The Writings of Eusebius
Copyright © 2000 Randall Duane Hughes
The writings of Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea (also called Eusebius Pamphylius) provide a unique study in the beginning of the Church. He is called the father of Church History due to his extensive writings on the subject. These writings are still widely published and read. In all, there are some nine writings we wish to examine. The reason for this examination being primarily due to the way he rendered Matthew 28:19. Within his writings it is found in three forms.
Of the three forms, "Form 2" is found most often. Seventeen times Eusebius quotes Matthew in this second form. Seven times it is found in "Form 1," and then five times in "Form 3."
Due to the fact Eusebius lived from 260-340 A.D., some of his writings are not so readily available. To date I believe I have exhausted those writings found in English. Thus the remaining four books may be rather difficult for me to obtain and then translate. But I do have the quotes of our passage below.
The Writings of Eusebius
FORM ONE (7)
FORM TWO (17)
FORM THREE (5)
The Proof of the Gospel
Commentary in Psalms *
Commentary in Isaiah *
The History of the Church
In Praise of Constantine
The Theology of the Church *
The Letter to Caesarea
Contra Marcellum *
*Indicates books not available in English.
The most significant of these quotes are the seventeen found in "Form 2." The reason the 5 in "Form 3" are not more significant is that most are of disputed origin, (even within Theophania) with them all believed to have been composed after the Trinitarian debates at the council of Nicea, or even possibly by another author.
So thus our focus will be upon those seventeen times in which he quotes Matthew 28:19 as "Go disciple ye all nations in my name." Here is how Eusebius used this passage in his writings.
The Proof of the Gospel
"Whereas He, who conceived nothing human or mortal, see how truly he speaks with the voice of God, saying in these very words to those disciples of His, the poorest of the poor : ’Go forth, and make disciples of all the nations.’ ‘But how,’ the disciples might reasonably have answered the Master, ‘can we do it?’… But while the disciples of Jesus were most likely either saying thus, or thinking thus, the Master solved their difficulties, by the addition of one phrase, saying they should triumph ‘IN MY NAME.’ For He did not bid them simply and indefinitely 'make disciples of all nations,' but with the necessary addition 'In My Name.' And the power of His Name being so great, that the Apostle says: 'God has given him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.' He shewed the virtue of the power in His Name concealed from the crowd, when He said to His Disciples: 'Go, and make disciples of all nations in my name.' The Proof of the Gospel, Vol. 1, edited and translated by W.J. Ferrar, 1981, page 157
"But our Lord and Saviour did not conceive and not dare to attempt, neither did he attempt and not succed. With one voice He said to His disciples: 'Go and make disciples of all nation in My Name,' teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.' And He enjoined the effect of His Word; and in a little while every race of the Greek and Barbarians was being brought into discipleship." The Proof of the Gospel, Vol. 1, edited and translated by W.J. Ferrar, 1981, page 152
"I am irresistibly forced to retrace my steps, and search for their cause, and to confess that they could only have succeeded in their daring venture, by a power more divine, and more strong than man's, and by the cooperation of Him Who said to them: 'Make Disciples of all nations in my Name.' The Proof of the Gospel, Vol. 1, edited and translated by W.J. Ferrar, 1981, page 159
"'For I came and there was no man, I called and there was none that heard.' And He says to them, 'The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.' And He bid His own disciples after their rejection, 'Go ye make disciples of all the nations in my name.' So then we are the Gentiles know and receive the prophet that was fortold, and sent by His Father, as being Lawgiver to all men..." The Proof of the Gospel, Vol. 2, edited and translated by W.J. Ferrar, 1981, page 175
"But he who used nothing human or mortal, see how in truth he again conceded the oracle of God, in the word which he spoke to his disciples, the weak ones, saying, 'Go ye and make disciples of all the peoples...' These things then (scil. how can we do this? how preach to the Romans, etc.) the disciples of our savior would either have said or thought; so by a simple addition of a word, he resolved the sum of those things of which they doubted, the sum of them he committed to them in that he said, ye conquer 'in my name.' For it was not that he ordered them simply and without discriminating, to 'go and make disciples of all the peoples,' but with the important addition, and he said 'in my name.' For because of the power of his name did all this come about, even as the Apostle said, God has given him a name more excellent than all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, which is in heaven and in earth and under the earth..." The Theophania from the Syriac, Text edited by Samuel Lee, London 1842. Cambridge 1843, page 333
"The Disciples could not otherwise have undertaken this enterprise, than by a Divine power which exceeds that of man, and by the assistance of Him who said to them, 'Go, and make Disciples of all nations in my name.' And when he had said this to them, he attached to it the promise, by which they should be so encouraged, as readily to give themselves up to the things commanded. For he said unto them, "Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the world." The Theophania from the Syriac, Text edited by Samuel Lee, London 1842. Cambridge 1843, page 336
