Tuesday, 1 March 2016
The Great Commission: The Triune Formula in the Gospels
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The Gospels themselves, and indeed the entire Old Testament, give no indication of the doctrine of Trinity. The only example that we have is what is known as “The Great Commission.”
18 But Jesus came near and spoke to them; “All authority in heaven and on earth, he said, has been given to me; 19 you, therefore, must go out, making disciples of all nations, and baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, 20 teaching them to observe all the commandments which I have given you. And behold I am with you all through the days that are coming, until the consummation of the world.”
“The Great Commission” is about Jesus (a.s.) sending his disciples out to preach the Gospel, instructing them, “…you, therefore, must go out, making disciples of all nations, and baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” This is the only clear indication of the ‘three persons in one God’, the Trinity. This is the only explicit scriptural evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity. And it is incongruous since the entirety of the New Testament refers to baptism only in the name of Jesus (a.s.).
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to have your sins Forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
There is no mention of the Trinity. This, and other such verses, is an indication that the Triune formula of “The Great Commission” was added later by the Pauline faction to support the doctrine of the Trinity after it was rightly rejected by the Arians and the majority of early Christian sects. And we see in every verse pertaining to baptism that there is no mention of this Triune formula.
11 “As for me, I am baptising you with water, for your repentance; but one is to come after me who is mightier than I, so that I am not worthy even to carry his shoes for him; he will baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
Christians do not consider that the baptism of John (a.s.) conferred sanctifying grace. But regardless, there is no mention of the Triune formula. And we see this in every other verse of the New Testament.
5 “John’s baptism, I told you, was with water, but there is a baptism with the Holy Spirit which you are to receive, not many days from this.”
7 Many of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees came to his baptising; and when he saw these, he asked them, “Who was it that taught you, brood of vipers, to flee from the vengeance that draws near? 8 Come, then, yield the acceptable fruit of repentance; 9 do not presume to say in your hearts, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; I tell you, God has power to raise up children to Abraham out of these very stones.”
4 In our baptism, we have been buried with him, died like him, that so, just as Christ was raised up by his Father’s power from the dead, we too might live and move in a new kind of existence. 5 We have to be closely fitted into the pattern of his resurrection, as we have been into the pattern of his death…
Here, baptism is mystically identified, by Paul of Tarsus, with Jesus’ (a.s.) passage through the tomb.
27 All you who have been baptised in Christ’s name have put on the person of Christ…
Literally, the words are ‘have put on Christ’. Paul of Tarsus considers this an obliteration of distinctions between man and god man, resulting from the Christian’s incorporation into the personhood of Christ.
12 …you, by baptism, have been united with his burial, united, too, with his resurrection, through your faith in that exercise of power by which God raised him from the dead.
The term “baptism” is used as a short form for being reborn in faith and repentance. Historically, the Pauline faction evolved into its theological position of the Trinity, from Paul of Tarsus, but it is arguable that even he did not propose. This is also evident from the opposition of the other early Christian sects. After, especially, the Council of Nicaea, all this was added retroactively, and Trinitarian Christianity eventually became the majority position, as if it was the only ‘correct’ teaching of Jesus (a.s.).
Outside of the canonical gospels, Eusebius quoted the text as “Go you into all the world and make disciples of all the Gentiles in my name.” Admittedly, this is not conclusive since he was likely not quoting it verbatim. And, indeed, we know he quoted the longer reading with the Triune formula elsewhere. Furthermore, the Didache contains the long form. And so do writings by many of the early Church fathers. But crucially, it is not found in the earliest fragments of the Gospels, and certainly not in the many apocryphal gospels that were once accepted. This is a Pauline position that developed in the earliest days of Christianity, and then, by a process of ruthless elimination and suppression, became the dominant position.