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Not much. The New Catholic Encyclopedia states, “In the Gospels evidence of the
Trinity is found explicitly only in the baptismal formula of Mt 28:19.” 137 And what is the
baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19? In this verse, Jesus commands his disciples, “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.” This being the only gospel verse that explicitly
mentions the Father, son and holy spirit together, 138
we should not be surprised to find it
echoed in Paul’s teachings—“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Nonetheless, we can repeat this benediction a thousand times, and a gaping chasm
will still remain between Matthew 28:19 and the unyielding wall of Trinitarian
doctrine—a chasm which requires a leap of faith unprotected by a net of solid evidence.
Nobody reads, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my,” and imagines a triune beast. Why,
then, are we asked to read the above benediction and imagine a triune God?
Mark 16:15­16 relates the exact same “Great Commission” as does Matthew
28:19, and yet the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” formula is conspicuously absent. Why?
Both gospels describe Jesus’ last command to his disciples, but while Trinitarian
theologians have bent Matthew 28:19 (again, the only gospel verse that explicitly
mentions the Father, son and holy spirit together) into service, Mark 16:15­16 provides
no such support. So which gospel author got it right, which got it wrong, and how can we
One way we can decide which of these two passages is correct is to examine what
Jesus’ disciples actually did. Paul’s letters reveal that baptism in the early church was only done in Jesus’ name (examples include Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, and Romans
6:3.), and not “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Assuming the disciples actually did as they were told, their actions endorse Mark 16:15­
16 and condemn both Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14. On the other hand, if the
disciples didn’t do as they were told, then we have no reason to trust anything they are
recorded as having said or done. And if the disciples are not to be trusted, how much less
should Paul, who never even met Jesus, be trusted?
When the above justifications fail, clergy and laity alike resort to quoting a litany
of verses, each one of which can be summarily dismissed. For example, John 10:38 reads,
“The Father is in me and I in the Father.” John 14:11 reads much the same. But what does
this mean? If we propose these verses support co­sharing of divinity, we have to factor
John 14:20 into the equation, which reads, “At that day you (i.e., the disciples) will know
that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Bearing in mind that Aramaic and
Hebrew possess far greater capacity for metaphor than English, the only logical
conclusion is that the language is figurative. Hence none of the above quotes can be used
to defend Trinitarian doctrine. The only other option would be blasphemous—that the
council of Nicaea failed to recognize a dozen disciples as partners with both Jesus and
God. Infinitely more reasonable is to admit that two thousand­year­old colloquialisms are
just that—flowery phrases which, if taken literally, distort reality. The Old English of
seven centuries ago is incomprehensible to all but scholars. What, then, do we know of
1,600 year­old Greek translations of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, much less their
Let’s look at another alleged piece of evidence.

John 14:9 relates Jesus as having said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Assuming the language to be literal, which is a bold assumption, we still have to rectify
John 14:9 with John 5:37, which reads, “You have neither heard His voice at any time,
nor seen His form.” John 1:18 is even more emphatic, stating, “No one has seen God at
any time.” Paul apparently agreed; “[God] alone has immortality
, dwelling in
unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see …” (1 Timothy 6:16). The
“unapproachable” and “no man has seen or can see” descriptions certainly do not
conform to the approachable and visible person of Jesus. The argument of John 14:9,
when played out, reveals itself to be invalid. The one scriptural step forward slips three
steps back when one learns that Jesus stood bodily in front of the eyes of his disciples and
informed them that “You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.”



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