The Five Great Commission Passages

When we think of the commission by Jesus to go and make disciples we tend to think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28. But four other books in the New Testament also include commissioning passages. In Mark, Luke, John and Acts, Jesus makes similar statements about sending the disciples out into the world to proclaim the Gospel.

Let’s take a look at these 5 commissions beginning with the most famous one.

Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been handed over to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

In this passage, we see the commission involves leading people into a relationship with Jesus which is referenced through the baptizing and then we are teach people to obey Christ. We are also reminded that this huge task is given through the authority of Christ and will be accomplishing with the on-going presence of Christ.

Mark 16:15-16: And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

In the Mark passage, we again see the call to go into all the world and the task is to proclaim the gospel. The significance of the commission is people’s eternal destiny is at stake. Whoever believes the Gospel will be saved but whoever does not will be condemned or perish.

Luke 24: 45-49: Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

In Luke, we again see a commission that takes us to all nations. And the task is again preaching the Gospel. Here Jesus states the message as repentance and the forgiveness of sins. We also see that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to accomplish this task. The disciples were not to go without the giving of the Holy Spirit.

John 20:21-23: Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

This commissioning statement is the most concise: As the Father as sent me, so I am sending you. It is a statement that speaks directly to what we are to be doing. We are not sent to simply be a family of Christians doing life together. We are a family of Christian sent out on a mission. In this passage we again see that we need the power of the Holy Spirit in this commission. And that the message is a message of repentance.

Acts 1:8: But 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.

We again see a commissioning that takes us to the world as Jesus uses the phrase: “to the end of the world.” We see our task: to be witnesses of Jesus. And we see how this will be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we look at the 5 commissions, there are three significant themes.

  1. We are called to go to the world. This may not involve us personally going to all nations but it does involves us having a global mindset. It involves a prayer life that is praying that laborer be sent into all nations. It involves financially giving to support global disciple-making. And it involves making ourselves available to personally go to the nations. As you live out the Great Commission locally, have you made yourself available to go beyond your home? We must be Christians facing the world. We can’t have an inward approach to minisry. We have been commissioned to look and face and pray and preach and go outwardly to the ends of the earth.
  2. The message we are to preach is the Gospel message. Forgiveness of sins available through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ should be proclaimed and the call to repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus should be given to all people.
  3. This is a task that cannot be accomplish without the Holy Spirit. We do this through His power. We cannot do the work of God through our own strengfth and wisdom but by daily dependence on the the Spirit of God who is at work in us.

When you look at these 5 commissioning passages. Have you set your heart and mind on the nations? Are you proclaiming a Gospel message? And are you relying oin the Spirit of God to accompolish His task through you?