Matthew 28

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Verse 16: 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. (NRSV)

  • ”Disciples” is a very common term for Jesus’ closest followers.
    • Most rabbi’s had disciples, but very few would have had 12 at one time. Most would have had 1-3 disciples at any one time who would have lived with and learned from their rabbi.
    • This use of “disciple” is a purposeful parallel with the use of “make disciples” in verse 19. This is making a connection between Jesus’ actions and our own. Jesus made disciples and we are to make disciples as well. We are to be like Jesus in this sense.

Verse 17: When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (NRSV)

  • ”Worship” here does not necessarily mean that the disciples recognized Jesus as God. It was used in bowing and prostrating yourself before rulers as well but definitely indicates complete dependence on someone higher than yourself (BDAG 882).
  • ”Doubt” can have several meanings here as its’ root is about being divided in your mind.
    • It is used earlier in Matthew 14:31 to reprimand the disciples for their lack of faith. That is a possible use here but it can also mean to hesitate or have doubts about what action to take (Arndt 252, Blomberg 430). In this sense, their hesitance was resolved when Jesus came to them and told them what to do, the great commission.
  • Who is doubting is also in question. Some hypothesis that this doubt must have come from others present not mentioned here, perhaps the 300 other believers mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6. There is no evidence for this in the text but it based on a desire not to believe that the disciples doubted anymore.
    • Yet another idea is that they doubted that it was Jesus they were seeing, but this is unsatisfactory as if they doubted that they would not have prostrated themselves.
    • Finally, some people wish to separate the worship and the doubt into separate groups. In this theory, the 11 worshipped, while “others” doubted.
    • These explanations are groping at straws and do not have grammatical support. The easiest and best answer that fits the text is that the 11 worshiped, and doubted (Barlcay 885). The word usually translated as “some” from “some doubted” is more literally “the ones” and does not contain any indication of only a portion doubting.
  • Notice that the doubt comes after or even at the same time as the worship, and by the same people. We can worship and yet still have a divided mind.

Verse 18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (NRSV)

  • ”Was given” is an aorist passive. It does not indicate when this happened but is used to avoid directly referring to God, a very normal Hebrew thing to do. “God gave me” is the point here.
  • What Jesus says is ambiguous in its’ purpose. It could be a response to the disciple’s doubts or confirmation of their worship. It also acts as proof that Jesus has the power to empower the disciples in the following verses. Jesus has the authority to send people off and the authority is something he can pass on.

Verse 19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (NRSV)

  • ”Go” is not the focus of this passage and simple evangelism is not enough to meet Jesus’ command. Discipleship is the command and to meet that we need to go elsewhere at times. This “go” is a passive participle as opposed to the active ones comes later (Mills).
  • ”All the nations” is not as explicit of an endorsement of evangelism to the gentiles as many see it. The Jewish people had already been scattered to all the corners of the known world and had been for centuries. There is of course an implicit urging to go to the Gentiles but as Paul shows you can easily travel all over the world and start evangelizing among the Jewish people.
  • The only active verb in the next two verses is “make disciples”, which is an imperative. All the other verbs hinge on making disciples. In other words, we go out, baptize and teach in order to make disciples. That is the primary goal.
  • ”Make disciples” is in essence to live your life under someone else’s rule of life. It is a purposeful putting of yourself under someone else and live with them, like them, in order to become like them. This is not a head knowledge only but a learning that leads to change in action and life.
    • “To disciple” is incredibly rare in the NT (four uses) and not used in LXX at all.
    • A disciple is someone who is under instruction from another, an apprentice. Or someone associated with a specific set of views. It’s not learning something but becoming accustomed to something, experiencing something (TDNT 391).
    • Discipling brings change. No change, and you aren’t a disciple.
    • There is also an element here of continual learning (Mounce 268).
    • Disciple (verb form, matheteuo) comes from a fairly rare form of “learn” (manthaneo).
      • OT usage of Manthano involves divine revelation which is directly related to fulfilling God’s will. So this form of “learn” and “disciple” as well, relates to people submitting themselves to fulfilling the will of God (TDNT 401). Knowing and doing the will of God as someone understands it, becoming like someone who knows God’s will intimately.
      • The verbal form of both “disciple” and “learn” are really rare compared to “teach” and only shows up a handful of times in the gospel. This is weird because most of the uses of “teach” and “disciple”, the noun form of these verbs, are found in the gospels. Instead, Jesus talks about “following” more than “discipling” probably as a rebellion against the knowledge based approach of the Pharisees that had come to dominate. It’s about action, relationship, and becoming, not just knowing. We shouldn’t lose that focus of Jesus here either even when the verbs are used.
  • This is the only use of the Trinitarian formula for baptism in the first century (Mounce 268). Most uses in the Bible of baptism use some formula of “in the name of Jesus Christ” instead.

Verse 20: 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (NRSV)

  • ”Teaching” is the standard word ”didasko” for teach, as opposed to “manthano” which is where “disciple” comes from.
    • This is about information and knowledge, but not for its own end. This knowledge is not enough, and is part of the life change of discipleship.
    • What is taught here is to obey God’s commands, not just a doctrinal statement or theological treatise but right actions.
  • What Jesus commands would be impossible if not for Jesus empowering us, and for the promise of Jesus’ continued presence and continued empowerment.

Message Ideas/Scripts/Liturgy That Use This Chapter

Evangelism - Not just a Game16-20God has a simple purpose for our churches, for us.EvangelismGeneralGeneralMessage Idea