So I was asked if the trinity is the Matthew 28:19, the phrase “the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” In order to answer that question, a word needs defining. What is “the trinity?”
Simply put, the trinity is the doctrine that there is one God made up of three distinct persons, those being the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each person is called “God” and has the full nature and attributes of divinity, yet there is only one God.
No, I’m not gonna use this article to call out the contradiction. I just want to make a simple point about the verse.
When I did my studies into the trinity, I came across a certain habit amongst trinitarians. They would find places in the new testament (and sometimes the Jewish Bible), simply find a place where all three seem to be named or mentioned, and claim that as proof of the trinity, as if proximity of the names in a verse proved the trinity. Unfortunately, they miss key elements of the trinity doctrine.
In order for a verse to prove the trinity, it has to comport with the definition of the doctrine. The doctrine is not simply that there are three persons. So simply naming all three in one verse or in a number of verses doesn’t meet the standard. Simply saying “The son beat and kicked the spirit out of his father” doesn’t make one a trinitarian any more than saying “the father, through his spirit, taught me about the son.” Again, simply naming all three is not enough because that is not the trinity doctrine, nor is it an important part of it.
In order for a verse or passage to prove the trinity, it must claim, at very least, that the three make up the one God. Does Matthew 28:19 overtly do this? No. It makes no statement whatsoever about the relationship between the father, son and holy spirit. It says nothing about them making up the one God. All the verse says is “in the name of the father, son and holy spirit.” Nothing more, and nothing less. That is not the trinity.
I know. It says “the name” in the singular. But here’s a question. In Genesis 48:16, Jacob talks about the “name” – singular – of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac. Does that make Abraham and Isaac duality of some kind, the way “the father, son and spirit” are meant to be a trinity? Merely because the word, “name,” is in the singular? The answer is no!
So, to be as clear as I can, the trinity is not in Matthew 28:19 because key elements of the doctrine are not there. It does not say the three make up one God. I know people try to interpret it like that, but there’s a difference between facts and opinion. The fact is what the text says, and the interpretation is the opinion. Blurring the lines between fact and opinion is the recipe for just making the “bible” into your own mental image. The text, the fact, says nothing about “three-in-one-God.” I don’t really care about the self-contradictory opinion.