A summary of Matthew 28.19-20
Written by: Kennedy, Tod M. Posted on: 05/06/2003
Category: Bible Studies
Strategic Objectives for the Church:
Evangelism (Witness) and Edification
(Teach/Learn Bible Doctrine) in Balance
A Summary of Matthew 28.19-20
1. God has given man (men and women) a primary objective to
accomplish while he lives on earth. Man is to represent God (act as
God's visible stand-in) through rulership and reflection. Rulership
means God has chosen man to be His agent and authority on earth.
Reflection means that man should be a mirror so that creation can see
God. Therefore man should demonstrate and mirror by his thoughts, by
his priorities, and by his actions God's character (what God is
like-divine attributes), God's greatness (positive superiority), and
God's authority (kingship and ownership) to angelic and human creation
(Gen 1.26-28; Job 1.6-2.10; Ps 8.3-6; Rom 11.36; 1 Cor 8.6; Eph 3.10;
Col 1.16; 1 Pet 4.11).
2. Matthew 28.19-20 is the record of a command briefing that Christ
gave His disciples (soon to become apostles to the church). It took
place on a mountain in Galilee. The purpose was to instruct them about
the strategic objectives of ministry for the entire interadvent
period. Believers carry out the strategic objectives in order to
accomplish God's primary objective for man on earth. This instruction
applied to their ministry and to the ministry of all those down
through the years that would follow them.
3. By the time that Christ gave this mandate to His disciples God
had already postponed the kingdom that He had promised to Israel
because Israel had rejected the King and His message (Matt 21.43-46).
4. When Christ gave this mandate He was anticipating the historical
period that would fall between His ascension and the beginning of the
earthly millennial kingdom in the future. He had planned that the
church age would take up most of this coming historical interlude.
5. The disciples were told to go from this briefing out into the
world of man.
6. The strategic objectives of those disciples listening to Christ
and of those that would follow were make disciples by witnessing and
6.1. Make disciples is the main verb (a word that indicates action
or being) of verses 19 and 20. The verb indicates that this is a
command from Christ to His disciples and that they are to take an
active part in making disciples. Therefore, Christ is giving a
commission or mandate to His staff. This commission calls for action
in response to Him.
6.2. A disciple is a believer, a learning pupil, and a faithful
follower of Christ (Matt 10.24-25; Lk 14.27; Jn 8.31; 15.8; Acts
11.26; 19.8-10). Make disciples begins with the witnessing process,
moves to the initial faith in Christ for salvation, and continues with
progressive growth in learning and commitment to Christ.
7. The recipient or target of this ministry is all the nations,
which refers to all ethnic, national, and racial groups.
8. The command to disciple all the nations requires believers to do
two things. The first is evangelism (witness). The second is
edification or teach/learn doctrine (from the perspective of those
that do not have communicating spiritual gifts, which is most
believers, this means learn Bible doctrine).
8.1. Baptizing and teaching are both used in this context to
support the main verb make disciples. They explain the method or means
or way to make disciples of all nations. God works through baptizing
and teaching to make disciples.
8.2. Baptizing in this context means the identification with Christ
in death and resurrection to new life by ritual immersion in water.
The word baptizing is used here instead of evangelizing or witnessing
because in the public ministry of John (Matthew 3.1-7; 11.16; Acts
13.24; 18.25), of Jesus (Matthew 3.13-17), and the life of the first
century church (Acts 2.38, 41; 8.12,13,16,36,38; 16.15,33; 1
Corinthians 1.13-17), baptism was linked with a faith response to the
message. It was a clear indication of this fact of witness and faith
acceptance of that message.
Therefore, baptizing refers to witnessing followed by faith response
to Christ and water baptism (the ritual indicates the new relationship
8.3. Teaching refers to the communication of content from one who
knows to one who listens in order to learn. The Biblical meaning is
that the person who knows (the teacher) communicates the Word of God
to other people who have placed themselves under the teacher's
authority in order to listen and to learn the Word of God (Bible
doctrine). Teaching results in an agreeable understanding or true
knowledge of the Word of God by the learner. The function of teaching
is carried out by gifted communicators, pastor/teacher and teacher
(Ephesians 4.11-16; 1 Corinthians 12.28-31; 1 Timothy 4.11; 2 Timothy
2.2; 4.2; Romans 12.7), but all believers are to communicate doctrine
to other believers with whom they come into contact (Hebrews 5.11-14).
9. Christ promises that He will be with them (and all believers that
accept His mandate). This refers to His personal presence, support,
and authority as detailed in John 13-17.
10. Until the end of the age indicates that this ministry is to
continue from the time Christ gave the mandate until He returns to
establish the promised millennial kingdom on earth for Israel. This
period of time includes the present church age.
11. The commission was not fulfilled, nor could it have been finally
accomplished by the eleven disciples. Christ was speaking to the
eleven disciples and to all believers that would follow throughout the
12. Therefore, God's ministry for the church is to make disciples
(learning, growing, obedient, committed believers) through a strong,
aggressive, intensive ministry on two fronts. These two fronts are
evangelism or witnessing for Christ (from an individual local church's
point of view this is the direction of the external ministry which
goes to the unbeliever) and edification or learning Bible doctrine
(the internal ministry of an individual local church and the external
ministry to other believers).
13. The epistles recognize and expand the doctrine of witnessing and
teaching/learning doctrine. They stress witnessing as the normal and
expected life of believers that are being taught (Rom 1.14-17;
10.13-17; 1 Cor 4.14-17; 5.14-21; Eph 4.11; 6.15,19; Phil 1.12-18; 1
Thes 1.8 1 Pet 1.23; 3.15; Jude 3).
The epistles also emphasize teach/learn Bible doctrine or
edification as the only way to gain knowledge of the Word of God
(spiritual food so necessary for spiritual health, growth, and living)
(Rom 1.8-12; 12.1-2; 1 Cor 2.10-16; 12-14; Eph 1.16-19; 2.19-22;
4.11-16; Phil 1.9-11; Col 1.9-11; 2.1-7; 1 Tim 1.3-5; 4.13-16; 2 Tim
2.2; 3.14-17; 4.2-5; Heb 5.11-14; 6.1; James 1.21-25; 1 Pet 2.2; 2 Pet
3.18; 2 Jn 1-6; 3 Jn 3-4).
14. In order to rightly fulfill God's command and God-given
potential for evangelism (witness) and edification (teach/learn),
believers need to actively live the Plan of God. (The Plan of God has
three parts; Eternal Plan of God with emphasis on eternity past and
future; Historical Plan of God with emphasis on the angelic conflict,
the theocratic kingdom, and dispensations; and the Daily Plan of God
which has mission/ministry, preparation, practice, and environment.)
See the doctrine of The Plan of God.
by Tod M. Kennedy
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