Matthew 28:11-20 Part 8


As you may remember we still have some exegetical work to do… and some word studies.  We want to deal with the first word of verse nineteen (which I’ve translated “having gone”); and then the word “to keep” in verse twenty (“to keep all which I did command to you”); and, lastly, baptizontes – baptizing them (i.e. the nations).

Then we’ll take up the phrase “I with you Am” – at the end of verse twenty.  If we can finish looking at all of this today, then we’ll be ready, beginning the next Lord’s Day, to put it all together and comment on some of the implications for 1) the individual, 2) the family, and 3) the Church (not to mention the nations and civil magistrates and, of course, the millennium).

Now.  As far as the first word in verse nineteen is concerned, there are two Greek words used in the New Testament that are translated “to go”.  And they fit, very well, the concepts that are established in the Hebrew Old Testament.

Our word, which I’ve translated “having gone”, is the Greek word that is used in specific instances in the prophetic Word.  And, therefore, it’s easily distinguishable from the other one.  For example:  In Genesis twenty-two when Abraham was sent by God to a particular mountain to sacrifice his son Isaac, he was told to “go to Mt. Moriah”.  When the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek, our word here in verse nineteen was used to translate God’s command.

In Second Samuel we find that it had been David’s desire to build a permanent structure (a temple) in Jerusalem – a “house” in which God would dwell in the midst of His people.  But God sent Nathan the prophet to David to speak His Word.  David would not build the temple… it would be his son who would build it.  And the word used to send Nathan to David was the same word used here in our text (the construction being in the imperative)… “Go” to David, He said.

In First Kings chapter nineteen the nation of Israel had forsaken God’s covenant and killed His prophets.  And Elijah himself became the object of Jezebel’s wrath.  After he fled for his life and hid in a cave, God spoke His Word to him and told him exactly where to go and what to do.  The Word from God began with this word “Go” (again in the imperative form).

With Israel being in a terrible condition vis a vis God’s covenant, Isaiah saw a vision of God on His Throne.  And a cherub took a burning coal from under the Throne and came and touched Isaiah’s mouth with it.  Isaiah then heard God say:


“Go, and tell this people ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

‘Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes….’”


Isaiah’s prophetic commission was to speak the Word of God to the nation – in order that they might not hear or understand!  And the word that God used to send him was the same word used here at the beginning of verse nineteen of our text.

The same was true in Jeremiah’s case… “Go and proclaim these words….” (Jeremiah three, verse twelve)  And in the case of Ezekiel (chapter three, verse one):


“Son of man eat what you find; eat this scroll and go speak to the house of Israel….  Speak My words to them.  If I had sent you to (the nations), they would have listened to you.  But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they will not listen to Me.  For all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.  Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces; and your forehead strong against their foreheads.  Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead.  Do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks.  They are a rebellious house.”


Go, speak to the house of Israel” is the same word used here in our text.

Hosea’s “sending” was also a terrible burden to bear; for his prophetic word to the nation was one of extreme heartbreak and jealousy.  God spoke to Him – telling him to “Go”, take a wife who was already an adulteress.

She would commit multiple adulteries all during the marriage as a “prophetic word” to the nation – illustrating Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and His covenant!

Now, when Jesus uses this same word in His commission to His disciples, He puts it in “participial” form rather than in the imperative.  And it is stated in a “completed sense”… “Having gone… disciple all the nations…”

By this the disciples would understand (although not immediately; but they would after pentecost) they would understand that 1) this is the same word by which God sent the prophets of old, and 2) this Jesus is “O LOGOS” – The Word of God – sending them, and 3) that the “Divine Imperative” is implied here (since the word is constructed in the completed sense).  In other words, The One Who has “all authority in heaven and upon earth” has spoken; therefore they are already sent!

And, 4) the disciples are not controlled by “subjective” will or action, but by God the Son in His Holy Law-Word!  God has charge of His Covenant people; and the righteous are to walk in His “Way” without qualification!  They are not to “qualify” His Word with situations!  The “way” of God is not a “mode of life” which, having been traveled, leads to God.  The “Way” of God is life that is ordained by God for His people (as distinct from all others) on the basis of the Covenant!  It doesn’t “lead to God”; it is God’s Way!! – It is unqualified!!  It is non-situational!!  The disciples are sent by God the Son.  They are sent to disciple the nations, teaching them to “keep all that I did command to you”!

