Word Biblical Commentary admits Matt. 28:19 is probably not original.

William Arnold III

Some time ago, I came across a web site titled A Closer Look at Matthew 28:19, claiming that the reading in Matthew 28:19 was probably not original. The claims were quite interesting, but very difficult to verify as most of the sources given are not very accessible to the average person. However, I recently purchased Word Biblical Commentary on CD-ROM and was amazed at what it had to say about this passage, especially since it was written and published by Trinitarians. It is also one of the most respected commentary series which could still be called evangelical (that's with a very small "e") in print today. In fact, I recently examined three independent scholars' (D. A. Carson, Gorden Fee & David R. Bauer) recommendations for commentaries on every book in the new testament (I intend to have an article up on this soon) and Word Biblical Commentary received more recommendations than any other. This is what it says in its comment on Matthew 28:19:

The threefold name (at most only an incipient trinitarianism) in which the baptism was to be performed, on the other hand, seems clearly to be a liturgical expansion of the evangelist consonant with the practice of his day (thus Hubbard; cf. Did. 7.1). There is a good possibility that in its original form, as witnessed by the ante-Nicene Eusebian form, the text read "make disciples in my name" (see Conybeare). This shorter reading preserves the symmetrical rhythm of the passage, whereas the triadic formula fits awkwardly into the structure as one might expect if it were an interpolation (see H. B. Green; cf. Howard; Hill [IBS 8 (1986) 54-63], on the other hand, argues for a concentric design with the triadic formula at its center). It is Kosmala, however, who has argued most effectively for the shorter reading, pointing to the central importance of the "name of Jesus" in early Christian preaching, the early practice of baptism in the name of Jesus, and the singular "in his name" with reference to the hope of the Gentiles in Isa 42:4b, quoted by Matthew in 12:18-21. As Carson rightly notes of our passage: "There is no evidence we have Jesus' ipsissima verba here" (598). The narrative of Acts notes the use of the name only of "Jesus Christ" in baptism (Acts 2:38; 8:16 10:48; 19:5; cf. Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27) or simply "the Lord Jesus" (tou kuriou Iesou; Acts 8:16; 19:5). . . . Schaberg's theory that the triadic formula goes back to the triad in Dan 7 (Ancient of Days, one like a son of man, and angels) remains an improbable speculation.1


1. Hagner, D. A. 1998. Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System;Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 33B (Mt 28:20). Word, Incorporated: Dallas

Email IBS | Statement of Faith | Home | Browse by Author | Q & A
Links | Virtual Classroom | Copyright | Submitting Articles | Search