Some have questioned whether or not portions of Matthew 28:19 are in the Bible.
What does Matthew 28:19 state?
Here is a translation of the normal Greek for it:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; NKJV throughout, unless otherwise indicated).
There certain papers (which tend to be from unitarians; see also Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church?) that some have circulated claiming that the portion of the statement "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" as the above shows is not really supposed to be in the Bible.
Basically, some have stated that the insertion was because of the efforts from the fourth century historian Eusebius to support the trinitarian view of Roman Emperor Constantine.
Is that true?
In 2001, Lon Martin wrote an article titled Constantine Wrote Matthew 28:19 Into Your Bible! (September 15, 2001). This is a bold claim and various ones, on the internet at least, have wondered if this is true. Lon Martin essentially suggests that Eusebius (who often tried to please Emperor Constantine) with his rival Athanasius apparently were behind some type of plot and also asserts that the Syriac versions of the New Testament did not contain the allegedly added passage.
In 1905, E.W. Bullinger (who has been called a unitarian http://bourkes4omardmore2almere.blogspot.com/2008/08/ewbullinger-and-trinity-doctrine.html, viewed 06/25/13) claimed (bolding mine):
Baptizing in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the holy pneuma" i.e., Holy Spirit* Matt.28:19.
*These words are contained in every Greek Ms. known, and are therefore on documentary evidence, beyond suspicion: but yet there is one great difficulty with regard to them. The great difficulty is as I've mentioned that the Apostles themselves never obeyed this command, and in the rest of the New Testament as shown above there is no hint as to it's ever being obeyed by anyone. It is difficult to suppose that there would have been this universal disregard of so clear a command, if it had ever been given; or it ever really formed part of the primitive text...
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.
This is to be carefully distinguished from being baptized with pneuma hagion (...Mark i. 8)
(Bullinger EW. Word Studies on the Holy Spirit, 1905. pp. 47-48; http://books.google.it/books?id=RPjxsKg6rEUC&pg=PA48&dq=%22difficult+to+suppose+that+there+would+have+been+this+universal+disregard+of+so+clear+a+command%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=383FUYbbB4Ol0AWU7IHQCg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22difficult%20to%20suppose%20that%20there%20would%20have%20been%20this%20universal%20disregard%20of%20so%20clear%20a%20command%22&f=false)
Bullinger also made various claims about differentiating upper or lower case versions of the letter "h" in Greek. But the problem is that it is not clear that when the New Testament was written, that Greek writings often had more than one case. Hence, that part of his argument, which I left out here, was not relevant. The fact that he admits is that all the Greek manuscripts he was aware of have the full version of Matthew 28:19, hence he is apparently alleging a massive conspiracy.
Basically, the claim (from both sources) seems to be that in the fourth century the Catholic bishop and historian Eusebius decided after the 325 A.D. Council of Nicea to alter a variety of documents. This included altering many written prior to the fourth century as well as have all Greek manuscripts he and other writings knew of changed to have this passage added.
Allegedly he did this because of the result of the Council of Nicea.
There are a few problems with this.
First of all, while Emperor Constantine supported a trinitarian view of the Godhead, that was not an actual subject at the Council of Nicea. The final statement that came out related to the Godhead was anti-unitarian, but not clearly trinitarian. The vast majority of bishops who attended the Council of Nicea were not trinitarian nor unitarian. The vast majority of Greco-Roman bishops who attended that council were semi-arian, essentially meaning that they accepted the divine personhood of the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, Eusebius was not a trinitarian, but a semi-arian/binitarian. Bishop Eusebius was succeeded by another semi-arian. The following is from a Catholic priest and scholar:
When in 338, Eusebius died in Caesarea he was succeeded by his disciple Acacius, who shared the semi-Arianism of his master (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, Part 1, Chapter 1. Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p. 49).
Eusebius' writings on church history clearly preserved writings from Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Melito, and others who took semi-arian/binitarian positions. If Eusebius was behind some massive conspiracy (which is basically what is alleged as that is the only way to supposedly "prove" parts of Matthew 28:19 were not original), then he left too much evidence against early trinitarianism in his writings on ecclesiastical history.
