The Great Commission

The Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:45-49; John 20:21-23; Acts 1:8)

A. From Matthew

“Matthew 28:18-20 contains what is commonly called the Great Commission. These are Jesus’ last words recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, although we know from the other Gospels and Acts that these were not Jesus’s final words before His ascension. By ending his Gospel with these words, Matthew draws attention to the importance and centrality of the commission–for Matthew, the Great Commission summed up Jesus’s entire post-resurrection message.

Matthew provides some context for these important words.

Following the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the eleven disciples travel to Galilee to a certain mountain in obedience to Jesus’s instructions. Matthew notes that when Jesus appears to them, they worship him, but some continue to doubt. There on the mountain Jesus communicates the earth-shaking results of his resurrection–Jesus now has all authority in heaven and on earth. As a result, his followers must now go out into the entire world to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them and teaching them everything that he has commanded.

The central command of the commission is to make disciples, that is, the develop genuine, lifelong followers of Jesus.

Jesus’s command to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Points to a Trinitarian understanding of God and to the deity of Jesus. Jesus affirms his continued presence and empowerment until the end of the age. His followers are not being called upon to embark on this mission alone. Jesus will be with them.

Because of Jesus’s resurrection, the message of God’s kingdom is no longer to be limited to the Jewish nation but must be proclaimed to every nation and every person everywhere in the world.

Matthew makes clear that this is a direct command from Jesus, the resurrected king of the world, to his followers. The Great Commission is not a mere wish or suggestion; it is a command that is just as valid and relevant for Jesus’s followers today as it was when it was first given.

B. From Luke

Luke’s version of the Great Commission is recorded in two places and was spoken near Jerusalem just prior to the ascension. The Lukan Great Commission states that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

You will be witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:47-48), accompanied by Jesus’ promise that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Matthew’s description of perpetual presence is repeated in Luke’s account in terms of supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit for the activity of witness to the entire world.

C. From John

The Johannine Great Commission–“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you”–is followed by the symbolic impartation of the Spirit and a description of the forgiveness of sins that will accompany the church’s proclamation of the gospel. The followers of Jesus are sent by Jesus into the world just as God sent Jesus into the world. Jesus’s followers share his mandate and missions and are empowered by the Spirit in their work.

D. Contradictions?

The continual reappearance of the Great Commission motif using different words in different contexts indicates not that the individual Gospel authors mixed up Jesus’s words but that the theme of the Great Commission is a major element of his post-resurrection teaching (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21-23; Acts 1:8), which goes on over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3).

Jesus continually emphasizes it in different contexts and with different words. It is imperative that the disciples not miss this important command. They are to go into the entire world in the power of the Spirit, sent by Jesus as witnesses to his resurrection and his kingdom. The centrality of this element of Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances must not be missed or downplayed.

E. Conclusion:

Being a Christian is defined in Jesus’s post-resurrection teaching as obeying the Great Commission. It is the mandate that is to define the very existence of his followers.”

-Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor with Alexander Stewart. The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014), 199-202.

APRIL 3, AD 33 – Why We Believe We Can Know the Exact Date Jesus Died

By Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor

“In our new book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, we assume but do not argue for a precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion. Virtually all scholars believe, for various reasons, that Jesus was crucified in the spring of either a.d. 30 or a.d. 33, with the majority opting for the former. (The evidence from astronomy narrows the possibilities to a.d. 27, 30, 33, or 34). However, we want to set forth our case for the date of Friday, April 3, a.d. 33 as the exact day that Christ died for our sins.

To be clear, the Bible does not explicitly specify the precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion and it is not an essential salvation truth. But that does not make it unknowable or unimportant. Because Christianity is a historical religion and the events of Christ’s life did take place in human history alongside other known events, it is helpful to locate Jesus’s death—as precisely as the available evidence allows—within the larger context of human history”

Beginning of Tiberius’s reign a.d. 14
Fifteenth year of Tiberius’s reign: Beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry (Luke 3:1) a.d. 28
A few months later: Beginning of Jesus’s ministry a.d. 29
Minimum three-year duration of Jesus’ ministry: Most likely date of Jesus’s crucifixion a.d. 33 (April 3)

John’s Gospel mentions that Jesus attended at least three Passovers (possibly four), which took place once a year in the spring:

•There was a Passover in Jerusalem at the start of his public ministry (John 2:13, 23).

•There was a Passover in Galilee midway through his public ministry (John 6:4).

•There was a final Passover in Jerusalem at the end of his public ministry, that is, the time of his crucifixion (John 11:55; 12:1).

•And Jesus may have attended one more Passover not recorded in John but perhaps in one or several of the Synoptic Gospels (i.e., Matthew, Mark, and Luke).

Nisan 14 a.d. 30 John 2:13
Nisan 14 a.d. 31 either the unnamed feast in John 5:1 or else a Passover that John does not mention (but that may be implied in the Synoptics)
Nisan 14 a.d. 32 John 6:4
Nisan 14 a.d. 33 John 11:55, the Passover at which Jesus was crucified

For more details, read the rest of the article: