The Great Commission


‘Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.’ Matthew 28:16-17

If you remember Jesus had not long appeared to His disciples to reassure them that He had indeed been raised from the dead. During that time, He promised them that He would meet them at a mountain somewhere in Galilee, Matthew 26:32 / Matthew 28:7 / Matthew 28:10. It would have been a very long walk from Jerusalem to Galilee.

It’s interesting that when they saw Jesus, they worshipped Him, but some still doubted. The reason for the doubt here is possibly because Jesus must have been a little distance away, maybe some of them didn’t recognise Him at first, as we shall see in Matthew 28:18.

It’s important to point out that the ‘doubting’ here isn’t in relation to their faith but in relation to identifying Jesus from a distance.

Keeping His Appointment

It’s a sad truth that within many of our congregations, we always have those who are late, they’re late for worship, late for Bible study, and late for any event that the church has planned. They’re never late for work or family events, which does beg the question of priorities.

As Coffman in his commentary rightly suggests, Christ made an appointment to meet His disciples in Galilee, and that appointment He kept.

He kept it in spite of:

1. His sleeping disciples

2. His betrayal

3. Their forsaking Him

4. His death

5. His burial

6. Peter’s denial

7. The big lie

8. The unbelief of many.

The only persons who didn’t meet Christ on that mount in Galilee are those who didn’t go there to keep their appointment.

Coffman goes on to say, in like manner, now Christ keeps His appointments with His disciples, in spite of similar lapses on their part, and what are those appointments?

They are:

1. To meet him in baptism

2. At the Lord’s table

3. In the trials of life

4. In death

5. In the judgment to come.

Only those who will not obey Him shall miss the joy of meeting the Lord in those appointments, but in the case of the judgment, all shall keep that appointment, whether they desire to do so or not.

The time for excuses is over, if Christ can keep His appointment after enduring everything He went through, then surely, we can keep our appointments and come together at the appointed time to worship Him and study His Word!

‘Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ Matthew 28:18

It’s here we find the possible reason for the doubting of some, Mathew 28:17, notice Matthew records, ‘then Jesus came near’, this suggests that He was a little distance away. This would explain why some doubted, they didn’t recognise Him from a distance, whilst others recognised Him straight away. The good news is that when He did come closer to them, the doubts would have gone, and all would have believed.

All Authority

When Jesus says, ‘all authority’ has been given to Him, He means exactly that, all authority, not some but all. The word ‘authority’ comes from the Greek word ‘exousia’ which Thayer defines as, ‘the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed.’

It was Jesus who gave up the riches of His heavenly home to become human, 2 Corinthians 8:9 / Philippians 2:5ff / John 1:1ff. It was Jesus who was tempted but yet didn’t sin, Hebrews 4:15. It was Jesus who remained faithful to God the Father all the days of His life, despite going through the suffering and shame of the cross, Philippians 2:8ff.

As proof of His faithfulness, God raised Him from the dead, which is why He can now say that He has been given all authority over heaven and earth. Because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, then surely this speaks loudly about His Deity, He really is God, He really is the Son of God, John 1:1 / John 20:28 / Acts 20:28 / Romans 9:5 / Philippians 2:6 / Hebrews 1:8 / Titus 2:13 / 2 Peter 1:1 / 1 John 5:20 / Revelation 1:8 / Colossians 2:9 / John 14:9.

This means that every person is subject to Jesus’ authority with the exception of the Father, 1 Corinthians 15:27. When Jesus ascended to the Father, He sat down at His right side. Then He poured out the Holy Spirit onto His apostles which proved that His reign as King had begun, Acts 2:1-36.

The kingdom which is His church began on the day of Pentecost and Jesus is its head on both the earth and in heaven, Ephesians 1:22-23. He has all authority over heaven and earth, hence why He’s called, the ‘King of kings and Lord or Lord’s’, 1 Timothy 6:15

The Scriptures clearly teach that He is reigning over His kingdom right now with all authority and that He will hand over His kingdom to the Father when He comes again, 1 Corinthians 15:24ff. He will continue to reign until all His enemies have been put under His feet, notwithstanding, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, 1 Corinthians 15:24-25.

‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Matthew 28:19

In all four Gospels we see that Jesus commissions the disciples to take the good news to the world, Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:15-16 / Luke 24:46-47 / John 20:21-23.


The word ‘go’ here carries with it the idea of continuous action, they were to continually go, it wasn’t a one-off act but a continuous act. to keep on going.

Make Disciples

Notice that they were to make disciples, the word ‘disciple’ comes from the Greek word ‘matheteuo’, which Thayer defines as ‘to be the disciple of one; to follow his precepts and instruction; to teach’.

