I recall back in 1984, the first time I had bumped into the argument over Baptism… specifically whether one should baptize in the name of Jesus Christ or in the name of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It is amazing at how intense the emotions rise in some people on an issue that seems… well… fairly trivial to me. Of course, for those who believe in a modalistic theology, I suppose I could see why it might be an issue. However, for those of us with an orthodox Trinitarian view of God, I fail to see why one should get stressed. But some do. Some argue that the Trinitarian formulation in Matthew was a later redaction (editing). I wouldn’t know… but I can’t really see that as the case.
But it got me thinking about looking at the Great Commission from the perspective of the Trinity. The following are 4 of the major recordings of the Great Commission (I am not including the Mark passage since it (curiously) does not explicitly mention God.)
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 “This is what is written, the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” Luke 24:46-49 “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me. I also send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21-23 “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 (All passages in CSB version)
Looking at these passages, consider the prominence of each member of the Godhead…
- God the Father: 1 in Matthew, 1 in Luke, 1 in John, and 2 in Acts
- God the Son: 3 in Matthew, 3 in Luke, 2 in John, and 1 in Acts
- God the Holy Spirit: 1 in Matthew, 1 in Luke, 1 in John, and 1 in Acts
Now, suppose one combines these points into a Great Commission relating each of us to the Godhead. We might get something like this:
We are to be:
- Empowered by the Holy Spirit, promised by the Father, and sent by the Son
- Made confident by presence of the Son, sent by the Father
- Accepting our calling from the Son to go into the world.
- Giving the message of God to others
- Being witnesses of Christ
- Baptizing believers in the name of the Triune God
- Training up people in the teachings of Christ
- Doing all of this until the end, as decreed by the Father
To me, this is not a bad description of our calling based on the Great Commission. It also has the benefit of not being unbalanced in our relationship with God.