Thirdly, if Eusebius really was going to have pre-Nicean documents altered to reflect trinitarianism with an addition to Matthew 28:19, one would think that he would also have altered his own pre-Council of Nicea writings (and not have had a successor who was a semi-arian). But according to those who claim that Eusebius was behind the change, Eusebius' pre-Council of Nicea writings did not have (even after the Council of Nicea) the additional statement.
Fourthly, even after the Council of Nicea, most bishops held a binitarian/semi-arian view of the Godhead. This is fact (for details, please see Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).
Fifthly, the so-called proof about Eusebius is based on the belief that Matthew 28:19 should have been always quoted by him in full, as opposed to partially. Notice the following from a unitarian website:
Eusebius (c. 260—c. 340) was the Bishop of Caesarea and is known as “the Father of Church History.” Although he wrote prolifically, his most celebrated work is his Ecclesiastical History, a history of the Church from the Apostolic period until his own time. Today it is still the principal work on the history of the Church at that time. Eusebius quotes many verses in his writings, and Matthew 28:19 is one of them. He never quotes it as it appears today in modern Bibles, but always finishes the verse with the words “in my name.” For example, in Book III of his History, Chapter 5, Section 2, which is about the Jewish persecution of early Christians, we read:
But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.”
Again, in his Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine, Chapter 16, Section 8, we read:
What king or prince in any age of the world, what philosopher, legislator or prophet, in civilized or barbarous lands, has attained so great a height of excellence, I say not after death, but while living still, and full of mighty power, as to fill the ears and tongues of all mankind with the praises of his name? Surely none save our only Savior has done this, when, after his victory over death, he spoke the word to his followers, and fulfilled it by the event, saying to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name.”
Eusebius was present at the council of Nicaea and was involved in the debates about Arian teaching and whether Christ was God or a creation of God. We feel confident that if the manuscripts he had in front of him read “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” he would never have quoted it as “in my name.” Thus, we believe that the earliest manuscripts read “in my name,” and that the phrase was enlarged to reflect the orthodox position as Trinitarian influence spread...Even if the Father, Son and holy spirit are mentioned in the original text of this verse, that does not prove the Trinity. ( Matthew 28:19. biblicalunitarian. Copyright 2013 © Spirit & Truth Fellowship International. http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/matthew-28-19)
Dr. Bullinger is correct that Matthew 28:19 does not prove the doctrine of the trinity. But the problem with this unitarian's assessment of Eusebius is that it assumes that Eusebius had to fully quote what we now refer to as Matthew 28:19. Eusebius could have simply been summarizing a main point and perhaps did not mention baptism as Emperor Constantine had not been baptized.
Also, that precise statement “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name,” may not even have been intended as a strict reference to Matthew 28:19 (this is an assumption on Dr. Bullinger's part) and could basically be a combination of part of Matthew 28:19 and Luke 24:46-47 (which has the statement, “it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations”).
Furthermore, since Eusebius' Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine was written after the Council of Nicea, it does not seem that Eusebius changed his position because of the Council of Nicea as some have claimed. And if he was going to alter documents, one would have thought that he would most assuredly altered his own.
As mentioned before, even after the Council of Nicea, there still existed amongst the Greco-Romans many supporters of the binitarian/semi-arian view of the Godhead.
Even The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges the prevalence of semi-arianism:
Semiarians...A name frequently given to the conservative majority in the East in the fourth century...showing that the very name of father implies a son of like substance...rejected the Divinity of the Holy Ghost (Chapman, John. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Semiarians and Semiarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).
In 359, there was even a "semi-Arian council of Seleucia (359)" attended by Greco-Roman church leaders (Ibid, p. 56). And "in 335, the semi-Arian bishops, returning from the council of Tyre" consecrated a basilica (Ibid, p. 59). In other words, even among the Greco-Roman bishops, many were "semi-Arians".