In other words, a disciple is someone who is taught and follows the teaching of another. Surely this teaches us that people need to be taught before they become a disciple, Luke 14:25-33.

All Nations

The Greek words, ‘ta ethne’ means every ethnic group. Jesus wants the disciples to make disciples in every ethnic group of the world, Mark 16:15 / John 20:21.

And please know that ‘all nations’ means exactly that, we can’t pick and choose who we share the Gospel with, it means all people from every country there is in the world, despite their ethnicity or background. No one is to be exempt from hearing the good news, Acts 10:34-35 / Galatians 3:28ff / Colossians 1:6 / Colossians 1:23 / 1 Timothy 2:4 / 2 Peter 3:9.

Baptising Them

For the life of me, I simply don’t understand why so many people are resistant to be baptised when Christ clearly teaches here and in other places, Mark 16:16, that they need to be.

If baptism is an option and not really needed, then why would Christ command it? Why does the New Testament teach the importance of baptism over and over again if it wasn’t necessary for salvation?

Anyone who wants to truly follow Jesus must be baptised in order not only to have their sins forgiven but also to receive the ‘gift’, not ‘gifts’ of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

In The Name Of The Father And Of The Son And Of The Holy Spirit

In the Book of Acts, we see that people were baptised ‘in’ the Name of Jesus, Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 19:5, which simply means by the authority of Jesus.

But here Jesus says people are to be baptised ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. Take a moment to look at the word ‘in’ and then look at the footnote in your Bible where it tells us that the word used is actually the word, ‘into’.

Do you see the difference this makes?

In Acts, the Greek word used is the word, ‘en’ which refers to a person being with the authority of the name of Jesus.

Here in Matthew, it’s the Greek word, ‘eis’ which is used which means ‘into’, in other words when a person is baptised, they are baptised ‘into’ a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And so, when a person is baptised, they are baptised with the authority of Christ and at the same time they enter a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Please note that although three names are given, they are one name. In other words, the unity and oneness of God are being taught in this verse. There are three persons in the Godhead, and each has a name, but their name is one

‘And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28:20

Teaching Them To Obey Everything I Have Commanded You

If anyone claims to be a Christian, the proof is seen in their obedience to Christ’s teachings, John 14:15 / 1 John 4:19. It’s such a shame that some so-called Christians, just pick and choose which teachings they will follow. Obeying everything means obeying everything, 1 Corinthians 4:6 / 2 Peter 1:3 / Jude 1:3.

We also see that everything which Christ taught His disciples, was to be taught to others. This shows us the importance of Bible study and getting to know exactly what Christ taught, in order words, for us to teach others what Christ taught.

Yes, it’s true, in its context, the Great Commission was given to the apostles, but we still have a responsibility to share that same good news with others today, 2 Timothy 2:2.

I Am With You Always

Jesus knows exactly what’s coming next for the apostles, it wasn’t going to be easy, prison, persecution, and even death were all awaiting them in the not too distant future and so Jesus promises them that He will be with them through it all, He wouldn’t abandon them, Acts 12:1-2 / Matthew 18:20 / Acts 18:10.

The same promise is for us today as Christians, God is omnipresent and powerful, He knows exactly what’s going on in each of our lives, Hebrews 1:3 and He promises never to abandon us, Romans 8:28 / Hebrews 13:5-6 / 1 Peter 3:12.

To The Very End Of The Age

Jesus here isn’t saying that He will be with His disciples until they die, this promise goes way beyond this, after all, wouldn’t He be with them when they do eventually die anyway? Luke 20:38 / John 14:1-3 / 2 Timothy 1:10.

He’s referring to the end of the Christian age, judgment and the end of the world. The time is coming when the world will come to an end, 2 Peter 3:1-13, no one knows when this will happen, Matthew 24:36, but until it does the church has the huge responsibility to take that good news, concerning Jesus out to the masses, Mark 16:16.

Although at times this seems like an impossible task, we need to remember that Jesus would never have commissioned it, if it wasn’t possible.


It’s all too easy to get comfortable with the salvation that we have in Christ and to look forward to eternal life, but at the same time, there is a sense of urgency to try and reach the lost.

When we look at our world, it can sometimes feel overwhelming, and we begin to think there’s no way we can reach everyone.

Maybe we should focus on the people who are in our ‘world’, our families, friends and neighbours, our work colleagues etc, whilst remembering we’re not responsible for making Christians, Acts 2:47 / 1 Corinthians 3:7-8, we’re responsible for sharing the message.