The Challenge of the Christian Theology and more …
/ Ewald Frank
21. The Great Commission
- Does all happen by chance?
- The time is near
- The only valid measuring rod
- The old dispute
- The testimony of historians
- History confirms it
- God’s confession
- God manifests Himself
- In heaven and on earth
- The Lord visits His prophet
- The »I am«
- Was the Son born in heaven?
- Spirit and Truth
- Very peculiar
- Respect for the Great Mystery
- Everyone defends his or her own doctrine
- The rock
- The Great Commission
- Thou shalt have no other gods …
- Believe as the Scripture says
- An unbelievable tragedy
- The end-time
- A challenge to all
- No one can bypass Jesus Christ
- New creation
- The Son and the sons and daughters of God
- The two beginnings
- The course of church history
- No man’s influence
When receiving a commission, or an order, it is very important to listen carefully and understand the one who gives the commission. It is essential to receive the commission directly from the lips of the one giving it. Hearing it through another person makes it possible for different thoughts to be added. In His great commission Jesus also mentioned baptism. The »name« into which we are to baptise is the kernel of the commission.
As the triune practised baptism is directly connected with the teaching of the so-called »divine persons«, we shall briefly touch on this subject also. In different publications not only the common practice is questioned, but also that the triune formula was ever commissioned in Mt. 28: 19 is doubtful. Dr. Karlheinz Deschner writes, »Jesus did not know a Trinity. The commission put into the mouth of the Resurrected One, according to Matthew, to baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit the critical research unanimously declares this to be a falsification.« (»Abermals krähte der Hahn« ). The overwhelming majority of church historians who search thoroughly assign this formulation to the Trinitarian church fathers.
As commonly known, the four Gospels and the letters of the apostles were mainly written in Hebrew and Aramaic and were circulating in the Jewish-Christian assemblies. The first compilation as canon in the Greek New Testament was already the work of men from heathenism holding the triune concept. This is obvious when reading carefully. In some translations we still find the addition in 1 John 5: 7. Which is not in the original manuscript at all, not in the Hebrew, not in the Greek and not in other languages: »For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.« The footnote in the Scofield Bible confirms it, stating, »It is generally agreed that this verse has no ms. authority and has been inserted.«
In the »Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine« from Nestle we find in a footnote the original version of Mt. 28: 19, as delivered by Eusebius, which reads: »en to onomati mou« = »in-to My name«. The same version is found in the »Greek New Testament«, Second edition, 1954, London, Bible House. This original commission, »… and baptise them in-to My name« would have avoided any error and later misinterpretation. Matthew 28 can remain as it is, for we know that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are not names but designations, titles and baptism was to be administered into the name (singular), into the New Testament covenant name, in which God revealed Himself as Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit. This name is Lord Jesus Christ. It remains therefore, »en to onomati mou« = »in-to My name«.
It is also hard to comprehend that the meaningful New Testament covenant name of our Lord in Whom all salvation lies, namely Yahshua, which indeed means »Yahweh-Saviour« was transferred into Greek as »Jesus«. The knowledge of the original significance was thereby lost, namely that »Yahweh« of the Old Testament is »Yahshua« of the New Testament. We can be thankful that God recognises and respects the name in each language, He knows whom we mean thereby. To God names and designations are very important, since through them the actual meaning is being expressed. In Isa 7: 14 and 9: 6 the birth of the Son is announced Who would be Immanuel, »God with us«. The child which would be born and the Son given to us, upon Whose shoulder the government lies, has everything embedded: Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. God has permitted that insertion, so He could from the very beginning reveal His Name to His Own.
In baptism the redeemed are dedicated to the Redeemer who paid the price for them. They are His and know His name . The actual concern is the name which must also be called upon for the salvation of the soul, as it is written, »And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.« (Acts 2: 21 a. o.). The Hebrew word »yasha« is the English word »saved« (Ex. 14: 30 — Scofield Bible). In the faith life everything happens in this name: salvation, healing etc. At His name , that is to say at the name of Jesus (Yahshua), all knees will bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2). In His name the seventy were sent forth and testified that even the demons were subject unto them (Lk. 10: 17). Giving the great commission the resurrected Lord said, »In my name shall they cast out demons …« (Mk. 16: 17). In His name repentance and the forgiveness of sin was to be preached to all nations (Lk. 24: 47). The concern in baptism is the name of whom Peter testified that no other name under heaven is given unto men by which they must be saved (Acts 4: 10-12).
