Matthew 28:11-20 Part 7


We were doing some work with the words that our Lord used here in the last three verses; and we saw that the word “Command” (as it’s used in verse twenty) has a scope which is more comprehensive than its use when referring to the Commandments at Sinai and the ensuing “case law”.  On the other hand, neither is the scope to be limited to the preaching and teaching of Jesus… as recorded in the Gospels.

In fact the scope isn’t to be limited at all.  The One speaking (“all which I did command you”) is the Word of God made Flesh; and He commissioned His disciples with regard to the Word of God – the entirety of the Word of God.  Remember that Matthew’s purpose was to write the Gospel as “fulfillment of the Prophetic Word”!  So those who would limit the Great Commission to just those things which Jesus said to His disciples (as illustrated by the things written in the Gospel) are purposefully ignoring the scope of the commission.  (The modern evangelical church deals with feelings and experience rather than the Scriptures.  For the most part it “hates” the Law.)  Ergo it limits the scope of Christ’s commands on purpose.

But when Jesus said to them, “…teaching them to keep all which I did command you…”, there was no such limitation intended!  “…all which I did command to you…” is the “fullness” of the prophetic Word!  It is the whole Word of God (from beginning [Genesis] to end)!

Secondly, that “command” was from “authority”.  Jesus said (verse eighteen) “all authority in heaven and upon earth was given to Me”.  Our Lord had “emptied” Himself of His glory and power in order to be born of a woman.  And, as prophesied in the Word, upon His ascension to the Right of the Father, He received all of that which was His by right!

As God the Son, all authority is His inherently.  It is His originally.  It is unrestricted freedom to “be” and to act.  It is self-determination.  Therefore all other authority is derived authority; and wherever authority is to be found, it is given to be!  Jesus, the Son of God, is God the Son.  So all authority upon the earth is His authority; and no authority exists unless it has been given by Him.  Therefore it belongs to Him!  Whether it is acknowledged doesn’t alter the fact.

Ownership is authority.  And that authority belongs to Jesus; and it was given by Him.  The authority of government belongs to Jesus; and since it was given by Him, that’s why we are to honor earthly authorities… not because of the man in the office, and not because of the office itself; but because it belongs to Jesus.

The power to burn belongs to fire because it is given that power by the Son of God (for, “without Him nothing was made that was made”).  The authority to rule in the household, or in the Church, is received from Jesus.  It isn’t inherent, or original, authority… it is authority which is given.  It belongs to Jesus.

Further, all authority in heaven is His!  The angels do what they do because it is given them to do it!  Satan’s power and authority belong to Jesus.  As much as Satan would like it to be “original and inherent”, it isn’t.  As much as he would like to be “as God”, he isn’t.  He is given to act and to exercise his power by decree from Jesus Christ!

“All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given to Me,” He said.  The Word of God Made Flesh, having completed His work, received again the Authority and Glory which was His by right (He thought it not robbery to be equal with God).  And whatever authority that exists anywhere in the creation (in heaven or upon earth) belongs to Him!

And it is by this ultimate authority that Jesus commissions His disciples.  It is a Divine commission; it is a great commission, for it gives authority to the disciples to be legal representatives of the Word of God.  The “Word of God Made Flesh” has commanded them with regard to the Word of God!  And from ultimate authority the disciples were given authority to do what He had commanded.

This was, indeed, a great commission, because the Highest Authority (original Authority) gave great authority to eleven men!

Now.  What did the Son of God commission His disciples to do?  Disciple the nations.

What were their instructions from Divine, original authority?  DISCIPLE the nations!

What did the self-determining CREATOR/GOD commission them to do?  DISCIPLE the nations!  He gave to them the “keys to the Kingdom”:  the preaching of the whole Word of God, and the discipline of the Church!  Apostolic doctrine is authoritative!

But for now (before we get too far afield) we need to stop and consider the word “to disciple”.  The English word is a verb (to disciple – that’s the infinitive)… it’s the same root from which comes the word “to discipline”.  So, a “disciple” is one under discipline!

Our English word does a pretty good job of translating the Greek term; but we still have to remember the centuries of Revelation from God through Hebrew.  It is the Hebrew Revelation that is poured into the Greek language.

And, in order that we not quit right there in our understanding of the Greek word, we also have to remember the particular contexts in which the word is used… especially since our Lord Jesus Christ is the Fullness of the Prophetic Word!  And when we look for those particular instances, a remarkable fact emerges!  Although the noun (“a disciple”, or “the disciples”) appears quite often, the verb (“to disciple”) is very rare!

