Matthew 28:11-20 Part 6


Just because the connections and the continuity are so important here, we’re going to have a very quick review… as much for me as for you.

Three times the disciples have been told that Jesus, having arisen from death, would precede them into Galilee and they would see Him there.  These instructions are closely connected to the prophetic Word of God in Zechariah chapter thirteen having to do with the crucifixion of Jesus and the “scattering” of His followers.

The appearance of Jesus (and His “commission” to His disciples) was to take place on a mountain in Galilee.  “Mountain Theology” in Scripture is so important that we were driven to take note of the fact that mountains are “figures” or analogies of authorities and governments and nations.  Mt. Zion was the mountain where God made His Presence known (His government on earth).  But it’s obvious that the “mountain” of God was to be moved; and Zion was to be burned and cast into the sea.  Moreover, the New Mt. Zion (the Kingdom of the Christ) was to be over all the mountains (governments) of the earth; it was a great Rock to grow until it “filled” the earth!

One thing we didn’t mention before (concerning the mountains) was that, at the temptation of Jesus, it was Satan who took Jesus to the top of a high mountain and showed Him all the mountains of the earth.  And that “deceiver” promised Jesus that if He would only “worship” him he would give all these “kingdoms” to Him!  (Satan equated the mountain-figure and governments and authorities.)

In a certain sense, Satan was the “authority” over all those kingdoms, since they were all Gentile, pagan nations which knew not the God of Israel.  Of course, all deceivers (since Satan) copy him in assuming that they have more authority than they really have.  Satan had no authority to “give” the kingdoms of the earth to Jesus (or to anyone else!).  He held sway over them only by decree and permission from God.  So his “authority” was a “derived” authority… and only for a time, since Jesus would soon be given all the nations (as His “inheritance”); and they would be given to Him by the Father (upon His ascension)!

The point here is that Satan recognized the “Mountain Theology” in God’s Word; and then he used that Theology as his own.  All deceivers use Theology and make it their own!  As I said, he made an attempt to claim ultimate authority over all the nations and rulers of the earth.  But, again, whatever his authority was, it wasn’t original… it was derived and temporary.

But Jesus, now resurrected, and now having been given all authority in heaven and upon earth, meets His disciples upon a mountain in order to commission them with regard to His “inheritance”.  (What is His inheritance?  All the nations of the earth!)

Satan was completely cut out of this transaction, because he wasn’t the ultimate authority over anything!  As much as he wished to “as God”, he was really only a “created being” – a creature that coveted “equality” with the One Who created him!

But Jesus Christ now had been given all authority over all the “mountains” (governments, authorities) of the earth; and He was now prepared to terminate the covenant connected to Mt. Zion and establish His covenant with all peoples in every tribe and nation.  And His authority extended to every creature in the heavens as well!

Then we learned that when the disciples saw Jesus upon the mountain they worshipped Him; but to themselves they doubted.  Although they worshipped Him, and loved Him, and followed Him, and believed in Him, they still did not know Who He was and what He did; and they didn’t know the nature of His Kingdom!  They were still “blind” as to the prophetic Word of God and its “fullness” in Christ.

So the whole group of disciples “stood in two different places” with regard to Jesus.  That’s the meaning of the word “doubt” that Matthew uses here.  The implication from the other translations is that the group was split – some believing and some “doubting”.  But that’s not the case.  The group was split… but not in the way that those translations imply.  The right understanding of the text is that the entire group was split into “two minds”!  The disciples knew Jesus when they saw Him (no doubt about Who He was); and they loved Him, and they believed in Him, and they worshipped Him, and they followed Him… yet they didn’t know Who He was or what His Kingdom was – in connection with the prophetic Word!

You see, in comparison there was never a “two-ness” in Jesus.  In relation to the eternal Word, He was faithful.  (Never double-minded!)

In respect to His sight and experience (i.e. all that He went through) there was every reason (every anthropological reason) for Him to have “two minds”.  But He was faithful, even to the end, through the most severe circumstances possible… even to hades/abandonment!

Jesus is Eternal Word made flesh… never a hint of wavering, completely faithful and “single-minded”.  To use the English translation of this Greek word, He never “doubted”.  He never stood in two different places (in His mind) as the disciples did.

Their knowledge, their intent, and their actions were without any purpose and without any hope (anticipation).  They were discouraged, disoriented, and confused.  (And it was only in connection with the events at Pentecost that all of this radically changed.)

But Jesus did appear to them on this mountain (previously designated) in Galilee.  And He gives them their “charge”.  (It is truly “majestic”.)  And afterward (maybe here… and Matthew doesn’t record it), (sometime afterward) Jesus tells them to go back into Jerusalem and wait… which they did.  They didn’t know what they were waiting for, but they obeyed Him and did what He said.  And, in historical sequence, the very next event that is recorded in Scripture is in Acts chapter one – the event at Pentecost.

Now.  As I said, the “charge” to the disciples is “majestic”.  I use that word because it so aptly describes what occurs.  Majesty infers glory.  And it is glorious.  I can’t help but think that this is perhaps the greatest sequence of words in the history of language.  And all that’s ever been written about it is insufficient.

