The Great Commission

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. ~ Matthew 28:16-20.

Jesus has promised that He will meet His eleven disciples in Galilee and He appoints a mountain as the meeting place. As He reveals Himself to them as the risen Lord, they worship Him. It seems from elsewhere in Scripture that others were there too. However, some people doubt. (The Bible is so faithful in relaying the faults of Christ’s disciples, while portraying the righteous perfection of the Saviour.)

The once-crucified, now risen Jesus confirms His authority in heaven and on earth and says, ‘Go therefore.’ Because of that authority, His disciples are to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the triune God, and teaching obedience to His word. He confirms that He is with His own always, ‘Even to the end of the age.’ No wonder the Gospel concludes with a most appropriate ‘Amen!’

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.” (v.16) — Jesus had told the disciples earlier (cf. Matt. 26:32; 27:7,10) that He would meet them there. If they had listened closely they would have expected the resurrection, but they did not. This was not the mount of Ascension. Jesus’ ascension took place on the Mount of Olives forty days after the resurrection (cf. Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:4-11).

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (v.18) — What a tremendous statement (cf. Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 3:35; 13:3; Eph. 1:20-22; Col. 1:16-19; 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:22)! Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. His resurrection confirmed His claims!

“Go” (v.19) — Jesus authorises the Apostles to evangelise the world. All Christians are commanded to be lifestyle witnesses (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15 and possibly Col. 4:2-6). It is a priority. This is the Great Commission – not the Great Option.

“make disciples” — The term “disciples” meant “learners.” The Bible does not emphasize decisions, but lifestyle faith. The key to evangelism is discipleship. However, discipleship must start with a repentant faith profession and continue in the same way unto obedience and perseverance.

“of all the nations” — This must have been a shocking statement to the Jews, but it follows Dan. 7:14, which speaks of a universal, eternal kingdom (cf. Revelation 5). This is a reversal of Jesus’ previous orders (cf. Matt. 10:5-6). Notice the number of times that the inclusive “all” appears in this paragraph.

“baptizing” – Make disciples by baptizing and teaching (Matt. 28:20). The two purposes of the Church are evangelism and discipleship. They are two sides of one coin. They cannot and must not be separated!

“in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” — Notice “in the name” is SINGULAR. The name of God is Triune (cf. Matt. 3:16-17; John 14:26; Acts 2:32-33, 38-39; Rom. 1:4-5; 5:1,5; 8:1-4, 8-10; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 1:21; 13:14;Gal. 4:4-6; Eph. 1:3-14, 17; 2:18; 3:14-17; 4:4-6; 1 Thess. 1:2-5; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 20-21). Baptism is to be administered by the authority (in the name) of the triune God.

The baptismal formula of Acts 2:38, “in Jesus’ name,” cannot be exclusive to this formula in the Great Commission. Salvation is a series of acts both initial and continual: repentance, faith, obedience, and perseverance. It is not a liturgical formula or sacramental procedure. It is an intimate, daily, growing, personal relationship with God. This was/is the purpose of creation.

“teaching them” (v.20) — Notice that “what we teach” is not simply facts about Jesus, but obedience to all of His teachings. Christian maturity involves ~

1. a repentant faith profession;
2. a life of Christlike living;
3. a growing doctrinal understanding.

“I am with you always” — This is emphatic. The personal presence of Jesus is always with believers. Emmanuel came (cf. Matt. 1:23) and remains! There is a real fluidity between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Son (cf. Rom. 8:9-10; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6; Phil. 1:19; Col. 1:27). In John 14:23 both the Father and the Son indwell believers. In reality all three persons of the divine essence participate in all redemptive events. The One who has “all authority” and who is “with us always” has commanded us to evangelize and disciple all nations (note the four uses of “all” in the Great commission). With His presence and power we can to it!

“to the end of the age” — Every time “end of the age” is used in Matthew it points to the same event: the end of the last age, the Christian age, judgment and the end of the world.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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