Matthew 28:19 – Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. — World English.
Many trinitarians would like for us to note that there is one “name,” and supposedly three persons who have this one name. From this they would like for us to think that there are three persons in one God.
The word “name” carries various shades of meaning. One of the meanings is “cause or reason,” as “in the cause of,” etc.
In the Hebrew scriptures, for one to act “in the name” of Yahweh (or another) meant to act in the authority of Yahweh (or whoever it was that a person came “in the name of”). — Deuteronomy 18:5,7,22; 21:5; 25:6; 1 Samuel 17:45; 20:42; 25:9; 2 Samuel 6:18; 1 Kings 18:32; 22:16; 2 Kings 2:24; 1 Chronicles 16:2; 21:19; 2 Chronicles 18:15; 33:18; Ezra 5:1; Psalm 20:5; Psalm 118:10,11,12,26; 129:8; Jeremiah 11:21; 26:16,20; Zechariah 13:3.
However, Matthew 28:19 is not talking about the ones being baptized as coming in the name of, but of their acceptance of the name, authority, cause of, the ones being mentioned, thus, the usage is similar to: Psalm 124:8; Isaiah 50:10; Micah 4:5, except that in Matthew 28:19, it is denoting the acceptance of/belief upon, the “name” of each, similar to the New Testament usage in Matthew 10:41; John 3:18,36; Acts 2:38; 10:48; 1 John 5:13.
The word translated as “in” Matthew 28:19 is the Greek word transliterated as “eis” (Strong’s #1519), which usually carries the meaning of “into.” This word is also used in John 3:18,36; 4:39 and 1 John 5:13. Given this meaning, those being baptized would be baptized into agreement with the name/cause/authority of the Father, of the Son, and of the holy spirit.
However, one of the meanings of the Greek word “eis” (Strong’s #1519), is “for,” as denoting “regarding” (Matthew 3:13; 9:4; 10:19; Mark 3:29; 6:11); applying this meaning, one would be baptized ‘for’ the name/cause/authority of the Father, of the Son and of the holy spirit.
Notwithstanding, many scholars point out that Eusebius’ earlier quotes of Matthew 28:19 do not contain this baptismal forumual, but simply refer to being baptized in the name of Jesus; for this and some other reasons, many scholars believe that the wording as we have received was changed to add the baptismal forumla as we now have it.* Assuming that the words as they appear in the extant Greek NT manuscripts actually express the words of Jesus, the word “name” here signfies the cause or authority, not a singular appellation. The cause/authority is used in a distributive sense, in the cause or authority of the Father, in the cause or authority of the Son, and in the cause or authority of the holy spirit. It does express a singularity of cause and authority, as all three are in agreement. There is no indication that this means three persons in one God.
*Analysis of Matthew 28:19 by Randall Duane Hughes
A Collection of the evidence… by A. Ploughman
The Eusebian Form of the Text of Matthew 28:19 – by Fred Conybeare
If it is speaking of a singular appellation, then one would need to know what that singular appellation is, if we were to baptized in that singular name. We know the appellative personal name of the Father, the only true God who sent Jesus, is Yahweh. (Exodus 3:15, Deuteronomy 18:15-19; John 17:1,3; Acts 3:13) The scriptures assign no personal appellation to the holy spirit. Nor can it be said that the appellation of all three is “Jesus”, since “Jesus” is never given as the name of the Father, nor of the Holy Spirit, and to reason that the name of the Father is Jesus would result in a tremendous amount of self-contradiction. It was the only true God is “Jesus”, but rather the name “Jesus” is given to the one whom the only true God sent. Since the name Jesus means “Yah is savior”, it signifies that Jesus is the one whom Yahweh sent as savior. The one who was sent by the only true God (John 17:1,3) has the personal name, Jesus. Therefore, what would be the singular “name” of all three, if, by the word “name,” it is expressing an singular appellation, such as in the usage of a personal name?
Neverthless, in the New Testament, there is no indication that the expression as found in Matthew 28:19 was ever used as a baptismal formula. Instead, baptisms were performed in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 2:38: 10:48; 19:5) In effect, being baptized in the name of Jesus would be the same as being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit? How so? Jesus was made christ and lord by his God and Father (Acts 2:36), and having been given all authority (Matthew 28:19, with the exception of Jesus’ God — 1 Corinthians 15:27), including authority over God’s holy spirit. (Acts 2:33) Jesus spoke of the holy spirit as being sent by the Father in his name (John 14:26; 15:26). On the other hand, Jesus acts and speaks in the name of his God and Father, who sent him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 22:32; 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; 12:26; Luke 13:35; 20:37; John 3:2,17,32-35; 4:34; 5:19,30,36,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; 20:17; Acts 2:22,34-36; 3:13,22; 5:30; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 8:6; 11:31; Colossians 1:3,15; 2:9-12; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1:1) Thus, to properly be baptized in the name of Jesus would be a recognition of the God and Father of Jesus as well God’s holy spirit, the power of God, that Jesus has been given authority to make use of. However, Jesus’ name is not the name of the Father, nor is Jesus’ name the name of the holy spirit. The word “name” is Matthew 18:19 should, therefore, be applied in the sense that “name” represents “cause” or “authority,” not as a singular appellative that is given to all three.
Regardless, what the trinitarian has to assume and add to this is that the three mentioned are three persons of one God. He has to imagine and assume and add to the scripture that each one mentioned is a separate and distinct person of one God, which is not at all stated in the words as we have them.