And at least one now claimed to be Pope (Liberius) was believed to have been Semi-Arian. Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:
The second Formula of Sirmium (357) stated the doctrine of the Anomoeans, or extreme Arians. Against this the Semi-Arian bishops, assembled at Ancyra, the episcopal city of their leader Basilius, issued a counter formula, asserting that the Son is in all things like the Father, afterwards approved by the Third Synod of Sirmium (358). This formula, though silent on the term "homousios", consecrated by the Council of Nicaea, was signed by a few orthodox bishops, and probably by Pope Liberius, being, in fact, capable of an orthodox interpretation. The Emperor Constantius cherished at that time the hope of restoring peace between the orthodox and the Semi-Arians by convoking a general council (Benigni, Umberto. "Council of Rimini." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 11 Jul. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13057b.htm>).
Pneumatomachi…The majority of this sect were clearly orthodox on the Consubstantiality of the Son; they had sent a deputation from the Semi-Arian council of Lampsacus (364 A.D.) to Pope Liberius, who after some hesitation acknowledged the soundness of their faith; but with regard to the Third Person, both pope and bishops were satisfied with the phrase: "We believe in the Holy Ghost" (Arendzen, John. "Pneumatomachi." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 11 Jul. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12174a.htm>)
"In the Council of Rimini, 359 A.D...nearly all bishops present, 400 in number" decided "to sign a semi-Arian creed" (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny. Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus. Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 165).
Hence, the idea that the majority in the 4th century were semi-Arian has a lot of support in Greco-Roman writings. Also, the fact that 400 bishops who met in Rimini, Italy in 359 A.D. signed a "semi-Arian creed" indicates that the majority of leaders in West accepted some type of non-trinitarian position on the Godhead.
The Council of Rimini was also called the Council of Ariminum. Notice what Sozomen reported about it:
The partisans of Acacius remained some time at Constantinople, and invited thither several bishops of Bithynia, among whom were Maris, bishop of Chalcedon, and Ulfilas, bishop of the Goths. These prelates having assembled together, in number about fifty, they confirmed the formulary read at the council of Ariminum, adding this provision, that the terms "substance" and "hypostasis" should never again be used in reference to God. They also declared that all other formularies set forth in times past, as likewise those that might be compiled at any future period, should be condemned (Sozomen, Book IV, Chapter 24 ).
Socrates Scholasticus reported the following as part of the declaration of that Council:
We believe in one God the Father Almighty…And in…Christ our Lord and God…
But since the term ούσία, substance or essence which was used by the fathers in a very simple and intelligible sense, but not being understood by the people, has been a cause of offense, we have thought proper to reject it, as it is not contained even in the sacred writings; and that no mention of it should be made in future, inasmuch as the holy Scriptures have nowhere mentioned the substance of the Father and of the Son. Nor ought the "subsistence" of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit to be even named. But we affirm that the Son is like the Father, in such a manner as the sacred Scriptures declare and teach (Socrates Scholasticus, Book II, Chapter 41, pp. 221,222).
The same Council also taught this about the Holy Spirit:
We believe also in the Holy Spirit…as the Comforter; according to how it is written, the Spirit of truth (Ibid, p. 221).
So while Semi-Arians believe that there is a Holy Spirit, they tend to limit their beliefs to what the Bible says about it—they do not declare it to be the third co-equal person of a non-existent Greco-Roman trinity.
In 359, there was also a semi-Arian council of Seleucia (359) attended by Greco-Roman church leaders (Bagatti, The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p.56). And "in 335, the semi-Arian bishops, returning from the council of Tyre" consecrated a basilica (Bagatti, The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p.59). In other words, even among the Greco-Roman bishops after the Council of Nicea, many were "Semi-Arians," and not trinitarians.
Probably the strongest apparent claim about the addition of a passage to Matthew 28:19 is the view that Syriac documents did not contain it.
Presumably, they were not able to be altered by Eusebius, hence they show the original version of Matthew 28.
There are a few issues with this.
The first being that Matthew was not believed to have been written in Syriac. It was believed to have been originally written in either Hebrew or Greek. Thus, anything in Syriac would have been a translation.
Secondly, there were unitarians in the Syria region (many of the early Ebionites were unitarian and some are believed to have been in Syria). They are more likely to have left a part of Matthew 28:19 out of certain documents than Eusebius would have been to add it. Especially since Eusebius was not a trinitarian.
