His Name being so great, that the apostle says: “God has given him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth,” [[Phil. ii. 9.]] He shewed the virtue of the power in His Name concealed (d) from the crowd when He said to His disciples: “Go, and make disciples of all nations in my Name.” He also most accurately forecasts the future when He says: “For this gospel must first be preached to all the world, for a witness to all nations.” [[Matt.xxiv.14.]] These words were said in a corner of the earth then, and only those present heard it. How, I ask, did they credit them, unless from other divine works that He had done they had experienced the truth in His words? Not one of them disobeyed His command: but in obedience to (137) His Will according to their orders they began to make disciples of every race of men, going from their own country to all races, and in a short time it was possible to see His words realized. [7]

(6) And He says to them, “The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” And He bids His own disciples after their rejection, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name.’ (7) Hence, of course, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Son of God, said to His disciples after His Resurrection: “{6a} Go and make disciples of all the nations,” and added: “Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you” [8]

What we have read so far is consistent pattern of Eusebius quoting Matthew 28 verse 19 but never mentioning: “Father the son and Holy Spirit.” Let’s now quote more references from experts, that Matthew 28:19 with the Triune formula is not part of the original text:

(1) Professor Carl Clemen:
“The baptismal command in Mt 28:19, of which there is an echo in Mk 16:15, cannot be historical at all events in its present form,,
…..but even at a previous time Jesus cannot, I think, have instituted a form of baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy spirit: for such a triadic formula of baptism- and that is surely what is wanted to correspond with baptismal command – is not found elsewhere before the second century.”

Professor Carl Clemen goes further and writes in his footnote:
“The formula… or the like, still occurs in the second century; but that does not prove that a triadic formula of baptism was in existence even at an earlier time, when we always hear only of a baptism in the name of Christ…” [9]

(3) Professor of the New Testament Rudolf K. Bultmann:
As to the rite of baptism it was normally consummated as a bath in which the one receiving baptism completely submerged, as if possible in flowing water as the allusions of Acts 8:36, Heb. 10:22, Barn. 11:11 permit us to gather, and as Did. 7:1-3 specifically says. According to the last passage, it suffices in case of need if water is three times poured on the head. The one baptizing names over the one being Baptized the name of ‘the Lord Jesus Christ,’ later expanded to the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… [10]

(4) Dr David Wenham:
The command to make disciples of all nations and the command to baptizs in the name of the Trinity are both probably read back from later church situation ; for if Jesus himself had spoken about the Christian mission in the way Matthew suggests, it is hard to see why the early church should of have found the Gentile question such a problem And if Jesus himself commanded the use of the Trinitarian fornula in baptism, it is hard to explain the evidence of Acts and of Paul, which both indicat baptism was simply in the name of Jesus during the earliest days. [11]

(5) Williston Walker
The only substitute was martyrdom, ‘which stands in lieu of the fontal bathing, when that has been received, and restores it when lost. With the early disciples generally baptism was ‘in the name of Jesus Christ.’ There is no mention of baptism in the name of the Trinity in the New testament, except in the command ATTRIBUTED to Christ in Matt 28:19. [12]

(6) Daniel L. Butler
Though corresponding linguistically, the 28:19 triadic derivative seems disharmonious to Matthew 18:20: ‘For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.’ Both texts utilize the Greek phrase eis to onoma, ‘in the name,’ however, 18:20 adds emon, ‘of me,’ and 28:19 adds, tou patros kai tou uiou kai tou agiou pneumatos, ‘of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit.’ The reference to baptism and the Trinitarian statement appears long, polished, and formal which lends basis for scholarly concern and criticism, and it reflects a very late period, perhaps the beginning of the second century. The reference to baptism with the Trinitarian formula implicates the present passage as a later development, and therefore not Matthean. [13]

(7) Foakes –Jackon F. J. :
…suspicious nature of the account of its institution in Matthew xxviii. 19: ‘Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all the Gentiles.., baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’ It is not even certain whether this verse ought to be regarded as part of the genuine text of Matthew. No other text, indeed is found in any extant manuscripts, in any language… On every point the evidence of Acts is convincing proof that the tradition embodied in Matthew xxviii. 19 is late and unhistorical. [14]

Another thing we need highlight to our Christian brethren/sisters is, how Matthew 28:19 contradicts the previous verse. Let’s read verse 18 now and see what it says:

Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Jesus in the above verse says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Now this is a contradiction to the triune-God doctrine. If Jesus is God, why would he need another God to GIVE him Authority, if he owned it at the first place? It doesn’t make sense does it? For Jesus to be an all powerful God, he wouldn’t need another God to GIVE anything, since he owns it all.

What we know so far is, that the Father is the Supreme God and that Jesus is a lesser god and thus he (Jesus) has a missing attribute. Now that will contradict the Triune God formula, according to Christians they are ALL FULLY Gods. Another thing is that for GOD to be all powerful he cannot have a attribute missing, since this is what the verse says, as we have seen for Jesus (in Matthew 28:18) then that will disqualify him from being an all powerful God but a lesser god in other words Not God at all.

We can conclude by the evidence I have presented that Matthew 28 verse 19 is not genuine. As you have seen everything presented it is fact Jesus (p) could not have said the Triune – formula for it contradicts verse 18. Furthermore to close the case, how come none of the disciples of Jesus ever baptized in the Trinity formula, why is it they ONLY baptized in the ‘name of Jesus’ and not the Trinity formula? How come the Triune formula that is Matthew 28:19 is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament?

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:”This is from Allah,” to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby. [Quran 2:79]


[1 The quotes on Matthew’s Gospel being in Hebrew from the early church Fathers, I retrieved the information from this website:http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/49_matthew.html
[2] Professor George Howard, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia USA, 1995, page 190–191
[3] of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) Book 1: CHAPTER 4. Why it is we reject the Jews’ Way of Life, though we accept their Writings. Page 24
[4] 2 )Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) Book 1: CHAPTER 6 The Nature of the Life according to the New Covenant proclaimed to All Men by Christ. Page 42
[5] Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) Book 3, CHAPTER 6. Against Those who think that the Christ of God was a Sorcerer. Page 152
[6] Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) Book 3, CHAPTER 7. Oracles about Christ., Page 159, number: 138
[7] Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920), Book 3, Chapter 7, Oracles about Christ. page. 157
[8] Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) Book 9. CHAPTER 11 From Deuteronomy. (c) Of the Lawgiving according to the Gospel of Christ. Page 175 ( Do NOTE all the references On Eusebuis was retrived from this website:http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eusebius_de_03_book1.htm#2
[9] Carl Clemen Primitive Christianity AND its Non-Jewish sources. T&T clark, Edinburgh (1921) page 214
[10] Rudolf Karl Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, Volume 1, page 133 – 134
[11] David Wenham, The resurrection Narratives. Tyndale Bulletin 24 (1973) page. 23 – 24
[12] Williston Walker A History of Christian Church (1918), Page 95
[13] Daniel L. Butler, A Study of the Great Commission Texts page 56
[14] Foakes-Jackson, F. J. (Frederick John), Lake, Kirsopp, Ropes, James Hardy, Cadbury, Henry Joel, The beginnings of Christianity :The Acts of the Apostles (1920) 335- 337



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