What about God
What about Salvation
What about the Bible
Michael Servetus
About Me
Site Map


The Conclusion of Matthew

by Hans Kosmala

It should be noted,  Kosmala uses a good deal of Greek and Hebrew. I will try to translate 
it as often as possible. The Hebrew and Greek fonts on my computer (as well as my knowledge 
of the two)  do not seem to match up well with all the letters and accents needed. 


The conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew is the only passage in the whole New Testament which contains the Trinitarian baptism formula. There is not a single manuscript which does not have it. The wording of the conclusion, 28:18b-20 is as follows:

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." 1)

A few manuscripts have some minor variants noted in the critical editions of the text, but they are of no importance to us here.

Because all manuscripts agree with each other on the inclusion of the baptism formula no doubts were ever raised about the originality of this formula until the 19th century 2 ). The attitude of the NT scholars of our day can be briefly summed up as follows: all scholars acknowledge that the manuscript tradition is unanimous about the inclusion of the Trinitarian baptism formula. Some of them, however, infer that the traditional text must be accepted as it is, as we have no other text, and that the matter must, therefore, rest until we find a manuscript of the Gospel without the Trinitarian formula. This may probably not be their considered opinion, but leaving the problem alone is a way out of the dilemma. Other scholars, though also admitting the manuscript evidence, would nonetheless say that the formula is late, because it can in no way be corroborated from the rest of the NT tradition.

To their support came the discovery that Eusebius in a number of his writings quotes a text which has no baptism formula at all. Instead of it (omitting verse 19b from "baptizing to Spirit") he continues the text of 19a after nation with the words in my name, so that the line reads: "go out make all nations disciples in my name." This variant reading will be found in the critical apparatus of NESTLE'S and KIRKPATRICK'S editions.


It is now over sixty years ago that F. C. CONYBEARE published a survey of all quotations of Matthew 28:19 in the writings of Eusebius 3 ). There are no less than 17 attestations of the reading "in my name" to the exclusion of the words "baptizing... Spirit." Two further passages are favorable to it, whilst one is doubtful; apart from these there are also some neutral passages where the citation extends only as far as the words "the nations." CONYBEARE found that all the passages with "in my name" occur in the ante-nicene writings. There are three passages in the works of Eusebius in which the textus receptus of Mt 28:19 is quoted, but all of these belong to the last period of his literary activity which fell after the Council of Nicea. This is certainly a remarkable observation, and it looks as if texts with the shorter version of 28:19b still existed round about 300 A.D. But then Eusebius would be our only witness, perhaps with one or two exceptions 4 ). Some scholars, therefore, reject this testimony, although none of them can disprove it; they merely state that Eusebius made for himself a shorter text --like RIGGENBACH and ZAHN 5 )- or that "the shorter text of Eusebius can hardly be considered original", as Otto MICHEAL says --6 ), though he does not tell us why. He admits, however, that it is very difficult to explain the sequence of the participles "baptizing" and "teaching", for the order should be the same as the Did. 7.1: "But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water."  Etc., i.e., the teaching should precede the baptism. On the whole it must be said that the arguments brought forth against the shorter version are without exception extremely weak.

[Editors note: The reason for the reference here, is that it states, "having first recited all these things," with all these things being the previous 6 chapters of teaching, then baptize! Interestingly, in 9:5 of the Didache we find "But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs."  Dates on the Didache range from 65-100 A.D. RDH]


The problem with which we have to deal is not only a simple textual problem, for the theology of the Church is here involved. The passage is the standard text, accepted at least since the council of Nicea, for one of the most important institutions of the Church and has become dear to all Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. On the other hand, we cannot expect ever to solve this problem, if we uncritically insist on the correctness of the traditional text without seriously investigating into the other possibilities offered to us.

We propose, therefore, to explore once more the historical position of the problem and find out first whether the textus receptus can be historically justified. We will, then, try to tackle the problem, so to speak, from the other end, setting out from the assumption that the Eusebian text is the original conclusion of the Gospel. It is quite permissible and even legitimate to take this assumption as a working hypothesis. We can, then, ask ourselves whether it is a possible and satisfactory text and whether it agrees with the concept and the purport of the Gospel. Would the Gospel suffer any loss by the substitution of the shorter conclusion or would this conclusion perhaps bring out the Gospel's message even more clearly?

