In the Great Commission, Yeshua tells us to go into all nations, immersing disciples, and teaching them to obey all things that He has commanded us. Most mainstream versions of the Great Commission tell us that we are to immerse His disciples “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Most versions read something like this:
Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:18-20
18 And [Yeshua] came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing [i.e., immersing] them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
This article will explain why we believe the reference to “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” was probably a later addition to the text, to accommodate the ancient pagan three-in-one-god concept known as the Trinity. We will also explain why we believe we should immerse Yeshua’s disciples in Yeshua’s name alone.
Before we begin, it is not a small thing to recommend a departure from the face value of the text, and we do not do it lightly. Because this is such a serious issue, first let us revisit the history, so we can understand the need for the change.
When the Greeks invaded the land of Israel circa 333 BCE, Greek became the lingua franca (or language of commerce) throughout the land of Israel. Then when the Romans took control of the land, Latin replaced Greek as the lingua franca, but both were widely spoken. It was perhaps like Europe today, where the educated people and the merchant class might speak a few languages in addition to their mother tongues. Yet we know Hebrew was still the mother tongue of the Hebrews (including the religious Jews), because the inscription over Yeshua’s cross (or stake) was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.
Luqa (Luke) 23:38
38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
As a priest, Josephus said he spoke Hebrew, but never did learn Greek well, because Jews do not really like to learn the languages of other nations.
I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations.
(Josephus, Antiquities, 20:11:2)
And if Josephus preferred Hebrew because he was Jewish, then it only makes sense that Yeshua’s disciples also preferred it. This may be why the early Church fathers tell us that at least the book of Matthew was written in Hebrew. For some examples:
Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able.
(Papias [circa 150-170 CE] quoted by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History, 3:39)
Origen tells us that Matthew wrote in Hebrew because he wrote it for Jewish believers (i.e., Nazarenes).
The first [Gospel] is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a tax collector, but afterwards an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah, who having published it for the Jewish believers, wrote it in Hebrew.
(Origen, circa 210 CE, quoted by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 6:25)
Jerome said he borrowed a copy of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew from the Nazarenes in the Syrian city of Borea (Berea), but that it was not known who translated it into Greek.
Matthew, who is also Levi, and from a tax collector came to be an emissary first of all evangelists composed a Gospel of Messiah in Judea in the Hebrew language and letters, for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed, who translated it into Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Furthermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Borea to copy it. In which is to be remarked that, wherever the evangelist… makes use of the testimonies of the Old Scripture, he does not follow the authority of the seventy translators [the Greek Septuagint], but that of the Hebrew.
(Jerome, circa 382 CE, Lives of Illustrious Men, 3)
However, if Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek because it was intended for Jewish audiences, then it only makes sense that the other Jewish apostles (James, Peter, John, etc.) would have written their epistles first in Hebrew or Aramaic, because those were their everyday languages. In this context, notice how Clement of Alexandria tells us that Shaul (Paul) wrote his epistle to the Hebrews in Hebrew, and that it was carefully translated by Luke, and published among the Greeks.
In the work called Hypotyposes, to sum up the matter briefly he [Clement of Alexandria] has given us abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures,… the Epistle to the Hebrews he asserts was written by Paul, to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew tongue; but that it was carefully translated by Luke, and published among the Greeks.
(Clement of Alexandria, Hypotyposes, referred to by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History, 6:14:2)
Eusebius also tells us that Shaul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews in Hebrew, and that it was later translated.
For as Paul had addressed the Hebrews in the language of his country; some say that the evangelist Luke, others that Clement, translated the epistle.
(Eusebius, circa 315 CE, Ecclesiastical History, 3:38:2-3)
Jerome says much the same thing, in different words.
“He (Paul) being a Hebrew wrote in Hebrew, that is, his own tongue and most fluently while things which were eloquently written in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek.
