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Bible Commentaries
Luke 24

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

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Verses 45-49

Christ's Missionary Command as Seen in the Early Church

Matthew 28:18-20 ; Mark 16:15-20 ; Luke 24:45-49


As the time came for the Lord to leave, and to return to His Father, He pressed upon the disciples the great yearning's of His soul toward a world lost in sin; and then gave command that the Gospel should be preached to all the world. Let us, for a moment, as introductory to what shall follow, study the three records where this last command was given.

1. The command as recorded by Matthew: Here three things were stressed. First, they were to go and make disciples; secondly, they were to go and baptize; and thirdly, they were to go and preach.

(1) They were to go and make disciples. Their field was to be all nations. Their objective was to be the creation of followers of the Lord.

It is not enough for missionary endeavors to be centered in the moral uplift of the people. The Church is not commissioned to teach the nations of the world how to dress, or how to farm, or how to manufacture. The mission of the Church toward the unevangelized, is not to proclaim sanitation, and the isolation of diseases. The purpose of going into the world is primarily to preach Christ as the Saviour of sinners, and to call upon all men everywhere to repent, to believe, and to follow Him.

(2) They were to go and baptize. Baptism was to be not only a symbolical ordinance, but it was to be a consecrated ordinance. It was to be the signet of a new life. It was to be the attest of discipleship, the sign that the one discipled had been called out of the world to walk in newness of life.

(3) They were to go and teach. They were to teach all things which Christ had commanded them. They were not told to teach spelling, and geography, and grammar, and reading, and writing. They were to teach the things which pertained to the Kingdom of God. They were to teach the present ministry of Christ at the Father's right hand, the place and power of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life; the Second Coming of Christ, and His glorious reign.

2. The command, as recorded in Mark. In Mark, the command emphasized the preaching of the Gospel to every creature. Not one individual in the wide world was to be left in ignorance of Christ, and of the salvation which is in Him. Until each generation preaches the Gospel to every individual living during their day, they have not fulfilled this commission.

3. The command as recorded in Luke. Luke emphasizes that which is to be preached. He wrote "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in [Christ's] Name among all nations." He said "Ye are witness of these things." In the Book of Acts, just before Christ went up, He gave the geographical order in which His commission was to be proclaimed. He said, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

We are glad that we are to spend the while, today, in observing how the early Church moved out in the fulfillment of this thrice-stated commission, a commission restated in Acts 1:8 . We trust that the purpose of God toward a lost world, as they were put into operation in the first century, will inspire the saints of the twentieth century to a deeper realization of their own world-wide task.

"Telling sinners of the Saviour,

Let the light spread more and more.

Tell the whole wide world of Jesus,

Bear the news from shore to shore;

While we pray for other nations,

Send them help with willing hand;

Let us not forget the home-fields

Jesus, for our native land!"


Was it not remarkable that, when the Holy Ghost came, there were at that time dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under Heaven. This fact alone is sufficient proof that the heart of God was reaching out toward men of every nation.

When the Holy Ghost came, and the saints were all filled with the Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, then, the multitude came together. The people were confounded because that every man heard them speak in his own language. Those who spoke were Galileans; those who heard were Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontius, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians.

You may wonder why we quote these varied nationalities by name. It is because their presence demonstrates to a conclusion, God's great missionary purpose and desire. The people were in doubt, saying one to another, "What meaneth this?" We know one thing that it meant. It meant that God was reaching out His hand to a lost world. In one day and in one locality, God, through His disciples, was preaching the Gospel to every nation under Heaven.

From the groups who heard, about 3,000 were saved, and baptized. It is not difficult for anyone to grasp the far-reach of that day's work. Did not many of these people return to their own land as messengers of Christ?

We remember how Peter addressed his first Epistle to the strangers scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. We feel certain that these "elect strangers" were, for a large part, those saved at Pentecost, or saved through the ministry of those of their nation, who were saved at Pentecost. Thank God for this first vision of missions in the early Church!

"Send the Light, oh, send it quickly

Far across the heaving main;

Speed the news of full salvation

Through a dear Redeemer's Name.

Send the Light, where souls are dying

In their darkness, gloom and night;

Haste, oh, haste! the days are fleeting,

And the hours how swift their flight!

Send the Light the Lord commands it;

To His Holy Word attend:

Go ye forth and preach My Gospel;

Lo! I'm with you to the end."


God had commanded the Apostles that they should go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. Christ had told them they were to tarry in Jerusalem only until, but not after, the Holy Ghost came. He specified that their testimony was to pass from Jerusalem, on to Judea, and then to Samaria and then to the uttermost part of the earth. The early Church, at the first, failed God in this matter. They stayed in Jerusalem, They clung to their home base. The result was, that something startling had to happen.

As we see the great persecution against the Church at Jerusalem, we behold the saints scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Thus, the second and the third reach of Christ's command was about to be fulfilled.

We can see that the persecution itself was permitted on God's part, in- order to press the saints out of Jerusalem and on into Judea and Samaria.