"Our Saviour said to them therefore, after His resurrection, 'Go ye and make Disciples of all nations in my name.' And these things He said, who formerly had commanded: "In the way of the Gentiles go ye not," but enjoined them that they should preach to the Jews only. But, when these abused their inviters, then He dismissed the servants the second time, and said, "go ye out into the ways and paths, and all that ye find call to the feast." The Theophania from the Syriac, Text edited by Samuel Lee, London 1842. Cambridge 1843, page 242
"Which of the magicians is it, who ever projected that which our Saviour did? But, if one did so project; still he dared not to advance this. But, if one so dared; still he brought not the matter to effect. He (the Saviour) said in one word and enouncement to His Disciples, 'Go and make disciples of all nations in my name, and teach ye them every thing that I have commanded you.' And the deed he made to follow the word. For thence, every race of the Greeks and Barbarians became at once, and in a short space of time, (His) Disciples." The Theophania from the Syriac, Text edited by Samuel Lee, London 1842. Cambridge 1843, page 298
Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (The History of the Church)
"But the rest of the apostles, who were harassed in innumerable ways with a view to destroy them and drive them from the land of Judea, had gone forth to preach the Gospel to all the nations, relying upon the aid of Christ, when he said, 'Go ye, teach all nations in my name.' Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, translated by C.F. Cruse,(1998) Book 3, Chap. 5, page 70
The Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine
"What king or prince in any age of the world, what philosopher, legislator, or prophet, in civilized or barbarous lands, has attained so great a height of excellence, I say not after death, but while living still, and full of mighty power, as to fill the ears and tongues of all mankind with the praises of his name? Surely none save our only Savior has done this, when, after his victory over death, he spoke the word to his followers, and fulfilled it by the event, saying to them, 'Go ye, and make disciples of all nations in my name.' The Oration in Praise of Constantine, Chap. 16, page 907-908 of The Master Christian Library, Version 6.02
Commentary on Psalms
"According to another explanation, the words Sichem, Galaad, Manasses, Ephraim, Juda, Moab, and Edom represent all nations indiscriminately. The Jews are mentioned in the first place, because to them first should the kingdom of God be announced; but after them Christ commanded his disciples to preach the Gospel 'to all the nations in his name.'" The Lord's Command to Baptise Bernard H. Cuneo, 1923, page 77
"All nations are invited to come consider the awe-inspiring deeds, which God performed in behalf of his people, in Egypt, in the Red Sea, in the Jordan; and to reflect that he who could confute his enemies of old, is still powerful against them. Hence we should rejoice in him, who by his power endureth forever. We should understand these words of that saying of Christ: 'All power is given to me in heaven and on earth. Going make disciples of all the nations in my name.' Wherefore Aquila translates it: 'who exercises authority in his power forever.'" The Lord's Command to Baptise Bernard H. Cuneo, 1923, page 78
"That Christ's voice was endowed with power is evident from his deeds; for when he said to his disciples: 'Come, follow me, and I shall make you fishers of men," he actually fulfilled this promise by his power; and again when he commanded them saying: 'Going make disciples of all the nations in my name,' he manifested his power in very deed." The Lord's Command to Baptise Bernard H. Cuneo, 1923, page 78
"From the preceding verse we learn that the earth shook and trembled. This was realized when Christ entered Jerusalem, and the entire city was in consternation; also when the nations of the world trembled upon hearing the words of the Gospel from the lips of the Apostles. How should we understand the prophet when he says that Christ's way is in the sea, and his paths in many waters, and his footsteps will not be known? This passage receives light from his promise to his disciples: 'Going make disciples of all nations in my name,' and, 'Behold I am with you all days even to the end of the world.' For thruout the entire world, invisibly present to his disciples, he traveled on the sea of life, and in the many waters of the nations. This he accomplished by his invisible and hidden power." The Lord's Command to Baptise Bernard H. Cuneo, 1923, page 79
Commentary on Isaiah
"This command seems to be given to the disciples of our Savior. Since they are messengers of good tidings, they are called messengers, and light ones, to distinguish them from the apostles of the Jews. Wherefore the prophet addresses these messengers of good tidings thus: You disciples of Christ, go as the Savior himself has commanded you; 'Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,' and 'Going make disciples of all the nations in my name.'" The Lord's Command to Baptise Bernard H. Cuneo, 1923, page 79
"For he who said to them, 'make disciples of all the nations in my name,' also forbad them to establish churches in one and the same place." The Lord's Command to Baptise Bernard H. Cuneo, 1923, page 80
It is interesting to notice the way in which Eusebius quotes this passage. In two of our passages here, he goes on to refer to Phillippians 2:9-10! Also, he places these words directly in Jesus mouth! There is nothing to indicate he is trying to abbreviate! Or he is mingling authors (Matthew and Luke)! There is every indication he is quoting it just as he has found it in his manuscripts of the Book of Matthew!