The disciples, in their confusion, and their astonishment, and in their fear, hear the sublime Words of God the Son as He is exalted by the Father.  He is risen the Son of God with Power.  And His Princely pre-eminence flows forth from His mouth in splendid Revelation:


“All authority in heaven and upon earth was given to Me.  Having gone therefore disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I did command to you; and, lo, I with you AM all the days until the end of the age.”


Now, (as far as we’re concerned here, as is the case in instances when men are confronted with the “sublime”), the tendency is to deal with this text “peripherally”… do a few things around the Theological “edges”, view it as a primary “missions” text, tell some stories about our “missionaries”; and then end it with an emotional charge to evangelical zeal!

However we mustn’t trifle with this text.  It’s too important to be dismissed that easily.  The difficulty with it is that there is so much here!  It’s hard to even know where to begin.

But with “all that we’ve heard from the Gospel” as our foundation, let’s just “go-ahead-with-it”; and we’ll try to miss as little as possible of what our Lord said to His disciples.

And I don’t know of a better place to start than with some of the words.  Now, as has been mentioned a number of times previously, the apostle Matthew has, as his “target” audience, the Jewish people.  As an apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His outlook was the world… naturally.  But first it was the Jews.

And, as we’ve seen, his motivation was to write the Gospel as “fulfillment of the Prophetic Word”!  And the prophetic Word of God (in the Older Testament Scriptures) was given to the Jews… in their own language.

So the Jews received the prophecy of God (the whole Old Testament) concerning the coming Messiah and God’s salvation of the world.  And they received it in Hebrew.

But in God’s providential care of the history of His Own creation, the Greeks conquered the civilized world centuries before Christ was born  (the third great empire – as prophesied in Daniel).  The world became Greek.  And the culture and the language became Greek.  Greek was the “street” language, and the “market” language of the world!  Even the Older Testament Hebrew was translated into Greek!  It’s now called “The Septuagint”.

So Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek.  Now, the point here is that, even though Greek is the language of the Gospel, it is the fulfillment of the Word-of-God-which-is-in-Hebrew!  And so the Greek words don’t necessarily carry with them the ideas and concepts of ancient and classic Greek!  Greece was pagan!  And the language was used for centuries to express pagan concepts!  That’s how the Greek words were used before the New Testament.

But, with regard to the Gospel, poured into the Greek language is fifteen hundred years of Revelation in Hebrew!  A Greek word, or phrase, or sentence, may be clear in its translated meaning; but it is not complete, and it’s not to be fully understood, until the “weight” of the Hebrew concepts in God’s Revelation is brought to bear upon it.

We go back to Matthew’s intent and purpose… i.e. the Gospel is prophetic fulfillment (Old Testament fullness).  God said it… now it has happened.  And all through the Gospel (the Greek Gospel), we have gone back, again and again, to the Older Testament Scriptures (in Hebrew) in order to find the full meaning of the text.  It is the Word of God… Who is faithful.  And Jesus Christ is the WORD made flesh!

So we study the words.  I’m going to “skip around” a little bit here; but don’t get confused… we’ll pull it all together later.

I’d like to start with a word which is found in the twentieth verse:  “…teaching them to keep all which I did command to you.”  The word is “to command”.

All through the New Testament, (n the Gospels, in the Acts and in the letters of the apostles and in the Revelation of St. John), we find the use of the same word.  Many of the instances have to do with the Commandments through Moses (which is very important here).  We’re all familiar with the Commandments.  The same word is used here by Jesus:  “…keep all which I did command….”

But there’s another interesting usage of the word by Matthew in chapter four (it also occurs in chapter four of Luke).  It occurs in relation to the satanic temptation of Jesus.  Satan quotes from Psalm ninety-one in an attempt to persuade Jesus to jump from a great height!

The quote from the Psalm was this:


“He shall command His angels in regard to you… in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”


(Now, Satan was an angel; and it was rather precocious of him to quote Scripture concerning the “Commands” that are given to the angels (messengers).  But, be that as it may, the use of the word “command” here isn’t with regard to the “Commandments of God” (as written by Moses); but it is in respect to the authority over creatures in the heavens.  Satan’s point was, is there or is there not a “command” issuing forth from the mouth of God to “bear Jesus up lest He dashes His foot…” etc.  He took the verse out of context (on purpose), but his challenge to Christ had to do, as I said, with the authority inherent in the “Command”.

There are a number of other examples here we could mention; but one more stands out as particularly important to our understanding of the word.  It’s found in Acts chapter thirteen.  Paul and Barnabas were preaching in Antioch, and the Jews grew especially virulent in their opposition to them.  That’s when Paul spoke to them saying:


“It was necessary that the Word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles, for the Lord has commanded us (and then he quotes from Isaiah forty-nine, verse six) ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”


The point here is that Jesus had “commanded” the disciples in connection with the Word of God!  In this case the “Word” (Isaiah forty-nine) had to do with the prophetic Scriptures concerning the salvation of the Gentile nations!

