Help with article reflection: globalisation of missions: an exegesis

If you are looking for affordable, custom-written, high-quality, and non-plagiarized papers, your student life just became easier with us. We are the ideal place for all your writing needs.

Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper

Help with Article Reflection Open Access

In die Skriflig / In Luce Verbi
ISSN: (Online) 2305-0853, (Print) 1018-6441

Page 1 of 7 Original Research

Read online:
Scan this QR
code with your
smart phone or
mobile device
to read online.

Mookgo S. Kgatle1

1Department of Christian
Spirituality, Church History
and Missiology, University of
South Africa, South Africa

Corresponding author:
Mookgo Kgatle,
[email protected]

Received: 26 Dec. 2017
Accepted: 18 Apr. 2018
Published: 11 July 2018

How to cite this article:
Kgatle, M.S., 2018,
‘Globalisation of missions:
An exegesis on the Great
Commission (Mt 28:18–20)’,
In die Skriflig 52(1), a2346.

© 2018. The Authors.
Licensee: AOSIS. This work
is licensed under the
Creative Commons
Attribution License.

The Great Commission1 in Matthew 28:18–202 is an instruction to Jesus’ disciples to make disciples
of all nations, baptise and teach them to observe all things that Jesus has taught them. Jesus
promises that he will be with them until the end. There is an enormous volume of literature in
many languages dealing with the Great Commission: thousands of books, monographs, essays
and articles. Every year some 10 000 new bibliographical items on evangelisation are added. The
vast majority expounds and analyses the subject from the standpoint of normative Christian
theology: what the Bible says, what Christian mission requires and how it should be implemented –
in short, what Christians ought to do about it and how Christians ought to obey Christ’s Great
Commission in 28:18–20 (Fanning 2011:1).What is new in this article, is that the exegesis of the text
helps us to arrive at the conclusion that this passage is about global missions.

The article will demonstrate through a grammatical historical approach that Jesus’ authority in
heaven and on earth is a global authority. Furthermore, the commissioning of Jesus’ disciples to
go and make disciples of all the nations, baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all things that Jesus has commanded them, is a call to global
mission. Lastly, when Jesus promised the disciples that he will always be with them, he assured
them of a global victory. This will be achieved by looking at the history of interpretation and the
exegesis of 28:16–20. The conclusion here is that the Great Commission in this passage is a call to
global missions.

This article discusses the major themes. Jesus says that all authority in heaven and on earth is
given to him. The word authority will be analysed to understand what kind of authority is
Jesus talking about here and why was it important for him to talk about authority before the
commissioning of the disciples. The article explores the meaning of teaching that Jesus has already
commanded and the fact that Jesus promised to be always with them until the end.

The theological context of Matthew 28:18–20
The Great Commission in 28:18–20 is about the commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples to
make disciples of all nations and teach them all things that Jesus has commanded. According to
Chung (2015:276) this passage plays a crucial role as a motif in almost every Christian gathering,
causing people to recall the significance of mission and evangelism. In fact, this passage functions
as a support – even a command – allowing Christians to legitimise almost every kind of missionary
work in order to compel non-Christians to become disciples of Jesus. In many cases throughout

1.In Christianity, the Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples to spread his teachings to all the
nations of the world. The most famous version of the Great Commission is in Matthew 28:18–20, where on a mountain in Galilee Jesus
calls on his followers to baptise all nations in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

2.All further references to Matthew 28:18-20 will be indicated only by chapter or verses or refer to as ‘this passage’.

This article is an exegesis on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18–20 by using a grammatical
historical approach. A grammatical historical approach on Matthew 28:18–20 demonstrates
that Jesus’ authority in heaven and on earth is a global authority. Furthermore, the
commissioning of Jesus’ disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptise them in the
name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all things that Jesus
has commanded them, is a call to global mission. When Jesus promised the disciples that
he would be always with them, he assured them of a global victory. This will be achieved by
looking at the history of interpretation of Matthew 28:18–20. The exegesis of this passage
is explored in detail. The conclusion is that the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18–20 is a
call to global mission.

Globalisation of missions: An exegesis on
the Great Commission (Mt 28:18–20)

Read online:
Scan this QR
code with your
smart phone or
mobile device
to read online.

