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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 28

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-15



Harmony, pages 218-227 and Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-18; Luke 24:1-43; John 20:1-21:25; 1 Corinthians 15:5.



There were five appearances of Christ on the day he rose from the dead. These five, in their order of time, were:

1. To Mary Magdalene – Mark 16:9; John 20:14-18; Harmony, pp. 221-222.

2. To the other women – Matthew 28:9-10; Harmony, pp. 218-222.

3. To Simon Peter – Luke 24:34-35; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Harmony, p. 224.

4. To Cleopas and another disciple on the way to Emmaus – Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35; Harmony, pp. 223-224.

5. To ten apostles, Thomas absent; gives first commission – Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25; Harmony, pp. 224-226.


6. To the eleven, Thomas present – John 20:26-29; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Harmony, p. 226.


7. To seven disciples beside the sea of Galilee. Gives Peter a special commission – John 21:1-24; Harmony, pp. 226-227.


8. To the eleven and above five hundred brethren on the appointed mountain in Galilee, where he gives the Great Commission – Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6; Harmony, pp. 228-229.

9. To James – 1 Corinthians 15:7; Harmony, p. 229.


10. To the eleven; gives another commission – Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Harmony, p. 229.


11. To the eleven and many others – Mark 16:19; Acts 1:6; Luke 24:50-53; Harmony, pp. 230-231. Here Acts 1:6 shows another gathering or assembly before they ask the question. From his ascension to the close of the New Testament our Lord appears to at least four persons (not counting Peter and Cornelius) – Stephen, Paul, Ananias, and John; to Stephen and Ananias once each; to Paul several times, and to John on Patmos in visions recorded in Revelation. Unquestionably the voice which spake to Peter (Acts 10:14) was the Lord’s voice, but Peter seems not to have seen the speaker. There was an audible, but not visible interview. Except the first vision in Revelation, John’s visions of the Lord on Patmos were mainly, but not altogether, symbolic representations of the Lord. In the case of Paul three of the appearances were constructively true, but not evident, i.e., they may be proved by argument, namely, the fourth, sixth, and ninth, as enumerated below. In order of time the appearance to Ananias follows the first appearance to Paul.

1. To Stephen – Acts 7:55-60.

2. First appearance to Paul – Acts 9:1-9; Acts 22:5; Acts 26:12-20; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8. and at the beginning of other letters. This was to call him to be an apostle. An apostle must have seen the risen Lord in order to be a witness of his resurrection.

3. To Ananias – Acts 9:10-17.

4. Second to Paul, in Arabia. This is constructive, depending on two lines of argument:

(a) Whether we shall give precedence to Luke’s "straightway" in Acts 9:20, or to Paul’s "immediately" in Galatians 1:15-17. The author believes that Paul did not preach in Damascus until after his return to that city from Arabia – that he had not yet received his gospel.

(b) But before preaching, he spent about three years of retirement and preparation in Arabia, probably at Mount Sinai, communing with the Lord; there at the site of the giving of the law studying its relations to the gospel which afterward he so clearly discloses, and receiving from the Lord directly his gospel to which reception he so often refers, as in Galatians 1:11-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 1 Corinthians 15:3.

5. Third to Paul, in the Temple – Acts 22:17-21. This supposes that the Temple vision occurred on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, an account of which is given in Acts 9:26-29 and Galatians 1:18-19.

6. Fourth to Paul in Tarsus, or possibly Antioch – 2 Corinthians 12:1-9. This is constructive, and depends on two lines of argument:

(a) That "revelations of the Lord" in 2 Corinthians 12:1, implies a vision of the Lord.

(b) The place of the vision is determined by the chronological argument. Reckoning back "fourteen years" from the date of the second letter to the Corinthians, about A.D. 56 or 57, and comparing Acts 9:30; Acts 11:25, we learn where Saul was in this period, and find in Acts 15:41 Cilician churches, probably established by him.

7. Fifth to Paul, in Corinth – Acts 18:9-10.

8. Sixth to Paul, in Jerusalem – Acts 23:11.

9. Seventh to Paul, on the ship – Acts 27:23-25. This is constructive. "An angel of the Lord" would signify an angel proper. But "the angel of the Lord" often means our Lord himself. This appearance, therefore, must be counted as doubtful.

10. Revelation 1:1-3:22. This is real. The following in the same book are mostly symbolical:

(a) The Lamb slain – Revelation 5:6-7.

(b) The Rider on the white horse in converting power – Revelation 6:2.

(c) The angel with the censer – Revelation 8:3-5. (This is the High Priest.)

(d) The angel with the little book, probable – Revelation 10:1-11.

(e) The Lamb on Mount Zion – Revelation 14:1.

(f) The angel with the sickle – Revelation 14:14.

(g) The Rider on the white horse, in power of judgments – Revelation 19:11-16.

(h) The Judge on the throne – Revelation 20:11.

(i) The Lamb, the Light of the New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:23.

(j) Witness (through angel) – Revelation 22:12-20.

1. To the twelve – Harmony, pp. 44-45 and 71-72; Matthew 9:36-38; Matthew 10:1-42; Mark 3:13-19; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6.


(a) Limited to Jews – Matthew 10:5.

(b) Provides for their support – Matthew 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 9:14.

(c) Gives authority to cast out evil spirits and heal the sick – Matthew 10:8.

(d) Gives authority to preach the kingdom – Matthew 10:7.

(e) Foretells persecution – Matthew 10:17-18.

(f) Promises protection – Matthew 10:28-29.

(g) Spirit guidance in speech – Matthew 10:19-20.

2. First special commission to Peter, the keys – Matthew 16:19; Harmony, p. 90.


(a) The gift of the keys authorized Peter to open the door of the kingdom of heaven to both Jews and Gentiles.

(b) The door to the Jews was opened by Peter in his Pentecost address – Acts 2:37-39.

(c) The door to the Gentiles was opened by Peter in his address to Cornelius and his household – Acts 10:43-48; Acts 11:1-18; Acts 15:7-9.

(d) The power to bind and loose, i.e., to declare the terms of remission, as in Acts 2:38 and in Acts 10:43, and to pronounce judicially and with final authority on all matters of the kingdom, here specially given to Peter, is later given to all the apostles, as we will find in John 20:21-23, and later to Paul. It was also given to the church, as we will find later in two commissions.

3. The discipline commission to the church – Matthew 18:15-18; Harmony, p. 100. Here again we find "the binding and loosing" power which holds good in heaven when the church follows the law of the Head of the church.

