The great commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

Summary

The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. Jesus said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”

Understanding the text

Jesus called his first disciples in the Galilee district. Now Galilee is the place where he gives his final instructions to them.

Jesus speaks of his authority, given to him by God, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” He is about to give his disciples three commands:

  1. “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples” – this means that all people everywhere must hear the gospel message.
  2. “baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” – from the very beginning, Christians were baptised as a sign of forgiveness of sin and entry into the church.
  3. “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” – the disciples need to pass on Jesus’ teaching and instruct new Christians how to live as believers.

Finally, Jesus ends with a promise, "And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus has given his disciples an enormous task, but he is not leaving them without help. He will shortly be returning to Heaven, but will remain with them in spirit.