We have already pointed out that the whole tradition of the New Testament concerning baptism stands against the textus receptus of Matthew's conclusion. This fact is very well known among NT scholars. Nevertheless a brief recapitulation of the historical situation as recorded in the NT will be helpful in our investigation.


It was John the Baptist who introduced the "baptism of repentance" (Mt. 3,11; Mk. 1,4; Lk. 3.3; Acts 13,24; 19,4; Mark and Luke have in addition: "for the remission of sins"). Even Jesus baptized with this baptism (Mt.3:13ff.) "to fulfill all righteousness" 7 ). Jesus himself "baptized with the baptism of John" those who followed him (Lk.7:29f; John 3:22; 4:1;according to 4:2 Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples did it in his place).

At an early stage, however, evidently not long after Jesus' death and resurrection, the baptism of John was replaced by the "baptism in the name of Jesus Christ." 8 ) Rom. 6:3-5 gives us a full explanation of the meaning of this "baptism into Christ Jesus": it is a "baptism into his death", being a symbol of the "newness of life" now here on earth and, implicitly, in the resurrection (cf. also verses 8f. and 22f.; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21). But the main element in John's baptism of repentance was by no means lost in the new baptism (Rom. 6:6-23): we are dead to the old life of sin from which we are freed, and the end is eternal life (22f.). Although repentance still remained the indispensable condition of baptism (Acts 2:38) and the new life (numerous passages) 9 ), John's "baptism of repentance" had now become insufficient, for the present Karios which had come to a climax required a new baptism, namely that "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:1-7; cf. Also 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48; 19:5; Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 1:13-17 implies baptism in the name of Jesus Christ; Did. 9:5).

The New Testament records know only of two kinds of baptism, the baptism of John the Baptist and the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ which replaced the former.

The "Way" which Jesus had taught his disciples in the time of the end began to lose its urgency and its meaning when the End delayed its coming. A new era set in requiring new thought, a new orientation of the Church and its teaching. The Kingdom of God failed to appear. No explanation of the delay was given or could be given. The leaders of the Church could only from time to time affirm the promise that the "day of the Lord" would finally come (2 Peter 3; 1 Clem. 23; 2 Clem. 11). But as decade after decade passed by and nothing happened, the delay of the Kingdom had at last seriously to be taken into account. It was then that the Church itself as the unique Heilsanstalt (the only divine institute of salvation) with its means of grace began to fill the vacuum step by step and to assume the place of the Kingdom of God so far as its earthly aspects were concerned. The rest had to wait till the coming of the Lord in his glory, but even that was occasionally lost sight of.

Jesus who had shown the Way of God was assigned a definite place as the second person of the Trinity. After that step it was only natural that the baptism in his name which was preeminently a baptism into his death could no longer adequately express the present status of Christ who was now sitting at the right hand of God for all eternity. Neither did it express the faith of the Church of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There was a need for the full recognition and expression of that faith in a Trinitarian baptism formula since baptism had become the symbol of admission to the Church

It cannot be our task here to demonstrate this development in detail and to show the gradual shift of emphasis in the baptism ritual from John's baptism of repentance to the baptism in the name of the triune Godhead. May it suffice to say that this development did take place, though not yet during the time of the New Testament writings, as no trace of a Trinitarian baptism formula can be discovered in any part of the New Testament.

On the other hand it must be stated at once that the faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it found expression later in the Creed of the Church has its roots in the New Testament 10). We find the three divine manifestations clearly stated in an epistolary salutation (2 Cor. 13:14), which means that the belief in the three hypostases of God had already established itself at that time in a formula. The other passages-- we omit those which mention only two persons, such as 1 Cor. 2:10-12 (God, the Spirit), 1 Cor. 8:6 (God, Jesus), and Acts 19:5f. (Jesus, the Spirit)-- 1 Cor. 12:2-6, Eph. 3:14-21, and 4:4-6 show how the need for this teaching about three divine powers arose as a result of the early Christian mission among the Gentiles (cf. 1 Cor. 12:2; Eph. 2:11f.; 3:2; 4:17).