Thirdly, some related Syriac versions, such as Tatian's Diatessaron, originally from the second century, contain the 'added' passage. Tatian himself was a Syrian. Tatian's Diatessaron was according to scholars a translation from a Syriac text into an Arabic one:
Origin of the Arabic Text.-If some of the uncouthness of the Arabic text is due to corruption in the course of transmission, much is also due to its being not an original work, but a translation. That it is, in the main, a translation from Syriac is too obvious... In what language was it written? On the view favoured by an increasing majority of scholars, that it was written in Syriac (Introduction to Tatian's Diatessaron. Roberts and Donaldson. Oxford, 21st December, 1895. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/info/diatessaron.html viewed 06/25/13)
Here is what Tatian's Diatessaron says that supports the position that no portion of Matthew 28:19 was added:
5...Go now into 6 all the world, and preach my gospel in all the creation; and teach all the peoples, and 7 baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and teach them to keep all whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you all the days, unto 8 the end of the world. For whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but 9 whosoever believeth not shall be rejected. And the signs which shall attend those that believe in me are these: that they shall cast out devils in my name; and they shall speak with new tongues; and they shall take up serpents, and if they drink deadly poison, it shall not injure them; and they shall lay their hands on the diseased, and they shall be healed. But ye, abide in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high. (Tatian. Diatessaron. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/diatessaron.html)
Since the above document, which was supposed to have been written in the second century does have the allegedly added passage, this help show that it was not possible that Eusebius altered and/or invented the passage in Matthew 28:19. The fact that it was written in the second century shows that the full text of Matthew 28:19 was known centuries before Eusebius allegedly could have added it.
Fourthly, the Syriac argument seems to be based on the presumption that Matthew 28:19 is the only passage that is different in the Syriac versions than the Greek versions. But this is not the case. In various passages, the Syriac texts (and there are different ones) differ from the Greek (for some details, see Ring S. THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF SYRIAC MATTHEW. This paper wa s written for a seminar held at the University of Cardiff, Wales, on March 19 th 2009 in the Centre for Late Antique Religion & Culture (CLARC). http://www.syriac.talktalk.net/RING_Syriac_Matthew_in_a_historical_context.pdf viewed 06/25/13) as well as other Syriac texts (Searching the Extant MSS for the Most Original Meaning Behind the Date Stamp of Matthew 28:1. 2013-01-27 © Tree of Life. http://adamoh.org/TreeOfLife.lan.io/IFoundMannah/KJVRevisions/Matthew28-1HebrewVsAramaicVsGreek.htm viewed 06/25/13).
Furthermore, "the Old Syriac versions" stop having ANYTHING preserved after Matthew 28:7 (Kiraz GA, Wilson EJ. The Old Syriac Gospels. 1. Matthew and Mark, 2nd ed. Gorgias Press LLC, 2002, p. 272). Certain scholars, such as F. J. A. Hort and B. F. Westcott back in 1881, considered that of the then four main NT texts, the Syrian was the least reliable (Coles H. The King James Version and Principles of Translation - Part 1. ©2011-2013 Precious Seed International. http://www.preciousseed.org/article_detail.cfm?articleID=2990 viewed 06/25/13).
Hence, arguing that certain Syriac versions lack of full citation proves that Matthew 28:19 was changed is not actual proof. And the inclusion of it in the Diatessaron argues against it.
While writers like Dr. Bullinger claim that the apostles did not employ the text in Matthew 28:19, this "proof" is lacking for several reasons.
The first is that the Bible does not record a full church service, the text used for the New Testament Passover by the apostles, a full marriage ceremony, nor anything else like that in such detail. To argue that silence on the precise wording is proof it was not used is a major, and non-provable, claim on his part.
Furthermore, Acts 8 suggests that it is inadequate to only be baptized in the name of the Jesus only:
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17)
While it can be argued that baptizing in Jesus' name was what some did, notice that those who did it in the above case did not realize that they were to also lay hands for the receipt of the Holy Spirit; thus those who did the initial baptism above lacked certain knowledge.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 19:5-6).
