There has been some material written on the spurious nature of Matthew 28: 19-20. Most of the discussion centers around antenicene writings of Eusebius in which he quotes a different ending for the Gospel of Matthew. The Eusebian ending neither contains the trinitarian formula, nor does it contain any instruction to baptize. Only one other instance occurs in the entire Bible which even hints at the Trinity: 1 John 5:7b-8a is, however, universally dismissed by biblical scholars as a spurious addition to the text. There remains, then, only the conclusion of Matthew's account (which appears in all extant manuscripts) to support the doctrine of the Trinity.
According to the 1967 issue of the Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute, there is an early Jewish Christian source which corroborates Eusebius's ending for Matthew. A Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, edited by George Howard (Mercer University Press), also lacks the trinitarian reference. For the serious student of the Bible, however, no such proof is really necessary. The Bible, itself, contains all the answers. Let's examine the evidence. Matthew 28: 19-20 (Authorized Version) reads, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Matthew 28: 19-20 (from Eusebius) reads, "Go and make all nations disciples in my name, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." [Eusebius quoting from a manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew at the Library of Caesarea]
In what name does the Bible say to baptize? It's a simple enough thing to research. Look up every scripture concerning baptism and compare the similarities.
Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift for the Holy Ghost [Spirit].
Acts 8:15-16, "Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost [Spirit]: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)"
Acts 10:48, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry [remain] certain days."
Acts 19:5, "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Rom 6:3, "Know ye not, so many of you as have been baptized into Jesus Christ have put on Christ."
Gal 3:27, "For as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"
As we can see by every New Testament example that the trinitarian formula for baptism does not appear in any except Matthew 28:19. Since this verse disagrees with the eight other scriptures cited above, we must conclude that the "Eusebian" quote is the correct one and that the trinitarian reference was added. No other explanation can be possible.
Remember, every biblical concept used to establish doctrine must be corrorborated: "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (Matt 18:16 & 2Cor 13:1).
Gregory H. Richardson
For decades, the Church of God has placed a great deal of emphasis on the following scripture: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass..." (Luke 21:36 - New King James Version quoted throughout, unless otherwise noted).
This scripture has not only been pulled out of context, but it has also been presumptuously and erroneously connected to Revelation 12:6 & 14. As a result, a false concept has arisen in the Church of God, thrusting many sincere, but DECEIVED, brethren into a mixed state of doubt and fear! We have been falsely taught that if we are not in a "Philadelphian" attitude, we will have to go through the "Great Tribulation" to be "cleansed" of our sins! While this "cleansing" is taking place, our "Philadelphian" brethren will have been whisked away to a "place of safety" because they have been "counted worthy to escape" physical harm. This false teaching has also contributed to an atmosphere of self-righteousness and suspicion as many try to determine just who is Philadelphian and who is Laodicean!
But, is that what the Bible really teaches? Are we to pray to be "counted worthy to escape" the Great Tribulation? Why would a just God allow the prophets of old, most of the original apostles, and hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of Christian saints during the past two thousand years to suffer persecution and tribulation to the point of death, and then, suddenly tell us that if we are worthy, we can escape this kind of trial? Is God a respecter of persons? Was John the Baptist not "counted worthy to escape?" How about James, Peter or the Apostle Paul? They were all martyrs for the gospel's sake! And what about those in Hebrews 11:36-38?
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented Of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
How could these examples of faith not be counted worthy? Were they Laodiceans? Of course not!
Here is the plain and simple TRUTH about Luke 21:36!
The key to understanding Bible difficulties is to let the Bible interpret itself. And nothing is more important than establishing context. So let's back up and examine this passage in context. We will begin in Luke 21, verse 5. (The reader is also referred to the parallel account in Matthew 24).
Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, "As for these things which you see, the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down" (Luke 21:5-6)
Jesus begins this prophecy with a conclusion the physical plant of the temple will be destroyed.
And they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?" (v. 7).
The disciples then asked when the destruction of the temple would occur, and if there would be a sign that it (the destruction of the temple) was about to occur.
And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them" (v. 8).
Jesus warned His disciples of deception that many will claim to represent Him, but they DO NOT, and they should not be followed!
"But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately." Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (vs. 9-10).
Jesus indicates, that as the end approaches, peace will be more and more evasive. This is a natural progression of the decay of human civilization.
"And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven" (v. 11).
Along with the decay of humanity, there will be geological disturbances which will bring about changing weather patterns resulting in crop failure. Consequently, there will be food shortages and diseases. Then, there will be cosmic events as well.
"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony" (vs. 12-13).
Here, Jesus interjects and warns of inescapable persecution of His people for the purpose of witnessing and giving testimony of His Truth!
"Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they send some of you to your death" (vs. 14-16).
Jesus told His disciples that some of them would be put to death after being betrayed by their very own families. Martyrdom would be a sign of the times not a sign of being unworthy!
And you will be hated by all for My name's sake" (v. 17).
This is Satan's world - Satan HATES God and His people.
"But not a hair of your head shall be lost" (v. 18).
This verse has troubled many. He had just told them that some of them would die. How can this verse then promise them no physical harm? Notice the KJV: "But there shall not an hair of your head perish." Since physical death is already given as a probable result of persecution, this is obviously referring to the second death! God's people are promised ETERNAL LIFE! "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28).
"In your patience possess your souls" (v. 19).