At the beginning, however, so long as the Gospel was preached to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, there was no need to proclaim the triune Godhead. The Jews knew and believed in God, their Father in Heaven; they also knew of the Holy Spirit who, emanating from God, had inspired the prophets. What the apostles announced was the end of the days, the advent of the Kingdom of God, through the Messiah. The God of Israel had his personal name; it was YHWH. But the name of the Messiah was not known. Now the Messiah had come. His name was Jesus. He lived, he worked through the Holy Spirit which was in him, he died, he was resurrected by God, his Father, he left his spiritual power to his apostles and would soon reappear in his glory. We must not wonder, therefore, that in the centre of the earliest Christian message to the house of Israel was not God (the Father) and the Holy Spirit, although both had their definite functions, but "the name Jesus", Jesus as Christ.


It is, therefore, not surprising that in the early stages of the spreading of the gospel we find only the expression το όνομα 'Ιησου̃ (or with the prepositions διά, είς, έν, ένεχεν, έπί) in all vital connections. The following list is by no means complete:

The name of Jesus is spread abroad (Mk. 6:16); Christ is being preached where his name is not named (Rom. 15:19f.); one cannot name his name unless one departs from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19); the apostles speak, preach, and teach in his name (Acts 4:17f.; 5:28, 40; 9:27, 29) or about his name (8:12); one prays (John 14:13, 14; 16:23, 24, 26), one thanks God in his name (Eph. 5:29; Col. 3:17), one calls upon his name (Acts 9:15; 1 Cor. 1:2); one drives out evil spirits (Mk. 9:28; 16:17; Luke 10:17; Acts 16:18), heals diseases (Acts 3:6, 16; 4:7, 10), and does signs and wonders in his name (4:30); one gives judgement in his name (1 Cor. 5:3-5) and exhorts by his name (1 Cor. 1:10); one suffers, is reproached, and hazards one's life for his name (Acts 5:41; 9:14,1 16; 15,26; 1 Peter 4:14); one must believe in his name (John 1:12; 2:23; 3:18; 1 John 3:23; 5:13; Acts 19:13); his name must be magnified (19:17) and glorified in us (2 Thes. 1:12), every knee should bow at his name (Phil. 2:10), for his name is above every name (2:9). In fact, everything one does in word and deed should be done in his (Col. 3:17; c.f.e.g. Mk. 9:41). It goes without saying that one has remission of sins through his name (Luke 24:47; Acts 10:43; 1 John 2:12), is justified in his name (1 Cor. 6:11) and has life through his name (John 20:31); there is no other name whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Naturally, in those times, baptism was also performed in the name of Jesus Christ (see above IV). No such baptism, however, is recorded in the gospels; they only speak of the baptism of John or the baptism of repentance. With other words, they are a record of the earliest stage of evangelism during the life of Christ. This makes it very difficult for us to accept the Trinitarian baptismal formula as an original part of the Gospel of Matthew. The gospels were written as straightforward records of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus with the ensuing charge to the disciples to bring Christ's message to all the nations. This exactly, and no more, Luke has pointed out at the end of his gospel (24:46-48) as quintessence of his record. No baptism is mentioned, though it may, however, be assumed that baptism accompanied the acceptance of the gospel as its visible demonstration. Even the spurious ending of Mark stresses the charge in the simplest possible words (16:15). It mentions in the following verse a baptism which supplement the acceptance of the gospel, but it does not say in whose name the believer should be baptized. One might expect a baptism in the name of Jesus, for verse 17 at once continues recounting the deeds which the disciples will do "in my name."

The reason for the later inclusion of the Trinitarian baptismal formula in the final verses of Matthew may be a very simple one. Matthew became the favorite gospel in the Greek Church. It was put to an extensive liturgical use, as research of the past few decades has shown. No gospel lent itself so readily for any additions which the Church felt obliged to make than the Gospel of Matthew 11). This would also explain why the Trinitarian and not any other baptism formula was inserted, for baptism "in the name of Jesus" was by that time no longer in use.


The foregoing does not, of course, intend to be a "scientific" proof that the original Gospel of Matthew did not contain the Trinitarian baptism formula. Nobody can "prove" this at the present stage. We can only demonstrate that it is highly unlikely that it was originally there.

