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Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Great Commission, the

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Mandate to "make disciples of all nations" given by Christ to his disciples following his death and resurrection (Matthew 28:16-20 ; Mark 16:15-18 ; Luke 24:46-49 ; John 20:21-23 ; Acts 1:8 ). Because Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:19 ), the Great Commission is to be taken with the utmost seriousness by all of his disciples, "to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20 ).

The impetus for the Great Commission springs from the heart of God. He loved us and gave his Son or us (John 3:16 ). The disciples are sent out to accomplish what God had started in the sending of his Son (John 20:21 ). The Great Commission is thus linked to God's words to Abraham: that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:3 ).

The Great Commission is accomplished through witnessing (Acts 1:8 ), preaching (Mark 16:15 ), baptizing, and teaching (Matthew 28:20 ). Jesus' disciples are to replicate themselves in the lives of those who respond to the Good News. The Holy Spirit is the empowering agent for those who witness (Acts 1:8 ), as well as the one who convicts sinners of their need for Jesus (John 16:8-11 ). The disciples will have success because Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, will be with them as they undertake their assignment (Matthew 28:20 ).

The Great Commission necessitates taking the gospel message to "the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8 ), to "all nations" (Matthew 28:19 ). The Good News is to be shared with all peoples, for all are sinners, Jews and Gentile alike, and in need of deliverance from sin (Romans 3 ). All peoples, by faith, can receive God's provision and are baptized into Christ. In Christ, all distinctions between Jew and Gentile disappear (Romans 10:12-13 ; Galatians 3:28 ).

Glenn E. Schaefer

Copyright Statement
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

Bibliography Information
Elwell, Walter A. Entry for 'Great Commission, the'. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 1996.

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