Page 2 of 7 Original Research Open Access

the history of mission, Christians, in general, and missionaries,
in particular, have focused on the task of fulfilling the
commission as worded to Jesus’ disciples without serious
consideration for how the commission is carried out in a
given space and time.

It has been recognised by Finkbeiner (1991:16) that the closing
pericope (28:18–20) is fully intended to be the climax towards
which the entire gospel moves. By tying together some of
Matthew’s most dominant themes, these verses give them a
new depth that reaches back and sheds light on the entire
gospel. Matthew’s Gospel ends with the expectation of
continued mission and teaching. The five preceding sections
always conclude with a block of Jesus’ teaching (Mt 3:1–26:5),
but the passion and resurrection of Jesus ends with a
commission to his disciples to carry on with that same
ministry in the light of the cross, the empty tomb, and the
triumphant vindication and exaltation of the risen Lord.

Matthew 28:18–20 is a charge given by Jesus to his disciples
in order that they may continually reproduce themselves for
as long as Christ desires. Matthew uses five lines to present
this scenario. He first covers the characters and setting, then
he moves on to the circumstances. He gives them motivation
for their action, commands them what to do and how to do it,
and finally, closes with a promise that only God can make
(Phelps 2011:17). Jesus therefore commissions the disciples
to go out and make disciples of all the nations by creating
communities of obedience among the nations. ‘Mission is
replicated discipleship, learned through ethical obedience
and passed on through teaching’ (White & Assimeng 2017:5).

This passage is an adequate model for a church missions
programme in setting a vision, establishing purpose and
making decisions. It asserts that the model of making
disciples can integrate the inseparable entities of evangelism
and social justice in the mission of the church, while at the
same time, respecting the distinction between them. While
social justice is never misplaced in Christian mission, it can
never replace the proclamation of the gospel (Stromsmoe
2011:6). The Great Commission is a charge to proclaim the
gospel which involves preaching the good news, witnessing
from a personal experience and relationship with God,
effectively loving one’s neighbour by the power of the Holy
Spirit, and journeying through the process of discipleship
and growth into becoming a church (Jambrek 2016:155).

Matthew 28:18–20 must be viewed as the gospel’s climax,
but over and above this, it needs to be appreciated that it
looks more towards the future than back to the past. It is in
other words, a bridging passage that concludes Matthew’s
story of the ‘historical Jesus’ and points the reader to a new
era of universal mission for the church which conducts
its endeavours under the protection of the risen Christ
(Sim 2014:2). This passage is a careful summary of the
key themes of the gospel which tie together Matthew’s
Christology, ecclesiology and salvation history (Donaldson
1985:170). Matthew 28:18–20 not only concludes the
resurrection narrative and the book of Matthew as a whole,

but also summarises the message of the first gospel itself.
The heading, Great Commission, is inappropriate, because
the passage is mainly an epiphany or exaltation story directed
to the new status of the risen One (Osborne 1976:73).

Witherington (2006:531) argues that, while the Great
Commission reiterates some of the gospel’s major themes
and draws together a number of threads in the text, it cannot
really be called the key to the interpretation of Matthew.
France (2007:1108–1109) concedes that it is possible to read
the texts theologically from the Great Commission to
illuminate earlier parts of the gospel, but he argues that,
both in literary terms and aesthetically, it is preferable to
read the story chronologically – from beginning to end – to
appreciate the fully unfolding revelation of the Son of God
which reaches its climax in the final pericope.

Nonetheless, the Great Commission is important in
understanding the whole Gospel of Matthew. The Great
Commission is Matthew’s ‘table of contents’ located at
the end. The beginning and the end are more significant
than the other Gospels (Lee & Viljoen 2010:1). Not only is
28:18–20 an integral part of the entire gospel, but indeed the
evangelist intended it as a summary and an endorsement of
the gospel. No other book in the entire scripture comes to
such a satisfactory conclusion as Matthew does with Jesus’
command to preserve his words and make disciples through
baptism and his promise to be with the church until the
current epoch has ended.3 The evangelist never informs his
readers whether the apostles actually followed the command
to make disciples of the Gentiles (Scaer 1991:246).