We will now turn to the Eusebian text, and will assume that it represents the original text. What happens to the conclusion of Matthew itself? As Eusebius' four words replace the whole passage on baptism with the Trinitarian formula, the conclusion of the Gospel would have no reference to baptism whatsoever, like the ending of Luke, or of Mark excluding the additional verses 9-20. The omission of such a reference would be no particular loss to the Church as the Trinitarian baptismal formula has been so well established in tradition of the Church itself, at least since Nicea, that even Eusebius himself adopted it in the latter part of his life.

The older Eusebian version enables us to divide the conclusion of Matthew into four natural lines (which we cannot do with the traditional conclusion). It reads as follows:

All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth

Go make all nations disciples in my name,

Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

And behold, I am with you all the days till the consummation of the aeon.

We see the passage is now no longer a prose text like the traditional text, but a hymnic piece. The traditional conclusion is, even as a prose text, comparatively "heavy"; its syntax is awkward and as Otto Michael has remarked we miss some logical order. The Eusebian conclusion has a definitely poetical and almost elegant form. It is a self-contained unit of four lines. It is well balanced in its structure and the lines follow one after the other in a logical sequence; this cannot be said of the traditional conclusion. The poem is not a Greek poem; that means we cannot scan the lines as we scan Greek poetry. It is Semitic in the structure of its contents. In its Greek garb it is most likely a translation from Hebrew; after all, it is meant to be a saying of Jesus. It would, however, be futile to translate it back into Hebrew, as we do not know whether the Greek translation is literal or whether it is merely a paraphrase. Nevertheless, the progressive structure of the whole and the interrelationship between the four lines is obvious. It is the same as in all well-constructed Hebrew poetry 12).

The following translation of the quatrain with which the Gospel (according to Eusebius) ends will show the structure of the poem a little more clearly:

A)        All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth

B        1) Go make all nations disciples in my name,

          2) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

C)        And behold, I am with you all the days till the consummation of the aeon.

Jesus has risen to universal power. This is stated in line A: he is in full authority. The line repeats the statement made in Mat. 11:27; "Everything has been delivered (παρεδσθη) to me by my Father". This is followed, in verses 28-30, by request to his disciples to accept him and his message which comes from the Father and to learn from him in becoming his disciples and followers (μάθετε άπ̉ έμον̃) in order to find rest for their souls.

At the end of the Gospel his disciples are asked to transmit this message to the nations of the world. The commission is given in the two middle lines, B 1 and 2. It should be noted that the two lines belong together, but they are by no means identical as would appear from the translations which render the two different verbs, μαθητευσατε and διδάσκοντεζ, by one and the same verb (A.V. : "teach"; Luther : "lehret"). The two clauses mean two different things. B 1 : make them disciples in my name (μαθητευσατε ... έν τω̃ όνόματι̉ μον), that is, make them my disciples, disciples bearing my name with everything that is implied in it, namely, following the master and learning from his life (Mat. 11:29). Line B 2 tells them that this end must be achieved by instructing them to observe, to carry out in their lives everything that Jesus had commanded them. Line C reassures the disciples : they need not be afraid to fulfill this task, for Jesus himself, ever present, will be with them until the end of the aeon. Whilst the two lines B are running parallel to each other (synthetic parallelism !), lines A and C, the first and the last of the poem, separated by the two middle lines, are also clearly related to each other, but in a different way. The statement in the last line is entirely dependent on the statement contained in the first line ; both lines enclose the charge. The structure of the four-lined stanza is thus in perfect old Hebrew style (see the article mentioned in note 12). It is by no means surprising that the Gospel of Matthew should end with a poetic piece. The conclusion is evidently a very important, perhaps the most important concern of the Gospel, and it is quite natural that it should be given in a suitable poetic form. It could hardly have been done more impressively.


Jesus, and Jesus alone, is in the centre of this conclusion which-- this should be kept in mind-- does not stand by itself like an additional artistic ornament, but as the vital inference from the whole gospel. It must, therefore, somehow bring out or stress once more what had been in the mind of the author or editor of the Gospel. Jesus is endowed with immerse power ; his name, in the words of an old and most likely pre-Pauline hymn, has been raised "above all names" "in heaven and on earth" (Phil. 2:9-11 ; Heb. 1:4 also points this out emphatically).