4. To the seventy – Luke 10:1-24; Harmony, pp. 110-111.


(a) Limited to Jews.

(b) Provides for the support –Luke 10:4-8.

(c) Gives authority over evil spirits – Luke 10:17.

(d) Gives authority to preach the kingdom – Luke 10:10.

(e) Gives authority to heal the sick – Luke 10:9. Note: This and (a) were both temporary commissions.


1. To the ten apostles, Thomas absent – John 20:19-25; Harmony, p. 225. This commission appears in John 20:21-23. REMARKS

(a) They are sent, as the Father sent Jesus, to all the world.

(b) They were inspired.

(c) They had authority to bind and loose, i.e., to declare the terms of remission of sins, and to pronounce judicially and with authority upon all matters pertaining to the church or kingdom. Harmony, p. 227.

2. Second special commission to Peter – John 21:15-17;

(a) The triple form of the question here, "Lovest thou me?" is a mild rebuke of Peter’s triple denial.

(b) The triple form of the commission fits the three classes of Christians symbolized by sheep, little sheep, and lambs; the feed-ing, or shepherding required for each, suggests that the work is great enough to occupy all of Peter’s time, and conveys a mild rebuke to Peter for distrusting Christ’s provision, and his subsequent returning to his old, secular business. Peter erred in the use of the sword while Christ was living, and erred in attempting to provide for a living after Christ was risen. The suspension of Christ’s protection and provision lasted only while Christ was dead.

(c) There is nothing in either of the two special commissions to Peter to warrant his supremacy over the other apostles, and over the church, and especially no ground for a transmitted and perpetual supremacy to his so-called successors, and still less for those successors to be limited to the Roman See.

3. The great and perpetual missionary commission to the church – Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6; Harmony, pp. 228-229.


(a) This commission was given to an ecclesiastical body, as appears: From the number present. 1 Corinthians 15:6: from its perpetuity, Matthew 28:20; from the universality and scope of the work.

(b) The authority is plenary – Matthew 28:18.

(c) The presence perpetual, through the Holy Spirit.

(d) The work is both evangelistic and pastoral, i.e., making disciples and then training them to do all Christ had commanded.

(e) The baptizing power is under jurisdiction of the church, as is also the keeping of the Lord’s Supper. It supposes a time when no apostle will be alive, and provides a continuous body is whom authority resides.

(f) This commission lasts till the final advent of our Lord, and throughout the Spirit’s administration.

We will now consider in detail some of his appearances after his resurrection and before his ascension, and also his commissions as we come to them. At least ten appearances are mention-ed, but there are some serious difficulties in harmonizing the testimony of all the Gospels concerning about six of these appearances. I will not stop now to point out these six and reply to them. Just now I will discuss the appearances between his resurrection and his ascension: First, to Mary Magdalene – Mark 16:9; John 20:11-20; Harmony, pp. 221-222. All the circum-stances of this case are thrilling. A group of women had follow-ed Joseph and Nicodemus, had witnessed his burial and returned home to prepare spices and ointments for his embalming. Then, resting on the sabbath day (Saturday), they returned early on Sunday morning to embalm him. But they find the tomb empty, see the angel, hear his explanation, and report his message to the disciples. Four of these women are named: Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; Salome, and Joanna. But there were others; as Luke says, Mary Magdalene runs and tells Peter and John that the tomb is empty. She says, "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." And she returns with Peter and John and lingers after they have left. While she remains, the appearance of Christ to Mary takes place, as Mark states, and as is graphically described by John. It is very touching when the angels ask her why she weeps. She said, "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him."

When I was a young preacher I preached a sermon from that text, and this was the application of the sermon: That people would go to church with a natural expectation of hearing about the Lord; the choir would sing, the pastor would preach, but there would be no Lord in the sermon; the deacons would pray, but there would be no Lord in the prayers; and they would look at the lives of the church members, and there would be no Lord in their lives. Then they would say, "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him."

When Mary had thus said, she turned and beheld Jesus, but she did not know it was Jesus. She just caught a glimpse of him, and thought it was the gardener. She saw that somebody was there with her. Jesus said unto her, "Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?" "She, supposing him to be the gardner, said unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary!" As soon as she heard that voice, so familiar, the pathos and the manner of it which she had realized before a thousand times, her heart told her that it was the voice of the Lord. "She turns herself and saith unto him, in Hebrew, Rabboni, that is, My Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not [take not hold of me], for I am not yet ascended unto the Father, and my God and your God." I have never been able to read that passage of Christ’s words to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils – this woman whose love for Christ was unspeakable, and whose gratitude unbounded – without being moved to tears.

Just here an objection comes up, for Jesus said, "I have not yet ascended to my Father." How do you reconcile that with a previous statement that at his death the spirit went to the Father? My answer is that there is no contradiction at all. He is here referring to his ascension in the body: "I have not yet ascended to my Father," that is, the whole Christ – the divinity, soul, and body.

The second appearance is found also on page 222 of the Harmony, and it is to a group of women, Mary Magdalene, however, not included. Matthew alone gives that: "And behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then saith Jesus unto them, Fear not; go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me" (Matthew 28:9-10).

These women are the first to see him. I have already stated that there was a Ladies’ Aid Society organized, which ministered unto him of their substance while he lived. This is the same group of women exactly. They are still going to minister unto him of their substance, after he is dead. They had provided for his embalming; and now he appears to this group – first to Mary, and second to the rest of the group.

The third case is presented on page 224 of the Harmony, Luke 24:34: "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." And 1 Corinthians 15:5: "He appeared to Cephas." You can understand why the next appearance of Christ would be to Peter. Peter had denied him. He had been very greatly honored, and would be honored for all time. So the third appearance of the Lord was to Simon Peter.

The fourth appearance is on page 223 of the Harmony. This is very touching. It is the two men going to the village named Emmaus, about sixty furlongs from Jerusalem; and they were very sad. They had been to the crucifixion. Their Lord was dead, and while they were talking over that sad topic, a Stranger joins them. The record says, "Their eyes were holden that they should not know him." So they did not recognize him. And he asked them what was the matter – what all their sadness was about, and what they were talking about. They said, "You must be a stranger, or you would know what things have lately happened in Jerusalem." And they told him about the death of the Lord, and when they got to their stopping place, Jesus made out as though he was going on. But they halted and asked him to take a meal with them, and when he went to ask the blessing, that mannerism of his, that peculiar, solemn way in which he broke the bread – by these they knew him in a minute, and when he knew that they had recognized him, he disappeared, and then they said, "Did not our hearts burn within us, while he spake to us in the way, while he opened to us the scriptures?" He had been delivering a discourse which I would give everything in the world to have heard. He talked about the law, the prophets, and the psalms, and expounded to them every passage which referred to him, and expressed his astonishment that they were so slow to believe all these things that the prophets had foreshown of him. It was right on the surface. Why did they not see it? Why did they not see that it was necessary for Jesus to die for them? Why should they be disappointed at his death? Why should they count that everything was lost when he died? The whole topic is intensely interesting.

The fifth appearance is on pages 224-225 of the Harmony. Mark, Luke, and John each gives an account of it: "When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." NOTE: "The first day of the week," the very day on which he rose. This is five times in one day, all of them on that first Lord’s Day. And he "stood in their midst." They were terrified, supposing it was a spirit, for the door was not open; it was fastened. He came in without opening the door; they thought it was a ghost, and he upbraided them on account of their unbelief and hardness of heart. They had no reason to be troubled; they had no right to have reasonings in their hearts. And then he showed them his hands, his side, and his feet. That was to show that it was the very body that was laid in the grave. They could not question the identity.

Here he gives his first commission after his resurrection. It is found on pages 224-226 of the Harmony, as follows: "When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, ’Peace be unto you.’ And when he had said this, he showed unto them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. Jesus therefore said to them again, ’Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said unto them, ’Receive ye the Holy Spirit; whosesoever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.’ "

We want to examine that commission. The points are as follows:

As he was sent forth by the Father on a mission to this earth for the salvation of the lost, so he now sends them forth for the same purpose. It is their business by preaching the gospel to afford an opportunity for the Spirit’s application of saving grace, which came through Jesus Christ.

The next item in this commission is that inspiration is given to these ten men. He breathed on them. That is what inspiration means, a "breathing on." He breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit."

The third thing in his statement, "Whosesoever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." What does that mean? Evidently, as God only can forgive sins, it was not granted to these ten men to really forgive sins. But it means that they are inspired to declare the terms of remission of sins, and not to make a mistake. When the apostles hereafter shall be asked, "What shall I do to be saved; how shall my sins be forgiven," these men are inspired to tell just how that remission of sins may be obtained ; and whatever they say is as if God had said it to those asking. "Whosesoever sins ye retain they are retained," that is, when they declare, as inspired men, that a man has not complied with the terms of the remission of sins, then that man has no forgiveness.

Let us take two cases to illustrate that part: The Jailer said to Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved – what are the terms of salvation?" Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved, and thy house," that is, "thy house must believe also." There he declares that whosoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, his sins are remitted.

"Another New Testament case is where Peter said to Cornelius, as we learn in Acts, "To him [Jesus Christ] gave all the prophets witness that through his name whosoever believeth on him shall receive the remission of sins." No man can receive remission of sins except through Christ. The hand with which he lays hold on it is faith; faith apprehends, takes hold. In my discussion on Acts 2:38 I bring out this question again, and answer a further question as to whether baptism is one of the terms essential to forgiveness of sins. The Campbellite’s answer, Dr. Mulling’ answer, and mine; I give them all, and the reader may take any one of the three he prefers. All this is found in Acts of this INTERPRETATION. Here is a summary of this first commission: (1) "As the Father hath sent me, so I send you"; they were thus to be sent; (2) they received inspiration; (3) being so sent and so inspired, they were to declare the only terms upon which the remission of sins could be obtained.

But Thomas was not present; there were only ten of the apostles present at that time. When Thomas came and they told him about It, he would not believe it. Here were ten men saying, "I tell you we have seen Jesus; he came into the room where we were; we know it was Jesus; we saw the marks of the nails in his hands and in his feet, and the spear print in his side." Listen to what Thomas says: "That may do for you, but I won’t believe it until I put my finger in those nail-prints; I will have to see it for myself; I will have to put my finger there." So just a week from those five appearances, and it is the Lord’s Day again, they are assembled, and Thomas is present. This is what it says, John 20:26-31: "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." He was satisfied that this was the very Jesus, and more – that this was God in man. It is quite common to preach a sermon on "Doubting Thomas." A great many men have shown that Thomas was not such a bad case after all; that he did insist on adequate proof – proof that would satisfy him, and not other people. And when that proof reached him he accepted it with all his heart, and forever. So that is the sixth time. Jesus has this rebuke for Thomas: "Because thou hast seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." In other words, there is a sufficiency of testimony without seeing Jesus. You have not seen him, and yet have believed, and you are as strong in your faith as Thomas was.

We note another appearance. It was on another Sunday. Jesus, before he died, made a positive appointment with all of his people, at a certain mountain in Galilee. Not only the apostles, but the women and others were there. Most of his converts were in Galilee. Here we find Peter, as I have said, in one case, acting too quickly, and in another case he acted too late. Jesus had said that while they were under his commission, and he was alive, not to take scrip or purse; not to feel that they had to provide for themselves or to defend themselves; but that while they were thus under his commission he would provide. I showed you how Peter used his sword before Christ was dead, and there he was too quick. Now, after Christ is risen, and he knows that Christ is risen, be says, "I go a fishing." What he meant by that was this: "We have to have a living. It looks like our preaching occupation is gone, and we were by profession fishermen. I am going back to my old business." Let one big man, the ringleader, start off, and the others, not quite so big, will follow. The rest said, "We’ll go with you." And they went back to their old occupation, and to their old homes. They went fishing, toiled all night and caught nothing.

A back-sliding preacher makes a mighty poor farmer or anything else. If he succeeds well in a secular business it is a pretty good proof that God never called him; and if he does not succeeded, then it certainly seems that he is out of his place.

Jesus appears and shows them how to catch fish, as he had done once before. That is a repetition of the miracle that had taken place when he called them to leave that business that he might make them fishers of men. To repeat that miracle here, when they were out of that business, whatever their regular business for Christ, would bring the whole thing back to their remembrance.