The history of interpretation of this passage demonstrates
that many scholars (Donaldson 1985; Osborne 1976; Sim 2014)
view the Great Commission as a summary. Although others
(France 2007; Witherington 2006) argue against the Great
Commission as a summary of the gospel, they at least
acknowledge that it is a major theme of the gospel. What is
important for this article is an exegesis of the text to understand
the original meaning. Major Greek words and verbs will be
analysed in order to understand the text. The purpose is to
demonstrate that the call of Great Commission is a call to
global missions.

Exegesis of Matthew 28:18–20
All authority
18 καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων· Ἐδόθη μοι
πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς·[18 And Jesus came and
spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in
heaven and on earth’.]

In this passage, the one who spoke the commission is the one
who had been given ‘all authority’ (v. 18) to do so. The
authority of Christ is not a new theme in this gospel (see e.g.
Mt 7:29; 10:1, 7–8; 11:27; 22:43–44; 24:35). His power to defeat

3.Although this might be true, it must be noted that some scholars argue that the long
ending of Mark’s Gospel rivals Matthew’s Gospel. Even if the long ending does not
belong in Mark’s Gospel, some contend for it.

Page 3 of 7 Original Research Open Access

the devil (Mt 4:1–11), to teach like no other (7:28–29), to calm
nature (8:23–27), to forgive sin (9:1–8) and to heal the sick
(9:27–31) had already been established (Lawless 2011:17).
Authority refers to the power of deity assumed by him at his
resurrection and ascension. Authority in this text is
transferred to human beings, because, regarding his divine
nature, ‘all power’ has been always his. On the other hand, it
may simply be an assertion of his ‘eternal power and
Godhead’ as ‘Son of Man’. It was to prepare the disciples to
expect his power to be with them in their difficulties and
weakness as they were to make disciples of the nations
(Culver 1968:117).

Despite (or perhaps because of) the hesitation of the eleven,
Jesus approaches them. Before the commission in verse 19,
he assures them of his sovereignty over heaven and earth.
Elsewhere in Matthew Jesus claims the authority to forgive
sins (9:6) and that all things have been given to him by
the Father (11:27). Therefore, the claim here only heightens
the reader’s understanding of Jesus’ authority. Jesus
gives a new dimension to the implications of his authority
(Freeman 1997:16).

Christ addresses his disciples – some of whom are hesitant
to worship him – and clearly expresses his exalted position
of authority. Matthew 28:18b expresses Jesus’ consciousness
of full authority with a view to wielding that authority in
the command that follows (Chung 2015:283). ‘Jesus claims
universal authority. It is on the basis of this mediatorial
authority, in heaven and on earth, that the Saviour issues
his commission to his followers’ (Thomas 2000:44). Just as
Jesus counted on the authority of his Father to control the
circumstances and resources to enable him to carry out his
mission, he expects his disciples to count on his authority
to fulfil and obey all his commands as he did in obedience to
the Father’s will. The declaration means that he will exercise
his full ‘authority in heaven and earth’ in order to accomplish
his purpose in the world and in and through their lives
(Fanning 2011:5).

The indicative statement that introduces the Great Commission
(‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’)
alerts us to the reality that Jesus is not only a teacher – he is the
Lord. This reinforces the conclusion that the pattern of disciple
making is not to be a human relationship, but one that faithfully
points to Christ. In other words, we do not make disciples that
follow us, but rather, with God’s grace and help, we make
disciples that follow Jesus (Stromsmoe 2011:37). Jesus indicates
that the resurrection was his enthronement, the beginning of
his kingly reign, when he says, ‘All authority in heaven and on
earth has been given to me’. Authority, indicating Matthew’s
Christological theme, is translated from the Greek word
ἐξουσία [right or power]. By proclaiming himself as the highest
and only authority, Jesus himself stands behind the command
of verse 19 (Hertig 2001:345).

