Matthew 28:19 and The Trinity


Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”


baptízontes autoús eis tó ónoma toú patrós kaí toú huioú kaí toú hagíou pneúmatos”


Jesus here Commands that we are to “baptize into the Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.


What does Jesus mean when He says, “baptízontes eis tó ónoma (baptize into the Name)”? Note, Jesus does not say, “ónomata”, which is the plural, as Three Persons are here spoken of, but, “tó ónoma”, which is the neuter singular, “THE NAME”.


In the first place, Jesus does not say, “ónomata”, which is the plural number, “Names”, as in “The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit”, Three Names. Rather, it is clear that Jesus says, “tó ónoma”, THE NAME. In Greek, as the preposition “εἰς” is used, there is no need for the definite article, “tó”, as we could still say “The Name”. It is done here by Jesus for a clear purpose, to show that He has a definite NAME in mind.


The NAME is what was given to Moses, when he saw the Burning Bush in Exodus chapter 3. In verse 13 Moses says to God:

And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the sons of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they shall say to me, What is His Name? What shall I say to them?”


To which we see the reply from the Lord:


And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM. And He said, So you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. And God said to Moses again, You shall say this to the sons of Israel, YAHWEH the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and this is My title from generation to generation” (verses 14-15)


Ehyeh ’ăsher ’ehyeh”, is what God told Moses, which is best translated as “I am that I am”, as the ever-present God, Who went before the Children of Israel. The Hebrew Name of God, “Yahweh”, has its root in the verb, “’ehyeh”, speaking of the “eternal, self-existence” of the God of the Holy Bible, Who is Unique, as He has no equal. Interesting, when the Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, in the 2nd century BC, which has become known as the Septuagint (LXX) Version, they translated these words in verse 14, as, “ Εγω ειμι ὁ Ων”, literally, “I am He Who Exists”, or, “I am The Eternal One”. Which is what the Hebrew means. The Name YAHWEH is God’s Name forever. This is The Name that is used by Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19. One Divine Name, for The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thereby asserting their absolute, equal DEITY.


In addition, we can understand “into The Name” as “into the Authority”, of “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. This also has the same meaning as “The Name”, YHWH, because the Three Persons have the same Authority, which is something that only can be said of them as Almighty God. It makes the Three Persons as absolutely coequal, as their Authority is the same. If, as some suppose, the Son and Holy Spirit are not “equal” with the Father, Who alone is “God”; then how can someone who is not “equal”, have the same authority? This argument is futile.


Some have supposed, that the Name order here is of some importance, as the Father is first, Jesus Christ is second, and the Holy Spirit is third. This, they argue, shows that the Father alone as God, is “preeminent”, and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, are “lesser” than the Father. This is not correct theology. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, we read, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you”, where the Father is placed second, after Jesus Christ. In Galatians 4:4-6, we have, “There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope at your calling — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all”, the Father is here third. It is clear that there is no Person in the Eternal Godhead, Who is “greater” then the Other.


What is also very important in Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19, is the fact that He mentions the Holy Spirit in association with Himself and the Father. There are some who teach the heresy, that God the Holy Spirit is no more than a “created being”. This is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit! The fact that the Holy Spirit has the same NAME and AUTHORITY as the Father and Jesus Christ, is conclusive that He is “Personal”, and COEQUAL with the Father and Jesus Christ.


When we read in the Book of Acts, where baptism is done in “the Name of Jesus”, it is it the same as, “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, as their NAME is One and the same.


Matthew 28:20, is very clear are precise, Three distinct Persons are meant here. “toú patrós kaí toú huioú kaí toú hagíou pneúmatos”. The Father is not, the Son or the Holy Spirit; nor is the Son the Father or the Holy Spirit; nor is the Holy Spirit, the Father or the Son. They are DISTINCT from One Another.


When two or more consecutive nouns, denoting separate objects, agree in case and number, but differ in gender, each of them requires the Article…Where, however, the ideas do not require to be strictly distinguished, or where an adjective, joined to the first noun, is to be extended also to the second, the repetition of the Article does not take place ; and the one Article that precedes is to be referred to all the nouns that follow” (Dr G B Winer; A Grammar of the New Testament Diction, pp.138, 139)


In our passage in Matthew, we have three nouns, “patrós, huioú, pneúmatos”, where the first two are masculine in gender, and the last, neuter. However, in each case, we have the Greek definite article used, “toú”, which shows that these Persons are to be “distinguished”, from one another. They are not identical Persons.  


We have a good example of the distinction of Persons, in the Gospel of John, where Jesus speaks of the Coming of the Holy Spirit;


When the Counsellor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify about Me” (15:26)


Jesus Christ is the Speaker in the first Person, and speaks of the Holy Spirit, in the third Person, which is to show distinction. Jesus says that the Coming of the Holy Spirit, is “pará toú patrós”, which is literally, “from the presence of the Father”, which stresses the distinction. Note, that even though “Pneuma”, is a neuter noun, yet Jesus says, “ekeínos”, which is the masculine pronoun, “He”, and not the neuter “ekeíno”, which is grammatically agreed with “Pneuma”, and which we would have expected in normal usage. However, it is clear here, that Jesus means the Holy Spirit to be a “Person”. The words, “marturēsei peri emou (shall bear witness of Me)”, can hardly be used for an “impersonal thing”, as “martureō”, is a “personal testimony”. In this verse in John, we have the Three distinct Persons, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Who is also “ho paraklētos”, the masculine, “The Comforter”, and the Father.


The Person and absolute Deity and Coequality, of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, is very clear.