The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Did Jesus teach the Trinity?


#1

In the final three verses of Matthew, all translations read much like that of the ESV as follows:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

If this is what Jesus said, why is it that his disciples did not obey? In each of the four instances recorded in the book of Acts, people were baptized or instructed to be baptized in the name of Jesus only:

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness [or “forsaking”] of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
Acts 19:5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

I wanted to look up the final verses of Matthew in the existing manuscripts that were copied prior to A.D. 300, but unfortunately no extant manuscript from before A.D. 300, contains the words. A unitarian site suggests that Matthew may have actually written, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in my name”—especially since “name” is in the singular, indicating just one name. They suggest that Trinitarians later changed “my name” to “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” What are your thoughts on the matter?


#2

Hmmmm… Nobody has any thoughts at all about this?


#3

I’m a trinitarian. This doesn’t sway me. But that is an interesting point about baptisms in Acts.


#4

I wanted to look up the final verses of Matthew in the existing manuscripts that were copied prior to A.D. 300, but unfortunately no extant manuscript from before A.D. 300, contains the words. A unitarian site suggests that Matthew may have actually written, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in my name”—especially since “name” is in the singular, indicating just one name. They suggest that Trinitarians later changed “my name” to “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” What are your thoughts on the matter?
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Paidion

But the Unitarian site has no evidence and is just speculating to make it fit their theology. According to gotquestions.org they claim that 3 Church Fathers , Irenaious,Origen and Eusubious said that Matthew wrote his gospel while he was still in Israel which was for 12 years after Jesus death, so that would be 45AD. So you say that the earliest manuscript available is from 300AD now that has these words? Is it that earlier manuscripts simply don’t have this entire expression? Is it blank?


#5

I think the Acts texts can stand as they are, i.e., I don’t think they clash as such with Matthew’s account… I think it is possible however to have an alternative understanding of Matthew’s words in terms of…“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” could simply mean… to be immersing the nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, i.e., preaching the gospel.

IOW, Matthew’s account isn’t about the literal practice of baptism per sé, as per Acts; but rather carries this broader meaning.
It could also be that this baptizing Jesus speaks of actually had “the nations” (note the definite article) of Israel in view, i.e., the tribes of Israel. There are a number of texts where nations IS a direct reference to Israel’s tribes. This, of course, is not to preclude nations beyond Israel, but the biblical pattern as always was… Israel first and then the rest following etc.

Just a thought, that I won’t die for. :mrgreen:


#6

Of course the earlier manuscripts have the sentence that we know as Matthew 28:19. It’s just that those manuscripts do not presently exist. No extant manuscript earlier than A.D. 300 contains Matthew 28:19. In fact, no extant manuscript earlier than A.D. 300 contains any part of Matthew chapter 27 or 28.

How do I know this? I happen to possess a book called “The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts.” This book contains transcripts of every existing papyrus or uncial (prior to A.D. 300) of passages from the New Testament .


#7

How do I know this? I happen to possess a book called “The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts.” This book contains transcripts of every existing papyrus or uncial (prior to A.D. 300) of passages from the New Testament .

OK and do you have any thoughts on the point Davo made about this verse in that it may not be referring to a literal water baptism about individual people? To me it sounds plausible because it seems to mesh better with the context.


#8

No, Steve, I have no thoughts about that. I can’t see judging everything we don’t understand in the New Testament to be figurative language.
A plain reading of the text indicates that it is about literal baptism.

As the wise old Mennonite once said, “If the literal sense makes sense, then it makes no sense to take it in any other sense.”

However, Steve, notice that Davo concluded with the words “Just a thought.” He is welcome to entertain that thought.


#9

Well… if one hankers after and is restricted in their mental processing in terms of the literal, then this option may suffice.

To be baptised (as a literal event) in the name of the Father / Son / Holy Spirit may have been known as individual experiences, as the fuller context of one of the verses Don quotes, e.g., Acts 8:16 suggests.

Given that Samaria had thus received Jesus as “the word of God” i.e., one representing the Father (Jn 14:9-11), being baptised into Jesus equated to being baptised into the Father, then there remained only to be baptised into the Holy Spirit.

I think it is possible to spin it in whatever direction one wants. BUT it is the nature of the literalistic mindset that ASSUMES the whole ‘Jesus only’ debate of baptism to be an issue of disobedience; or in this instance, such logic being transferred to the Trinity controversy, which IMO likewise strains the gnat somewhat.

The options are there, which is why I don’t feel the need to die for such. But when Scripture is broken down to formulas it inevitably (IMO) loses the woods for the trees and straight-jackets so much to the detriment of freedom. IOW… IF such a “t” isn’t crossed or “i” dotted, well sorry, you haven’t arrived… bah humbug!

I might add… as a non-Trinitarian, the whole thing is a bit of a non-issue. :wink:


#10

Well, I’m a non-Trinitarian also. Yet it’s a bit of an issue for me since Trinitarians use the last three verses of Matthew as a proof text. Modalists explain it as indicating that since there’s just one name mentioned, that one name is the name of the one God with reference to His three modes of existence, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I’m not a Modalist either, and I find these verses just don’t jive with the apostles’ practice of baptism in the name of Jesus only. That’s why I am inclined to think that Matthew’s original words were different from that which has come down to us, and that early Trinitarians may have tampered with the text.


#11

Luke 8:39
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.


