Jesus’ final command to His disciples in the Book of Matthew is well-known to many:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
While many rightly focus on the activity involved in the main verb of the command, “make disciples”, there is also a vital doctrine contained in these verses which must not be missed.
Jesus commanded His followers that when they made disciples, they were not merely to baptize them, but to baptize them “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” These three Divine Person comprise the Triune God. Scripture makes it clear that they are not three gods, but One (Duet. 6:4) but exist eternally as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, who relate to each other as distinct persons. (John 17:5,24 etc.) They are “three-in-one”, thus “tri-une.”
The doctrine of the Trinity, though difficult for human minds to comprehend, is no esoteric, minor teaching. It is the very heart of Christianity, and is one of the primary doctrines which separates Christianity from all other world religions. The early church fathers recognized the vital importance of this doctrine, and gave it much time, attention, and emphasis. “When I say ‘God’, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” Gregory of Nazianzus famously said centuries ago.
If this Doctrine was indeed so important, one might expect to find it prominently taught somewhere in God’s word — like perhaps in the final instructions the Messiah would give His followers before He left the world — just like we find here in Matthew 28:18-20! Let us not be found guilty of ignoring or minimizing what God has made prominent. Like Gregory of old, let’s make sure that when WE say “God”, we mean the Triune God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.