When the Lord Jesus was preaching and the multitudes were thronging His ministry, He left them abruptly, saying to the disciples, "I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also."

"The other cities also," should be the battle-cry of every believer touched with the live coal from God's altar. The spirit of missions is the spirit of Christ. He who would circumscribe His testimony, or his gifts, or his prayers, to the immediate locality in which he dwells, has never caught the impact of missions, as set forth in the history of the early Church.

Paul wrote of not being content with another man's line of things made ready to his hand. We join with him in saying, that, when our faith is increased, we shall be enlarged according to Paul's rule, abundantly, to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond.

"Send abroad the Gospel heralds,

Let them take the blessed light

Into every land of darkness,

Piercing through the shades of night.

Yes, we'll send the joyful message

Over mountain, over wave,

Telling everywhere of Jesus,

And His mighty power to save."


Philip was one of the seven. He went down into the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them. Great joy was caused in that city by reason of Philip's testimony, because they believed him and what he preached concerning the Kingdom of God, and the Name of Jesus Christ. Then were they baptized both men and women.

Philip went on his way preaching the Gospel in Samaria. Then it was that the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip saying, "Arise, and go toward the south, unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert."

This was a strange command indeed. Why should Philip be called upon to leave so prosperous a ministry, and why should he go in a way which was desert? The answer is not difficult to find. There was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority, under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was journeying along that desert road.

But why such a stir about one lone Ethiopian? Were not the many Samaritans, of greater value than one man from Africa? Assuredly.

We must understand that the one man took precedence over the many, because he was from a land afar, and because he was a key man, through whom many who were in darkness might see the light.

In the opening verses of Acts 8:1-40 , the Gospel was carried to the Samaritans. These Samaritans were the third group mentioned in Christ's parting order of command. In the case of this eunuch of Ethiopia, the Lord was pressing beyond Jerusalem, beyond Judea, beyond Samaria, and on toward the uttermost part of the earth.

We need to awaken to a vision of the Lord's passion toward the salvation of men. He wants us to press on until the last man has heard the Word.

If the call comes for us to go, let us, like Philip, hesitate not, but press our way quickly down the road, even though the way be desert.

"We have heard the joyful sound;

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around;

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Bear the news to every land,

Climb the steeps and cross the waves;

Onward! 'tis our Lord's command:

Jesus saves! Jesus saves I


Cornelius who was a centurion of the Italian band was a devout man, one that feared God with all his house. He gave alms and prayed always. In answer to his prayer God purposed to send him a messenger. Accordingly, Cornelius saw in a vision an angel of God who told him to send to Joppa and call for Peter, that he might tell him what he should do.

On the morrow, as his servants approached Joppa, Peter was in prayer upon the housetop. As Peter prayed, he became hungry, and fell into a trance. He saw Heaven opened, and a vessel descending before him, wherein were all manner of unclean beasts, and of creeping things and of fowls. Peter heard a Voice saying, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." This, Peter refused to do. However, the Voice said, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

While Peter doubted as to the meaning of the vision, the men from Cornelius stood before the gate.

Do we grasp the full intent of this occurrence? Peter was prejudiced against the Gentiles. He was failing God in passing on from Jerusalem to the uttermost part of the earth. Therefore God found it necessary to teach Peter a lesson by the great sheet let down to the earth.

We wonder if it is necessary for God to do something very unusual in order to stir us up to obey His voice and to fulfill His desire toward the lost. If God has said "Go," we have no right to hesitate. If God loves the world, we have no right to circumscribe our love to some chosen few.

Once more we have seen the hand of God in the days of the early Church, pressing the claims of missions upon His people, and revealing unto us the fact that God so loved the world.

"Ye Christian heralds, go proclaim

Salvation through Immanuel's Name;

To distant climes the tidings bear,

And plant the Rose of Sharon there.

He'll shield you with a wall of fire,

With flaming zeal your heart inspire;

Bid raging winds their fury cease,

And hush the tempest into peace.

And when our labors all are o'er,

Then we shall meet to part no more,

With all the ransomed hosts to fall,

And crown our Saviour Lord of all."


There was a young man who was a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin. Concerning the Law, this young man was blameless. Concerning religion, he was a thoroughly prepared zealot, having sat at the feet of one Gamaliel. He was intent, in his passion to persecute the Church.

With the letters of authority in his pocket, Saul journeyed toward Damascus, to bring the saints bound unto Jerusalem. As he journeyed, a light from Heaven shined round about him.

We know the story of Saul's change of heart; of how the Lord cried to him, and of how he replied, full of trembling and astonishment. We know that, when Saul arose from the earth, he saw no man for he was blind. We know of his tarrying in Damascus for three days, without sight and without eating, or drinking. We know how God sent Ananias to Saul.

But what was the meaning of all of this? The meaning is set forth in our key verse, "He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles and kings and the Children of Israel."