And now commences a colloquy between Christ and Peter. He says to Simon, "Do you love me more than these?" Instantly the question comes up – what does that pronoun "these" refer to? Does it mean these fish? If so, it means this: "Do you, Simon, love your secular business more than you love your Lord and Master?" Or that pronoun may refer to the other disciples. Simon had said, "Though all these others leave thee, I will never leave thee." Then it means: "You professed while I was living that you had an attachment for me beyond all other men. Do you love me more than they do? If so, why are you leading them astray?" It will be noticed that Jesus puts his question three times, corresponding to the three denials of Peter, and that Peter’s heart keeps breaking and getting more and more humble, as each question is put. He is a good man. One of my old-time lady members at Waco said, "Peter is a great comfort to me; he was so impulsive and imperfect. But Paul is a trial for me. I am all the time back-sliding and repenting, yet greatly loving my Lord."

We now come to our Lord’s commission to Peter, which is his second commission after his resurrection, and I call attention to another important thing. In the Greek language Jesus directs Peter to take care of three classes of Christians, for the Greek words differ. In the Greek New Testament we see that the words used differ in the manuscripts. The word for "sheep," the word for "lambs," and the word for "little sheep" differ. "Shepherd my sheep," "feed my lambs," and "shepherd my little sheep." A "sheep" is an experienced Christian; a "lamb" is a young convert; and a "little sheep" is a Christian who has been converted long enough to be mature, but who is in a state of arrested development – what you would call a "runt." The majority of Christian people that I know are "little sheep," as Paul says, "For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food" (Hebrews 5:12). It is somewhat like trying to feed them with a spoon, just as if they were babies. They have not moved up any. They can go back and tell when they were converted, but they do not grow. Paul refers to "little women" (gunaikarion), which our translators call "silly women." What he means by "little women" is not the little women that Louisa May Alcott writes about in her book Little Women, i.e., "girls that soon will be women." Paul does not mean little woman in stature, but a woman with a little soul. Her soul is so small that she loves pleasure more than God. The world is bigger to her than heaven. The pleasures and gayeties of this world are more to her than God’s service. She goes to ballrooms. She is swallowed up in fashionable parties, so that she seldom gets in touch with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This is manifest in the church. Little women, quite small, may be worth 1,000,000; may be leaders in society, but such are little women. Such are on the pastor’s heart very heavily, and he doesn’t know what to do with them.

Jesus says to Simon, "You feed these little sheep." In the twenty-seven years that I was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Waco, I came to know these "little sheep" well, and how to deal with them.

These apostles quit fishing and they went on to the appointment, which brings us to the next appearance of Jesus, at which he gives the third commission after his resurrection, which we will consider in the next chapter.

1. How many and what appearances on the day that Christ rose from the dead?

2. How many and what on the second Lord’s Day?

3. How many and what during the second week?

4. How many and what appearances on the third Lord’s Day?

5. What one on the fourth Lord’s Day?

6. What one on the fortieth day?

7. To whom did Christ appear between his ascension and the close of the New Testament and how many times to each?

8. How many and what commissions did Christ give in his lifetime?

9. Analyze the first commission to the twelve.

10. Analyze the special commission to Peter.

11. What is the discipline commission given to the church, and what is the meaning here of the "binding and loosing" power?

12. Analyze the commission to the seventy, and what of special note about the first and fourth of these commissions?

13. How many and what commissions after his resurrection?

14. To whom did Christ first appear after his resurrection, and what the circumstances of that appearance?

15. How do you harmonize Jesus’ statement to Mary, "Touch me not," etc., with the fact that at his second appearance the women touched his feet, and the fact that Thomas was invited to touch his hands and his side?

16. How do you reconcile the last saying on the cross with the statement, "I have not yet ascended to my Father"?

17. To whom did he appear the second time, and what were the circumstances?

18. To whom did he appear the third time, and why to him especially?

19. To whom did he appear the fourth time, and what, in detail, were the incidents connected with it?

20. To whom did he appear the fifth time, what were the circumstances, and what important event in connection with this appearance of our Lord?

21. Analyze this commission, explaining each point in particular.

22. To whom did he appear on the second Lord’s Day, and what were the circumstances, and what was the special purpose of this appearance?

24. What was the meaning of Christ’s questions to Peter here?

25. What analysis of the second commission to Peter? (See outline of the commission.)

26. In this second commission to Peter, what is the meaning and application of Christ’s language to him, distinguishing three classes of Christians?

27. What two references to the "little sheep" by Paul, and who, especially, are Paul’s "little women"?

Verses 16-20



Harmony, pages 228-231 and Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12; 1 Corinthians 15:7.

The next commission is found on page 228 of the Harmony, Matthew’s account, Matthew 28:16-20: "But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth, go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." By the side of it is Mark’s account, also a statement by Paul about five hundred being present. This is what is called the Great Commission. The points of it are: (1) Before he was put to death he appointed this place, a mountain in Galilee, for the assembling of his disciples; and Paul says five hundred brethren were there, and we have already seen that the women were there also. In his appearances to the women he told them to be present, so we must put the number at anywhere between five and six hundred. The gathering is a specially appointed one. He appointed the women after his resurrection to remind them of it. It was to be the gathering of the general body of his disciples – apostles, other men and women. The supposable reasons for assembling them at this particular place are: (a) Most of his disciples were Galileans, and (b) by having this big gathering in Galilee, it would avoid creating a disturbance, for if a meeting had been held in Jerusalem, not so many could have attended, and there they would be liable to interruption by the excited people. (2) The next point is that this was the most eventful, far-reaching, important gathering of God’s people between his death and his ascension. (3) Let us analyze the Commission itself. Dr. Landrum once preached a sermon on the Commission, calling attention to the "alls": (a) "all" authority; (b) go to "all" the nations; (c) observe "all things"; (d) "I am with you all the days," as it is expressed in the margin.

The reference to the authority which he received is to show them that in telling them to do something, and so great a something, and so important a something, he had the authority to do it; "all authority" in heaven and on earth, is given unto him. That is because of his faithful obedience to the divine law, and particularly because he had expiated sin by his own death on the cross. Now he is to be exalted to be above all angels and men; the dominion of the universe is to be in his hands, and from this time on. It is so now. He today sits on the throne of the universe and rules the world; all authority in heaven and on earth is given unto him.

That is the question which always is to be determined when a man starts out to do a thing: "By what authority do you do this?" If you, on going out to preach, should be asked, "By what authority do you preach, and are you not taking the honor on yourself?" you answer that he sent you.

We are to see what he told them to do, and we will compare the Commission to a suspension bridge across a river. On one side of the river is an abutment, the authority of Jesus Christ. And at the other end of the bridge we will take this for the abutment: "And lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the age." On one side of the river stands the authority, and on the other side stands the presence of Jesus Christ – Christ in the Holy Spirit. That is to be until the end of the age. Suspended between these two, and dependent on these two, and resting on these two, is the bridge. Let us see exactly, then, what they are to do: First, to "go therefore." The "therefore" refers to the authority; second, "make disciples of all the nations." So there are three parts to this first item of the Commission: To go, what to go for, and to whom. If we are Missionary Baptists indeed, this Commission is the greatest of all authority.

One of the deacons, when I took charge of the First Baptist Church at Waco, said to me on one occasion, when I was taking up a foreign mission offering, "Brother Carroll, I am interested in helping you reach these Waco people, and I will help some on associational missions, and state missions, but when it comes to these Chinese and Japs, if you will just bring me one of them, I will try to convert him." I said to him, "You don’t read your Commission right. You are not under orders to wait until somebody brings you a Jap; you are to go; you are the one to get up and go yourself. You can’t wrap up in that excuse."

This Commission makes the moving on the part of the commissioned – the people of God; they are to go to these people wherever they are. If they are Laplanders, go; if Esquimaux, go; if they are in the tropics, you must go there; if in the temperate region, you must go there; anywhere from the center of the earth to its remotest bounds. That is what makes it missionary – one sent, and being sent, he goes. And we can’t send anybody unless he goes somewhere. The first thought, then, is the going. It does not say, "Make the earth come to you," but "you are to go to them," and that involves raising the necessary means to get you there. The command to go involves the means essential to going. That is the going law. If the United States shall send one of its diplomats to England, that involves the paying of the expenses of the going.

The next thing is, What are you to do when you get there? You are to make disciples. There are two words here in the Greek – one, matheteusate, which means "to make disciples"; the other, didaskontes, which means "teaching." You do not teach them first, but you make disciples out of them. Now come the questions: How make a disciple? What is discipleship? That will answer the other question, What is necessary to the remission of sins? When is a man a disciple? How far do you have to go in order to make him a disciple? The way to answer that question is to look at what John the Baptist and Christ did. The Gospel of John tells us that John the Baptist made and baptized disciples; that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John did. John made disciples before he baptized them; Jesus made disciples before he baptized them, not afterward. John did not baptize them before he made them disciples; he did not leave off the baptism after he disciplined them. The question of order here is one of great importance. There are three things to be done: (1) Make disciples; (2) baptize disciples; (3) then teach them all things whatsoever Christ commanded. And you must take them in their order. It is not worth while to try to teach a man to do everything that Jesus did when he refuses to be a disciple. Don’t baptize him before he is a disciple. You must not baptize him in order to make him a disciple; you must not attempt to instruct him in Christian duties until he is a disciple.

How important is the answering of that question: "How do you make a disciple?" John made disciples this way: Paul says that John preached repentance toward God, and that they should believe on Jesus to come, i.e., a man who has repented toward God and exercised faith in Jesus Christ, was a disciple; then John baptized him. The Pharisees came to be baptized, but John refused, saying to them: "Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our Father: for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham." "Do not think that entitles you to baptism; that does not at all entitle you to baptism; but you bring forth fruits worthy of your repentance, then I will baptize you, ye offspring of vipers." And Jesus went forth and preached: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." So that from time immemorial the Baptists have contended that the terms of discipleship, or the terms of remission of sins, are repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said that he everywhere testified to both Greeks and Jews, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. I sometimes change that a little by putting first the contrition, or godly sorrow; the Spirit convicts a man, and under that conviction he becomes contrite, has godly sorrow; that contrition leads him to repentance; that leads him to faith, then he is a child of God, right there: "We are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."

This is a great part of your qualification to be a preacher – that you know how to tell a man what to do to be saved; to know what to tell him. You don’t bury a man to kill him. Baptism is a burial. You bury dead men, but not till they are dead. Nor do you bury a live, raw sinner. You must wait till the Spirit kills him to sin.

Major Penn told of a man who had been lost in the woods. It was in the heat of the day, and he was very thirsty. Late in the day he found his way to a shady little nook, where, bursting from a rock, was a cool mountain spring, and hanging up over the spring was an old-fashioned gourd. He dipped that gourd in the spring and held the water up a little and let it run down his throat, and gloried in drinking out of a gourd. Major Penn made such an apt description of it that one man came up and said, "I’ll go and get me a gourd; that is the best drinking vessel; I know by the way you talk about it." So he went to a farmer and asked for a gourd. The farmer picked him a green gourd. He cut off the top of it and dipped it into the water. He commenced sipping and drinking. When he discovered the bitter taste he asked, "What in the world is the matter with this gourd?" An old woman said to him, "Why, you were not such a fool as to drink out of a green gourd, were you? You let that gourd get thoroughly ripe; then open it, take out the insides, boil it, let it get dry, and it will be fit to drink out of." Major Penn said to baptize a man a dry sinner is to bring him up a wet sinner, and it is like drinking out of a green gourd.

This is the answer to the question, What are the terms of discipleship, or, How do you make a disciple? He has godly sorrow. That godly sorrow leads him to repentance – a change of mind; that leads him to the Saviour, and when he accepts Jesus Christ he is a child of God. Now you know how to approach a sinner, but don’t you put him under the water at the wrong time and with the wrong object in view.

This brings up another question: Who is to do this baptizing? Is the command here to be baptized, or is it to baptize? Which comes first? Any lawyer will tell you that the command to do a thing, in which you must submit to the act of another, must specify the authorized party to whom you must submit in that act. For example, suppose that after you had come to the United States from a foreign country, you speak to your friends and ask, "How did you settle in the United States?" They tell you that they took out naturalization papers. Then you meet a man and ask him, "Will you give me some naturalization papers?" He gives you the naturalization papers, and says, "You are a citizen of the United States." Being now a citizen, you come up to vote, but the judge of the election says, "Are you a foreigner?" "Yes, I was till I was naturalized." Then he asks for your papers. Looking at them he says, "Why, this man was not authorized to do it. The law tells how you shall be naturalized, and you have just picked up a fellow on the streets here that did not count at all." The law tells us in every state who shall issue naturalization papers, otherwise the citizenship of the state would be vested in a "Tom-Dick-and-Harry" – everybody and nobody. It is just that way about baptizing.

