Lord Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 28:18, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” I have 2 questions:
1- Some critics like some Unitarians say that it’s impossible that Jesus said this because the New Testament doesn’t record that the apostles baptized anyone in the name of the Trinity–only in the name of Lord Jesus. In addition Eusebius in the fourth century said that Jesus said to the disciples “baptizing them in my name”, so they say that this verse was changed later to support the doctrine of Trinity.
2- Should every Christian talk about Jesus to non-Christians? Does that mean that Christians that don’t do that are sinners? In some countries (and my country is one of these countries) it’s not allowed to talk about Christianity to non-Christians. It’s not allowed to criticize Islam. What should I do?
I have another question, Jesus said that he is the First and the Last (in the book of revelation). Is that an obvious evidence that He is God? Jehovah’s witness say that this verse means that he is the first and last creature that was created directly by God Himself. Can we answer him?
First of all, if anyone wants to propose that a copyist changed Matthew 28:18, that person needs to supply some evidence that there existed another version of this passage at some time. As far as I know, there is no such evidence. This passage was being quoted in the second century with the current accepted Greek text in the quotations. The fact that Eusebius says in the fourth century that people were baptized in the name of Jesus tells us nothing. Speaking for myself personally, I often say that people are baptized in the name of Jesus, yet when I perform a baptism, I mention the formula Father Son and Holy Spirit. There is no contradiction when I say the one and do the other, as this is NOT an essential Christian doctrine. The formula spoken at a baptism is not a doctrinal point, which is proved because the “formulas” in Acts 2:38 and Matthew 28:18 are different. I think it is a wise thing that God put two different “formulas” into the scripture to humble those who want to make an issue out of the triviality of what formula is used at a baptism.
Besides, those who say there is no evidence of baptisms in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the early church are simply not speaking truth. Unitarians or anyone else who says this has clearly not done their homework on church history. As you can find in my book on Church History (The Christian Story: Finding the Church in Church History, available at www.ipibooks.com), by the last first century, probably, or by the early second century for sure, new converts were being immersed three times, not just once. The immersions, obviously, were in the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. This idea that the early church did not see Jesus as God or the Holy Spirit as God is simply not correct. Was there some debate about the deity of Christ? Yes, but this was always the small minority. In any case, it is a FACT that baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit was the norm in the early church.
I believe that Jesus did command his disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18). Will a believer go to hell because he or she does not share his or her faith? In my opinion this is the wrong question to ask. Any disciple will want to do this. A person who is unwilling to share about Jesus almost certainly is not a disciple of Jesus. I know this because Jesus said it, for example, in Luke 9:23-26. If we are ashamed of Jesus, unwilling to tell people about him, then Jesus will be ashamed of us before the Father.
However, to make this a salvation issue or a sin issue seems to be looking in the wrong direction. We, as followers of Jesus, share our faith because we want to. It is a privilege and an honor to do so. Those who do not feel this way are probably not disciples of Jesus, or to put it more moderately, their discipleship is questionable and needs a lot of help! In countries where it is dangerous to share about Jesus, believers find a way to do this more carefully. I know this, because I have visited Myanmar, Viet Nam, Bangladesh and other countries where it is illegal and dangerous to share with Muslims or other unbelievers, yet the Christians find ways to do this—perhaps not by sharing on the streets, but by other means. These disciples of Jesus are not making excuses and we should not make excuses for them, but we should pray for them to use wisdom in how they share their faith. My opinion is that in your country you should avoid publicly criticizing Islam, and you should be careful how you share about Jesus, but you should not stop sharing about Jesus. Do not feel it is sinful if you are more cautious, but do not stop sharing your life and your love of Jesus—but do it with some wisdom.
Yes, the fact that Jesus calls himself the alpha and the omega in Revelation is clear and unmistakable evidence, along with dozens of other passages, almost too many to count, that Jesus claimed to be God and that the early Christians believed this as well. Jehovah Witnesses will find ways to pervert and to misinterpret all such verses. That is what they do. Your job is to not be deterred or discouraged by such anti-Christian efforts. Personally, my experience tells me that engaging in arguments with JWs is generally not a fruitful path. You should patiently show your JW friends your life in Christ, love them, and pray that they will come to their senses, but do not engage in foolish arguments with these people. That is my advice.