(Jerome, circa 382 CE, Lives of Illustrious Men, Book 5)
There are more quotes, and there is much more we could say, but it makes sense that the Jewish apostles’ letters would have been preserved in Hebrew for use by the Nazarenes, since Epiphanius tells us the Nazarenes in the fourth century were “very learned in the Hebrew language.”
“The Nazarenes do not differ in any essential thing from them [meaning the Orthodox Jews], since they practice the customs and doctrines prescribed by Jewish Law; except that they believe in Christ. They believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that the universe was created by God. They preach that God is One, and that Jesus Christ is His Son. They are very learned in the Hebrew language. They read the Law (meaning the Law of Moses)…. Therefore they differ…from the true Christians because they fulfill until now [such] Jewish rites as the circumcision, Sabbath and others.”
[Epiphanius, “Against Heresies,” Panarion 29, 7, pp. 41, 402]
Further, scholars have long noted that the Renewed Covenant makes good grammatical sense in Hebrew, but very poor grammatical sense in Greek. Nonetheless, history is written by the victors, and after Rome had driven the Nazarenes underground they began teaching the Scriptures in Latin. Latin was accepted as “the language of Scripture” in the West until the Muslims conquered Constantinople in 1453, causing the Eastern Orthodox priests to flee to Western Europe. The Eastern Orthodox priests brought their Greek texts with them, including their so-called Textus Receptus (or “Received Text”). Thus, the West came to believe that the Greek translations were the true originals. This idea was not widely challenged until the 20th century, when textual critics began pointing out that many passages made more sense if one assumed they were written in Hebrew.
There is also a version of the Renewed Covenant in Syriac Aramaic called the Peshitta (meaning “Straight” or “Simple”). Some believe the Peshitta descends from the missing first century originals. While this idea is very exciting, there are many reasons why this is doubtful. For one thing, the Syriac Aramaic of the Peshitta is not the same as the Galilean Aramaic that Yeshua and His apostles spoke. There are also many Hellenisms, or Greek words used in the text. Some believe it is a top-quality translation from Greek into Syriac Aramaic, while others believe it descends from the original manuscripts, but was later extensively altered to agree with the Greek. Either way, the Peshitta does not represent a collection of first century original letters.
Despite all this, in general we believe the Scriptures we have today are reliable. We believe this because all these texts, both eastern and western, generally agree on most points. However, there are some specific points in which these texts do not agree with each other. A whole field of study called textual criticism deals with these issues. Yet while textual criticism is fascinating, we don’t normally spend much time on it because our time here on this earth is very limited, and Yeshua has told us to use our time here on earth to raise up a unified global kingdom for Him. We must stay focused on this task, or we won’t succeed in building Yeshua’s kingdom. However, in this case we need to make an exception to policy, and spend some time studying into Matthew 28:19, because the specific wording of this command tells a true disciple what we are (and are not) supposed to do.
In textual criticism, it is taken for granted that the scribes have altered the texts. This explains why there are so many different manuscripts. The alleged goal of textual criticism is to sleuth out what the original manuscripts must have said. At least amongst the honest players, the way they do this is to compare one manuscript against another. If something exists in an older text, but not in a newer one, that is evidence that something has been taken away. Conversely, if something exists in a newer text but not in an older one, that argues that something has been added. Adding and taking away is a direct and flagrant violation of Scripture, which tell us not to add or take away from Scripture, lest we suffer a curse. Here is an example from the book of Revelation.
Hitgalut (Revelation) 22:18-19
18 “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, Elohim will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;
19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the set-apart city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
There are other prohibitions against adding or taking away, but despite these prohibitions, there is a famous example of an addition in 1 John 5:7-8, which is known as the Johannine Comma. This passage does not appear in any of the oldest Greek or Latin manuscripts, and verse 7 does not exist in the Eastern Peshitta.
Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 5:7-8 (NKJV)
7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
Protestant textual criticism tells us that this was originally a gloss (a note) written in the margins of a 4th century Latin (i.e., Catholic) manuscript. That is, it was scrawled in the margins, and then when the manuscript was later copied someone turned the scrawling in the margins into two separate verses which were then incorporated into the text. These additional verses slowly crept into other Latin manuscripts during the Middle Ages. They were then added to the Greek manuscript tradition in the 15th century. So first we have verses being added first to the Latin Catholic Scriptures, and then into the Greek Scriptures (which are used both by Eastern Catholics and Protestants). Perhaps shockingly, while Protestant scholars are aware that these verses are additions, they continue to be published in Protestant Bibles without any explanatory notes stating that they do not exist in the oldest Latin or Greek manuscripts, and that verse 7 does not exist in the Eastern Peshitta!
Let us ask ourselves, why were verses added to the Protestant Canon when Protestant scholars knew that these verses do not exist in the oldest known texts? And why are the no explanatory notes in most versions? One answer is that Satan is a master counterfeiter, and he likes to generate counterfeits. Like all counterfeiters he wants his lies to look as much like the truth as possible. So, while the Scriptures do speak of a Father, a Son, and the Spirit, the Spirit is a neuter in Hebrew, and while it has a voice, it has no body or name. Satan gives us as his counterfeit the ancient Egyptian “three-in-one” trio of Isis, Horus, and Seb, which is adored by the initials IHS in the Roman Catholic Church.
While a complete discussion of the Trinity is outside the scope of this article, what we need to see here is how it differs from the Scriptures. The Trinity states the idea of “three-gods-in-one,” which are separate-but-equal (and yet paradoxically all still one). In contrast, Scripture teaches that Elohim can manifest Himself in many ways. It never limits the number of ways Elohim can manifest Himself to three. Further, the Tanach (Older Testament) never mentions the idea of “three-gods-in-one,” as the Trinity does. (For details, see “Yeshua: Manifestation of Elohim,” in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 1.)
As we saw in Nazarene Israel, the Torah was given to Israel as a wedding contract. Whether or not we get taken as Yeshua’s bride depends on how well we obey the Torah through the gift of Yeshua’s Spirit. However, this requires maintaining the all-important 24 x 7 spiritual relationship with Yeshua. To please Yeshua we must abide in Him continuously, while Yeshua Himself abides simultaneously both in us, and in His Father. This is the essence of the salvational relationship.
Yochanan (John) 17:20-23
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
The relationship that the Catholic Church teaches is very different from this. This is because the Catholics secretly worship Isis, Horus, and Seb, even if they are not aware of it. This violates the First Commandment, not to have any other elohim (false gods) before Him.
Shemote (Exodus) 20:2-3
2 “I am Yahweh your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other elohim (gods) before Me.”
In Revelation and the End Times we saw that the Mystery Babylonian Empire is effectively an extension of the Egyptian Empire, and it serves the same false gods, just with different names. This sequence of empires has oppressed Israel for millennia and will oppress us again in the coming tribulation. (For details, see Revelation and the End Times.)
- Egypt (Ezekiel 29:1-30:26)
- Assyria and Nineveh (Nahum 3:1-19)
- Babylon (Revelation 18:2, Jeremiah 50-51)
- Medea-Persia (Daniel 8:20-22, 10:13, 11:2)
- Greece (Daniel 11:4)
- Rome (existed when Revelation was written)
- Ottoman Islamic Caliphate (1299-1922)
- A Babylonian one world order headquartered in the Middle East, with a united religion, and a renewed Islamic Caliphate.
Rome is the sixth interation of this Egyptian-Babylonian-Roman beast system. The reason Rome honors Isis, Horus, and Seb is precisely because it is part of the Egyptian-Babylonian-Roman beast. In this light, let us now consider the fact that Matthew 28:19 is the only place in Scripture where Yeshua says to immerse His disciples in three names. Here is the modified NKJV again.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:18-20 (NKJV)
18 And [Yeshua] came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
While the Catholic Church claims Matthew 28:19 and 1 John 5:7-8 give two witnesses for the Trinity, if we realize that 1 John 5:7-8 is a later addition to the text (and that it should not be there), then the Trinity argument only appears to be supported only by Matthew 28:19, making it a lone witness to the idea of a “three-in-one-god.” The problem with that is that everywhere else in Scripture, we are told to immerse Yeshua’s disciples in His name (and nothing more). This is not an exhaustive list, but for some examples, in Acts 2:38, Kepha (Peter) tells the people simply to be immersed in the name of Yeshua.