The έξονσία [power] and the όνομα [name] of Jesus which are beyond the έξονσία and the όνομα of any other being in the universe (except God himself who has given them to him) are the two characteristic words in Matthew's conclusion. Looking back from here to the preceding narrative of Matthew we realize that the same two words, έξονσία and the όνομα, are decisive for the whole presentation of Jesus in Matthew. And both are intimately linked up with each other, for the name alone of Jesus would not mean much if it were not for the power with which this name, that is Jesus himself, was endowed by God.

Jesus taught as one who had έξονσία, not like the scribes (Mat. 7:29 ; cf. Mark 1:22, 27a ; Luke 4:32). The έξονσία which Jesus possessed had nothing to do with any worldly power, although he lived and acted in this world ; it was the divine power (δυ̉ναμις) which dwelled within him (cf. Col. 1:19 and 2:9). Luke, both in his Gospel (for instance 4:36 and 24:49) and with regard to the disciples in Acts (1:8; 3:12f.; 4:7 etc.) stresses this fact very clearly. Matthew and Mark (cf. also 5:30) are likewise cognizant of it, but in both of these two Gospels it shows itself more in the δυνάμεις which Jesus did on earth 13), whilst the full investment with God's δύναμις is reserved for the time when the Kingdom comes (Mat. 24:30 and parallels ; Mark 9:1). John does not use the word δύναμις at all ; he speaks only of the έξουσία of Jesus, but he implies that it is of divine origin.

As Jesus had the power to heal the sick he also had the authority to forgive sins on earth (9:6 ; also Mark 2:10 ; Luke 5:24). That power, the people confessed, could only be given to him by God (Mt. 9:8). While people realized at once whence this power came to him, the chief priest and the elders pretended not to know. When they asked him about it, he gave them no answer (MT. 21:23-29 ; Mk. 11:27-33 ; Lk. 20:1-8).

Because Jesus possessed the power to drive out evil spirits (cf. Mt. 12:24 ; Lk. 4:36) and heal the sick he could transfer it also to his disciples (Mt. 10:1 ; cf. Mk. 3:15 ; 6:7 ; Lk. 9:1 ; cf. further the transference of other powers in Lk. 10:19 ; Mk. 16:18) ; and they did signs in the name of Jesus (Mk. 16:17f. ; cf. Mt. 7:22). Later the disciples were asked by the Jewish leaders in what power (δύναμις) and in what name they did this and they answered, "in the name of Jesus Christ", "in him" they worked this deed (Acts 4:7-10).


We have already seen that the early Christian mission consisted in the preaching of the "name of Jesus (Christ)". Everything was done in his name, through his name, for (the sake of) his name, etc. The conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew reflects this fact very well, for which there is also sufficient evidence in the Gospel itself. As we have so far omitted examples of this evidence in Matthew, we add another list. We must not expect to find here all the examples we culled from the other writings of the New Testament. Matthew's Gospel which is certainly not the oldest document of the New Testament can rightly presuppose all that was said in the earlier tradition about the "name of Jesus", but Matthew adds some remarkable passages underlining the importance of the new beginning in his name.

Matthew describes the name-giving and its significance in greater detail than the other evangelist (Mt. 1:21-25 ; there are only two brief remarks in Luke 1:31 and 2:21 ; there is nothing at all in Mark). Any gathering together, however small, must be done in the name of Jesus and he will be present (Mt. 18:20 ; no parallels). On the occasion of the quarrel of the disciples, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus likens the greatest to a humble child. Without that humbleness man cannot even enter into the kingdom ; but whosoever receives one such child "in my name receives me" (Mt. 18:1-6 ; Mk. 9:33-37 ; Lk. 9:46-48). In Mark (10:29) and Luke (18:29) Jesus requires man to leave everything, house, family, and relatives for his and the gospel's sake (Mark) or for the sake of the Kingdom of God (Luke); only Matthew's wording is: "for my name's sake" (19:29). As God demanded Abraham to leave his past life behind (Gen. 12:1-3) so also he who enters into the new life "in the name of Jesus" must give up what was dear to him.