The Son came in the name of the Father (Jn. 5: 43a) and has in baptism fulfilled all righteousness (Mt. 3). Whoever does not receive Him by calling upon His name receives another who comes with positions and titles but always in his own name (Jn. 5: 43b). In the high priestly prayer in John 17 the concern is also the name: »I have manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world« (v. 6), as it was foretold in Ps. 22: 22 »I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.« He prayed , »Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me …« »And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it …« (Jn. 17: 11b + 26), the name He has obtained by inheritance (Heb. 1: 4). Obviously the name of the Son is the name of the Father!
Peter, the man of the first hour, whom the Lord gave the keys of the Kingdom, which also includes divine authority, has revealed unto us the mystery of baptism. When the Church of the living God, on the day of Pentecost was brought into existence he commanded, »Repent, and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ …« (Acts 2: 38). This original pattern is forever bound upon the New Testament Church.
In early Christianity and in the post apostolic time only those who believed were baptised, as required: »He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved …« (Mk. 16: 16). This took place by immersing the person once and exclusively in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2: 38 — Peter in Jerusalem; Acts 8: 16 — Philip in Samaria; Acts 19: 5 — Paul in Ephesus; a. o.). Three witnesses. In the beginning it never was administered as outlined by the triune formula, as all church history books testify. John the Baptist had preached and all that repented of their sins had been baptised in the Jordan River (Mt. 3: 1-12). He administered baptism as emphasised where there was much water (Jn. 3: 23), that is to say, in a place where the water was deep enough, so the person being baptised could be immersed properly. The water must reach at least to the hips. Of Philip and the eunuch we read in Acts 8 , »… and they both went down into the water … and he baptised him.« (Acts 8: 38). Nowhere is it written that infants should be sprinkled or poured upon.
The Apostles never mention godparents as witnesses of confirmation. It is noteworthy that sprinkling and pouring instead of baptising was introduced as part of the triune formula. Not once is it recorded in church history that believers who were baptised according to the Scriptures in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ were ever sprinkled or had water poured over them, but instead were baptised by immersion. This should be known to all, unscriptural baptism was forced upon people in the Roman Empire when the Christian religion became mandatory. The Gentile nations were not converted by the preaching of the Gospel, they were forced by state law to accept this new religion, being sprinkled or poured using the triune formula: young and old alike. It was explained that through this baptism grace was being offered to all people. But the biblical order follows: first the preaching to offer grace, second belief and accepting, third to confirm true faith and obedience in baptism, »Then they that gladly received his word were baptised« (Acts 2: 41).
In baptism we testify that God’s work of grace has been done within us. First we receive the forgiveness of sins, the justification by faith, then we are baptised. Baptism is like a covenant with God having a good conscience (1 Pt. 3: 21). Nowhere does the Bible teach that forgiveness or even the new birth comes through baptism. The forgiveness was given unto us through the death of Christ, through the shed blood of the Lamb of God, which took away the sins of the world. When we are baptised we testify of God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation.
Truly, there is not a single case in the entire Bible, where anyone was baptised, sprinkled or poured upon using a triune formula. The Apostle Paul did not only teach about baptism, he testified that he himself was also baptised in the right way. »Know ye not that, as many of us as were baptised unto Jesus Christ were baptised into his death?« (Rom. 6: 3). If Mt. 28: 19 exists in the original or in another form, one thing is certain: that the disciples understood the commission and practised it correctly. Should the church fathers have changed the original words, »en to onomati mou« = »into My name« in the Greek text into the formula, »in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost«, then they were deceived by the adversary and beguiled and have taken great guilt upon themselves which can never be justified. They will have to answer at the day of judgement and suffer the final consequences. If we consider that the teaching of the Trinity goes hand in hand with the triune baptismal formula, then the critical church historians in their judgement about Mt. 28: 19 are right. In spite of this God’s children even in the Dark Ages and today have had the true faith and the light about the original baptism. The true Church of Jesus Christ remained unmoved in the doctrine of the apostles, never as a state church but always in the minority as »the little flock« which was persecuted by the government church.