"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). Eternal life is given to "those who keep the commandments of God!"
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her" (vs. 20-21).
This is a warning for those who are "in Judea" to "flee to the mountains," and this, only when they "see Jerusalem surrounded by armies!"
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled"(v. 22).
This verse is vital to understanding verse 36! Here is the key that will open the door to the PROPER understanding of Luke 21:36! "For these are the days of vengeance." Of course!
"For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (Isa. 34:8) "For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Himself on His adversaries..." (Jer 46:10). "Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; he will come and save you" (Isa. 35:4) "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Thes. 1:8). (Also see: Deuteronomy 32:43; Ps. 58:10; Ps. 149:7-9; Jer. 11:20; Mic. 5:15; Nah. 1:2 and Romans 2:5-9).
While the Great Tribulation is obviously the period of Satan's wrath, Jesus warns, that after Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled (verse 24), the Great Tribulation will conclude, and what follows the Great Tribulation are the real "days of vengeance" the Day of the Lord, in which God Himself executes judgment on "His adversaries," the enemies of God! And notice one of the reasons that they are counted His adversaries:
"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'" (Revelation 6:9-10).
Do you see that God will finally execute judgment and avenge all those who have lost their physical lives for the testimony of Jesus Christ? Now notice Revelation 6:11, "And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."
Notice that those who were killed in the past must wait a little while longer to be avenged until the end-time martyrdom of their "fellow" saints is completed. No mention is made of anyone being counted unworthy to escape death; nor is there any mention of those who are martyred being Laodicean!
"But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:23-24).
With these 2 verses, Jesus' prophecy makes the transition from the events describing the Great Tribulation, to the events that follow the Great Tribulation (see Matt 24:29) regarding the "days of vengeance," which is the period of God's wrath the Day of the Lord. The reader is referred to the Book of Revelation for a more detailed prophecy regarding the sequence of events (the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven bowls, the 3 woes, etc.).
"And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
Then He spoke to them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you, likewise, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things are fulfilled. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth" (vs. 25-35).
Verses 25-33 deal expressly with the days of vengeance and the fact that this judgment from God occurs just prior to the return of Jesus Christ! The vengeance of God is the final sign that Jesus' return is imminent! Verses 34-35 are a direct warning not to be distracted by the "cares of this life" which include self preservation! Notice Luke 17:33: "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
Now, after all these words of warning concerning the days of God's vengeance, which culminate with the return of Jesus Christ, we come to Luke 21:36.
"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Do you see how the focus has changed once context has been established and the scripture is quoted in its entirety? The warning is to pray to be counted worthy to escape "the days of vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!" (2Thes 1:8). ALL those who know God and obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will be counted worthy! This simple truth has eluded many in the Church of God because they have allowed men to deceive them with the spirit of FEAR and doubt in the efficacy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins. While this deception may have begun with a simple misunderstanding of the Holy Scriptures, there can be no doubt that Satan himself has perpetuated this fraud upon God's Church to instill doubt, suspicion and fear!
While it is not the intent of this article to either prove or disprove the teaching regarding "the place of safety," it is absolutely vital that we understand that Luke 21:36 should not be used to support anyone's arguments in favor of an escape to "the place of safety," because it is much more than a leap of faith from Luke 21:36 to Revelation 3:10 and Rev.12:6 & 14. It is a leap of the most dangerous kind that of blind faith! Most people, who believe in an escape to a "place of safety", probably have never considered that, perhaps, the Church has been promising something that is not in its power to deliver physical salvation. It should also now be clear that our goal is not, and should never be, physical salvation, but SPIRITUAL SALVATION. Those who are counted worthy to escape the days of God's vengeance, will have the awesome privilege to "stand before the Son of Man." That is what we are to always be praying for! Notice Revelation 6:17 "For the great day of His wrath (vengeance-KJV) has come, and who is able to stand?" Those who are counted worthy are ALL of God's people and ALL will be "able to stand!"
It should now be evident, that because our goal through Jesus Christ is Eternal Life, we are NOT to be concerned about our physical comfort! Luke 21:36 simply must not be used to support the doctrine of a place of safety! The fact that some kind of physical protection is promised to a group of God's people in a specific geographic location cannot be denied (Revelation 3:10 and Rev. 12:6), but ONLY God knows who is able to bear the trial of persecution and martyrdom, and who is not. Notice 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." The way of escape is not necessarily removal from a situation. God may even allow us to be tried to the point of death, but He also has promised to give us the inner-strength (FAITH) to bear or endure the trial. He has promised to bring us through for the SPIRITUAL reward, not for the physical! The escape is made when the trial or temptation is unsuccessful in separating us from God!
Could the truth be more PLAIN? Do you now see that this is not a Philadelphian VS Laodicean issue? Do you also see that what we are to be counted worthy to escape is the wrath of the Living God not the wrath of Satan the Devil? Those who insist on instilling doubt, suspicion and fear in the hearts and minds of God's people will have to answer to Him! "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2Tim. 1:7). The Great Merciful and Eternal God has promised that ALL those who obey Him will be counted worthy to escape the days of His vengeance and they ALL will be able to stand before Jesus Christ at His return to then rule with Him over all the nations! So, the next time you read Luke 21:36, you can be confident that, if you are truly one of God's Elect, then you WILL escape the days of His vengeance. Donald R. Flowers