When Jesus sent out his disciples for the first time (to the lost sheep of the house of Israel) he warned them against the things that will await them : they "will be hated by all for his name's sake" (Mat. 10:22 ; not in Mark and Luke). The same admonition is repeated in one of the last speeches to the disciples concerning the tribulations of the end (Mat. 24:9). The parallel texts (Mk. 13:13; Lk. 21:12-17) have the same wording as Mat. 10:22, whilst Matthew puts it here in a slightly different form : you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake". The conclusion of Matthew shows that this is not a chance alteration. The nations which are to be taught "in his name" (cf. also 24:14!= Mk. 13:10) will hate and persecute them "for his name's sake".

All synoptics warn of against the false Messiahs who will rise in Jesus' name in the time of the end (Mt. 24:5 ; Mk. 13:6 ; Lk. 21:8), but Matthew alone speaks of those who, though not pretending to be Christ, do signs in his name, but do not the will of the Father (7:21-23 ; with a distant parallel in Lk. 6:46).


We come now to the last and perhaps most interesting passage, Mat. 12:18-21. It is important not only for the conclusion of the Gospel, that is, the Eusebius conclusion, but also vice versa, the conclusion sheds new light on the version of this text. It is a quotation from Is. 42:1-4, and it must be noted that it is unique to Matthew. It is not the LXX version 14); it is closer to the MT, especially in verse 18, on the other hand it deviates in a few instances from both the MT and the more literal translation of the LXX; it also omits the whole of Is. 42:4a (to the atnach). A study of the differences between the three versions would be rewarding, but they do not concern us here with one exception which is important to us. It is the last line which, in this case, is practically identical with the LXX version ; καί (LXX : + έπί) τω̃ όνόματι αύτου̃ έ̉θνη έλπιου̃σιν, whilst the MT has : ולחײ םײא זתךזתלז. Some scholars have suggested that the LXX translation as it has come down to us is due to the error of a scribe who found in his Vorlage the correct translation ТЩНΟΜΩ but made a visual mistake and wrote ΤΩΟΝΟΜΑΤΙ. This error, these scholars argue, was perpetuated by subsequent copyist and was taken over by the NT writers who also left out the preposition έπί which had become redundant.

It is, however, hardly believable that the "correct" rendering τω̃ νόμω̃ should have been entirely lost during the LXX transmission, also that the synoptic writers should have simply copied just this "error" when they otherwise did not follow the LXX (note also the additions of the LXX in Is. 42:1 ; had the gospel writers adopted here the LXX rendering, they would have spoiled the object of their quotation completely).

Wherever the NT version of Is. 42:4b came from, it must be admitted that it is the only wording of the line which makes sense in connection with the preceding verse 12:14-17. It serves as a biblical support (verse 17) for Jesus' request in verse 16. He had healed many people and he charged them not to make him known , with other words, his name and renown must remain unknown for the time being. We must not forget here that the name of a person is of course not just a name in the modern sense; the name designates the person himself. In particular, knowing and uttering the name of God (or of any divine power) assures, according to the Biblical (OT and NT) conception, his presence (for help, as a witness, etc.) just as doing something in that name invokes his presence and assistance.

This helps us to understand the meaning of the last line of the quotation. It must be translated as follows: "and to his name the nations shall look forward" (wait for, await, set one's hope on). The nations desire, and hope for, his coming, they wait for the revelation of his name, that is, his person and his authority. This is also exactly what the context of Matthew requires in order to make sense.

The Greek translation would go back to a Hebrew line: םײא זמשלז זלחײ. [with no knowledge of Hebrew, I did my best to duplicate the letters] This line would also underlie the LXX translation. However, no such text has come down to us in Hebrew3/4 but this would by no means be final proof against the possibility that such a Hebrew text with semo instead of torato once existed. Such a text is not only quite possible, but, as we shall see, it makes good logical sense even in the original context of the Servants songs 15).

We should like to make one or two further observations on the MT text of Is. 42:1-4 16). The word we might expect in the last line of this Servant song is mispato. Instead we find torato. The mispat which the Servant will bring about is mentioned twice before, not torah. Mispat is the justice to be actualized and made effective by the Servant. This is what the nations are waiting for: the realization of justice on earth, not just another revelation of Tora like that of Moses on Mount Sinai which probably was the idea behind the plural torotaw of the Isaiah MS found in Qumran. The word torah is here well chosen, since the Servant is the mediator and dispenser of God's Torah which is the basis of the Mishpat to be established on earth. The role ascribed to the Servant in Is. 49:1-6, although he still remains hidden (verse 2), is far too active (verse 6b) than that he should be a mere law-giver only. We are mentioning this point to show that at the early stage some though must have been given to this object of hope for the nations.