In fact, this great commission (in which Jesus commands the twelve to “disciple” the nations) is one of only two instances!  So the other one, then, takes on added importance and becomes of great interest to us.

And then we find out where it is (and what the context is)!  (And these are the kinds of things that keep me so motivated and give me such joy in doing the work.  God’s Word is an absolute “marvel” in its perfections.)

The other place where the disciples hear this word comes from Jesus’ mouth (in relation to them), comes at the end of the Kingdom parables in chapter thirteen.  It was a Sabbath day in which Jesus had healed numbers of people.  And then He had a confrontation with pharisees during which He told them that He would give them no sign except the sign of Jonah (a sign in which preaching and forgiveness goes to the Gentiles).

And then Jesus gets into a boat and speaks to the crowds.  Matthew then gives us the seven Kingdom parables that Jesus spoke on that occasion:  The parables of the sower, the zizanium in the field, the mustard seed, the leaven, the hidden treasure, the pearl, and the net thrown into the sea.

And afterward, because of the disciples’ question, He explained (from the Old Testament Scriptures) why He spoke to the people in parables.

And then, having asked them if they understood the parables (and having received an affirmative answer), He proceeded to give them “a parable about the parables”.  And here it is (verse fifty-two of chapter thirteen):


“So He said to them, ‘On account of this, every scribe instructed (discipled) in the Kingdom of the Heavens – like is to a man to a housemaster who is bringing out from his treasure new and old.’”


Now.  Without going into a whole, long exegesis of this parable for you, let me just give you the interpretation of it.

The apostles are the New Testament scribes… the authoritative “doctors” in interpretation of and preaching of the Word commissioned by Christ.  Having been “discipled” in the Kingdom of the Heavens, they are likened to a man whose “housemaster” (ultimate authority) brings out of his treasure new and old.

The “new” is the New Covenant extension of the Kingdom into all the earth; and the old illustrates the fact that it is all based on the prophetic Word in the Old Covenant!  These are the “treasures” of the One with all the authority.  He has the “right” to do with it as He wills; and as He “brings it out of His treasure”, it is likened to the “discipling” of the New Testament apostles!

He says, “Here is the old; and here’s what I’m now going to do with it!”  Here’s what was said in the prophetic Word; now here is the “fullness” of that prophetic Word.

The “old” is the books of Moses and the establishment of the nation of Israel and the Law and the prophets and the temple on Mt. Zion and the history and the whole covenantal relationship of God with His people.  And in it all is the prophetic Word with regard to Messiah and the nations and the Kingdom.

And the “housemaster” also brings out the “new” – the “Fullness” of the old… the coming of Messiah and the establishment of the Church and the cutting off of Israel and the inclusion of the Gentiles in the covenant and the Kingdom of Messiah covering the earth!

The “housemaster” – The Authority – brings it all to show His servant!

And the apostles of Christ being “discipled” is likened to that!  It is for them to see; He instructs them in the kingdom!  He “disciples” them in the Kingdom.  He brings it all out so they can see it.

The “old” is the prophetic Word of God – the entire Word of God in the Old Testament.  And the “new” is the fulfillment of it all in Jesus Christ the Lord!  He is the Kingdom; and He is its Authority.

And by His unique and self-determining Authority (“all power in heaven and upon earth is given to Me”), He commands His New Covenant “scribes” – soon to be the apostles – to disciple the nations!  They’ve been instructed – they’ve been “discipled” in the “old” and the “new” – and now they are to “disciple” the nations the same way!

They now have been made legal representatives, by the command of the King, to make disciples as they have been made disciples!  How were they discipled?  The One Who had been given all power in heaven and upon earth had discipled them in the Kingdom by bringing out the “old” and the “new”.

So, how are the apostles to “disciple” the nations?  By bringing out from the King’s treasures “the old and the new”!!!  By preaching the whole Word of God!  It is the Word of God in “progressive Revelation” – Jesus Christ and His work being the “fullness” of the Prophetic Word.  The “old” prophesies the “new”; and the “new” fulfills the “old”.

So, now, the command of Jesus (to “disciple” the nations) is made clear to us, isn’t it?  By going to the second place where Jesus used the word, we know that Jesus means for His disciples to instruct all the nations of the earth in the Word of God – the “old” and the “new”; for His Kingdom was now to be established over all the earth – as was prophesied!!!

Now.  We’re still dealing with the words of the Great Commission.  And we aren’t ready to stop yet… we still have several more to go.  And after we get through with that, then we can put it all together and comment on some of the “implications”.