Ma’asei (Acts) 2:38
38 Then Kepha said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be immersed in the name of Yeshua Messiah for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Ruach HaQodesh [Holy Spirit].”
Acts 8:12 only mentions immersion in Yeshua’s name.
Ma’asei (Acts) 8:12
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of Elohim and the name of Yeshua Messiah, both men and women were immersed.
In Corinth, when there was a question about doctrine, the believers were only told to be immersed in Yeshua’s name.
Ma’asei (Acts) 19:3-5
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you immersed?” So they said, “Into Yochanan’s [John’s] immersion.”
4 Then Shaul said, “Yochanan indeed immersed with an immersion of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Messiah Yeshua.”
5 When they heard this, they were immersed in the name of Yahweh Yeshua.
Can we see how, in verse 5, immersion in the name of Yahweh-Yeshua (i.e., “The Lord Jesus”) alludes to the same indwelling relationship Yeshua spoke of in John 17:20-23?
In Acts 22:16 we are told to be immersed in Yahweh’s name, but we know from our other studies that Yeshua’s name contains the name of Yahweh, and therefore this is a reference to Yahweh-Yeshua (often mistranslated as “the Lord Jesus”).
Ma’asei (Acts) 22:16
16 “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be immersed, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of Yahweh.”
Another similar example exists in Acts 10:47-48, where the disciples are immersed in the name of Yahweh (which refers to Yeshua).
Ma’asei (Acts) 10:47-48
47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be immersed who have received the Set-apart Spirit just as we have?”
48 And he commanded them to be immersed in the name of Yahweh. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
In Romans 6:3, Shaul tells us only to be immersed into Messiah Yeshua. He does not mention the Father or the Spirit.
Romim (Romans) 6:3
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were immersed into Messiah Yeshua were immersed into His death?
Galatians 3:26-27 only speaks of being immersed into Messiah (Yeshua), and again alludes to the indwelling relationship Yeshua mentions in John 17:20-23.
Galatim (Galatians) 3:26-27
26 For you are all sons of Elohim through faith in Messiah Yeshua.
27 For as many of you as were immersed into Messiah have put on Messiah.
So, what should we do with this information? Scripture says that every matter is established by two or three witnesses, and that one witness is not enough.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 19:15
15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”
Matthew 28:19 is a lone witness for being immersed in three names. In contrast, we have many witnesses for being immersed in Yeshua’s name alone, and the First Commandment prohibits worshipping other elohim.
Let us also consider the works of the Church Father Eusebius. Eusebius was a Roman Catholic scholar and is called the Father of Church History. He was Bishop of Caesarea in 314 CE and was present at the Council of Nicea when the nature of the “Godhead” was being discussed, and Catholic doctrine was being established. Prior to the Council of Nicea, Eusebius quotes Matthew 28:19 some 17 times in his writings, and he never quotes the trinitarian formula. He always quotes Matthew 28:19 as, “Go and make disciples of all nations in My name.” For example:
“With one word and voice He said to His disciples: “Go, and make disciples of all nations in My Name, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”
(Proof of the Gospel by Eusebius, Book III, Chapter 6, 132 (a), page 152.)
To be complete, we should also mention that there are some existing Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew, which include the Hebrew Shem Tov. While these Hebrew Matthew manuscripts also contain Hellenisms (and are not thought to be the original manuscripts), we should note that the Shem Tov manuscript does not contain the trinitarian formula. Rather, verses 19-20 say simply:
Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:19-20
20 And (teach) them to carry out all things which I have commanded you forever.”
It is a serious thing to suggest that we deviate from the face value of Scripture, but since we only have a single witness for the trinitarian formula, while there are a great many witnesses calling for immersion in Yeshua’s name alone, we conclude that we should be immersed in Yeshua’s name alone.
