Has Matthew 28:19 been changed?

Questions & Answers February 24, 2017

Q: As I was doing research on Google, I came across a website that says that Matthew 28:19 had been changed from the original text. Is this true? — Sonampha, from Cambodia 

A: Sonampha, while Google can be helpful in finding quick answers, it is not the most reliable source in finding accurate information regarding the Bible.

When people cast doubt on the veracity of Matthew 28:19 (“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”), it is usually because they are trying to “disprove” the doctrine of the trinity.

As your question deals with the reliability of Biblical manuscripts, let’s ask Dr. Clinton Wahlen, a Greek and New Testament scholar who serves as associate director at the Biblical Research Institute, to further comment on your question. He writes:

“There is no evidence from Greek manuscripts of any omission or variation in the wording of ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who suggest otherwise are at best relying on wishful thinking.

“We have more than 5,700 manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part. It is the best preserved ancient text by far. We can be quite confident when there are no variations in the manuscripts, as in this case, that the original wording of the text is exactly what has come down to us.

“Even when there are variations, all but a tiny percentage are very minor, such as differences in spelling or word order, none of which change the meaning of the text. Certainly there is no difference in the manuscripts that affects any major doctrine of the church. The teaching of the Bible is clear on these important points, including the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.”

There are many good resources for further study on the doctrine of the Trinity, and I encourage you to look at the following articles from the BRI website: “Trinity in Scripture,” by Dr. Gerhard Pfandl; “The Doctrine of the Trinity Among Adventists,” also by Dr. Pfandl; and “The Trinity in Seventh-day Adventist History,” by Dr. Merlin Burt.