The immediate literary context of the command to make
disciples is the risen Jesus’ claim of authority over heaven
and earth. The command to make disciples is closely related

to the claim of authority through the use of the conjunction
οὖν4 (Lee & Viljoen 2010:4). The gospel points to Jesus as the
final, ultimate and complete revelation of God, but this
arrangement is then punctuated by Jesus’ own words: ‘All
authority is given to Me in heaven and earth’. This passage
can, with good reason, refer to Jesus in almost Pauline terms
as the one in whom heaven and earth have their completion –
the new Adam in which God establishes his new creation
(Col 1:15–16). God establishes Christ as the new Adam, the
man from heaven (1 Cor 15:45) in whom his new humanity is
joined together – not by blood, but by the proclamation of the
gospel, baptism and faith (Scaer 1991:253).

In verse 18, Jesus is a man with authority. He received this
authority from God the Father and in this passage Jesus is
transferring the power to his disciples so that they can fulfil
the Great Commission. This authority, according to Jesus,
precedes the Great Commission, because the process of
making disciples of all nations is a divine assignment that the
disciples cannot fulfil by their own power. What is more
important for this article is that this authority is given in
heaven and on earth. It is a universal authority. Jesus is
assuring his disciples that there is no other power in heaven
or on earth than the power that the Father has given him.

All nations
19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες
αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου
πνεύματος, [19a Go therefore (οὖν) and make disciples of all
the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit,]

The phrase all the nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη) points to the
unrestricted nature of mission. The Great Commission’s
phrase πάντα τὰ ἔθνη must include the Jews, because it
includes the qualifying adjective πάντα [all] as narrative of
the sheep and goats. In fact, mission to the Jews had already
been commanded (Mt 10:6) and is now taken for granted
(25:32). Furthermore, it would be absurd to imagine that a
mission mandate given from a Jew to Jewish disciples would
exclude Jews, especially when they have already been
included (Mt 10:6; Hertig 2001:347).

Some understand the term ἔθνη as referring only to Gentiles –
an interpretation likely built on a belief that God had
ultimately rejected the Jews who had first rejected him
(Lawless 2011:19). Others view ‘nations’ as ‘peoples’ or
‘ethnic groups’. Gentiles and Jews alike would thus have
been included in this call. The gospel would be for all the
world – not only for the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 10:6; Lawless
2011:19). The word nations translates the word ἔθνη from
which we have the English word ethnic. Today we use the
expression ethnic people group to define the many ethno-
linguistic distinct groups of people that consider themselves

4.οὖν is apparently a primary word; (adverbially) certainly or (conjunctionally)
accordingly and (so, truly), but, now (then), so (likewise then), then, therefore,
verily, wherefore. It is a conjunction indicating that something necessarily follows
from another. It is used in drawing a conclusion and in logically connecting sentences
together (see Mounce & Mounce 2008).

Page 4 of 7 Original Research Open Access

different from other people because of their unique language,
culture and beliefs. Churches today largely ignore or are
ignorant of these groups of people. Most prayer lists in
churches never include the names of any unreached group of
people (Fanning 2011:12).

Most scholars, according to Sim (2014:3), accept the view that
πάντα τὰ ἔθνη should be translated as ‘all the nations’ which
includes both the Jews and the Gentiles. On this reading of
the text, the original mission to the Jews is now expanded to
include the Gentiles. It emphasises the importance of Jesus’
focus on all nations. This marks a shift from Jesus as a Jewish
rabbi to Jesus as the way to redeem the entire world. If the
disciples can change the people of all nations, the world can
be redeemed (Hiebert 1992:343).

Viljoen (2006:259) says that the horizon of Matthew is
broadened to include Gentiles along with Jews. The Matthean
community welcomed and expected converts from all nations.
This created much tension with the synagogue where Jews
strived to uphold their exclusiveness within a community
that was overwhelmed by Hellenism. Through the continuing
challenge of the Great Commission, people from all nations
are to be made Christ’s disciples (Lee & Viljoen 2010:3). Each
geographic and cultural context needs to be considered,
because ‘the first divine act of translation into humanity gives
rise to a constant succession of new translations’.

Franklin and Niemandt (2013:4) say that the target of the
mission charge of the Great Commission is ‘all nations’.
There was no other choice for Matthew, but πάντα τὰ ἔθνη in
order to convey the idea that the commission was aimed at
all human beings, including Jews. Translating the phrase as
‘all the Gentiles’ and thereby excluding the Jews from its
connotation does not coincide with the risen Lord’s claim of
universal authority. The word study favours the translation of
the phrase as ‘all nations’ rather than ‘the entire Gentiles’.