I know some who teach that the command is simply to be baptized. I said to one of them once, "Does it make any difference who does the baptizing?" "Well," he said, "no it doesn’t; the command is simply to be baptized." I said, "I will give you $100 if you will show me a command to be baptized, with no authorized administrator standing there to administer the ordinance." "Well," he said, "look at Paul’s case: Ananias said, ’Arise and be baptized.’ " I said, "Who sent Ananias? Ananias had authority from God to baptize Paul. Who sent Philip into the desert? The eunuch said, ’Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?’ but there was the administrator talking to him, a sent administrator."

And this question is thereby raised: Jesus ascended to heaven and vested this authority to disciple and to baptize, in whom? Here’s a big gathering, not apostles only, because here are five hundred besides those women. Not in that particular crowd alone, for he said, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the age."

There is no escape from it, that when he gave this Commission, he gave it to an ecclesiastical body – the church. That is why the great church gathered. It is a perpetual commission. No man can deny that these disciples were acting representatively.

"But," says one, "the Commission was given to the apostles." But I say, "Where were the apostles?" Paul says that God set them in the church (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-16). He did not set anybody out in the woods. Ask those free lances who run out on the prairie, or in the woods, who set them.

God put these apostles, pastors, etc., in the church, and from the time that God gave this commission he has done the baptizing through the church. You cannot give it just in your own way or notion; you cannot just pick people up and put them in the creek, and say, "I baptize you."

Here are the things that are essential to a valid baptism: (1) A man must be a disciple, a penitent believer in Jesus Christ; (2) The act of baptism, whatever that commission means. If it means to sprinkle, sprinkle them; if to pour, then pour; if to immerse, then immersion is the act. (3) The design or purpose: Why do it? If we baptize to "make a disciple" or in order that he may become a disciple; that he may be saved; that his sins be remitted, then I deny that it is baptism. It lacks the gospel design, or purpose. (4) It must be done by authority, and that authority is the church.

The church authorizes; the subject must be a disciple, and the act is immersion. The purpose is to make a public declaration, or confession, of faith in Jesus Christ, to symbolize the cleansing from sin, a memorial of Christ’s resurrection, and a pledge of the disciple.

According to your understanding of this commission you bring confusion into Israel, or keep it out.

While I was pastor in Waco, we received a member from another Baptist church. He heard me preach on this commission and came to me and said, "Look here, I want to preach; I believe I am called to preach, and the way you state that, I have not been baptized at all." I said, "How is that?" "A Campbellite preacher baptized me." "Did the Baptist church receive that baptism?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Now suppose you want to preach, and you come before this church for ordination, and they find out that fact, they won’t ordain you. But suppose they did ordain you, wherever you go that would come up against you. They would say, ’There is a man not scripturally baptized.’ It will hamper your whole ministerial life, and bring confusion into the kingdom of God." "Well," he said, "what ought I to do?" I said, "Don’t do anything until you are convinced it is the right thing to do. You study this again, and let me know what your conclusions are." About a week after he came and said, "I don’t think I have been baptized: he baptized me to make me a disciple. I did not claim to have been a disciple before he baptized me." "Well," I said, "did it make you one?" He said, "I do not think it did." So the blood you must reach before you reach the water. The way is the blood. It has to be applied before you reach the water. It must be reached before you can be saved. So, the blood is before the water. A preacher’s whole future depends on how he interprets this commission.

You will see by referring to the Harmony that Dr. Broadus puts Mark’s commission beside this great Commission on Matthew, thereby indicating that they refer to the same occasion. Assuming this to be correct, I do not discuss the commission of Mark except to say that the first eight verses of Mark 16 are in the manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel, but the latter part of this (Mark 16:9-20) which includes the statement, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," is not in any of the ancient manuscripts. I have facsimiles of the three oldest manuscripts – the Sinaitic, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian. Whenever those three agree as to what is the text of a passage we need not go further. It is usually right. But whenever those three leave out anything that is in the text, we may count it spurious. The best scholars among preachers never preach from Mark 16:9-20, because it is so very doubtful as to whether it is to be received as Scripture. Dr. Broadus says it certainly does not belong to Mark’s Gospel, but that he believes it records what is true; and I am somewhat inclined to believe that too. I think it is true, though it was added by a later hand. Certainly, Mark did not write it. The manuscript evidence is against that part of it. Therefore, I do not consider this as a separate commission of our Lord.

We now take up the fourth commission, that is to say, the commission recorded by Luke, found in Luke 24:44-49 and 1 Corinthians 15:7; Harmony, pp. 229-230. The remarks upon this commission are these:

1. It is to the eleven apostles.

2. He introduces it by reminding them of his teachings before his death of the witness to him in the law, the prophets, and the psalms, especially concerning his passion, his burial, and his resurrection.

3. Especially to be noted is the fact that he gives them illumination that they may understand these scriptures, and shows the necessity of their fulfilment, in order to the salvation of men.

4. On this necessity he bases the commission here given, which is, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

5. He constitutes them his witnesses of these things.

6. He announces that he will send the promise of the Father, namely, the Holy Spirit, and commands them to wait at Jerusalem until they receive this power from on high to enable them to carry out the work of this commission.

7. The reader should note that, as in the commission recorded by John (John 20:22) he inspired them to write the New Testament Scriptures, so here he illumined their minds to understand the Old Testament Scriptures. Mark the distinction between inspiration and illumination: The object of inspiration is to enable one to speak or write infallibly; the object of illumination is to enable one to understand infallibly what is written.

8. Further note the unity of the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures, and their equality in inspiration.

9. Note also the very important item that illumination settles authoritatively the apostolic interpretation of the Old Testament as to the true meaning of these Scriptures. As he inspired men to write the Old Testament, and inspired these men to write the New Testament, so now he illumines these men to understand the Old Testament and to interpret it correctly. In other words, as the Holy Spirit is the real author of the Old Testament, which he inspired, by illumination he shows these men just what he meant by those Old Testament writings. We cannot, therefore, put our unaided interpretation on an Old Testament passage against the Spirit’s own explanation of that passage by the illumination of the apostles’ minds. Due attention to this one fact would have prevented many false expositions of Old Testament Scriptures, particularly in limiting to national Israel what the Spirit spoke concerning spiritual Israel. Very many premillennial expositions of the Old Testament prophecies go astray on this point. They insist on applying to the Jews, as Jews, a great many prophecies which these illumined apostles saw referred to spiritual Israel, and not to fleshly Israel. In the same way do the expositions of the Old Testament passages by modern Jews and the limitations of meaning which destructive critics and other infidels put on the Old Testament Scriptures, go astray. It is wrong, and contrary to sane rules of interpretation, to say that you must not read into an Old Testament passage a New Testament meaning. In that way they wish to limit it to things back there only, but the Holy Spirit illumined the minds of the apostles to understand these Old Testament Scriptures better than the prophets that wrote them. Oftentimes the prophets did not know what they meant, and were very anxious to find out what they did mean. The meaning was revealed to New Testament prophets, and their minds illumined to understand them. I have just finished reading a book which as certainly misapplies about two dozen Old Testament prophecies as the sun shines. In other words, this book interprets them as a modern Jew would interpret them, and exactly contrary to what the apostles say these passages mean. When an illumined apostle tells us the meaning of an Old Testament passage, we must accept it, or else deny his illumination, one or the other. You have no idea how much you have learned if you let this one remark sink into your mind.

