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baptism commission given by Jesus?

05-11-2013 - Posted by Andre Piet

image5 One of the most famous passages of the Bible is called the “Great Commission”, as we find it in Matthew 28:19,20.

Going, then, disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to be keeping all, whatever I direct you….

the apostles never baptized in accord with Matthew 28:19,20

Whoever knows his or her Bible and thinks about the above Bible passage, cannot avoid tripping over the baptismal formula. For, even though the command is quite clear, we do not find this formula used anywhere in the book of Acts. Wherever people were baptized, it was ALWAYS in (or into) the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5). It was never in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the holy Spirit.

the nations baptized?

What also is surprising is that in addition to Israel, the nations, too, should be baptized. Where else do we find that mentioned? Indeed, we find it in Mark 16:16, but this text should not be counted, because it is part of a passage (16:9-20) that is placed within square brackets [ ] in our Bibles. This means that the oldest and best manuscripts of the New Testament do not have it. It was added, later on. Rituals, including water baptism, are for Israel and for “the stranger within the gates” (cf Heb.6:1, John 1:31). Rituals are not obligatory for the nations. No, not at all. It is not for nothing that Paul declared that he was not sent to baptize (1Cor.1:17). This is logical, because he was the “apostle of the nations” sent to non-Jewish people. Not to baptize, but to preach the Evangel of gratuitous grace.

an unbiblical formula

And then the formula itself. Do the words not sound very strange coming from Jesus’ mouth? Where else does the Bible speak of the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? And where in Scripture has the Spirit a name distinguished from the name of the Father and the Son? Is anything ever commissioned in the name of the holy Spirit? The answer to each of these questions is: No, nowhere do we find this. The baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19,20 is encompassed by the scent of the Council of Nicaea (325 AD). Could it be that the passage has been edited to justify a religious practice? This suspicion speaks the louder, due to the fact that the three very important manuscripts of the New Testament (the Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, Vaticanus), indeed, date back to the time of this Council…

original reading

The big problem with regard to Matthew 28:19,20 is that, evidently, no older manuscripts exist than the above mentioned ones. That makes the reconstruction of Matthew 28:19,20 not any easier. What we do have, however, are quite a few older quotations from Matthew 28:19,20 i.e. older texts in which Matthew 28:19,20 is quoted. They originated from Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339), of whom it is known that to him was available one of the oldest manuscripts of the evangel account of Matthew. According to these quotes, Matthew 28:19,20, originally, read as follows:

Go ye therefore, disciple all nations in my name and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you…

Please note: in this much older reading of Matthew 28:19,20, there is no reference to baptism, nor to the trinity. Even distinguished names, that stand four-square behind Nicaea (see below), have to admit that the traditional reading of Matthew 28:19 certainly are not Jesus’ own words. The words “baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” are a later, ecclesiastical addition. Added to justify the deviation from the original, Biblical truth.

The Catholic Encyclopedia: “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 Jerusalem Bible, an Engels-RK Bible translation: “It may be that this formula, so far as the fullness of its expression is concerned, is a reflection of the liturgical usage established later in the primitive (Catholic) community. It will be remembered that Acts speaks of baptizing “in the name of Jesus,”…” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, under “Baptism“: “Matthew 28:19 in particular only canonizes a later ecclesiastical situation, (…) its Trinitarian formula (is) foreign to the mouth of Jesus.” Ethelbert W. Bullinger (Primary editor of The Companion Bible ) in Word studies on the HOLY SPIRIT:

“…there is one great difficulty with regard to the words: …that, the Apostles themselves never obeyed this command; and in the rest of the New Testament there is no hint as to it ever having been obeyed by anyone. (…) It is difficult to suppose that there would have been this universal disregard of so clear a command (…) As to the Greek MSS, there are none beyond the fourth Century, and it seems clear that the Syrian part of the Church knew nothing of these words.”

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