When Christianity was forced upon the masses, everyone had to accept the state religion, and this, without having experienced a personal relationship with Christ. The infant sprinkling up to this day is enforcement. An infant cannot make decisions of faith. The multitudes leaving the state churches are proof that they are not in agreement with church rituals or dogmas. Others continue as members and this only to have a funeral and remain in good memory. In true faith the concern is the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as Saviour in whom alone we have the salvation of our soul. He will receive those who receive Him. The Bible does not speak about a sacrament. Jesus never mentioned a baptismal sacrament of any kind as a religious practice.
Those who believe according to the great commission are baptised, after they have made a personal decision for Christ, and are then immersed only once. This signifies being buried with Christ, »… buried with him in baptism, in which also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.« (Col. 2: 12). Only those dead with Christ to themselves, to their own ego, can be buried with Him. This is signified by the total immersion of the body. The lifting out of the watery grave symbolising that the one who was baptised now is resurrected with Christ to live a new life (Rom. 6: 4).
In water baptism the believer identifies with God. In Spirit baptism God identifies Himself with the believer. The Bible condones the baptism of those who through hearing the Word, believe in Christ as their personal Saviour. Faith comes by the preaching of the Word of God (Rom. 10). Whoever argues that the jailer in Acts 16 was baptised with his household assumes that children were baptised, must consider that a certain maturity is needed to understand the preaching, for it is written, »And they spoke unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.« (Acts 16: 32). Only after this was he baptised with his household together with all who believed (v. 33). First was the preaching, second faith, third baptism.
In the great commission the concern is to understand and to obey accordingly, as did the apostles in early Christianity. When we treat the baptismal commission like a magic formula, it shows that we do not comprehend its true essence. Furthermore anyone arguing that the word of Jesus is more important than that of the apostles, asserting that there is a contradiction, undermines the whole foundation of the New Testament Church. Every word in the Bible remains forever. With God there are no arguments, the method, thesis, synthesis and antithesis — for Him and His Own the Thus saith the Lord of His Word is the only thing we can stand upon. Teaching error cannot exist within itself. There has to be truth mixed with it, which in reality then becomes a lie, which has only a similarity with truth. So some remain with the theme about baptism, others remain with the truth and the correct practice thereof.
Among many church historians the original baptismal practice is documented. Also reference can be made to the »KATOLICKA ENCYKLOPEDIA« of the university at Lublin/Poland (pg. 354). One on the committee of honour is Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II.
True understanding comes when the resurrected Lord walks with us and reveals truth to us by the Holy Spirit concerning the kingdom of God, as he did with the disciples. A prime example is the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus (Lk. 24). Those who know Hebrew, Greek, Latin and other languages have come to different conclusions via intellectual knowledge. Knowing languages is not enough. The Spirit of God must reveal it.
How can it be: We know how baptism was administered in apostolic times and yet most remain in tradition? Who is erring? Certainly not the apostles who heard the commission from the lips of the resurrected Lord and were placed into their offices by Him. After His resurrection He was with them and taught them for forty days. The heathen church fathers still err not knowing the Lord and continue in error following traditions with no scriptural foundation. Faithful Bible believing Christians practise what the resurrected Lord commissioned and what is documented from the apostles. The early church is the only valid pattern for the dispensation of grace in the New Testament Church (Acts 2: 42).
People have always had their doubts concerning the Trinity, and the triune baptism. Can we accept that strange teachings are being declared to be biblical and biblical practice is being declared amiss? Can it remain thus, as though it originated with Christ but has no connection to Him? And did not originate with Him yet it continues to be called true Christian doctrine? Is it even called apostolic yet they had no agreement with these strange teachings? For instance the so-called »apostolic creed« or the unscriptural publication called »Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles« known as »Didache«? God only gives His approval to divine revelation and the Scriptures. Not declarations of a council or its various dogmas, being legends. From the misunderstanding of the great commission came the teaching of the three persons bringing the baptismal formula. Both are foreign to the Scriptures and practice of the apostles. The teaching of the Trinity and the triune baptism are the foundation, the pillars upon which the state church is founded. biblically speaking it is the very »mark« of the mother church and is carried also by all her daughter churches.