Once more we see the hand of God reaching out toward the lost of the earth. When we link with this verse, the memory of Paul's three great missionary journeys, and of his final testimony in Rome, we begin to see the outworking of the purpose of God.

God is still calling the choicest of Christian youths, to bear His Name to the faraway lands where men lie in heathen darkness. Even now we can hear Him saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?"

"The Son of God goes forth to war,

A kingly crown to gain;

His Blood-red banner streams afar,

Who follows in His train?

Who best can drink his cup of woe,

Triumphant over pain;

Who patient bears his cross below,

He follows in His train.

A noble army men and boys,

The matron and the maid

Around the Saviour's throne rejoice,

In robes of light arrayed.

They climbed the steep ascent of Heaven

Through peril, toil, and pain;

O God, to us may grace be given

To follow in their train."


That must have been a blessed occasion at Antioch when such prophets and teachers as Barnabas, and Simeon, and Lucius, and Manaen, and Saul, were gathered together ministering to the Lord and tasting. We have no doubt but some marvelous revelations of truth were being given, and the saints were being edified.

However, as they ministered, the Holy Ghost said, "Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."

You may cry, "It was too bad to break up so glorious a Bible conference!" Yet, without hesitancy, the saints laid their hands on these two men and sent them away. The remarkable statement, in Acts 13:4 , is most illuminating "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia."

No one who reads this account can doubt the desire of God to preach the Gospel in the untraveled districts where men have not heard of Christ.

Out on their missionary tour they started, and the Lord was with them. There is a little verse in 2 Corinthians 13:14 , which reads, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." These words are commonly known as the "benediction," and they are quoted, usually, at the close of each, stated church service. What do they mean? The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, is that grace, wherein He became poor that we might be made rich. The love of God, is that love which embraced the whole world, and gave His Son. The communion of the Holy Ghost, is the perfect one-ness with the Spirit in going forth with the message of truth and salvation to all men.

Can we hear the voice of God calling us to go far hence with the words of life? Perhaps, He wants us to have the grace of Christ and become impoverished that others may be rich. Perhaps, He wants us to have the love of God, that will give our sons for a lost world. Perhaps, He wants us to go forth ourselves sent by the Spirit.

Oh, help me tell the story of Christ my Lord and King;

For of His boundless mercy my soul delights to sing.

Oh, help me tell the story of Jesus' boundless love,

Till, with the Church triumphant, I sing His praise above!

He brought me out of bondage, He paid my debt of sin;

The door of life He opened, that I might enter in.

He left His home in glory, He laid His scepter down,

And on the Cross He suffered, that I might wear a crown.

Be this my one endeavor, to glorify His name;

The story of Redemption to all the world proclaim."


When they had gone throughout Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, Paul and Silas were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to go to Asia. Then they assayed to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not.

The Holy Ghost knows where He wants the message carried, and by whom He wants it borne. In the work of missions we must never take the bit into our own teeth. When we have some personal desire or ambition, as to the location where we would like to give our testimony, we must rejoice if we are forbidden of the Holy Ghost, and suffered not to go.

After the Spirit had hindered Paul and Silas in their purpose, there appeared a vision to Paul in the night. "There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us."

The disciples quickly gathered that the Lord had called them to preach the Gospel to the Macedonians, and so they took sail immediately and came by a straight course until at last they reached Philippi.

The story of Paul's ministry in Philippi, and of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas, with the subsequent conversion of the jailor, is known to us all. Truly, they saw the hand of God guiding their footsteps.

That God wants the Gospel carried to the ends of the earth, we have plainly seen. Seven different illustrations of this fact, in the life of the early Church, have been placed before us today. Is this not the present hour desire of God? Is the Spirit of God not now thrusting out men and women into the ripened harvest fields? We have one last word to say. If God calls, do not hesitate to obey. Remember there are three things you can do:

1. You can go yourself.

2. You can let go some one dear and precious to you.

3. You can help go those who have a special call.

Shall we not, each one, ask God what He wants us to do?

"Can we, whose souls are lighted

With wisdom from on high,

Can we to men benighted

The Lamp of Life deny?

Salvation! O salvation!

The joyful sound proclaim,

Till each remotest nation

Has learned Messiah's Name."



They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some years ago I was speaking in the city of Minneapolis. I noticed in the audience a young lawyer. When the meeting was over I made my way to him and said: "Are you a Christian?" "Well, sir." he said, "I consider myself a Christian." I said, "Are you bringing other men to Christ?" He said, "No, I am not, that is not my business; that's your business, I am not called to da that, I am called to practice law; you are called to preach the Gospel." I said, "If you are called to be a Christian you are called to bring other men to Christ." He said, "I don't believe it." I said, "Look here," then I opened my Bible at Acts 8:4 , and asked him to read, and he read, "They that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." "Oh, yes," he said, "but these were the apostles." I said, "Will you be kind enough to read the first verse of the chapter?" and he read, "They were all scattered abroad... except the apostles." He had nothing more to say. What could he say? From Dr. R. A. Torrey.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Luke 24". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/luke-24.html.
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