Does Matthew 28:19 Really Say “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit”?

Does Matthew 28:19 Really Say
“The Father, Son and Holy Spirit”?
James Scott Trimm

The Shem Tob Text of Hebrew Matthew 28:19-20 reads:

“Go and guard them to uphold all the words which I have commanded you forever.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 Shem Tob)

This differs from the DuTillet/Munster version of Hebrew Matthew which reads:

“Go you therefore, and teach all the Goyim, and immerse them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you, and here am I with you all the days, to the end of the world.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 DuTillet/Shem Tob)

The question is, did the Shem Tob version subtract words, or did the DuTillet/Munster version add them?”

Certainly we would like to look to the Old Syriac Aramaic version to answer our question, however neither of the two surviving manuscripts of the Old Syriac includes this page.  However the Peshitta Aramaic text includes the material found in DuTillet/Munster but omitted in Shem Tob.

While there are no witnesses either way to this particular portion of Matthew amongst the Papyri fragments, the oldest Greek manuscripts of Matthew such as Codex Siniaticus do in fact contain the material.  In fact I have found no manuscript witnesses, aside from the Shem Tob version, that omit these words.

Some have pointed to this quotation of these verses by Eusebius as evidence to support the Shem Tob reading:

“Go, make disciples of all nations in my name, teaching them to keep all things which I commanded you.”

This is not from a manuscript of Matthew, it is simply taken from a quotation made by Eusebius in the 4th Century.  However there is no reason to conclude that Eusebius was quoting an actual version of Matthew that omitted these words.  In ancient times it was common to make truncated quotations without the insertion of a “…” as we do today.  For example in Matthew 21:5 the text of Zech. 9:9 is quoted, but the words “he is just, and having salvation;” are omitted from the quote.  This does not mean Matthew was quoting a version of Zechariah that omitted these words,  Matthew was simply abbreviating the quote.  Today we would have replaced the missing words with “…”.  So there is no reason to conclude that Eusebius was citing a text of Matthew that lacked the phrase in question.  Moreover the Shem Tob version omits more material than the Eusebius quote does, so the Eusebius quote is not actually a witness to a text that agrees with the Shem Tob reading.

In the end there is no outside support for the Shem Tob reading here.  The oldest manuscripts of Matthew 28:19 include the words omitted in Shem Tob in fact all manuscripts I am aware of contain the words unless they lack witness to this portion altogether (such as a missing page).  The quote by Eusebius does not agree with Shem Tob (it includes words Shem Tob omitted) and there is no reason to conclude that the quote by Eusebius is actually a witness to an alternate reading of Matthew

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7 thoughts on “Does Matthew 28:19 Really Say “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit”?”

  1. Shem Tob ms is correct. The first century disciples never baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the HolySpirit .”

    1. As I pointed out in the blog, there is no textual support for Shem Tob’s reading. Notice it is the “name” (singular) of the Father, Son and Ruach, which name is YHWH, the name in which immersions are traditionally done in Judaism: “Blessed are you YHWH our Elohim, who has sanctified us by your commandments and commanded us concerning immersion.”

  2. I’m sorry, but I could not get myself to read the above article. Shem Tov? Really? Well known to be a 15th-16th century forgery by a Jew who sought to discredit Jesus as Messiah. No reason to take that document seriously. It does nothing to strengthen your own credentials to give it mention. Hard to take the article serious.

    1. First of all, you should always read something before commenting on it. If you had read the blog, you would have found that it found no evidence to support the Shem Tob reading in this passage.

      However, there is a good of internal evidence that, while the Shem Tob text has been corrupted, it’s core Hebrew descends from the original Hebrew Matthew textual tradition, preserved in a much less corrupted form in the DuTillet and Munster Hebrew texts if Matthew and the related Old Syriac Aramaic Matthew.

  3. If you just do a word study on the word baptized and separate John’s baptism, from the baptism of holy spirit you’ll see that Matthew 28, verse 18 is a contradict of all the other verses on spiritual baptism. Since God was the original author of the manuscripts and God would never contradict himself. It has to be corrupted scripture, and needs close scrutiny to what was changed from the original so that it fits with all other scriptures on this subject.

    1. John, there is no contradiction. The singular “name” of the Father, Son and Ruach Hakodesh (Matthew 28) is “YHWH” and it can also be said that this is the name of Yeshua (as in the Acts formulation). And in fact the traditional Jewish prayer said before an immersion does invoke the name of YHWH (though Rabbinic Jews say “Adonai” when reciting the prayer, the written form of the prayer is “Blessed are you YHWH our Elohim, who has sanctified us by Your commandments, and commanded us concerning Immersion.”

      There is a rule of hermeneutics which says that if you understand one passage in a way that contradicts another passage, you are misunderstanding one or both passages. It does *not* say to choose the reading you like, and to take a pair of scissors to the reading you don’t like.

      1. Your not separating the water baptism, of John the Baptist, from spiritual Baptist of holy spirit, that first became available on the day of Pentecost in the temple to the Apostles, then to about three thousand others of the tribes of Israel. There not the same type of baptism one is under the law administration (water baptism) the other is of the Grace administration (holy spirit) when you remove this misunderstanding the errors in the scripture containing, Father son and holy ghost are very apparent and need closer scrutiny.

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