Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
English Standard Version
From the Editor: In Jesus’ last words to his disciples, he commissions them. He leaves them with a task, a mission to carry out for the rest of their lives. Part of the mission includes welcoming others to participate in the mission, so that the church (or God’s people) all around the world might be unified in purpose. So what is the mission of God’s people, as described in the Great Commission? Author Kevin DeYoung, in his book What Is the Mission of the Church, helps us answer this question:
We can summarize this mission by answering seven questions:
Who? Jesus gave this mission verbally to the first disciples, but it did not end with their deaths. As Lord of the church, he expects his followers to carry out this mission “to the end of the age.” Their mission is our mission.
Why? The authority for our mission comes from Christ. It is rooted in the Word of God and based on the Father’s sending of the Son. We are sent because Christ was sent, and we go in his name, under his authority.
What? The mission consists of preaching and teaching, announcing, and testifying, making disciples and bearing witness. The mission focuses on the initial and continuing verbal declaration of the gospel, the announcement of Christ’s death and resurrection and the life found in him when we repent and believe.
Where? We are sent into the world. Our strategy is no longer “come and see” but “go and tell.” The message of salvation is for every people group—near, far, and everywhere in between.
How? We go out in the power of the Holy Spirit and in submission to the Son just as he was obedient to and dependent upon the Father.
When? The mission began at Pentecost when the disciples were clothed with power from on high with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The mission will last as long as the promise of Christ’s presence lasts; that is, to the end of the age.
To whom? The church should make disciples of the nations. We must go to every people group, proclaiming the good news to the ends of the earth.
The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.
We believe this is the mission Jesus gave the disciples prior to his ascension, the mission we see in the New Testament, and the mission of the church today.
This mission is a specific set of things Jesus has sent his church into the world to accomplish and is significantly narrower than “everything God commands.”
That’s not to say that our broader obligations aren’t important. They are! Jesus and the apostles command us to parent our children well, to be loving husbands and wives, to do good to all people, and many other things. Jesus even tells us in the Great Commission itself (as Matthew records it) to teach people “to observe all that I have commanded you.”
But that doesn’t mean that everything we do in obedience to Christ should be understood as part of the church’s mission. The mission Jesus gave the church is more specific than that. And that, in turn, doesn’t mean that other commands Jesus gives us are unimportant. It means that the church has been given a specific mission by its Lord, and teaching people to obey Christ’s commands is a nonnegotiable part of that mission.
We go, we proclaim, we baptize, and we teach—all to the end of making lifelong, die-hard disciples of Jesus Christ who obey everything he commanded.
So here it is again: the mission of the church—as seen in the Great Commissions, the early church in Acts, and the life of the apostle Paul—is to win people to Christ and build them up in Christ.
Making disciples—that’s our task.
Content adapted from What is the Mission of the Church? (p. 58-59, 62-63) by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, ©2021. Used by permission of Crossway.
The Great Commission is not a calling for some; it is a mandate for all… When it comes to a calling, we don’t need a voice; we have a verse (Matthew 28:19). It is now our responsibility, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to evaluate how we are best suited to fulfill that call… We… see every member of our church as a potential missionary to be equipped and mobilized. Our goal is not to send some, or even our best, but to send all into the mission—to our city, across the country, or to the other side of the world.| Source
If a commission by
an earthly king
is considered an honor,
how can a commission
by a Heavenly King
be considered a sacrifice?
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me,
“You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make
the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
"I have made
you a light
for the Gentiles,
that you may
to the ends
of the earth."
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
We need to go.
We need to go
to where the nations are,
whether that means
crossing the street,
or crossing an ocean.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
"But go, and disciple them."
Christ the Mediator is
setting up a kingdom
in the world,
bring the nations
to be his subjects;
setting up a school,
bring the nations
to be his scholars;
raising an army for the
carrying on of the war
against the powers of
enlist the nations
of the earth
under his banner.
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
I did not shrink
to you anything
that was profitable
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
done in God’s way
will never lack