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
These two passages in 1 Corinthians clearly are tying the Spirit of God the Father and Jesus Christ with baptism. They also show that one is baptized into one body, a body that in a sense represents the family of God. The God family now consists of the Father and the Son, and through the Holy Spirit after the resurrection, this is the family that Christians enter into. This is consistent with the passage in Matthew 28:19.
The Apostle Peter taught:
16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God? (Acts 11:16-17)
Notice that he mentioned the Father (God), Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit in relationship to baptism.
Thus, it is wrong to conclude that the apostles only baptized in the name of Jesus and did not also mention the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The reality is that there are several pre-fourth century documents that refer to the allegedly added portion of Matthew 28:19.
There is a late first/early second century document called the Didache. If it came out in the first century as many scholars have claimed, it shows that Matthew 28:19 was known from a time shortly after the Gospel According to Matthew was penned. It states:
And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 in living water. (Didache, Chapter 7, verse 1. Translated by M.B. Riddle. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm>)
Justin Martyr around 130 A.D. wrote:
For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water (The First Apology. Chapter LXI).
Lon Martin's paper has the following:
In the pages of Clement of Alexandria a text somewhat similar to Matthew 28:19 is once cited, but from a Gnostic heretic named Theodotus, and not as from the canonical text, but as follows: ‘And to the Apostles he gives the command: Going around preach ye and baptize those who believe in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.’" - Excerta cap. 76, ed. Sylb. page 287, quote from Conybeare.
Although Lon Martin seems to suggest that this was a type of trinitarian plot, since Clement was not a clear trinitarian (and this would have been in the second century), this basically proves that any alleged changes to Matthew 28:19 would have began 1-2 centuries before Constantine. A better explanation seems to be that all of Matthew 28:19 was part of the original text.
Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 135 A.D.) wrote:
I bless you because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a place among the number of martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among them in your presence today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as you have prepared and revealed beforehand, and have now accomplished, you who are the faithful and true God. For this reason, indeed for all things, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom to you with him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for the ages to come. Amen (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14:2-3. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p.239).
Notice that Polycarp is teaching that being a Christian involves the Father (called God above), the Son (called Jesus Christ above) and that this involves the Holy Spirit. This is consistent with a knowledge of the full text of Matthew 28:19.
Irenaeus, in the late second century (c. 180 A.D.), wrote:
He said to them, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Irenaeus. Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 17, verse 1. Translated by Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103317.htm>)
For further proof that Irenaeus did not teach that Matthew 28:19 endorsed the trinity, notice that he also wrote:
And for this reason the baptism of our regeneration proceeds through these three points: God the Father bestowing on us regeneration through His Son by the Holy Spirit. For as many as carry (in them) the Spirit of God are led to the Word, that is to the Son; and the Son brings them to the Father; and the Father causes them to possess incorruption. Without the Spirit it is not possible to behold the Word of God, nor without the Son can any draw near to the Father: for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of the Son of God is through the Holy Spirit; and, according to the good pleasure of the Father, the Son ministers and dispenses the Spirit to whomsoever the Father wills and as He wills (Irenaeus, St., Bishop of Lyon. Translated from the Armenian by Armitage Robinson. The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Chapter 7. Wells, Somerset, Oct. 1879. As published in SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO, 1920).
Notice that Irenaeus clearly is teaching that the Father and Son have separate wills and that they disperse the Holy Spirit (one does not disperse a person) and this happens with Christians, beginning with baptism. As far as this being "through" the Holy Spirit, I believe that Irenaeus and others understood that was what the context what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 28:19.
Eusebius himself wrote the following apparently before he wrote Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine:
...our Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, "Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Matthew. (Eusebius. Letter on the Council of Nicaea. Translated by John Henry Newman and Archibald Robertson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2804.htm>)
Hence, he did cite Matthew 28:19 as we commonly see it. The fact that he seemed to not include the baptismal portion before and after he wrote the above, may simply suggest that he was not focused on baptism when he cited part of Matthew 28:19 (and even Young's Literal Translation seems to consider that the baptismal portion of Matthew 28:19 was a more or less a parenthetical statement, as opposed to the main point of Matthew 28:19).
