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.
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.
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,
It is a formula that asserts equal divine status of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for the "name" here denotes the very reality of Divinity, for only God saves and this salvation is accessed through the baptism (Mark 16:16) which is in the Name of the mentioned Three.
That the Name of God applies to the Lord Jesus Christ is clearly seen in a number of other passages, for instance, when He is accused calumniously that He expels demons in the name of Beelzebub, the head of demons, He defends Himself by saying that His disciples expel demons in His name (Matthew 12:27; Luke 10:17). Now, demons can be expelled only in the name, that is to say, by the action of God, so when Christ teaches His disciples that His name alone is enough to expel demons, so that they have not to invoke Father, but the Son, i.e. Christ alone, that means that the Father and the Son have one Name in the sense of Them being both God, and in the action of the Son there is necessarily the simultaneous action of the Father also for it is an ontological impossibility for Them to act separately (cf. John 5:17).
And the Spirit is also called "God" having a full share in the same Name (cf. Acts 5:3-4).
Thus, as well discerned by traditional theology of the fathers, the likes of St. John Chysostomos, the "Name" in this passage is in singular because it likewise applies to all Three - the Father, the Son and the H. Spirit, affirming Their Godhead.
While it may be somewhat impossible to prove that Matthew 28:19 was changed to support the trinity (which is not a Biblical word or doctrine), the question that must be asked for this doctrine and any other doctrine is: is it truth? As the Bible states many times (I believe it is 7 times total), "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Corinthians 13:1). One verse cannot be sufficient then for an entire doctrine.
- "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (1 John 5:7). It is interesting that Erasmus's first and second editions did not contain this (what is known as the Comma Johanneum). Luther's Bible came from the second edition and does not contain the Comma. This Trinitarian formula was added in his third edition likely due to pressure from the Catholic Church.
- Consider that in 311 AD, Eusebius finished "The Proof of the Gospels", in which he gives statements such as, “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, p. 152) several times. Eusebius was present at the Council of Nicea, which did not convene until 325 AD. It would appear that Eusebius did not have a manuscript containing this Trinitarian version of Matthew 28:19, and that it became an agenda at the council that has been pushed since then.
- The next verse typically mentioned is, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" (2 Corinthians 13:14). However, if one reads this Scripture exegetically, one would have to admit it only affirms the existence of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. There is no implication of them being co-eternal, which is a definable characteristic of the trinity according to the Nicene Creed.
If Matthew 28:19 was not changed, it makes the following verse fairly contradictory.
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:13-15
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
If Jesus commanded them to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," why did they only baptize in the name of Jesus? It is by Jesus, "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24). "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Therefore, it is by His name only that we receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
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.
As everyone knows, "Father" is not a name. Our fathers have a name, and "father" is not it. Neither is "son" a name. Nor is "spirit." These are titles, not names. The question incorrectly supposes these to be names, as if we knew better than Jesus' own disciples what he was instructing. They understood Jesus' command, and knew by what name he was commanding them to baptize.
As Acts 4:12 plainly states:
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, KJV)
And what name was that? Two verses prior is where the name is plainly specified.
be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole. (Acts 4:10, KJV)
The question might be asked, "What is the Father's name?" And Jesus answered that for us.
I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (John 5:43, KJV)
Jesus shared the name of the Father. They have the same name. And in the name of "Jesus Christ," the disciples consistently baptized. Never once in any recorded baptism in the Bible, is the Father's title even mentioned.
|Reference||Baptismal Texts Relative to the Name (KJV)|
|Acts 2:38||Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.|
|Acts 8:12||But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.|
|Acts 8:16||(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)|
|Acts 10:48||And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.|
|Acts 19:4||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.|
|Acts 19:5||When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.|
|Acts 22:16||And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.|
|Romans 6:3||Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?|
|Galatians 3:27||For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.|
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three titles for the same name. The word "name" is singular in Greek for a reason--because there is only one name by which we are saved. That name is that of Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
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.
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.