10. Yet again, you should especially note in this commission the inseparable relation between repentance and the remission of sins, or forgiveness. The first, repentance, must precede remission of sins, and the relation is constant and necessary in each case of all sin, whether against God, against the church, or against ourselves. If you read carefully Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Psalm 51, where the sin is against God, you find that a repentance of that sin is made a condition of forgiveness. Then if you read carefully Luke 17:3 and Matthew 18:15-17, where the sin is against ourselves or against the church, the law is, "If he repent, forgive him."

I saw a notice in The Baptist Standard once where it was assumed that we must forgive a sin before the person who committed it against us has repented of the sin. That would make us out better than God, for God won’t do it. He won’t forgive sin against himself until there is repentance, and he says to Peter, concerning a brother’s trespass against a brother, that if he repent, forgive him. And in Matthew 18:15, it says, "If thy brother sin against thee, go right along and convict him of his sin, and if he hear thee thou hast gained thy brother; if he does not hear thee, tell it to the church; if he does not hear the church, then he is unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." There are men who insist that you must forgive trespasses against you whether they are repented of or not, meaning that you must be in a forgiving and loving attitude; and that is correct. You must cultivate that spirit which at all times is ready to forgive when repentance comes. But the majority of people who take that position take it in order to get out of some very troublesome work resting on them, and that work is to go right along to convict a man of that sin. It is much easier to say, "I forgive," and let him alone, than it is to go and show him that he has sinned, and lead him to repentance. And they thus dodge their duty. The largest part of the back-sliding in the church comes from that fact. "If thou seest thy brother sin, then what? Forgive him? No. If thou seest thy brother sin, whether it is a private offense or a general one, report it to the church? No, but go right along and convict him of that sin; and if you fail, take one or two brethren with you; if they fail, let the church try the case. If the church fails, forgive him? No. Let him be to thee a heathen man and a publican." That is Bible usage.

On the other hand there are some people who rejoice in the thought that they do not have to forgive a man until he repents, and they keep right on hating him. You are not to hate him; you are to love him. You are to have toward him a keen desire to gain him, and under the spirit of that desire, the obligation to gain him is on you personally, and there is no excuse for you. God will not hold you guiltless if you see a brother sin on any point, whether against you, the church, or the state, and do not try to bring him to repentance. It is our duty, as Dr. Broadus puts it, "to go right along and not rave at him," but convict him that he has sinned, saying, "Now brother, this is wrong, and I have come, not in the spirit of accusation, nor in a disciplinary manner, but as a brother interested in you, and with the earnest desire in my heart to make you see that wrong, and if you ever see it and get it on your conscience and repent and make amends, I will save my brother."

He says that repentance and remission of sins shall be preached in all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Paul says about that, "I have testified everywhere, both to the Jews and to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

The weakness of modern preaching is that the preachers leave repentance out.

So the modern churches leave out the faithful and loving labor which should always precede exclusion. Especially should you note in this commission the unalterable relation between repentance and remission, or forgiveness of sins. The first must precede the second, and the relation is constant and necessary in the case of all sin, whether against God, the church or against ourselves.

The fifth commission is the commission at his ascension. The scriptures bearing on this are: Acts 1:6-12; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-53, and the account of it is found in the Harmony on pages 229-231. Upon this last commission, given just before Jesus was taken up out of their sight, note:

Acts 1:8 indicates a "gathering together," different from any of the preceding ones, and at which they asked this question: "Dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

Acts 1:9 shows that the occasion of this commission was his ascension into heaven.

Acts 1:15 implies that 120 were present at this time. This specific number necessitates that the occasion when 500 brethren were present, mentioned by Paul, must have been at the appointed mountain in Galilee, where the great commission to the church, recorded in Matthew 28:16-20, was given. A very distinguished scholar has said, "Maybe these five hundred brethren were present at the time of his ascension." It could not be, because one hundred and twenty is given as the number. It could not even have been at any other time than at that appointed in Galilee, where most of his converts were, and where be could get together so large a number as that. The form of the commission here is: "Ye shall be my witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." That is the test for the Commission.

The place where the Commission was given is thus stated: "And he led them out until they were over against Bethany," and "from the mount called Olivet." Another commission was given at that place. The place from which he led them is the place of their gathering, to which they returned (Acts 1:13), and they returned to Jerusalem, to the upper room, where were a multitude together, about 120. And then the writer gives the names of those who abode there, and Peter got up and spoke to these 120.

The commission to be his witnesses suggests the simplicity and directness of their work. I heard a preacher say once with reference to what he did when he went out to an appointment, "I snowed." He said the Spirit was not with him, and it was just like s snow. Another preacher said, "I ’hollered,’ and I ’hollered.’ " Preachers lose sight of one important function of their office, and that is to be witnesses. That is a simple thing – to testify. You are to stand with uplifted hands, and with elbows on the Bible you are to witness before God and to bear witness to what you know – to testify.

They were to testify to his vicarious passion, his burial, and his resurrection. Paul makes these three things the gospel. He says, "I delivered unto you first of all that which also I have received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day." Of what they were eyewitnesses we will see a little later, in some other testimony.

We come now to his sixth commission. This commission is found in Acts 9:15-16; Acts 22:10-15; Acts 26:15-18; Galatians 1:15-16; Galatians 2:7-9. These scriptures give you the commission of Paul, on which note:

While both Peter and Paul, on proper occasion, preached to both Jews and Gentiles, yet we learn from Galatians 2:7-9 that while the stress of Peter’s commission was to the circumcision, the stress of Paul’s commission was to the uncircumcision. He was pre-eminently the apostle to the Gentiles.

The elements of his commission may be gathered from all these scriptures cited. Read every one of them, and you will gather together the elements of his commission. Let us see what these elements were:

(a) He was set apart to his work from his mother’s womb, and divinely chosen.