I’ll say some more about this when we come to the Divine implications of this Divine commission… for us as individuals and as families and as Churches.  But there’s one more place that we need to look at before we leave this word (having gone).  And it is most interesting to compare it with the text of the Great Commission.

In first Peter chapter three we find this:


“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by Whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water.  There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (the flood of water was the type, and baptism is the antitype), not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who has gone into heaven (there’s our word) and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”


Now, we certainly don’t have time for a long, exegetical excursion into this passage; but the “going” of Jesus to the right hand of the Father is the point at which He received authority over all authorities and powers… to the end that many be saved through baptism (as Noah and his family were saved through the flood).

So… here in our text – by the ultimate authority vested in the resurrected and ascended Christ, the apostles, having “gone”, are to baptize the nations into God’s holy covenant!

That’s a wonderful connection to be made between the two passages… one that I did not make when preaching through First Peter.  (But, the more we read and study, the more we are allowed to see from God’s Word.)

But the word “having gone” at the beginning of verse nineteen constitutes a commission of Divine origin; and it corresponds to the prophetic commissions of the Older Testament prophets.  It is the Way of God… ordained by Him and irrevocably linked to His Covenant.

Now let’s move down to verse twenty where we find the infinitive “to keep”… “teaching them to keep all which I did command to you….”

This is the only time that Matthew records a similar use of this word; but it is picked up from Jesus’ great Commission by several of the apostles in their inspired writings.  For example:  In James chapter two the apostle writes concerning the depravity of men and the Law of God:


“…for whoever shall keep the whole Law, yet stumble in one, he is guilty of all of it.”


The word “keep”, there, is the same one in verse twenty of our text.

And the apostle Paul, writing to Timothy about those who don’t teach the Word of Christ, warns him that he should withdraw from them!  Then he says,


“I urge you to keep this commandment without spot, and blameless….”


He was speaking of the commands of Jesus – about sound doctrine which accords with Godliness.  That word “keep” is also the same as in our text.

But it is the apostle John who provides us with the clearest understanding.  In chapter fourteen of his Gospel, John is quoting the Lord Jesus when He said, verse fifteen:


“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

And verse twenty-one:  “He who has My Commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And He who loves Me will be loved by My Father; and I will love Him and manifest Myself to him.”

And verse twenty-three:  “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come and make our home with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My Words.”


Now there is a lot here; but two things are clear and to our point.  One… our Lord speaks from the position of Divine and ultimate authority, doesn’t He?  It is His Word which must be “kept”.  And, second (as we’ve seen so many times before), our Lord is the Fullness of the Word through the prophets!

And it is the prophet Daniel (the recipient of the visions of the five Kingdoms) who, in his prayer of national repentance, uses the same words and phrases that our Lord uses!  Listen… from chapter nine of his prophecy:


“And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, Who keeps His Covenant and mercy with those who love Him and keep His Commandments.’”


Now, it’s obvious that “to keep” has to do with the transmitted message of Jesus Christ (the Fullness of the Word)!  It is the Word of Revelation from Jesus; He spoke it, and it is the whole Word of God (since His is the Fullness!).

But we do not wish to leave the impression that there is only one aspect to “keeping” that Word!  Certainly we do understand that personal obedience is required of those who love Him.  And, in that obedience, we do “keep” His Word!  And as He said, those who do not obey (keep) His Word do not love Him!

But there is another aspect to this word “to keep” which we mustn’t forget.  And it is, perhaps, the primary focus of the Greek word and it’s Hebrew background!

The transmitted Message of Jesus Christ the Lord is to be kept intact!  It is to be “watched over”; it is to be “guarded”; it is to be “maintained”!  It is to be “kept”!  The basic concept of “to keep” is to safeguard the Revelation of Jesus Christ!  And then pass it on in a covenantal summons to faith and obedience!  It is to be kept intact as it is passed from faith to faith through the generations of the Church.

The implications here for the Church are just “awesome”.  “…teaching them to keep all which I did command to you.”  Obey and safeguard the Revelation of Jesus Christ!  The present day Church hasn’t done that!  Like Israel, it has not “watched over” and “guarded” the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ.  The Gospel is the Power of God into salvation…!  Should it be compromised, where then is the Power?

Should something be added to it… should there be something subtracted… should it be compromised (for peace, or for whatever reason)… should it be “simplified” for the sake of understanding… should it be otherwise corrupted…where then is the Power?

Timothy, “I urge you to keep this Commandment without spot or blemish”! says Paul.  Jesus said, “teaching them to keep ALL which I did command you”.  It is the transmitted Message of Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth; it must be kept intact!

By His great authority He commissioned His apostles to disciple the nations by that Word; and to teach them to “safeguard” the Message!  For by It the nations are brought under conscious obedience to His Lordship!

Now.  That having been done, and knowing a little about what “to keep” means, let’s now go back to verse nineteen where we find the word “baptizontes” (present participle of the word “to baptize”).

There is continuous action in the present tense here (just as it is in the word “teaching”), which means that this is always to be done in connection with the command to “disciple the nations”.

We’ve heard many times what the sign of baptism is, and how it is to be administered; and I don’t think it’s necessary to go through all of that again here.

But we know that, as men and women are made “new creations” in Christ (through the preaching of the Word), they are to be baptized.  And when the head of the household receives the sign of baptism, the rest of his house receives the sign of baptism!  This includes his wife and all of his children and all of his servants (if he has any).  And then he, with Christ as Lord of the house, begins to teach his own household “to keep” all of that which Jesus commands!

Why is that?  Because that’s the “federal headship” structure of God’s Covenant!  When the sign and seal of God’s Covenant is placed upon “the head”, the whole family comes under the Covenant.  That person is the federal head of the family, and under his headship the whole family is set apart and included in the Covenant.

The “starting point” is repentance from sin and confession of faith.  Then there is an oath-ceremony in which the convert is placed under the covenant of God by a sign – baptism.  That sign is placed upon his body, and it is the sign of God and His Covenant.  In the New Testament that sign is water baptism, and it corresponds to the Older Testament sign of circumcision.

And the convert, having received that sign, promises to live in obedience to the Covenant.  That promise is an oath before God.  As God is absolutely faithful to His Word, then the believer is to be faithful to His Word.  He is “oath-bound” to do so; and he has the “mark” of God on his body, which is a “sign” of his incorporation into Christ!

Jesus said to his disciples,


“…baptizing them (the nations) in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost….”


Here is the best Trinitarian formula in all of Scripture; and it occurs in the Great Commission with regard to baptism!  For it is the One, Triune God Who has covenanted for the salvation of the world!  It’s His Covenant!

And Jesus tells His disciples to baptize the nations “in the sphere of the Sovereignty” of the One, True, Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It is God the Father Who has decreed whatsoever comes to pass; and Who providentially cares for His entire creation; and Who has covenanted for its salvation; and Who has freely elected to save His people from their sin.

It is God the Son Who came in the flesh; and Who died as an atonement for sin; and Who is the Mediator between God and men; and Who now has all authority in heaven and upon earth.

And it is the Holy Spirit Who is active in the creation and among men – rebirthing them and enlightening them and connecting them to Christ; and Who is the “Operator” of the terms and sanctions of the Covenant.

Baptism is an oath-sign of allegiance to God.  It “sets apart” the believer unto God.  And from that point he is bound to God by oath – to worship Him in Spirit and Truth, and to walk in His Way!  (Worship and life!)

And, as in every oath, there are negative sanctions for turning against it.  Because, without negative sanctions, there is no oath!  And Scripture is very clear about what those negative sanctions are when one breaks his oath before God.  The “mark” of God, the “sign” of baptism, the “oath-sign” becomes a sign of judgment.  It “intensifies”… it “potentiates” the judgment due for “turning” on the oath-allegiance made before God.

So the Great Commission commands the baptizing of the nations to Jesus Christ – in the Name of (in the sphere of) Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The oath-ceremony establishes a covenantal relationship between Christ and those baptized (and their households).

And that covenantal relationship promises blessing and reward for faithfulness and obedience to the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth; and it threatens wrath and cursings for unfaithfulness and rebellion……revolt!


“Having gone therefore disciple the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”


Put them under Covenant to Christ the King.  Pledge them to worship and life.

That’s all we have time for this morning.  We’ll have to finish this next time… before we can approach some of the implications of the Great Commission – for us as individuals, and as families, and as the Church.

Worship the One True God.

Live in His Way.