The Expository Files


“Go Therefore and Make Disciples”

Matthew 28:18-20

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.' And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. ...and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you: He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but He who has disbelieved shall be condemned. Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

As you read the above paragraph you found it familiar if you have been a Bible student for very long at all. But you will be hard pressed to locate it in your Bible because it is not just one passage, but actually a combination of three separate passages which deal with the same commission; that of our Lord to His apostles. This compilation can be found in The Fourfold Gospel by J.W. McGarvey, though I have used the New American Standard Version instead of the King James Version which he uses. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:46,47).

It was a beginning of a new era. A new covenant had been ratified by the blood shed by the Son of God on the cross. The redemptive price had been paid. The time for the Law of Moses was past. It had served its purpose and had been fulfilled. It had spoken of the coming of Jesus. He had come. He had kept its commandments. He had fulfilled its prophecies. He had made the sacrifice which did what the sacrifice of bulls and goats could never do. We now, not in prospect as under the Law but in truth, could be saved from our sins. Consider the Great Commission:

Jesus Has All Authority
Jesus is absolute head of His church in every detail (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22,23). Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and earth. The things we do and speak must be grounded in His authority. It is upon the basis of Jesus' authority that right things are right and wrong things are wrong.
It is true that the world changes its ideas and standards constantly. In a rush to keep up with the world, many denominations soon do likewise, changing their doctrines to fit contemporary ideas of the day (cf. Marriage: Matthew 19:4-6; same sex? Lifelong? - maybe man changes it, but the Lord has not!).

Even some Churches of Christ have abandoned the authority of the One whose name they wear in order to attract those who would not otherwise be attracted. But have you ever noticed that Jesus never sought to please the world by the things He taught and did? Jesus is Lord! Let His word determine the path we shall take through life; that same word by which He sent His apostles out into the world (1 Corinthians 2:1,2; Colossians 3:17).

Go Into All The World
The gospel is for all (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Galatians 3:28). The Law of Moses had been given just to the Jews. Even during the personal ministry of Jesus, the focus was always on "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:5,6). But both the Law and the ministry of Jesus were preparatory in nature, making way for the universal gospel (John 10:16; Isaiah 56:6-8). The Law had been a barrier to such, but it has been removed (Ephesians 2:13-18).

It is as the prophet Isaiah had said it would be: "And all the nations shall stream into it." (Isaiah 2:2). Jesus, in the "Great Commission," announced that the time of which Isaiah had spoken seven centuries before had now arrived (Acts 10:34,35, Colossians 1:23).

We Must Spread the Gospel
(Mark 16:15; I Corinthians 1:18). It is always our obligation to make sure that what we teach is the gospel of Christ. There are many other gospels, but to preach them makes us enemies of God (Galatians 1:6-9). The gospel's message is not pop psychology, leftist or right wing social and/or political agendas, recreational, or secular (Luke12:13-15). It has to do with convicting of sin and saving souls. It means proclaiming the love and grace of God by which we were redeemed. It means a call to repentance and obedience. It includes the message of the holiness of God and the judgment to come (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

Making Disciples
Our goal is to help turn people into followers of Christ (Matthew 28:19). Discipleship is not for the lukewarm or weak-willed. It is for those with the fortitude to pay the price, even when it means bearing a heavy cross. A disciple is one who follows Jesus. We seek to look at things the way He does; at sin, at others, at God and at His Word, and at ourselves.

Some today are discounting obeying the doctrines of the Scripture saying the important thing is to develop a heart like Jesus. They are correct about the need to become within what Jesus is, but they are sadly mistaken in thinking that this possible if one does not seek to obey God to the same degree that Jesus did. One who is like Christ within becomes like Him without (Matthew 12:35).

Baptizing Them in he Name of the Father; The Son and the Holy Spirit
(Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16). The apostles were right when they taught baptism for the remission of sins! (Acts 2:38). Jesus made it quite clear about baptism's role in the gospel. He said that baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is what we do in making believers into disciples. He said that this was true for "all nations." He said that when this is done that the baptized person "shall be saved."

He also said that if we do not believe then we shall be condemned, so by all means, believe Jesus! Believe what He said about everything! Believe what He said about baptism. Teach what Peter did at Jerusalem as the "Great Commission" began to be carried out. What Peter told his listeners to do was what Jesus had told him to preach.

Teaching To Observe All Jesus Taught
(Matthew 28:20). (2 Timothy 2:2). There is nothing in the teachings of the New Testament that is not included in the "teach them to observe all that I have commanded you." When we obey the apostolic doctrine, then we are obeying the commands of Jesus.

Many times men have not been as faithful in maintaining the integrity of the gospel with which we have been entrusted. One thing that a faithful preacher does is to encourage always obeying the Lord in everything .

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 13.5; May 2006