Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.””
Matthew 28:18-20 is appropriately known as the Great Commission. It is great due to magnitude, degree, and effectiveness of what is required. It is a commission because Jesus commanded a group of people (all of His disciples) sanctioning a worldwide mission to spread the Gospel. Within these three dynamic verses, there are six key components that are frequently overshadowed with major points of controversy. These six key components are listed below along with clarification of the controversy surrounding them.
In Matthew 28:18, God has given Jesus all authority of heaven and earth. This means that Jesus has the power to give orders, make decisions, and control over heaven and earth. Based upon this authority, Jesus sanctions the Great Commission.
Fulfillment of Prophesy
Also in Matthew 28:18, we are able to see the fulfillment of prophesy. Daniel’s dream foretold of this time when Jesus would receive all power. Daniel 7:14 (KJV) states, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Worldwide Evangelism Mission Sanctioned
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus sanctions the worldwide evangelism mission. Jesus itemizes the requirements for this mission.
- Proceed forward spreading the Gospel to all nations
- Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost
- Teach them to be adherents to all the teachings of Jesus
Mark 16:15, 16 (KJV) indicates that the disciples were to earnestly share the Good News. This Scripture also highlights that everyone will not be receptive to the Gospel. Faith come by hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:17, KJV) Jesus charged all his disciples with this mission. There are some who believe that the charge was for those with the gift, anointing, or has the vocation of an evangelist. We all have the ability to share our testimony about how we have been transformed through our relationship with God.
Evangelism or witnessing about Christ should not stop at sharing the message or a “Sinners Prayer.” New Believers need mentors to provide guidance and godly counsel. Spiritual development is a process that will be different for each Believer and takes time. In a previous blog post, I identified some requirements and characteristics of a True Disciple entitled, “True Disciple Requirements and Characteristics”. (Please read for more information on the requirements and characteristics of a True Disciple.)
Trinitarian Immersion Formula for Baptism
Jesus provides a Trinitarian immersion formula (“baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”) required for baptism. Baptism is essential because it unifies Believers with Jesus Christ in his/her death to sin and resurrection to new life with no condemnation. It also symbolizes submission to Christ with a willingness to live God’s way and an identification with God’s covenant people.
Non-Trinitarian Believers reject this immersion formula because they reject the Triune nature of God by citing Scripture references of Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, and 22:16. While these Scripture References use “in the name of Jesus Christ”, they are not used as an immersion formula but reference by whose authority they are operating under. God gave all authority in heaven and earth to Jesus. As the disciples began fulfilling the Great Commission they identify that they are doing so by the authority of Jesus Christ.
Triune Attribute of God
In providing the Trinitarian immersion formula for baptism, Jesus is also revealing an incommunicable attribute of God. Although the terms “Triune” or “Trinity” are not in the Bible, these terms are used to describe an attribute of God. God is one being who exist in three Persons namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit sharing a divine being. The unity of the three person is the “Godhead.” There are over 60 Bible passages that mention the three Persons together.
A Reassuring Promise
Matthew 28:20 provides us with the reassuring promise that Jesus is always with us. After sanctioning the mission, Jesus would ascend into heaven then send The Comforter, Holy Spirit, to reside in us.