What is important and even shocking for Matthew’s Jewish
audience is that the new followers of Jesus are to come from
the Gentiles and that they, the descendants of the patriarchs,
have lost their special status (Mt 8:11–12). Jesus had given
command to his disciples to go to the lost sheep of the house
of Israel and to avoid the Gentiles (Mt 10:56). In sharp
distinction to this prohibition is verse 19 where the Jews, as
a distinct people, are not even mentioned. Disciples are to be
made of the Gentiles. No longer is the mission only to the
Jews, or first to the Jews and then to the Greeks (Rm 1:16; Gl
3:28), but simply to the Gentiles. It is noteworthy that ethnic
is a neuter plural, and would thus be expected as the proper
form in opposition to it (Scaer 1991:251).

Therefore, it is better to take the commission here as expanding
the ‘mission’ of Matthew 10:5 to include all ethnic groups.
What Matthew intends with this reading, is that the disciples
understand that their mission is to ethnic groups and they
must preserve the ethnic identity of each group. Group
conversions can, and perhaps should be the norm. Thus, Jesus

commands the making of disciples of individuals from all
ethnic groups, including Judaism (Freeman 1997:18). The
mandate is that Christians have to proclaim the good news to
all nations and thus fulfil the commission given by Christ in
verse 19 (Tucker & Woodbridge 2012:2).

Jesus commissioned the disciples to a worldwide mission
of teaching which was parallel and in contrast to Rome’s
desire for worldwide societal control (Cronshaw 2016:111).
In this way of thinking, the Trinity, which is the centrality
of the Christological identity in Christian doctrine, is
marginalised by the beneficial work of the Son for human
beings on earth, just as the centrality of the power relation
between different groups of people is relativised by the
welfare of all human beings. This benefit of welfare would
then explain why the mission command contains an injunction
to baptise all nations and to bring new believers in through
a confirmation of the triune God working cohesively
(Chung 2015:286).

The Great Commission is a commission to all nations as
described by the Greek phrase πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. The commission
now includes the Gentiles as opposed to the previous
whereby the disciples were commanded to only go to the lost
sheep of the children of Israel. It is a commission to all people
regardless of race, religion, colour and class. The gospel now
must be preached to the whole lost world. The gospel has
expanded to other ethnic groups – not only to the Jews. The
Great Commission includes all the geographic and cultural
contexts of the world.

All things that I have commanded you
20a διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην
ὑμῖν·[20a teaching them to observe all things that I have
commanded you].

The command is to ‘teach all things’, and the author records
Jesus giving a command for active evangelism somewhere
in those discourses. Then the command would apply to
believers at all times and in all places because of Christ’s
command in Matthew 28 (Phelps 2011:33). The final phrase of
the Great Commission, ‘teaching them to obey everything
that I have commanded’, refers to the on-going training in all
the commands of the New Testament. The phrase to obey
means ‘to attend to carefully, or to guard a prisoner’. It refers
to a lifestyle of learning, remembering and practising all the
teaching commands of Jesus and the Holy Spirit throughout
the New Testament (Fanning 2011:17).

‘Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’
provides the content of what is to be passed on to others in
the process of discipleship. If the disciples are to teach them
to obey ‘everything’ Jesus has commanded, then the mission
of the disciples is to be holistic (Hertig 2001:348). Discipleship
involves diligent teaching of the gospel and practices that
promotes a lifestyle of becoming ever more like Jesus Christ.
Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend – it
must transcend all comprehension. It is a life of strict

Page 5 of 7 Original Research Open Access

adherence and obedience to Christ and his commandments.
It is also a strict adherence to Christ as the object of our faith
(White & Assimeng 2017:6).

