If written out in full would this verse read "in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit"? Or is there some other reason apart from trimming obviously implied words that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit [clearly 3 names] are said to have one name?


Wallace offers a very good explanation of the use of the term in the original language. It may help to understand exactly what is meant by the term

εἰς τὸ ὄνομα - into the name of.

I am not going to try to quote Wallace. I will just give the sense of his explanation. In the classical style of the first century language, the phrase "εἰς τὸ ὄνομα" - "into the name of" was often used as a legal term. This expression is found among ancient legal documents that recorded the transfer of property. If one purchased a section of land or a dwelling for example, a title transfer would be drawn up to show that this property was now εἰς τὸ ὄνομα - in the name of - the new owner.

When Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to every creature and "baptize them into the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit," he was commanding them to baptize them into the possession of God. Christians are thus the objects of a property transfer - "out of the kingdom of darkness and into his marvelous light." Baptism then is a property transfer. This same language is used in Acts 2:38 when Peter commanded those present to be baptized ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι - into the name of - thus into the possession of Jesus Christ. This was for a two-fold purpose 1. For the removal of sin - Spiritual circumcision, Colossians 2:9-13. 2. To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the seal of the transfer of property, Ephesians 4:30, 1Corinthians 6:19-20. He is the seal of ownership to show that we have been bought with a price.

  • Good answer. I would have quoted Wallace, myself. He is an excellent reference and highly respected. You may like to consider using paragraphs to separate the points of your argument. It prevents the eye being assailed with what is called 'a wall of text'. +1 and welcome.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 23 '19 at 5:05
  • I have edited only to show you how a quotation is displayed. Please feel free to roll back the edit, if you wish.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 23 '19 at 5:15
  • 1
    I wasn't able to find anything in Wallace about this, especially not in his Grammar. I did find this idea in M&M and BDAG, along with another potential sense that is likely how a Semitic reader understood it. See my answer which lays out these various senses of how this phrase was likely understood.
    – Dan
    Sep 26 '20 at 5:24

A Baptismal Formula
Since the phrase seems odd, some have questioned its authenticity as discussed here: Was the text of Matthew 28:19 changed?. This answer presents the evidence this text is original:

πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος [GNT]

Thus the OP's reading: "If written out in full would this verse read 'in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit'" is incorrect. It should be:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [ESV]

[a] Matthew 28:19 Or into

The phrase may be confusing, because one expects either 3 names, or names plural, not name singular as in the actual text. But as the NET Bible notes, the intent is obvious (my emphasis added):

tc Although some scholars have denied that the trinitarian baptismal formula in the Great Commission was a part of the original text of Matthew, there is no ms support for their contention. F. C. Conybeare, “The Eusebian Form of the Text of Mt. 28:19,” ZNW 2 (1901): 275-88, based his view on a faulty reading of Eusebius’ quotations of this text. The shorter reading has also been accepted, on other grounds, by a few other scholars. For discussion (and refutation of the conjecture that removes this baptismal formula), see B. J. Hubbard, The Matthean Redaction of a Primitive Apostolic Commissioning (SBLDS 19), 163-64, 167-75; and Jane Schaberg, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (SBLDS 61), 27-29.1

This is the Christian's trinitarian baptismal "formula," as Joseph Benson explains in his commentary:

Words which have been considered, in all ages of the Christian Church, as a most decisive proof of the doctrine of the Trinity; implying not only the proper personality and Deity of the Father, but also those of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. For it would be absurd to suppose that either a mere creature, or a mere quality, or mode of existence of the Deity, should be joined with the Father in the one name into which all Christians are baptized. “To be baptized into the name of any one implies a professed dependance on him, and devoted subjection to him; to be baptized, therefore, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, implies a professed dependance on these three divine persons, jointly and equally, and a devoting of ourselves to them as worshippers and servants. This is proper and obvious, upon the supposition of the mysterious unity of three coequal persons in the unity of the Godhead; but not to be accounted for upon any other principles.” — Scott.

This idea of belonging to and becoming part of is also explained in Old Hermit's answer.

Also, it is incorrect to assume the terms τοῦ πατρὸς, τοῦ υἱοῦ, and τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος are themselves names. They are titles or positions. By way of comparison, consider "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" which speaks of a singular God for three named individuals. This could also be stated as "The God of Sarah's husband, Rebekah's husband, and Leah's husband." Both phrases convey the same meaning.

Paul uses the baptismal formula when recalling the Exodus:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)

Matthew      baptize  into [the name]  εἰς τὸ  ὄνομα
Corinthians  baptized into    Moses    εἰς τὸν Μωϋσῆν

When the baptism is recorded, "Moses" is inserted, Thus in the instruction, "ὄνομα" functions like a "placeholder" to be filled by the specific name.

We can use a hypothetical example to illustrate how a singular name would be used for a three-fold entity. Suppose Jesus had said "Go therefore and make disciples of all Gentiles, baptizing them in the name of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." This instruction would be understood in terms of bringing Gentiles into Judaism by baptism (not circumcision) using the proscribed baptismal formula. That is, Jesus replaced a male only ritual with one which all people must undergo.

If we read that the Apostles went to the Gentiles, preached Jesus, and taught them to observe all that Jesus had commanded (Matthew 28:20), we would also expect to learn they baptized those who accepted. If we read, "So they were baptized into the name of Israel" we would know the Apostles understood the name of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is Israel. The baptism into a singular name brought them into the three-fold entity.

