What Is The Great Commission?

The Great Commission is to make disciples who will continue to do what Jesus did.

MATTHEW 28:19-20 paraphrase

Go teach disciples, in every people group, (who have all the Godhead backing them), to do what Jesus commanded His first disciples to do.

Many Christians have a wrong understanding of what the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is. They think if we can just proclaim the Gospel to everyone, using tools like radio, television, and publications, that we will have obeyed it.

The Great Commission of Jesus is not just to preach the Gospel to everyone, but to make disciples so the Gospel can be effectively preached to everyone.

The Great Commission includes teaching disciples to do all the things Jesus taught His original disciples to do. That includes healing the sick and raising the dead!

A commission is (1) an authorization to perform certain duties or tasks, or to take on certain powers, (2) authority to act in behalf of another, (3) an entrusting, as of power, authority, etc., to a person or body.

Who Is It Given To?

The Great Commission is given to all disciples of Jesus Christ. It was originally given to Jesus' first disciples. But, because it tells them to teach disciples to obey everything they were taught by Jesus, it is perpetual.

MATTHEW 28:18-20 NKJ
18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

MARK 16:15-20 NKJ
15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17 "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18 "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

JOHN 20:21 NKJ
21 Then Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."

JOHN 14:12 NKJ
12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

Believers today can do what the first disciples of Jesus did -- because they have the same authority and power and ability available to them in Christ Jesus.

1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.

Jesus' instructions to His disciples as He sent them out to preach is recorded in Matthew 10:5-42. (Note that Matthew 11:1 says Jesus finished commanding His disciples.) You should read the whole passage in your Bible, but here are the first few verses.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.
6 "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 "And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
8 "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Luke's account is found in chapter 9.

LUKE 9:1-2,6 NKJ
1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.
2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

It is important to realize that after Jesus sent out the twelve, He sent out seventy other disciples also with basically the same instructions. Read the following passage from Luke 10 carefully.

LUKE 10:1-9,16-20 NKJ
1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.
2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
3 "Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.
4 "Carry neither money bag, sack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.
5 "But whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house.'
6 "And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.
7 "And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.
8 "Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.
9 "And heal the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.'
16 "He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."
17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."
18 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19 "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20 "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

How Can It Be Accomplished?

Look at the ministry of Jesus: He is the pattern. We are commanded to follow His example. That is how He taught His disciples -- by His example -- and we are to teach everything to each generation of disciples He taught His original disciples.

Jesus believes in the principle of multiplication as the only effective strategy to reach the world. God does not want us to stop at making converts; He wants disciples.

The only way the Great Commission of Mark 16 can be done is by using the method of Matthew 28.

Matthew 28 details the procedure we must follow on how to successfully proclaim the

Gospel to every one.

Was Jesus of Nazareth in a hurry to reach the world? It certainly did not seem like it. Many times Jesus shunned crowds to spend time with His few disciples. Why? Jesus was interested in quality, not quantity, because He believes in multiplication.

Each person multiplying by reaching another disciple would include the entire population of the world in just 33 times of multiplication.

Responsible Evangelism

A father should accept responsibility for the result of the seed he planted. So when someone responds to your message by receiving Jesus Christ, you have a responsibility to disciple them, if it is possible. You cannot push that responsibility off on your Pastor or anyone else. It is your responsibility before God.

15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

We recognize how irresponsible it is for a man to go around fathering natural children without taking care of them. It is the same with spiritual children!

Also, we must make sure our efforts at evangelism are not just inoculations against real Christianity. Remember that an inoculation prevents someone from receiving the real thing by giving them just a small dose of it, which makes them immune to the real thing.

Misunderstanding the Great Commission can cause efforts at evangelism which are irresponsible. Read and think about these verses from Second Peter.

2 PETER 2:20-21 NKJ
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

What Should You Do?

Although Jesus gave us the Great Commission, it is not our God. We must still be led by His Spirit in what we do. We are not to take Jesus' command and run off on our own. Jesus is our Lord -- our Commander in Chief -- and we must be directed by Him.

This is not to say that the Great Commission is not in effect, or that it is only for some people; only that we do not know how best to carry it out on our own. We need the Lord's direction day by day.

Are you supposed to go into all the world? Most likely not, at least not directly. The first disciples did not, and you probably will not either. However, you can do it through those you reach if you train them to multiply.

Matthew 28 tells the scope of operations, which is all the world. Looking at the Great Commission primarily as "going to preach" has caused most people to ignore it because they think they cannot go to all the world, so they have done nothing.

If you do think you should leave the place you live now and move to another place for the purpose of spreading the Gospel -- be sure God is sending you -- and that you are not just going on your own.

Actually the passage in Mark could be translated, "As you go . . . ." It does not tell you to go somewhere else, just to tell the Good News as you go.

As you go about your life, tell about Jesus, and do the same works that He did. And concentrate on making other disciples who will do the same. That is Jesus' Great Commission to you!

Go to BELIEVE! Papers List
Go to Believers Home Page