The ‘teaching’ of verse 20 refers to the communication of the
total revelation which God has given in Jesus and not only
the call to faith. The call to repentance (i.e. contrition and
faith) is the call to be baptised. The teaching (διδάσκοντες)
goes beyond that call. This teaching does not refer to that
necessary preaching which must precede baptism, and in
a sense, is comprehended by baptism, but rather to the
continued exposition of the gospel in the church among those
who have become disciples through baptism. Those who are
made disciples remain disciples by listening to the apostolic
teaching which is nothing else than preaching the complete
counsel of God (Scaer 1991:256).

The disciples are commissioned to teach the new disciples to
keep what Jesus commanded. It is Jesus’ own teaching and
not the Torah that is the substance of what is to be taught.
Throughout Matthew, the emphasis has been on Jesus as the
teacher. Now the disciples are for the first time commissioned
to also teach. However, it is not just that they are to teach. They
are to teach the converts ‘to keep’ (τηρεῖν) that which Jesus
taught. This verb adds a distinctively ethical dimension to the
teaching. Christianity is Torah-based, but it is, nevertheless,
inherently moral. Any proclamation of the gospel, which does
not have this Christocentric ethic, is not the gospel as Matthew
presents it (Freeman 1997:18).

The disciples are commanded to baptise those who believe
and after the baptism to orientate the believers in the way
that they should live here on earth as the children of God.
This commandment is based on the whole gospel of Jesus
without selecting some facts. It means the gospel of Jesus, as
presented in the Great Commission, is a holistic gospel. It has
an ability to cover various areas of life as Jesus taught his
disciples. The Great Commission is a command to teach the
believers the whole truth without compromise; it is teaching
without fear and favour.

I am with you always
20 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθʼ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας
τοῦ αἰῶνος. [20b and behold, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age. Amen].

The promise of Jesus at the end of Matthew, ‘I am with you
always, even to the end of the ages’ (v. 20), was much more
than a perfunctory closing to a call statement. It was an
announcement of victory even in the midst of persecution. In
all of these dangerous situations, the disciples would need to
trust the bookend truths of Matthew’s Gospel: the virgin-
born redeemer, named ‘God with us’ (1:27) would be with
them to the end (28:20; Lawless 2011:23).

This last promise in Matthew extends beyond the life span
of the disciples to every believer that commits to the task

of raising up a group of Christ-followers among every
ethno-linguistic group of people on earth ‘to the end of
the age’ (v. 20b). This phrase is also found in Matthew
13:39–40, 49; 24:3 which refers to the end of the present age
when the Son of Man returns to establish his kingdom. Thus,
the promise not only applied to these first century disciples,
but to every disciple since then and until the end of the church
age (Fanning 2011:21).

The Great Commission, with the task of proclaiming the
gospel and making, baptising and teaching the disciples
along with serving the needy, cannot be separated from the
power and the presence of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Christ
has promised to be with those who will fulfil his commission
in all the days to the end of the world (Jambrek 2016:158). The
promise of Jesus to be present ‘always, to the very end of the
age’ indicates that his presence and mission is extended to
the end of human history. Therefore, the Great Commission
is an eschatological mandate given in a period between the
resurrection and the end of human history (cf. Mt 24:14;
Hertig 2001:348).

The commission ends with the promise of Jesus’ presence
which is similar to those Old Testament passages in which
God promised his presence to those he commissioned. Now
they are promised that he will be with them all the days until
the consummation of the ages. In Matthew 1:23 the name
Immanuel was interpreted as ‘God (is) with us’. Now the
disciples are assured that, as they go in his name, he will
continue to be Immanuel to them.

The Great Commission ends with the promise that Jesus will
be with his disciples until the end of the ages. Jesus is assuring
his disciples that the fact that he is ascending to heaven to be
at the right hand of his Father does not mean he is leaving
them. It is not only the promise to the disciples, but also to
the believers that will be born in the time to come. The Great
Commission is timeless and infinite, because it is to be valid
until the end of the ages. It is a commission beyond human

Globalisation of mission
Before mission is globalised there is a need to localise it.
Mission cannot be globally powerful if it is not locally
relevant. Therefore, globalisation of mission involves four
distinct qualities: Firstly, the creation of new and multiplication
of existing social networks and activities that increasingly
overcome traditional political, economic, cultural and
geographical boundaries. Secondly, globalisation involves
the expansion and stretching of social relations, activities
and interdependence. Thirdly, globalisation involves the
intensification and acceleration of social exchanges and
activities. Lastly, globalisation involves the subjective plane
of human consciousness (Johnson 2010:165).