I would also add that since neither Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Irenaeus, or even Eusebius were trinitarians (nor would the original writers of the Didache have been), suggesting that a portion of Matthew 28:19 was added to support the trinitarian view makes no sense. And the fact that there are various pre-fourth century documents that refer to the allegedly added portion of Matthew 28:19, shows that it was NOT added in the fourth century.
I also asked someone I knew who was fairly well versed in Greek about Matthew 28:19:
Thank you for the question on Mat 28:19. We've all wrestled with the exact of this well known text. On the Greek side of the equation the singular use of authority and baptism is very strong. This text is in all of the early manuscript tradition. Those who say it's lacking are using textual arguments of a much later time period. The term "name" in the original text can also employ an agency "on behalf of". (Roberts T., Ph.D. email 6/27/13)
The reality is that the Greek records do support the inclusion of Matthew 28:19. And the Syriac documents were addressed ealier in this paper.
Theophilus of Antioch was a late second century leader who appeared to be part of the Church of God (he was the Bishop/Overseer of the COG in Antioch). Because a writing from him has been mistranslated, some believe that he espoused trinitarianism. Yet a proper translation of his supposed trinitarian statement would be:
In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the three of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man. (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XV)
Now the trinitarian may argue that this is just a semantics issue and that Theophilus is actually still talking about the trinity. Well, he is not as the third part is what Theophilus is teaching that man becomes. And that is what Theophilus is teaching--that now man is a fourth, but will become part of God (see Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?), a third part, when humans become God's offspring! And that clearly is a binitarian view-the threeness, if you will of God is that those begotten of the Holy Spirit who do not commit the unpardonable sin will be born-again in the Family of God--we, through the Holy Spirit, become the third part. And that is consistent with what Matthew 28:19 is teaching.
Lest anyone suggest that I am reading about the identity of wisdom into Theophilus that he does not mean, he verifies what I concluded when he wrote:
...if I call Him Wisdom, I speak of His offspring (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 1, Chapter III. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
We are to be God's offspring! We are to be God in the family of God. The Apostle Paul also verified that when he wrote:
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).
Lest anyone suggest that I am further reading something into Theophilus of Antioch's writings that he does not mean, he verifies what I concluded when he wrote:
For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God...so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God...For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXVII. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Theophilus did not teach that the Holy Spirit was, or somehow was, one of three persons in any trinity and his writing is consistent with the view that he had a valid and complete copy of Matthew 28:19.
It would not seem possible that Eusebius could have altered Theophilus' writings as well, as he never directly quoted Matthew 28:19 (only indirectly in To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XV), and the writing style is so poetic, it would not seem that Eusebius would have felt any need to alter anything there.
While some associated with the Church of God see Matthew 28:19 as possibly a trinitarian plot, the reality is that Eusebius was not a trinitarian. Thus, he was not trying to insert trinitarianism into his version of Christianity.
Various unitarians have claimed that Matthew 28:19 is not in the Bible (e.g. http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/matthew-28-19).
Furthermore, my research has repeatedly brought out that it is the unitarians that have a tendency to claim that various portions of the Greek New Testament were altered in John's Gospel, so and not just Matthew 28:19. (John 1 is perhaps one that they frequently point to as it is perhaps the chapter of scripture that contradicts their arguments; for more details, please see Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church?).
This does not prove that Matthew 28:19 could not possibly have been altered, but it shows that the appeal to the corruption of the Greek texts is a relative common ploy of the unitarians.
Since the Bible is complete for what we need (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17), it is of severe doubt to suggest that a string of words that are in the Nestle-Aland NA27 edition of the Greek text of the New Testament where not supposed to be in it. The NA27/UBS4 uses all Greek manuscripts, but considers the older manuscripts to be closer to the original writings (and it does not contain the spurious edition in 1 John 5:7-8 that the Textus Receptus does, though this is not saying that NA27 is perfect; the best text is the original, and it seems to be that a version of something like the "Traditional Text"--out of which the Textus Receptus originated--that was the text of the historic church from Asia Minor and Byzantia).
It is a documented fact that a 10th century monk added portions of 1 John 5:7-8 and the Church of Rome pressured various ones to accept that (see Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?).