Another and perhaps more noteworthy point in this little poem (42:1-4) is that it gives us a picture of the person of the Servant himself. It tells us what sort of a man he is. What he will be doing, is also declared in two very short lines: he will bring forth mispat to the nations, and he will bring it forth in truth. But one question over which we are kept in suspense still remains to be answered : Who is he? Or who will he be? His name has not been revealed, his person is not known. Is he already there, but still hidden? There is this mystery about the Servant of the Lord, and it is intended to be and to remain a mystery, at least for the present time, by the author of the Servant songs himself (49:2): God is hiding him until the time for his revelation has come.

The nations are not only waiting for the Servant, they must remain waiting until he is revealed. A line which had lismo is therefore as much to the point in this poem on the Servant as the line of the traditional MT with letorato.

How does this apply to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew? Jesus did not want to be made known ; the time of his final revelation had not yet come. The author of the Gospel understood this very well. He also understood the mystery about the Servant in the ancient songs of Isaiah. He saw the inner resemblance. It is only in the last four lines of the Gospel that we hear that the full message of Jesus should now be spread : all nations should be made disciples and taught in his name. The message contains after all also a teaching, a new Torah in the prophetic sense which must be observed, a new Mishpat which must be established.

In the Eusebian conclusion of the Gospel the quotation from Isaiah is remarkably well fulfilled, and vice versa, it is this same conclusion which would also justify a Hebrew version: welismo 'iyyim (=έθνη) yeyahelu. Although the word uletorato of the MT does not appear in this line, the idea it stands for is de facto taken into account. With other words, the two versions of Is. 42:4b are very close to each other.


Summarizing the foregoing observations we may say that there are many points in favor of the Eusebian conclusion of Matthew, far more than for the traditional conclusion.

The "name of Jesus" stands in the centre of early Christian preaching and it would be surprising if Matthew's Gospel would take so little notice of this important fact as to immerse it completely in the traditional baptism formula. We have seen that this formula is late beyond any doubt and this alone makes its appearance at so early a stage a historical impossibility. The only explanation we can give is that it has been inserted here by the later Church, because it needed it in that Gospel which was the most widely used in its liturgy. This statement cannot be scientifically proved, because we have no other text tradition than that of the Church. It can only be corroborated from the records outside this textus receptus of the ending of Matthew. In making this insertion the Church was in its own rights, for it was its own Gospel. But even though the Church took this liberty, the faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit was not a late invention of the Church, for it was already contained in nuce in the New Testament itself, only that it was not yet expressed in a baptismal formula.

The historical evidence derived from the writings of the New Testament is that baptism in the earliest Christian Church was performed "in the name of Jesus (Christ)" as a baptism of repentance. On the other hand it was not the most important concern of those who taught. Jesus himself, as far as we are informed, did not baptize; this was done by his disciples. Paul only baptized a few (1 Cor. 1:13-16), but expressly declared that Christ had not sent him to baptize but to preach the gospel. It appears that Paul fulfilled the last commission of his Lord in accordance with the conclusion as preserved by Eusebius.

The Eusebian conclusion confirms the object of the Gospel, namely, to give an account of the person of Jesus, of his name and his authority, and of his message to the world. In fact, no conclusion could serve this purpose better. The personality of Jesus stands in the middle of both the narrative of the Gospel and its conclusion. It is also through this conclusion that all statements in the Gospel about the name and the authority of Jesus appear in a clearer and brighter light.


We are fortunate in having a short commentary on the last verses of Matthew by Eusebius himself in his de Theophania (V, 46) 17). In concluding our own observations we can hardly do better than to quote an extract from it. The text to which it refers is the shorter one. Eusebius would not have had the courage to write these comments if this text had not been the recognized conclusion of Matthew at the time of his writing but some text he had prepared himself. He says:

"But he who used nothing human or mortal, see how in truth he again conceded the oracle of God, in the word which he spoke to his disciples, the weak ones, saying, Go ye and make disciples of all the people... These things then (scil. how can we do this? how preach to the Romans, etc.) the disciples of our Saviour would either have said or thought: so by a simple addition of a word, he resolved the sum of those things of which they doubted, the sum of them he committed to them in that he said, ye conquer in my name. For it was not that he ordered them simply and without discriminating, to go and make disciples of all the peoples, but with the important addition, that he said in my name. For because of the power of his name did all this come about, even as the Apostle said, god has given him a name more excellent than all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, which is in heaven and in earth and under the earth..."



1 ) In Kosmala's text this is rendered in Greek. I, (RDH) will render the Greek in English when possible and [italics] as found
    in the KJV unless otherwise specified. (all other footnotes are by Kosmala)

2 ) I cannot say who was the first to raise doubts about the originality of the textus receptus.

3 ) F. C. CONYBEARE, "The Eusebian Form of the Text of Matthew 28:19" ZNW 2, 1901, 275-288

4 ) F. C. CONYBEARE quotes two earlier writers who appear to know of the shorter text: Justin Martyr, Trypho 39; and Herms 9, 17, 4.

5 ) Quoted by Erich KLOSTERMANN, Das Mattauserangelium, 1927, 232

6 ) Otto MICHAEL, "Der Abschlub des Matthausevangeliums", Eth 10, 1950-51, 16-25 (S. 23f.).

7 ) The meaning of "righteousness" here and in some other places of the NT where it is still a pre-Christian concept will be discussed in a future study in this Annual. (From the Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute, IV, 1965)8

8 ) We cannot enter here into a discussion on the difference between these formulas, as this lies outside the scope of this discussion.

9 ) This seems to be valid also for the Didache as J. -P. AUDET, La Didache, 1958, p.366 has shown.

10) See HAHN-HARNACK, Symbole und Glaubensregeln der alten Kirche, 1897, p. 369.

11) The Trinitarian baptismal formula is by no means the only one. [see also Matt. 6:13b]

12) See "Form and Structure in Ancient Hebrew Poetry", Studies, Essays, and Reviews, Vol.1 Kosmala, 1978, 112ff.

13) Δυνάμεις = geburot is a typical word for the wonderful deeds of God; very common in the literature of Qumran.

14) Like that of Is. 40:3 in Mt. 3:3 (and parallels); see "Form and Structure" in VT XIV (4) 1964, p. 441.

15) We shall have to reckon with the possibility that other Hebrew texts existed before the redaction of the MT. In some cases the    
     Hebrew  underlying the LXX translation may have a right to at least of co-existence beside the MT, and it very may very well be that 
     it represents the older and "original" text. We have shown this for Is. 40:3 (see note 14). It is easy to shun these textual problems      
      simply by saying, the variant readings have been introduced by the early Christian authors in their own writings (and made the    
      necessary "corrections" also in the LXX) in order to make the text fit their purpose.

16) The structure of this little poem (Is. 42:1-4) will be discussed on the continuation of the article on "Form and Structure in Ancient  
       Hebrew Poetry" (See note 12) also published in VT XVI, 1966.

17) Preserved only in Syriac, text edited by Samuel Lee, London 1842. English translation by the same, Cambridge 1843. The 
     quotation is taken from Conybeare.

Additional bibliographical notes

Herman WAETJEN draws my attention to Wolfgang TRILLING's Das wahre Israel. Studien zur Theologie des Matthausevangeliums, Leipzig 1959. According to a footnote (pp.20f. n. 96) the author adheres to the traditional text following ZAHN, RIGGENBACH and MICHAEL. As further advocates of the Trinitarian baptism formula of Matthew he quotes: J. LINDBLOM, Jesu Missions-och Dophefallning, Stockholm, 1919; B. H. CUNEO, The Lord's Command to Baptise. With special reference to the works of Eusebius. (Diss.) Washington, 1923; G. ONGARO, "L'Autenticita e Integrita del Comma Trinitario", BIBL 19 (1938) 267-279


Thank YOU for visiting God Glorified!  If you have questions or comments please e-mail me!
©Copyright 2001 Randall D. Hughes