A complete study on immersion is outside the scope of this article, but if you have been immersed in the names of “the Father, the Son, and the Spirit,” Nazarene Israel recommends re-immersion in Yeshua’s name alone. We also recommend that during the immersion you ask Yahweh to take away all unclean demons and spirits, such as the Trinity, Isis, Horus, and Seb (and all other unclean demons).
Frequently Asked Questions:
In Christian thought, immersion is a one-time event. This reflects the reality that we only need to immerse into Yeshua’s body one time (assuming we are immersed into Yeshua’s name, and no other names). However, in Hebraic thought, immersion is a regular event. It takes place after repentance, or before an anointing is given. Ideally, we want to use living water, which probably refers to water that is clean enough to sustain life. It does not necessarily need to be running, as historically a slow spring or other pool (or even a tub) could be used. If no natural source of water is available (such as a spring, a river, or a lake), some people believe that a bathtub or a swimming pool can also serve, so long as one is able to submerge completely into the water, symbolic of burying the old man of sin.
Traditionally, Hebrews wash their bodies and clothing to prepare for the Sabbath and festivals. Any time we want to approach Elohim or gather together with His people it is appropriate to wash and put on clean clothes. Yet, there is something special about immersion into Yeshua, because it symbolizes a special kind of repentance, death, and rebirth.
Yochanan (John) 3:5
5 Yeshua answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of Elohim.”
Immersion is only a ritual, but there is power in rituals. Yeshua was immersed by Yochanan HaMatbil (John the Immerser) prior to beginning his ministry, because it was fitting to fulfill all righteousness.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 3:13-15
13 Then Yeshua came from Galilee to Yochanan at the Jordan to be immersed by him.
14 And Yochanan tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be immersed by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Yeshua answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
After we emerge from the water we need to remember to ask for Yeshua’s Spirit, and we need to keep praying until He sends it, as immersion without receiving the gift of the Spirit symbolizes being buried in death, and we need to receive the spiritual life. One thing we need to know about the gift of the Spirit is that we must invite it in continually, or it won’t stay. If we invite the Spirit in at first, but then stop inviting it, the Spirit will feel it is no longer welcome, and it will go until we welcome it back in again. This is what it means not to “quench” the Spirit.
Thessaloniquim Aleph (1 Thessalonians) 5:19
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
Those who receive the gift of the Spirit and then give control of their lives over to the Spirit will know it when they receive it, because it will bring an unmistakable sense of peace. After they become filled with His Spirit, they will become very eager to help build Yeshua’s body globally, and locally. This is because Yeshua’s Spirit is building His body, and therefore anyone who is moved by Yeshua’s Spirit will be eager to build His body.
Sometimes people physically wash in water, but they do not lay down their lives to help build Yeshua’s global body. This claims the name of Yeshua, but unless there is a fundamental change in our lives and our behavior it is immersion in name only, and it does no good. There must be a radical change of heart in favor of serving Yeshua, or the indwelling relationship is not begun, and no life-giving two-way relationship with the body can be established.
A complete discussion of immersion will have to wait for another time, but we can know when we are filled with Yeshua’s Spirit, because we want to find the place in the body where we make our best contribution. Because of this, while we technically immerse (wash) ourselves, it can be helpful to have a deacon or elder guide us in the process and serve as our witness. If there is no qualified Nazarene Israel elder or deacon in your area, you can call heaven and earth as witnesses to your immersion and this can work, so long as you then get into right relationship with the body, which establishes a two-way life-giving connection. Without this two-way life-giving connection, we are not helping to build Yeshua’s global body.
We hope this article helps explain why Nazarene Israel believes we should be immersed in Yeshua’s name alone, and what to do if we have been immersed in the trinitarian names. We also hope it provides some useful information for those who want to receive the indwelling of Yeshua’s Spirit, and why Yeshua’s Spirit will lead them to want to help build Yeshua’s body globally.