The Scripture in Matthew 28:18-20 is often referred to as the Great Commission. These were Jesus’ last words to his 11 disciples before he ascended into heaven:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded of you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

While this is the more popular version of the Great Commission, you will also find it in Mark 16:15-18. The Scripture in Matthew though is often referred to in teachings regarding witnessing, sharing testimony, evangelism and mission work.

It is worded quite differently in the book of Mark:

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snackes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (NIV)

A much different account of the Great Commission is given in John (20:21-23):

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (NIV)

While it is widely taught that this is a “command” that was given to all believers, and that all Christians are responsible to carry out this ‘Great Commission’, I tend to be in disagreement. First, the term itself is not a biblical term. I am not sure where the term originated, but it is not found in Scripture.

Second, Jesus was speaking to the 11 disciples in private - not to a crowd of believers, or anyone besides his appointed disciples. And third… these 11 were given a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, from Jesus himself, in order to accomplish the commands set before them.

When you look at what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission (specifically Matthew 28:18-20), and then compare it to the other records of the gospel (Mark 16:15-18, John 20:21-23)… it seems very obvious (to me) that the meaning has been taken out of context when labeled as a great commission for all Christians to carry out.

That is NOT to say that I don’t believe in witnessing or sharing the gospel, because I do! :D I believe in telling everyone that you possibly can, and sharing the good news of salvation and the kingdom of God to the best of your ability.

But I also believe in fully understanding the bible, in context, and for oneself - over taking what we are told and believing that without searching the Word ourselves.

Tags: , , , , , ,