#12

If you understand Jesus being appointed as ‘God’s Man’ or as Acts has it… “both Lord and Christ” i.e., the one through whom Yahweh’s deliverance of Israel was to be secured and thus ultimately the world, then surely it’s not hard to think of Jesus in such divine terms WITHOUT needing to attribute the theological construct of ontological sameness; which is then taken further in terms of trinitarian conclusions.

In relation to Pharaoh Moses was declared to be “God” WITHOUT any attached ontological sameness, and yet for all intents and purposes HE, Moses, WAS God to Pharaoh, i.e., ‘God’s Man’ — as was Jesus (1Tim 2:5).

It became common practice in the Greco-Roman world, especially under the Caesars, for them to claim divinity… thus any son of Caesar was “son of God”. Jesus was charged (wrongly) with claiming his own kingship/kingdom and so opposing Caesar.


#13

I might just add another aspect to this, quoting my thought above…

In relation to Pharaoh Moses was declared to be “God” WITHOUT any attached ontological sameness, and yet for all intents and purposes HE, Moses, WAS God to Pharaoh, i.e., ‘God’s Man’ — as was Jesus (1Tim 2:5). Noting Moses’ divine station, albeit appointed (like Jesus), and yet UNLIKE Jesus who didn’t see such equality as “something to be grasped” as per Phil 2:6, Moses on the other hand fell short of this mark (sinned), again, albeit in exacerbation, exclaiming “Must we…!! Num 20:10 — such intemperance cost him dearly… Num 20:12; Deut 32:48-53.

And with regards to the last sentence from my previous post above…

It became common practice in the Greco-Roman world, especially under the Caesars, for them to claim divinity… thus any son of Caesar was “son of God”. Jesus was charged (wrongly) with claiming his own kingship/kingdom and so opposing Caesar.
This the apostles, however, did NOT find it too hard a challenge to Caesar’s divine claim, and so attributing such divinity (without ontological sameness) to Christ… this verse below actually reflects a very common notion held in the day (historical context).

Now, knowing Peter’s words above, consider this below, from HERE

:sunglasses:


#14

Could Moses or Augustus Caesar have truthfully made such a statement?


#15

No. But there is another way to look at it:

"Jesus’ use of the divine title “I AM” [Gk., ego eimi] in John 8, verses 24 and 58 proves
his deity.
Response: At John 8:58 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I
am.” Trinitarians relate this statement to the account of Exodus 3:14 where “God said to
Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent
me to you.”’” Was Jesus applying the title I AM to himself? Interestingly, someone other
than Jesus uses this exact same Greek phrase only ten verses later. At John 9:9 a man
whom Jesus had healed also says “I am.”8
[ego eimi] Should we conclude that this man is
part of a triune God? Certainly not, so the simple statement I am does not prove deity.
The I AM title was not revealed to Abraham, the ancestor mentioned by Jesus, but to
Moses hundreds of years after Abraham’s death. In his statement Jesus was expressing
his pre-eminence over Abraham in the plan of God. Why, then, did the Jews want to
stone him for what he said? To the Jews this self-exaltation by someone they considered
a nobody was a blasphemous degradation of Abraham’s position as a prophet in special
covenant with God, and they wanted to stone him for it. (Compare to the situation at
Acts 6:11.)
In John 8:24 Jesus proclaimed, “If you do not believe that I am, you shall die in your
sins.” Was he now alluding to the divine title? Twelve verses earlier he said, “I am the
light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of
life.” So what Jesus meant in verse 24 was simply, ‘If you do not believe that I am [who I
claim to be, namely, the light of the world], you shall die in your sins.’ "

from christianmonotheism.com/php/medi … e&data=480


#16

DaveB, I am aware of all that. I was not suggesting that Jesus said “I am” in order to affirm that He was the great I AM.
I was merely indicating that by saying, “Before Abraham was, I am,” Jesus affirmed that He existed before Abraham. I was responding to Davo’s statement that Moses was God in relation to Pharoah, and that Augustus was God of the Roman Empire, and Davo’s suggestion that Jesus was God merely in the sense of being God’s man.

However, Jesus’ affirmation that He existed before Abraham clearly sets him apart from “Gods” such as Moses and Augustus, since they had no pre-existence.

It is my contention that Jesus is God in the sense of having been begotten by God as the first of God’s acts. Your son is man because you are man. The one and only Son of God is God because his Father is God. He is not the same divine Individual as the Father but yet is divine, just as your son is not the same human individual as you, but yet is human.


#17

THAT is simply your logic affirming what you want to believe. I think Dave’s quote is closer to the mark, i.e., “In his statement Jesus was expressing his pre-eminence over Abraham in the plan of God.

And I’m only relating WHAT the Greek text ACTUALLY states… and thus accept it plainly as such.

Being ‘God’s man’ was a great deal more than just “merely” — this “second man from heaven” that is, another way of saying from God, being fully obedient, was thereby appointed Lord of all (Act 2:36)… Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon never were.

Again, Peter’s words as recorded in Acts 4:12 were far more political than is often appreciated (Acts 17:7) and were a direct challenge to the errant claim of the Caesars.


#18

Clearly it was the Pharisees’ “logic” too.

John 8:
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


#19

If the cap fits :mrgreen: :laughing:


#20

I think they wanted to stone him because he was claiming pre-eminence over Abe, not pre-existence.