The Great Commission (Part 1 – ETS)

The second chapter of Equipping the Saints takes up Christ’s parting command to his disciples – the Great Commission.

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.’

  • Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

Dawson walks us through the Great Commission in the following outline:

  1. Resources: God has thoroughly resourced the church to accomplish this task – specifically, in the authority of Christ. There is not a resource in heaven or on earth that Jesus does not posses both dominion and authority.
  2. Objective: The expressed outcome is to make disciples. There is much more the church can and will do – and Christians are gifted in numerous ways. We are the body of Christ and we carry the peace and grace of God into the world, but let the ministry of the church flow out of our disciple making.
  3. Scope: This objective of disciple making is extended to all peoples – and to all nations.
  4. Tactics: Baptizing and teaching. Baptizing the name of the triune God and teaching disciples to obey every thing that Jesus commands.
  5. Resources: The Great Commission closes again with the resources God gives us. First, there is the authority in the heavenly realm and on earth. Now, Jesus promises us his presence. Wherever he sends us and wherever we are to go, Jesus meets us there.

It is this mission that the Apostle Paul made the purpose of his life. In some of his writings, Paul makes what – on face value – seems to be an extraordinary claim.

if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

  •  Colossians 1:23 (ESV)

It appears the Paul is saying he along with his partners and co-laborers in the Gospel have accomplished the Great Commission. To shed some light on this bold claim, we should consider another instance in scripture where Christ’s mandated mission to the church is recorded; in the book of Acts.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

  •  Acts 1:8 (ESV)

When the great chronicler of the apostle’s activity wrote the book of Acts, Luke begins with this sentence – which becomes a thesis statement for the book.


Looking Ahead:

  • As we wrap up this lesson on the Great commission, we will see that Acts 1:8 becomes the structure and outline for the book of Acts.
  • Additionally, we will consider just what Paul was claiming when he writes in Colossians 1:23, that the Gospel has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.
  • Finally, we will see how the global mandate – make disciples of all nations – connects both to the heresies of Paul’s contemporaries – and to the prophecies of an inclusive salvation made centuries before Christ’s birth.