In reality, Jesus did not give an instruction to bring Gentiles into the Jewish faith, but to make children of God by believing in His Name (John 1:12):

Baptismal Formula                                                            Name
Example: Baptize into the name of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob                      Israel
Actual: Baptize into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit    Jesus

1. NET Bible


Grammatically it is natural to view the prepositional phrase “in the name” as being “applied” to all three terms independently.

This could be an example of the adjunctive και or of ellipsis, or both. The adjunctive και lends itself to ellipsis and also serves to reduce repetition.

This would result in:

In the name of [εἰς τὸ ὄνομα] the Father and [in the name of] the Son and [in the name of] the Holy Spirit. (NA28) εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,


The answer as to the one name of Matthew 28:19, I believe is seen best in the statement made in

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: to and these three are one.

Yet if the originality of this text is in question as well, consider this most ancient context as conjuncted in John 1:1-14 as One name 3 functionaries, this can well be extracted from

Gen 1: 1-4

*1. In the beginning God... 
2. And the Spirit of God moved...
3. And God said, Let there be...*

In the most ancient concept of Biblical writ we can see: God, His Spirit and His word which 'said...' , And in Genesis 2:4 the concept of YHWH / יהוה comes into being as derived from the concept of היה or הוה "was, and/or being" the name by which the Word speaks of him self as God and With God as moving by the spirit "... YHWH God made the earth and the heavens...".

This well represented in:

Psalm 33: 6 By the word of YHWH were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the spirit of his mouth.

The concept is literally seen when one speaks, you may see 'them' open their mouth but logic is being expressed by the breath or spirit (moving of void or air) which produces word.

I am not horribly fond of the term "Trinity", nevertheless this is an inescapable fact of scripture, that The Father by His spirit-breath speaks his Word to bring forth what has been preposed, and the Apostles and prophets bring it forth often in their expressions Mathew 28:19 is no exception, even if one would take the Majority Text approach in denial of it's originality to Mathew and only a Byzantium commentary, what damage does it do? None, if the sum of scripture proclaims the same message.


Therefore, if the book of Acts and other sittings say as in [Act 10:48 NASB] (48) And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ... Is it not confirming that within that name of " Jesus Christ" is the name of the Father, Son And Spirit in the immersive work of Faith as commanded to be done in Baptism? Yes, there is no place in Scripture where the Son is mentioned without the Father's authority, and none where the Son speaks that is not by the Spirit.

I think is best said in 2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation:

[2Co 5:18-19 ESV] (18) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

  • a potentially good post spoilt by the inclusion of that which is not scripture 1 J 5:7 but a corruption of God's word - among others, this perhaps being the chief.
    – steveowen
    Jul 27 '20 at 2:41
  • Regardless of your thoughts on the Johannine comma, you may still utilize the same information by disregarding 1 John 5:7 as scripture. Nevertheless, what the comma says is biblically true else where in scripture. Thanks
    – Lowther
    Jul 28 '20 at 3:27
  • no, it absolutely isn't - that's the point of including it. Of course, people can 'read in' whatever they like - but it isn't biblical. Traditional teaching is based on stuff admitted to be 'extra-biblical'. Sorry, I just prefer to stick to the testimony and revelation God and Jesus have provided in abundance - either personally or through authorised (canonised) teachers.
    – steveowen
    Jul 28 '20 at 3:51
  • Can you provide what 'stuff' you are talking about? If you read the post, it states the potential non-originality of said text in the statement it self. The post was not based on the comma, but on an overview of the concept.
    – Lowther
    Aug 30 '20 at 2:04
  • We have a God who, as you've expressed, is somewhat 'triune' in manner - but not in nature. He speaks, He sends His spirit, and He IS. Anything that ascribes personality to the word or the spirit is extra-biblical. The word of God became flesh 2000 yrs ago and is now a person with a name - the 'Word of God' Rev 19:13, the logos had no name nor does the spirit - they were and are an expression OF the one God, known variously including the title Father.
    – steveowen
    Aug 30 '20 at 3:53

A sheriff could say "Open this door!" or "I'm arresting you!", and follow it with "in the name of the Law and of the King!".

He is not implying in any way that the Law and the King are the same thing, much less that they are a single person. He is simply stating the sources of his authority to force the door and make the arrest.

So when Jesus said "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost", he was simply indicating by what authorities they would be performing the baptisms.

  • 1
    Interesting comment except that it is not based on the Bible text and grammar. How do we know if such rules and idiom applied to Koine Greek? In any case, one does not do anything in the "name of the Law" - it must be the name of someone with authority.
    – user25930
    Apr 22 '19 at 2:32

The context is:

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

28:20 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.

Baptizing them in the name, is teaching them to observe his commandments.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are all the same. It is the Word of God, as plainly stated in the first letter of John:

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

So how can baptizing mean teaching? Baptizing means immersing. Immersing them in the teaching of his name, that is his Word, his spirit.

See also:

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

And for example,

John 5:37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

This is also commanded in the old testament:

Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

6:9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

This is part of the passage in Deuteronomy that Jesus calls the great commandment in the law. Jesus defines greatness as doing and teaching his commandments.

  • a potentially good post spoilt by the inclusion of that which is not scripture 1 J 5:7 but a corruption of God's word - among others, this perhaps being the chief.
    – steveowen
    Jul 27 '20 at 2:38
  • What happened in the last 200 years to make this not scripture?
    – David
    Nov 27 '21 at 8:22

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