(b) Personally he must suffer great things.

(c) He received the gospel which he was to preach by direct revelation from the risen Lord. He did not get it from reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Paul’s letters were written before the Gospels were written.

He did not have them to read. He did not go to Jerusalem to talk with them, but he went into Arabia, and therefrom ;the Lord himself, and from the site of the giving of the law, whose relation to the gospel he so clearly cited, he received direct from Jesus Christ the gospel which he wrote.

(d) He was chosen to bear the Lord’s name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

(e) He was chosen to know God’s will, and to see and hear the Just One, and then to witness to all men what he saw and heard. Now, here comes in Paul as a witness, and this is a part of his commission: "What are you testifying to, Paul?" "I know God’s will; it was revealed to me; I saw Jesus; I saw him with these eyes; Jesus raised; I heard him; I heard his voice." What next? "He saved my soul."

One of the most effective sermons I ever preached was on this use that Paul makes of his Christian experience. Seven times in the New Testament Paul states his Christian experience, and for a different purpose every time. When he was arraigned before Agrippa he tells his Christian experience as recorded in Acts 9. In Acts 22, standing on the stairway, looking into the faces of the howling mob of murderous men, he states his Christian experience. Writing to the Romans, as is shown in Romans 7, he tells his Christian experience. Writing to Timothy he does the same. The man is speaking as a witness.

In one of Edward Eggleston’s books there is an account of a pugnacious Methodist preacher, who was not only ready to preach the gospel, but to fight for the gospel also. On the way to a certain community two men waylaid him and said, "Mr. McGruder, if you will just turn your horse around and go back, we will let you alone, but if you persist in going to this place and interfering with our business, we are going to beat the life out of you." So the preacher got down off the horse, saying, "I prefer to give you the beating," and he whipped them both unmercifully. But he got his jaw broken, and that jaw being broken, he could not say a word. In the church he took his pencil and wrote to a sixteen-year-old boy and said, "Ralph, you have got to preach today." Ralph said, "I have just been converted, you must remember." "Do you want me to get up here and write a sermon in lead pencil to a crowd?" continued the preacher. "Well," said Ralph, "I don’t know any sermon." "If you break down on preaching," said the preacher, "tell your Christian experience." So Ralph got up and started to preaching a sermon, looking very much scared, for he had a terror, which was what we would call stage fright. At last he remembered the direction to tell his Christian experience, and the poor boy quit trying to be eloquent, or to expound the Scriptures that he knew very little about, and just told how the Lord Jesus Christ came to him, a poor orphan boy, an outlaw, and saved his soul, and that he wanted to testify how good God was to him. Before he got through there was sobbing all over the house, and a great revival broke out there.

I am telling these things to show that men are commissioned to bear witness, and while you cannot bear witness to facts that you do not know anything about, you can tell what you do know – what God has done for you. David says, "Come, all ye that fear the Lord and I will tell you what great things he hath done for my soul, whereof I am glad." In one of the prophecies concerning Jesus it is written: "I have not hid thy righteousnesses within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving kindness and thy truth from the great assembly."

(f) The fulness of Paul’s commission appears best in Acts 26:16-18, as follows: "Arise, and stand upon thy feet: for to this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn: from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me." Whenever you want to preach Paul’s sermon, take Paul’s commission and analyze it. Paul was speaking before Agrippa. Notice that besides witnessing, Paul wanted to open their eyes (they were spiritually blind) ; that they might turn from darkness to light (then they were in the dark) ; from the power of Satan unto God, (they were under the power of Satan); that they might receive the remission of sins (so that they were unpardoned; and to an inheritance among them that are sanctified (then they were without heritage). Analyze that commission and you will see what he was to do; he puts it all before you plainly in that scripture. So he said to Agrippa, "Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision," i.e., he just went on and carried out that commission. That is the analysis of the commission of Paul.

The seventh and last commission is the special commission of John – Revelation 1:1-2; Revelation 1:9-11; Revelation 1:19. This commission is unlike any other; but it is a commission. It is a commission, not to speak, but to write; and in it we have an account of the past tenses. "What did you see, John?" "Well, I saw one of the most wonderful things in this world." And he tells about Jesus, and how he looked in his risen glory; about the candlesticks and the stars, and what they meant; and then, having thus told what he saw in the midst of the churches, and (see chap. 4) what he saw in heaven, he looks at the present things; the churches, as they are, and heaven as it is. Then follows the last part of his commission: "Write the things which are to come."

1. On the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) answer: What evidence that this was at an appointed meeting? Where, and who were present?

2. What are the supposable reasons for assembling at this particular place?

3. How does this occasion rank in importance?

4. What is Dr. Landrum’s analysis of this commission?

5. What authority does Christ claim in giving this commission, why was this authority given him and what the pertinency of this statement of our Lord on this particular occasion?

6. Compare this commission to a suspension bridge.

7. What does the first part of the commission prescribe to be done, or what are the three parts of the first item?

8. What does this going involve? Illustrate.

9. After going, then what three things are commanded to be done and what is the order?

10. How make disciples, and what is the teaching and example of John the Baptist and Jesus on this point?

11. Who then must do the baptizing?

12. What are the essentials to a valid baptism?

13. What can you say of Mark 16:9-20?

14. To whom was the Commission, recorded in Luke 24:44-49, given?

15. How does Christ introduce this commission?

16. What does he show in this commission to be a necessity in order to the salvation of men?

17. In this commission what does he say should be done?

18. What does he constitute the disciples in this commission?

19. What promise does he announce to them in this commission?

20. What special gift does he bestow upon the disciples here, what is the difference between inspiration & illumination, and what is the object of each?

21. What especially is noted relative to Old & New Testament Scriptures?

22. What very important question does this illumination settle and how?

23. What is the necessary & constant relation between repentance & forgiveness of sins, and what the application of this principle in the case of all sin?

24. What danger, on the other hand, does the author here warn against?

25. What weakness of modern preaching churches here pointed out?

26. Give the analysis of the Commission of our Lord at the ascension.

27. To whom was Paul especially commissioned to preach?

28. What are the six elements of this commission?

29. What was the condition of the people to whom he was sent as indicated in Acts 26:16-18?

30. What was the special commission to John, and what is the analysis of it as given in Revelation 1:1-2; Revelation 1:9-11; Revelation 1:19?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 28". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/matthew-28.html.
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