But does not mean that something that cannot be proven with current documents, such as Eusebius allegedly adding to Matthew 28:19, and also modifying earlier writings from Justin, Irenaeus, and others to hide this, is really in the same category as the addition of 1 John 5:7-8. That claim for Eusebius is essentially speculation to come to a predetermined hoped for conclusion. It is not really based in fact.
Notice something that the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
He is teaching that there is one baptism. Yet, because a detailed baptismal ceremony is not recorded in the New Testament, throughout history the Church of God has tried to have a ceremony based upon what the Bible itself teaches.
Since the Bible mentions being baptized in the name of Jesus, as well as the name of the Father, and involves the Holy Spirit, several statements are normally included in Church of God baptismal ceremonies. Referring to what the baptismal statements in Matthew 28:19 state need to be part of the baptismal ceremony.
What has been more or less used in the baptismal ceremonies of the old Radio Church of God, Worldwide Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God tends to include the following statements (the following was provided/confirmed to the Continuing Church of God by Aaron Dean, a minister who probably spent more time with the late Herbert W. Armstrong than any other minister in the latter years of his life):
As a result of your repentance of your sins, which are the transgressions of God's holy and righteous and perfect law, and your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal saviour, Your Lord and Master, your High Priest and soon coming King, I now baptize you, not into any sect or denomination of this world, but I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and through the Holy Spirit, by and through the authority of the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Amen.
These statements are consistent with not only Matthew 28:19, but the other passages in the New Testament about clearly being baptized in Jesus' name. Furthermore, they seem consistent with what early Church writers who knew people who knew the original apostles believed and practiced.
Richard Ames, a high level Living Church of God (LCG) evangelist, personally expressed his doubts to me once about whether Matthew 28:19 was scripture or not--he was not, at that time at least, convinced that it was. Although the Bible teaches, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5), in late June 2013 I was told by another who checked with LCG, that LCG has two different baptisms because some do not believe that Matthew 28:19 applies (although it ends with an appropriate ceremony, LCG' L049 letter specifically also states, "Is Matthew 28:19 the only commanded formula that must be used in a baptism ceremony? Again, we say no, it is not, based on the actual procedures the early church used in baptizing," which seems to substantiate what I was told about more than one baptismal option).
Perhaps it should be mentioned that certain false, but professing Christians, in second/third century Alexandria and Rome practiced nude baptism (see Did Real Christians Practice Nude Baptism?), but there is no scriptural support for this, nor was it the practice of the faithful in the Church of God (nor does the Church of Rome have that nude baptism ceremony any more).
Was Matthew 28:19 added?
For that to be the case, Eusebius, a non-trinitarian, would have had to change all the early documents that directly or indirectly mention it. It is from Eusebius' book on church history that many of the oldest documents were copied into, and Eusebius would have had to intentionally alter some of those documents if he had a plot to change scripture.
He also would have had to change pretty much every known Greek manuscript of Matthew 28. And they were numerous.
The second century version of Matthew's Gospel known as Tatian's Diatessaron, contains Matthew 28:19. It is thus not possible that this was a fourth century change.
Furthermore, it is not only in Matthew 28 where we see the Father and/or Holy Spirit mentioned in conjunction with baptism. Other passages in the New Testament support the view.
It should be explained here that perhaps the reason that the Bible teaches, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19) is that through being begotten by the Holy Spirit through baptism (Luke 3:16), we will ultimately be born in the family of God--and that is part of the relationship between us, the Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Father (this is also consistent with what Theophilus, a second century leader, wrote).
Because there are various references supporting Matthew 28:19 found in pre-Constantine literature, this also supports the view that it was not a late edition.
Based upon all the evidence that I have reviewed, I believe that Matthew 28:19, as found in nearly all Bibles, is based upon the original text that God inspired Matthew to record, and hence are the words of Jesus.
Christians are not to add or take-away from the word of God (cf. Revelation 22:19; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4) and those who dismiss Matthew 28:19 seem to be taking away something that the records demonstrate that Jesus actually said.
Thiel B. Is Matthew 28:19 in the Bible? COGwriter (c) 2013 http://www.cogwriter.com/matthew-28-19.htm 2013 0704
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