So “the Word of God made flesh” commanded the apostles with regard to the Word of God!  They were given the power of legal representation in a Divine commission.  (That’s what the word “command” means.)  In other words, the command of Jesus to His disciples (on this mountain in Galilee) is so closely connected to the Older Testament Scriptures that it is impossible to separate them – because the “command” of God the Son is identical to the Word of God!  It is the “Fullness” of that Word!

So here in our text, when Jesus says to them, “teaching them to keep all that I did command you”, it is “the Word of God made flesh” commissioning these eleven men with regard to the Word of God! …  The whole Word of God!  And that’s so much more comprehensive than just the definition of the Greek words.

Now all that brings me to the second word that I want you to look at:  Exousia  (Authority)!


“Jesus said to them (verse eighteen) ‘All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given to Me.’”


“Given to Me…”?  What does that mean?  Was Jesus not God?  Why did He need to be given authority?  The answer is that Jesus Christ was born of a woman in a feeding trough.  He had “emptied Himself” according to Paul… divested Himself of His glory, His power, His authority (even though He thought it not “robbery” to be equal with God) in order to be born a man.

And Paul, in writing to the Roman Church, said that Jesus “was raised the Son of God with Power”!  Upon finishing the “work” of salvation (commanded Him by His Father), He was “raised with Power”!!!

And according to Daniel, upon His ascension to the Right of the Father (in the Glory-cloud) He received the glory (of which He had emptied Himself) and the nations of the world as His inheritance!

All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given to Me.”  It was returned to Him at His resurrection and at His ascension to the Throne-room/Judgment-seat above the firmament!  The Will of the One with Exousia prevails in heaven as well as in the created realm.

John chapter one says that “without Him nothing was made that was made”.  This is “authority” over creation.  Nature (creation) is an ordered sphere – an ordered totality.  And the One with authority gives the Power to all created things to do what they do.  Fire burns because it has been given the power to burn – by the One with the authority to give it!

Hurricanes have power because they have been given it by the One Who has the authority to give it!  Scorpions sting and snakes bite and the earth shakes because the power to do so has been given!  Those things don’t happen due to some inherent ability!

The stars give light because the One with the authority gives the power of light!  All these things do what they do because the Word of God said so!

The same is true of the creatures in the heavens.  Scripture says that the angels are messengers of the Word of God!  Even the warfare in which they are engaged is by His Words.  In Acts twenty-eight, Colossians one, and Ephesians two, the Scriptures say that whatever power that Satan has – has been given to him.  He can do nothing other than that corresponding to the power given to him.

You see, Authority is the incontrovertible freedom to act.  Luke says that it is God Who has the authority to kill and cast into hell.  Acts one, seven says that God has authority over times, seasons and events!  Romans nine, verse twenty-one indicates that the One with authority can make, of one lump, vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor.  It is the authority of CREATORSHIP!  Psalm one hundred thirty-five says that the Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth.  And Daniel chapter four says that Most High rules in the kingdoms of men, and He gives it to whomever He will.

Authority means absolute and ultimate right in One’s Self.  It is unrestricted Sovereignty.  Finally it is SELF-DETERMINATION.

The One Who self-determines does whatever He pleases….  He is unrestricted; His sovereignty is absolute.


“All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given to Me.”


Therefore He determines all authoritative relationships (they all belong to Him), and He gives authority to whomever He chooses.  And since He has all authority, autonomy by any creature is precluded!  Every authority belongs to the One Who gave it and to Whom it belongs.  And subordination is required by the One Who gave it (all authorities are subordinate).

And ergo, insubordination and autonomy bring terrible sanctions, because all authority is His authority!

Now.  The One Who has the right (due to the fact that all authority is vested in Him Who is self-determining) has the authority to give authority.  All subordinate authority belongs to Him too.  And that’s what we see here in this text, isn’t it?

Jesus Christ, the Word of God, Who has been given all authority, gives authority to His disciples to speak the Word of God to the nations.  Behind every authority is “validity”.  And Who is more “valid” than the One Who is self-determining?  If He gives authority, then authority has been given.  The disciples have been given to be “legal representatives” of the Word of God – by command.  By a majestic commission.  The ultimate Magistrate spoke!

Apostolic authority (i.e. authority given to the apostles) has to do with the nature and existence of the Church and the spread of the Kingdom of Christ.  They are to speak The Word to the nations.  The Word is that which He commanded – the whole Word of God… which was made flesh.  Our Lord Jesus Christ.

There’s some more to say about that, but we don’t have any more time.  Even though I’ve taken things out of order a little bit, I was anxious to get to those two words:  “command” and “authority”.  We have a lot more to do; and hopefully it will all begin to fit.

For now, you are charged with honoring the authority of Christ and the authorities which He has placed over you.  They are His.  Do not be insubordinate; and do not act autonomously.  For the authority belongs to Him.  And those authorities over you are His authorities, because all authority proceeds from Him.  None exists unless He gives it.


“And coming forth Jesus said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given to Me.’”