But finally this morning I want to look at the first word in the twentieth verse:  didasko.  “To Teach”.  It appears here in the present participle… “teaching them….”  To keep all that I did Command to you.

Where before Jesus spoke in an absolute imperative… “disciple the nations”, He now speaks in the continuous present tense… “teaching them”.  This difference in the tenses isn’t to be interpreted to mean that “discipling” is a one-time thing and that “teaching’ (somehow seen as something different) is to go on continually after that.

But the way it ought to be interpreted is that “discipling” is seen as “the whole”; and “teaching” is seen as the continuous process that accomplishes and defines the whole.

But before we go too far with that, let’s go to the Scriptures and see what we can learn about “didasko” – to teach.

One of the first things we notice (in going through all the verses where “teaching” is taking place) is that our Lord’s activities always included “teaching”.  He taught the people; He taught in the synagogues; He taught His disciples.  He even taught the priests and the pharisees.  It made them mad; but He did teach them.

So “teaching” was a prominent and persistent work during the three years that our Lord was manifested on earth.  And when He taught He either began with the Word of God, or He referred back to the Word of God.  And He always spoke in terms of His Own relationship to that Word!

And since we know the Theology here, we can say that “here was the Word of God made Flesh, confirming His Own revealed Word”!  And there is also a pattern here for us (it’s obvious to see), and we’ll certainly have more about it later.

But of all the instances where Jesus “taught” (as recorded by Matthew) the most revealing one (and the most important) is, remarkably, the next verse after the parable that we just heard.

Jesus finishes speaking to the New Testament Scribes (His disciples) about the Lord “discipling” them from the Old and the New; and the very next event that Matthew describes is Jesus entering the synagogue in Nazareth and “teaching”.  (This is the same pattern as in our text – the “Great Commission”.)  And according to Matthew the Jews were “entrapped” in Him (our old word skandalizo).

Jesus had begun teaching in the synagogue with the prophetic Word and taught concerning Himself.  And they were “entrapped”!  All of Jesus’ teaching brought men into direct confrontation with the Revealed Will of God – the Fullness of which was Himself!  The creation spoke of Him; the Law spoke of Him; the prophets spoke of Him; the Psalms and the Wisdom literature spoke of Him….  When He taught the Word, it was always concerning Himself!

And as He spoke of Himself He always confronted men with the Truth – subjecting them to the will of God, bringing them into confrontation with the will of God… ordering the relationship between man and God and man and man!

So the point here is that didasko – to teach – has its “starting point” with the WORD (pattern)!  Why?  Because it is the authority!  “All authority in heaven and upon earth is given to Me.”  As the apostle Paul was so quick to point out, the starting point is the Word of God.  It is not “about” Jesus; it is not “concerning” Jesus; it’s not “with reference” to Jesus… it is “all which I did Command you”.  It is Logos – the Word – from the Self-determining One Who is absolute Authority!  It is His Word!

Paul did not “apply” the Scriptures to Jesus; and he didn’t “apply” the Scriptures to men.  He began with the Word – the Voice of Christ the King; and he commanded conformity in all areas of life!  He confronted men, just as Jesus did, with what God said.  The authoritative Word is the application!!

So, “teaching the nations” here at the beginning of verse twenty, is a continual confrontation of men with the Voice of Christ.  He is the authoritative Word.

The apostle John, in his Gospel, expands even more on that and gives us a full view of what happens during “teaching”.  His revelation is a distinctively Trinitarian One, for he exposes the work of the Triune God at the “teaching of the Word”.  The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – “enlightens” and “molds” the will and heart of the hearer – “conforming” him to the revealed will of God.  The Word of God is the power of God into salvation….

But this is the Divine and Great Commission that our Lord gives to His apostles.  He gives them authority – as legal representatives – to disciple the nations.  And the means of doing that includes confronting men everywhere with the authoritative Word of Christ the King.  That’s “teaching”.


Next Lord’s Day we have two more words and a short phrase to examine; and then we’ll put it all together and see what it all means.  And then there will be some good and necessary implications… for the Church in all ages, and for each of us individually.

As we come to the Table today it is with the understanding that it is the sign and seal of the New Covenant.  And a Covenant is an oath in blood that has great blessing for believers in obedience.  It also has negative sanctions for the disobedient and rebellious.

But this is the way we remember that His body was given for us and in His blood in the New Covenant.  In bloodshed and death He entered into the Covenant for our sakes.