It was through the modern missionary movement that
Christianity became a worldwide phenomenon, and in that

Page 6 of 7 Original Research Open Access

process, Christianity came to acquire the image of a western
religion. The subsequent globalisation of the image of
western Christianity poses a problem for non-western
Christianity. Although we talk about a post-Christian West
and a post-western Christianity, the prevailing forms of
Christianity in most parts of the non-western world are still
dominated by western influences (Johnson & Ross 2009:104).
This is wrong, because Christian mission is not about the
promotion of one culture, but the extension of the global
kingdom of God.

The Great Commission in 28:18–20 is a global mission,
because in it, Jesus speaks about the authority in heaven
and on earth. Jesus is not only the teacher of the word, but
he is Lord. Jesus has universal authority that he received
from his father which he then transfers to his disciples. This
authority also speaks volume to the defeat of the devil and
his demonic forces. Jesus has authority over sicknesses,
sin and other ailments. After his resurrection, Jesus has
authority over death. It means that no power can hinder the
propagation of the gospel. Jesus is assuring his disciples
that no demon in hell can stop them from preaching the

The Great Commission in this passage is a global mission,
because Jesus’ disciples are called to make disciples of all
nations. Mission is not restricted to a particular nation, but is
inclusive of all nations, including the Jews and the Gentiles.
The gospel is supposed to spread to all people of all ages,
race, religion, colour, class, et cetera. The gospel should reach
all ethnic groups of people in the world in their different
languages, culture and beliefs. The gospel should spread
to each geographic context of the globe. It is a worldwide

The Great Commission in this passage calls the disciples
to baptise the believer and teach them all that Jesus has
commanded them to teach. It is a holistic mission. Christians
in a global mission should not pick and choose what to
preach, but should preach without compromise. The message
of the gospel does not change because of different contexts.
There is nothing like an African gospel. However, there is a
gospel in an African context. The Great Commission extends
the time beyond human history. It also means that the gospel
transcends the present age. An eschatological reality goes
beyond human history. Moreover, Jesus assures his disciples
about his eternal presence and eternal victory.

In summary, the Great Commission fulfils the four
distinct qualities of globalisation outlined by Johnson
(2010:165–169). Jesus was asking his disciples to create new
and multiply mission activities that increasingly overcome
traditional political, economic, cultural and geographical
boundaries. Jesus commanded the disciples to expand and
stretch social relations, activities and interdependence. Jesus,
in the Great Commission, intensified and accelerated social
exchanges and activities that goes beyond human history
into eternity.

The exegesis on the Great Commission in 28:16–20 has helped
us to arrive at the following conclusions. Jesus’ authority in
heaven and on earth is a global authority. The commissioning
of Jesus’ disciples to go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit, and teach them to observe all things that Jesus has
commanded them, is a call to global mission. Lastly, when
Jesus promised the disciples that he will always be with them,
he assured them of a global victory. The main conclusion here
is that the Great Commission in this passage is a call to global

Competing interests
The author declare that he has no financial or personal
relationships which may have inappropriately influenced
him in writing this article.

Chung, Y., 2015, ‘A postcolonial reading of the Great Commission (Matt 28:16–20)

with a Korean myth’, Theology Today 72(3), 276–288.

Cronshaw, D., 2016, ‘A Commission “Great” for whom? Postcolonial contrapuntal
readings of Matthew 28:18–20 and the irony of William Carey’, Transformation
33(2), 110–123.

Culver, R.D., 1968, ‘What is the church’s Commission? Some exegetical issues in
Matthew 28:16–20’, Bibliotheca Sacra 125(499), 239–253.

Donaldson, T.L., 1985, Jesus on the mountain: A study in Matthean theology, JSOT
Press, Sheffield, UK.

Fanning, D., 2011, ‘The Great Commission’, Journal of Liberty Baptist Theological
Seminary 1(1), 1–20.

Finkbeiner, D., 1991, ‘An Examination of “Make Disciples of All Nations” in Matthew
28:18–20’, Calvary Baptist Theological Journal 7(1), 12–42.

