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Tuesday
Apr302013

Theological Term of the Week

Great Commission
Christ’s command to “Go … and make disciples of all nations,” given to the apostles after his resurrection, summarizing what his followers are commissioned to do from the time of his ascension until he comes again.

  • From scripture:
  • And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV)

  • From D. A. Carson’s Matthew Commentary (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary), on Christ’s command to “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”:
    1. The focus is on Jesus’ commands, not OT law. Jesus’ words, like the words of Scripture, are more enduring than heaven and earth (24:35); and the peculiar expression “everything I have commanded you” is … reminiscent of the authority of Yahweh (Exod. 29:35; Deut 1:3, 41; 7:11; 12:11, 14)… . The revelation of Jesus Messiah at this Scriptures pointed and constitutes their valid continuity; but this means that the focus is necessarily on Jesus.
    2. Remarkably, Jesus does not foresee a time when any part of his teaching will be rightly judged needless, outmoded, superseded, or untrue: everything he has commanded must be passed on “to the very end of the age.”
    3. What the disciples teach is not mere dogma stepped in abstract theorizing but content to be obeyed.
    4. It then follows that by carefully passing on everything Jesus taught, the first disciples—themselves eyewitnesses—call into being new generations of “earwitnesses”. These in turn pass on the truth they received. So a means is provided for successive generations to remain in contact with Jesus’ teachings (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2).
    5. Christianity must spread by an internal necessity or it has already decayed; for one of Jesus’ commands is to teach all that he commands. Failure to disciple, baptize and teach the peoples of the world is already itself one of the failures or our own discipleship.
Learn more:
  1. Got Questions.org: What is the Great Commission?
  2. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Great Commission 
  3. 9Marks: Who is responsible to fulfill the Great Commission?; What does the Great Commission require of local churches?
  4. Thabiti Anyabwile: 7 Reasons to Care About the Great Commission 
  5. J. Ligon Duncan:  The Great Commission (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Person, Work, and Teaching of Christ

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