Our Four Objectives to Discipleship
1. The Authority of Jesus
Jesus’ introduction in the Great Commission begins with Him announcing his authority. It is natural to assume that His words were only meant to comfort and deal with the disciples’ lack of faith. Christ may seem to want to establish a more intimate relationship by dealing with their indecisiveness of what has been seen and said previously to them. Therefore, announcing his authority may have appealed to the disciples’ faith of the clear and lucid picture of who Christ was. Also, this announcement was a preamble of the supreme right of Christ to appoint to office so the disciples could further His work in the order of baptizing and teaching (“A true faith is not chosen by men: it chooses men”)
The “Commission” properly synthesized the imperative verb, “make disciples” of all nations by its object “baptizing and teaching all nations.” The word nations (all nations or Gentiles), “ethnos” removes the restriction of the early mission of the disciples of only preaching to the Israelite people but stretches beyond the border of a once chosen people. The Interpreters Bible denotes that a Gentile must be discipled because of its inappropriateness to come to a wedding feast half dressed. A person must be clothed with righteousness, which is the word of Jesus’ teachings, to be properly groomed for the banquet.
Baptizing has been known as a symbolic act but should be treated beyond the mere mantra that most symbols convey. The New Interpreters Bible commentary explains baptizing as more than a symbol but an act of disembodied spirit that we must succeed in living. (New Interpreter’s Bible p. 623) Baptism and the Lord’s Supper must go beyond the means of tradition; but practiced as a sincere understanding of the true atoning of Christ death, burial, and resurrection.
Teaching, comprises of a disciples understanding of righteousness. It is beyond all forms of speech, life itself, and is the best confirmation of the authority of Christ according to the New Interpreter’s Bible commentary. (NIB p. 625) “The emphasis in the commission thus falls not on the initial proclamation of the gospel but more on the arduous task of nurturing into the experience of discipleship…” (Word Biblical Commentary p. 887) Teaching breathes life in the believer as it expresses the true essences of Christ commands. It means that true discipleship is following Jesus’ teachings as the way of righteousness.
4. The Promise
The last great proclamation in the Great Commissioning of Jesus’ disciples is the “Promise.” (And surely I am with you always…) The Word Biblical Commentary designates Matthew’s particular attention to the special character in this book, the “Promise,” which He earlier alluded to in Matthew 18:20. The “Promise” reiterates numerous passages in the Old Testament of the ever presence of Yahweh and how He is always with his people. Jesus stresses the same commitment as reminders that while the disciples are rendering his assignment, He is with them.
Buttrick, George Arthur. The Interpreter’s Bible. New York: Arlington Press Nashville, 1951
Hagner, Donald A. World Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: World Books, Publisher, 1993
Hare, Douglas R. A. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Louisville, Kenucky: John Knox Press, 1993
International Bible Society. Holy Bible New International Version. Colorado Springs, Co., 1973