France, R.T., 2007, The Gospel of Matthew, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.

Franklin, K.J. & Niemandt, C.J.P., 2013, ‘Vision 2025 and the Bible translation
movement’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 69(1), Art. #1332, 8

Freeman, H., 1997, ‘The Great Commission and the New Testament: An exegesis of
Matthew 28:16–20’, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 1(4), 14–23.

Hertig, P., 2001, ‘The Great Commission revisited: The role of God’s reign in disciple
making’, Missiology 29(3), 343–353.

Hiebert, D.E., 1992, ‘An expository study of Matthew 28:16–20’, Bibliotheca Sacra 149,

Jambrek, S., 2016, ‘The Great Commission in the context of the Evangelical Churches
of Croatia in the second part of the twentieth century’, Kairos: Evangelical Journal
of Theology 2(2), 153–179.

Johnson, T.M., 2010, ‘Globalization, Christian identity and frontier missions’,
International Journal of Frontier Missiology 27(4), 165–169.

Johnson, T.M. & Ross, K.R., 2009, Atlas of global Christianity, University Press,

Lawless, C., 2011, ‘To all the nations: The Great Commission passages in the Gospels
and Acts’, The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 15(2), 16–26.

Lee, K. & Viljoen, F.P., 2010, ‘The target group of the Ultimate Commission (Matthew
28:19)’, HTS Teologiese Studies/ Theological Studies 66(1), Art. #184, 5 pages.

Mounce, R.H. & Mounce W.D. (eds.), 2008, Greek and English interlinear New
Testament (NASB/NIV), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.

Osborne, G.R., 1976, ‘Redaction criticism and the Great Commission: A case study
toward a biblical understanding of inerrancy’, JETS 19(2), 73–85.

Phelps, R., 2011, The Great Commissioning: An exegesis of Matthew 28:16–20, Liberty
University, Lynchburg, VA.

Scaer, D.P., 1991, ‘The relation of Matthew 28: 16–20 to the rest of the Gospel’,
Concordia Theological Quarterly 55(44), 245–266.

Sim, D.C., 2014, ‘Is Matthew 28:16–20 the summary of the Gospel?’, HTS Teologiese
Studies/Theological Studies 70(1), Art. #2756, 7 pages.

Page 7 of 7 Original Research Open Access

Stromsmoe, L., 2011, ‘Making disciples: A foundation for an integrated mission
program’, PhD dissertation, Reformed Theological Seminary, Virtual Campus.

Thomas, R.L., 2000, ‘Historical criticism and the Great Commission’, The Master’s
Seminary Journal 11(1), 39–52.

Tucker, T. & Woodbridge, N., 2012, ‘Motivational factors for a sports ministry: A case
study of churches in Pretoria’, HTS Theological Studies 68(2), #Art. 1199, 7 pages.

Viljoen, F.P., 2006, ‘The Matthean community according to the beginning of his
Gospel’, Acta Theologica 26(2), 242–262.

White, P. & Assimeng, A.A., 2017, ‘Televangelism: A study of the “Pentecost Hour” of
the church of Pentecost’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 72(3),

Witherington, B., 2006, Matthew, Smyth & Helwys, Macon, GA.

GLST 650

Article Reflection Assignment Instructions


You will be required to complete 2 Article Reflection Papers. Each article will introduce the importance of thinking beyond the home culture and to consider and think cross-culturally and globally for the sake of the Gospel.


Key items to include in this assignment are outlined as follows:

· Make sure to finish reading all of the assigned article.

· Article Reflection Paper must be 500–750 words.

· You must give a critical review of the article’s content and thesis in 200 words. Focus on why you did and/or did not appreciate the article’s content and thesis with suggestions when appropriate.

· You will reflect on, analyze, and apply at least 3 specific content references i.e. direct quotes or references from the article.

· Make sure to provide all citations.

· Format the assignment following Turabian format with cover page, contents page, paper with an outline, bibliography, and a strong introduction and conclusion.

Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

Are you stuck with another assignment? Use our paper writing service to score better grades and meet your deadlines. We are here to help!

Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper