Matthew 28:20
Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) All things whatsoever I have commanded you.—The words obviously point, in the first instance, to the teaching of our Lord recorded in the Gospels—the new laws of life, exceeding broad and deep, of the Sermon on the Mount, the new commandment of Love for the inner life (John 13:34), the new outward ordinances of Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. But we may well believe that they went further than this, and that the words may cover much unrecorded teaching which they had heard in the darkness, and were to reproduce in light (Matthew 10:27).

I am with you alway.—Literally, all the days, or, at all times; the words emphasising continuity more than the English adverb. The “days” that were coming might seem long and dark and dreary, but He, their Lord, would be with them, in each of those days, even to the far-off end.

Even unto the end of the world.—Literally, of the age. The phrase is the same as that in Matthew 13:39-40; Matthew 13:49; Matthew 24:13. In Hebrews 9:26 it is used of the time of the appearance of Christ in the flesh, as the beginning of the last age of the world. Like all such words, its meaning widens or contracts according to our point of view. Here the context determines its significance as stretching forward to the end of the age, or aeon, which began with the first Advent of the Christ and shall last until the second.

We ask, as we close the Gospel, why it ends thus? why there should be no record of a fact so momentous as the Ascension? The question is one which we cannot fully answer. There is an obvious abruptness in the close of the book as a book. It may be that it was left unfinished. It may be that the fact of the Ascension entered into the elementary instruction of every catechumen, and was therefore taken for granted; or that it was thought of as implied in the promise of Christ’s perpetual presence; or, lastly, that that promise seemed, in its grandeur and its blessedness, to be the consummation of all that Christ had come to accomplish, and therefore as the fitting close of the record of His life and work.

Matthew 28:20. Teaching them to observe all things, &c. — Here we have, 1st, The duty of the apostles and ministers of Christ, which is, to teach his disciples to observe all things that he has commanded; that is, they must instruct them in all the doctrines and precepts taught by Christ, and inculcate upon them the necessity of understanding and believing the former, and obeying the latter; and must assist them in applying Christ’s general commands to particular cases. They must teach them, not their own or any man’s fancies and inventions, but the truths and institutions of Christ; to them they must religiously adhere, and in the knowledge of them must train up his followers. As Christ does not here command any thing to be taught which he himself had not taught, we may infer that every thing fundamental and essential to salvation may be found in the gospels, and that even the apostles themselves had not a right to teach any thing as necessary to salvation which Christ himself had not asserted to be Song of Solomon 2 d, The duty of Christ’s disciples, of all that are dedicated to him in baptism; they must observe all things whatsoever that he has commanded, and in order thereto, must submit to the teaching of those whom he sends. Our admission into the visible church is in order to something further; namely, our being prepared for and employed in his service. By our baptism we are obliged, 1st, To make the doctrines of Christ the rule of our faith, and his commands the directory of our practice. We are under the law to Christ, and must obey, and in all our obedience must have an eye to the command, and do what we do as unto the Lord. 2d, To observe all things that he hath commanded without exception; all the moral duties, and all the instituted ordinances. Our obedience to the laws of Christ is not sincere if it be not universal; we must stand complete in his whole will. And, lo, I am with you alway — Here our Lord gives his apostles, and all the ministers of his gospel, truly sent by him, an assurance of his spiritual presence with them in the execution of this commission unto the end of time; and this exceeding great and precious promise he ushers in with ιδου, Lo! or behold! to strengthen their faith and engage their regard to it. As if he had said, Take notice of this; it is what you may assure yourselves of and rely upon. “I am with you; I, the eternal Son of God; I, who have the angels at my command, and make the devils tremble by my frown; I, who in your sight have caused the storms to cease, the blind to see, the lame to walk, the dead to rise, only with the word of my mouth; I, who have all power in heaven and earth committed to me — am with you; not, I will be with you, but, I am with you, and that alway, Gr. πασας τας ημερας, all the days, or every day: Wheresoever you are, and whensoever you do any thing toward the executing of the commission which I have given you, I am with you in the doing of it, and that too to the very end of the world: that is, so long as I have a church upon earth, which shall be till my coming again to judge the world, all this while I promise to be with you, and consequently as long as the world shall last.” — Bishop Beveridge, On Christ’s Presence with his Ministers. Some would translate εως της σοντελειας του αιωνος, until the conclusion of the age; understanding by the expression the dissolution of the Jewish state. But as Christ’s presence with his surviving apostles and other ministers was as necessary after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish commonwealth, as before these events, nothing can be more unreasonable than to limit these words by such an interpretation. Nor indeed can they with any propriety be interpreted in any other than the most extensive sense; the influence of Christ’s Spirit being essentially necessary to the success of the gospel in every age and nation; and our Lord, in the last discourse which he delivered to his disciples before his passion, having graciously promised it, saying, I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter to abide with you; εος τον αιωνα, for ever. Our Lord could not mean that this other Comforter should abide merely with the persons to whom he then spoke, they being to die quickly: but that he should abide with them during their lives, and with their successors afterward; or with them and all the ministers of the gospel in the several ages of the church; with all to whom this commission extends; with all, that, being duly called and sent, thus baptize and thus teach. When the end of the world is come, and the kingdom is delivered up to God even the Father, there will then be no further need of ministers and their ministration; but till then they shall continue, and the great intentions of the institution shall be answered. This is a most encouraging word to all the faithful ministers of Christ; that what was said to the apostles was, and is, said to them all. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. May this gracious promise cause us to gird up the loins of our minds, and increase our zeal, fervour, and diligence; inducing us to account no labour too great, no service too much, no suffering too severe, so that we may but finish our course with joy, and fulfil the ministry we are engaged in!

Two solemn farewells we find our Lord Jesus giving to his church; and his parting word at both of them is very encouraging; one was here, when he closed up his personal converse with them, and then his parting word was, Lo, I am with you alway; I leave you, yet still I am with you. The other was, when he closed up the canon of the Scripture by the pen of his beloved disciple, and then his parting word was, Surely I come quickly. I leave you for awhile, but I will be with you again shortly, Revelation 22:20. By this it appears that his love to his church continues the same, though she is deprived of his visible and bodily presence; and that it is his will we should maintain both our communion with him, and our expectation of him. The word amen, with which this gospel concludes, is wanting in four MSS., and in the Vulgate, Coptic, and Armenian versions. It is probable, however, that it was inserted by the evangelist, not only as an intimation of the conclusion of his book, but as an asseveration of the certain truth of the things contained in it. And, considering the connection of the word with the preceding promise, which was undoubtedly the greatest strength and joy of St. Matthew’s heart: “it is very natural,” says Dr. Doddridge, “to suppose that it has some such reference as this to that promise: ‘Amen! blessed Jesus, — so may it indeed be; and may this important promise be fulfilled to us and to our successors to the remotest ages, in its full extent!’ St. John uses the like term in more express language, in the last verse but one of the Revelation: Surely I come quickly, Amen! Even so come, Lord Jesus.” 28:16-20 This evangelist passes over other appearances of Christ, recorded by Luke and John, and hastens to the most solemn; one appointed before his death, and after his resurrection. All that see the Lord Jesus with an eye of faith, will worship him. Yet the faith of the sincere may be very weak and wavering. But Christ gave such convincing proofs of his resurrection, as made their faith to triumph over doubts. He now solemnly commissioned the apostles and his ministers to go forth among all nations. The salvation they were to preach, is a common salvation; whoever will, let him come, and take the benefit; all are welcome to Christ Jesus. Christianity is the religion of a sinner who applies for salvation from deserved wrath and from sin; he applies to the mercy of the Father, through the atonement of the incarnate Son, and by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, and gives up himself to be the worshipper and servant of God, as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons but one God, in all his ordinances and commandments. Baptism is an outward sign of that inward washing, or sanctification of the Spirit, which seals and evidences the believer's justification. Let us examine ourselves, whether we really possess the inward and spiritual grace of a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness, by which those who were the children of wrath become the children of God. Believers shall have the constant presence of their Lord always; all days, every day. There is no day, no hour of the day, in which our Lord Jesus is not present with his churches and with his ministers; if there were, in that day, that hour, they would be undone. The God of Israel, the Saviour, is sometimes a God that hideth himself, but never a God at a distance. To these precious words Amen is added. Even so, Lord Jesus, be thou with us and all thy people; cause thy face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.Lo, I am with you - That is, by my Spirit, my providence, my attending counsel and guidance. I will strengthen, assist, and direct you. This also proves that Christ is divine. If he is a mere man, or a creature, though of the highest order, how could he promise to be "with" his disciples "always," or at all? They would be scattered far and wide. His disciples would greatly increase. If he was "with them" always, he was God; for no finite creature could thus be present with many people scattered in different parts of the world.

Unto the end of the world - The word rendered "world," here, sometimes means "age or state" and by some it has been supposed to mean, I will be with you until the end of this "age," or during the continuance of the Jewish state, to the destruction of Jerusalem. But as the presence of Christ was no less necessary after that than before, there seems to be no propriety in limiting the promise to his own age. It may therefore be considered as a gracious assurance that he would aid, strengthen, guide, and defend all his disciples, but more especially his ministers, to the end of time.

20. Teaching them—This is teaching in the more usual sense of the term; or instructing the converted and baptized disciples.

to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I—The "I" here is emphatic. It is enough that I

am with you alway—"all the days"; that is, till making converts, baptizing, and building them up by Christian instruction, shall be no more.

even unto the end of the world. Amen—This glorious Commission embraces two primary departments, the Missionary and the Pastoral, with two sublime and comprehensive Encouragements to undertake and go through with them.

First, The Missionary department (Mt 28:18): "Go, make disciples of all nations." In the corresponding passage of Mark (Mr 16:15) it is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." The only difference is, that in this passage the sphere, in its world-wide compass and its universality of objects, is more fully and definitely expressed; while in the former the great aim and certain result is delightfully expressed in the command to "make disciples of all nations." "Go, conquer the world for Me; carry the glad tidings into all lands and to every ear, and deem not this work at an end till all nations shall have embraced the Gospel and enrolled themselves My disciples." Now, Was all this meant to be done by the Eleven men nearest to Him of the multitude then crowding around the risen Redeemer? Impossible. Was it to be done even in their lifetime? Surely not. In that little band Jesus virtually addressed Himself to all who, in every age, should take up from them the same work. Before the eyes of the Church's risen Head were spread out, in those Eleven men, all His servants of every age; and one and all of them received His commission at that moment. Well, what next? Set the seal of visible discipleship upon the converts, by "baptizing them into the name," that is, into the whole fulness of the grace "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," as belonging to them who believe. (See on [1392]2Co 13:14). This done, the Missionary department of your work, which in its own nature is temporary, must merge in another, which is permanent. This is

Second, The Pastoral department (Mt 28:20): "Teach them"—teach these baptized members of the Church visible—"to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," My apostles, during the three years ye have been with Me.

What must have been the feelings which such a Commission awakened? "We who have scarce conquered our own misgivings—we, fishermen of Galilee, with no letters, no means, no influence over the humblest creature, conquer the world for Thee, Lord? Nay, Lord, do not mock us." "I mock you not, nor send you a warfare on your own charges. For"—Here we are brought to

Third, The Encouragements to undertake and go through with this work. These are two; one in the van, the other in the rear of the Commission itself.

First Encouragement: "All power in heaven"—the whole power of Heaven's love and wisdom and strength, "and all power in earth"—power over all persons, all passions, all principles, all movements—to bend them to this one high object, the evangelization of the world: All this "is given unto Me." as the risen Lord of all, to be by Me placed at your command—"Go ye therefore." But there remains a

Second Encouragement: "And lo! I am with you all the days"—not only to perpetuity, but without one day's interruption, "even to the end of the world," The "Amen" is of doubtful genuineness in this place. If, however, it belongs to the text, it is the Evangelist's own closing word.

Ver. 18-20. Mark saith, Mark 16:15-18, And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Our blessed Lord in these three last verses:

1. Asserts his power and authority.

2. He delegates a power.

3. He subjoins a promise.

The power and authority which he asserts to himself is, All power both in heaven and earth, Acts 10:36,42 Eph 1:20-22; power of remission of sins, Luke 24:47, of congregating, teaching, and governing his church; a power to give eternal life to whomsoever he pleased. This was inherent in him as God blessed for ever, given to him as our Mediator and Redeemer, given him when he came into the world, but more especially confirmed to him and manifested to be given him at his resurrection and ascension, Philippians 2:9,10. Having declared his power, he delegates it:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; the Greek is mayhteusate, make disciples all nations; but that must be first by preaching and instructing them in the principles of the Christian faith, and Mark expounds it, telling us our Saviour said, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, that is, to every reasonable creature capable of hearing and receiving it. I cannot be of their mind, who think that persons may be baptized before they are taught; we want precedents of any such baptism in Scripture, though indeed we find precedents of persons baptized who had but a small degree of the knowledge of the gospel; but it should seem that they were all first taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and were not baptized till they professed such belief, Acts 8:37, and John baptized them in Jordan, confessing their sins, Matthew 3:6. But it doth not therefore follow, that children of such professors are not to be baptized, for the apostles were commanded to baptize all nations: children are a great part of any nation, if not the greatest part, and although amongst the Jews those that were converted to the Jewish religion were first instructed in the law of God before they were circumcised, yet the fathers being once admitted, the children were circumcised at eight days old; nor were they under any covenant different from us, though we be under a more clear manifestation of the same covenant of grace, of which circumcision was a sign and seal to them, as baptism is to us. Infants are capable of the obligations of baptism, for the obligation ariseth from the equity of the thing, not from the understanding and capacity of the person; they are also capable of the same privileges, for of such is the kingdom of God, as our Saviour hath taught us.

All nations: the apostles were by this precept obliged to go up and down the world preaching the gospel, but not presently. So it is plain that the apostles understood their commission, from Acts 1:8 Acts 3:26 13:46 18:6,7 Ga 2:7. They were first to preach and to baptize amongst the Jews, and then thus to disciple all nations. Pastors and teachers who succeeded the apostles were not under this obligation, but were to be fixed in churches gathered, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of the apostles. They by this commission have authority in any place to preach and to baptize, but are not under an obligation to fix no where, but to go up and down preaching in all nations.

Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Baptizing them is no more than washing them with water. We read of the baptism of pots and cups, Mark 7:8, (we translate it washing, ) which we know may be by dipping them in water, or by pouring or sprinkling of water upon them. It is true, the first baptisms of which we read in holy writ were by dippings of the persons baptized. It was in a hot country, where it might be at any time without the danger of persons’ lives. Where it may be, we judge it reasonable, and most resembling our burial with Christ by baptism into death; but we cannot think it necessary, for God loveth mercy rather than sacrifice, and the thing signified by baptism, viz. the washing away of the soul’s sins with the blood of Christ, is in Scripture expressed to us by pouring and sprinkling, Ezekiel 36:25 Hebrews 12:24 1 Peter 1:2.

In the name of the Father, &c.; in the Greek it is, eis to onoma, into the name. In the name doth not only import the naming of the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost upon them, but, in the authority, or (which is indeed the chief) into the profession of the trinity of the persons in the one Divine Being: dedicating the persons baptized to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and thereby obliging them to worship and serve God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for in baptism there is both a solemn dedication of the person to God, and a solemn stipulation: the person baptized either covenanting for himself that he will be the Lord’s, or his parents covenanting for him that he shall be the Lord’s; which covenant doth both oblige the parents to do what in them lieth in order to that end, and also the child, the parents covenanting for no more than the child was under a natural and religious obligation to perform, if such covenant had never been made by its parents on its behalf.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. There is a teaching must go before baptism of persons grown up; and this was the constant practice of the apostles. It is fit men should act as rational creatures, understanding what they do. And there is a teaching which must follow baptism; for baptism without obedience, and a living up to that covenant in which we are engaged, will save no soul, but lay it under a greater condemnation. The apostles might teach nothing but what Christ had commanded them, and they were bound to teach whatsoever Christ had commanded them. Here now is the rule of the baptized person’s obedience. We are bound to no obedience but of the commands of Christ, and to a perfect obedience of them, under the penalty of eternal condemnation. When Mark saith, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, it doth not imply that baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, or in the same order with faith in Christ; but that the contempt of it is damnable, as being a piece of presumptuous disobedience; and such a faith is to be understood there, under the notion of believing, as worketh by love.

And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world: I am and I will be with you, and those who succeed you in the work of the ministry, being called of me thereunto. I will be with you, protecting you, and upholding that ordinance, and blessing you, and all others of my faithful ministers that labour for making me and my gospel known, with success.

Unto the end of the world; not of this age only, but of the world: my ministry begun in you shall not fail, nor shall the adding of souls to the number of them who shall be saved (as a token of my gracious presence with you) fail, till the world shall be determined, and the new heavens and the new earth shall appear. What Mark addeth concerning the signs that should follow those that believed, had a particular reference to the times immediately following Christ’s ascension into heaven, and is to be understood of those miraculous operations which were to be wrought by the apostles, and others, for a further confirmation of the doctrine of the gospel by them preached. Matthew says nothing of them here. There is no promise of Christ’s presence with his ministers to enable to such operations to the end of the world; but with his ministers preaching, baptizing, and teaching men to observe and to do whatsoever he hath commanded them, he hath promised to be, till time shall be no more. Teaching them to observe all things,.... All ordinances, not only baptism, but the Lord's supper; all positive institutions, and moral duties; all obligations, both to God and men; all relative duties that respect the world, or one another, those that are without, and those that are within; and these are to be taught them, and therefore to be insisted on in the ministry of the word; and not merely in order that they may know them, and have the theory of them, but that the may put them into practice:

whatsoever I have commanded you; every thing that Christ has commanded, be it what it will, and nothing else; for Christ's ministers are not to teach for doctrines the commandments of men; or enjoin that on the churches, which is of their own, or other men's devising, and was never ordered by Christ; and for their encouragement he adds,

and lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world: meaning, not merely to the end of their lives, which would be the end of the world to them; nor to the end of the Jewish world, or state, which was not a great way off, though this is sometimes the sense of this phrase; but to the end of the world to come, the Gospel church state, which now took place; or to the end of the present world, the universe: not that the apostles should live to the end of it; but that whereas Christ would have a church and people to the end of the world, and the Gospel and the ordinances of it should be administered so long, and there should be Gospel ministers till that time; Christ's sense is, that he would grant his presence to them, his immediate disciples, and to all that should succeed them in future generations, to the end of time: and which is to be understood not of his corporeal presence, which they should not have till then, but of his spiritual presence; and that he would be with them, in a spiritual sense, to assist them in their work, to comfort them under all discouragements, to supply them with his grace, and to protect them from all enemies, and preserve from all evils; which is a great encouragement both to administer the word and ordinances, and attend on them.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you {g} alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

(g) Forever: and this refers to the manner of the presence of his Spirit, by means of which he makes us partakers both of himself and of all his benefits, even though he is absent from us in body.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 28:20 Διδάσκοντες αὐτούς, κ.τ.λ.] without being conjoined by καί, therefore not co-ordinate with, but subordinate to the βαπτίζοντες, intimating that a certain ethical teaching must necessarily accompany in every case the administration of baptism: while ye teach them to observe everything, etc. This moral instruction must not be omittedFN[44] when you baptize, but it must be regarded as an essential part of the ordinance. That being the case, infant baptism cannot possibly have been contemplated in βαπτίζ, nor, of course, in πάντα τ. ἔθνη either.

καὶ ἰδοὺ, κ.τ.λ.] Encouragement to execute the commission entrusted to them, Matthew 28:19.

ἐγώ] with strong emphasis: I who am invested with that high ἐξουσία to which I have just referred.

μεθʼ ὑμῶν εἰμι] namely, through the working of that power which has been committed to me, Matthew 28:18, and with which I will continue to protect, support, strengthen you, etc. Comp. Acts 18:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. The ὑμεῖς are the disciples to whom the Lord is speaking, not the church; the present tense (not ἔσομαι) points to the fact of His having now entered, and that permanently, into His estate of exaltation. The promised help itself, however, is that vouchsafed by the glorified Redeemer in order to the carrying out of His own work (Php 3:21; Php 4:13; Colossians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:9), imparted through the medium of the Spirit (John 14-16), which is regarded as the Spirit of Christ (see on Romans 8:9), and sometimes manifesting itself also in signs and wonders (Mark 16:20; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:14), in visions and revelations (2 Corinthians 12:1; Acts 12:17). But in connection with this matter (comp. on Matthew 18:20) we must discard entirely the unscriptural idea of a substantial ubiquity (in opposition to Luther, Calovius, Philippi). Beza well observes: “Ut qui corpore est absens, virtute tamen sit totus praesentissimus.”

πάσας τ. ἡμέρ.] all the days that were still to elapse ἕως τ. συντελ. τοῦ αἰῶνος, i.e. until the close of the current age (see on Matthew 24:3), which would be coincident with the second advent, and after the gospel had been proclaimed throughout the whole world (Matthew 24:14); “continua praesentia,” Bengel.

[44] N1 Οὐκ ἀρκεῖ υὰρ τὸ βάπτισμα καὶ τὰ δόυματα πρὸς σωτηρίαν, εἰ μὴ καὶ πολιτεία προσείη, Euthymius Zigabenus, who thus admirably points out that what is meant by διδάσκοντες, κ.τ.λ., is not the teaching of the gospel with a view to conversion. The ἀκοὴ πίστεως (Galatians 3:2) and the πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς (Romans 10:17) are understood, as a matter of course, to have preceded the baptism. Comp. Theodor Schott, who, however, without being justified by anything in the text, is disposed to restrict the ὅσα ἰνεσειλάμ. ὑμῖν, on the one hand, to the instructions contained in the farewell addresses (from the night before the crucifixion on to the ascension), and τηρεῖν, on the other, to a faithful observance on the part of the convert of what he already knew. Comp., on the contrary, Matthew 19:17; John 14:15; John 14:21; John 15:10; 1 Timothy 6:14; 1 John 2:3 f., 1 John 3:22 f., 1 John 5:2 f.; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12; Sir 29:1, in all which passages τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολάς means observe, i.e. to obey, the commandments. Admirable, however, is the comment of Bengel: “Ut baptizatis convenit, fidei virtute.”

REMARK 1.

According to John 21:14, the Lord’s appearance at the sea of Tiberias, John 21, which Matthew not only omits, but which he does not seem to have been aware of (see on Matthew 28:10), must have preceded that referred to in our passage.

REMARK 2.

Matthew makes no mention of the return of Jesus and His disciples to Judaea, or of the ascension from the Mount of Olives; he follows a tradition in which those two facts had not yet found a place, just as they appear to have been likewise omitted in the lost conclusion of Mark; then it so happened that the apostolic λόγια terminated with our Lord's parting address, Matthew 28:19 f. We must beware of imputing to the evangelist any subjective motive for making no mention of any other appearance but that which took place on the mountain in Galilee; for had he omitted and recorded events in this arbitrary fashion, and merely as he thought fit, and that, too, when dealing with the sublimest and most marvellous portion of the gospel narrative, he would have been acting a most unjustifiable part, and only ruining his own credit for historical fidelity. By the apostles the ascension, the actual bodily mounting up into heaven, was regarded as a fact about which there could not be any possible doubt, and without- which they would have felt the second advent to be simply inconceivable (Php 2:9; Php 3:20; Ephesians 4:10; 1 Peter 3:22; John 20:17), and accordingly it is presupposed in the concluding words of our Gospel; but the embodying of it in an outward incident, supposed to have occurred in presence of the apostles, is to be attributed to a tradition which Luke, it is true, has adopted (as regards the author of the appendix to Mark, see on Mark 16:19 f.), but which has been rejected by our evangelist and John, notwithstanding that in any case this latter would have been an eyewitness. But yet the fact itself that the Lord, shortly after His resurrection, ascended into heaven, and that not merely in spirit (which, and that in entire opposition to Scripture, would either exclude the resurrection of the actual body, or presuppose a second death), but in the body as perfectly transformed and glorified at the moment of the ascension, is one of the truths of which we are also fully convinced, confirmed as it is by the whole New Testament, and furnishing, as it does, an indispensable basis for anything like certainty in regard to Christian eschatology. On the ascension, see Luke 24:51, Rem.Matthew 28:20. διδάσκοντες α., teaching them, present participle, implying that Christian instruction is to be a continuous process, not subordinate to and preparing for baptism, but continuing after baptism with a view to enabling disciples to walk worthily of their vocation.—τηρεῖν: the teaching is with a view not to gnosis but to practice; the aim not orthodox opinion but right living.—πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν: the materials of instruction are to be Christ’s own teaching. This points to the desirableness for the Church’s use of an oral or written tradition of Christ’s words: these to be the rule of faith and practice.—καὶ ἰδοὺ, introducing an important promise to the missionaries of the new universal religion to keep them in courage and good hope amid all difficulties.—ἐγὼ μεθʼ ὑμῶν, I the Risen, Exalted, All-powerful One, with you my apostles and representatives engaged in the heroic task of propagating the faith.—εἰμὶ, am, not will be, conveying the feeling of certainty, but also spoken from the eternal point of view, sub specie aeternitatis, for which distinctions of here and there, now and then, do not exist. Cf. John 8:58, “before Abraham was I am”. In the Fourth Gospel the categories of the Absolute and the Eternal dominate throughout.—πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας, all the days, of which, it is implied, there may be many; the vista of the future is lengthening.—ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος, until the close of the current age, when He is to come again; an event, however, not indispensable for the comfort of men who are to enjoy an uninterrupted spiritual presence.

This great final word of Jesus is worthy of the Speaker and of the situation. Perhaps it is not to be taken as an exact report of what Jesus said to His disciples at a certain time and place. In it the real and the ideal seem to be blended; what Jesus said there and then with what the Church of the apostolic age had gradually come to regard as the will of their Risen Lord, with growing clearness as the years advanced, with perfect clearness after Israel’s crisis bad come. We find here (1) a cosmic significance assigned to Christ (all power in heaven and on earth); (2) an absolutely universal destination of the Gospel; (3) baptism as the rite of admission to discipleship; (4) a rudimentary baptismal Trinity; (5) a spiritual presence of Christ similar to that spoken of in the Fourth Gospel. To this measure of Christian enlightenment the Apostolic Church, as represented by our evangelist, had attained when he wrote his Gospel, probably after the destruction of Jerusalem. Therein is summed up the Church’s confession of faith conceived as uttered by the lips of the Risen One. “Expressly not as words of Jesus walking on the earth, but as words of Him who appeared from heaven, the evangelist here presents in summary form what the Christian community had come to recognise as the will and the promise of their exalted Lord” (Weiss-Meyer).20. I am with you alway] The Lord Jesus had already taught His disciples during the forty days how He could be present with them and yet be unseen by them. They could then the more easily believe this promise.

the end of the world] See note ch. Matthew 13:39.

Amen] Omitted in the leading MSS. The last words of St Matthew’s Gospel fall solemnly on the ear, the sense of the continual presence of Christ is not broken even by an account of the Ascension. No true subject can doubt that the King is enthroned in Heaven.Matthew 28:20. Αὐτοὺς, them) The disciples had been instructed in order that they might instruct others.—τηρεῖν, to observe, to keep) as it becomes the baptized to do by virtue of faith, not merely as a legal performance. John often speaks thus. This verb deserves especial attention, from its occurrence in this solemn place.—ἐνετειλάμηυ, I have commanded) These commandments are to be found in Matthew 5; John 15 etc.—μεθʼ ὑμῶν, with you) even when you shall be scattered apart through the whole world. This promise belongs also to the whole Church, for our Lord adds, “even to the end of the world.”—πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας, always) literally, all the days, i.e., every single day. A continual presence, and one most actually present; see Mark 16:17; Mark 16:19-20.[1236]—ἝΩς Τῆς ΣΥΝΤΕΛΕΊΑς ΤΟῦ ΑἸῶΝΟς, unto the end of the world) For then we shall be with the Lord [as He is even now with us]. [To Him, therefore, Reader, commit thyself, and remain in Him; so will it be best for thee in time and in eternity.—B. G. V.]1237]

[1236] Therefore the Christian Church will never entirely expire.—B. G. V.

[1237] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 1: Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bandinel & A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (403–490). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.Verse 20. - Teaching (διδάσκοντες) them (i.e. all the nations) to observe all things, etc. The word for "teaching" is quite different from that used in ver. 19, and there wrongly translated. Instruction is the second necessary condition for discipleship. In the case of adults, as was said above, some teaching must precede the initiation; but this has to be supplemented subsequently in order to build up the convert in the faith and make him perfect; while infants must be taught "as soon as they are able to learn, what a solemn vow, promise, and profession they have here made." All must be taught the Christian faith and duty, and how to obtain God's help to enable them to please him, and to continue in the way of salvation, so that they may "die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness; continually mortifying all their evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living" ('Public Baptism of Infants'). "He gives," says St. Chrysostom, "the one charge with a view to doctrine [i.e. the form of baptism], the other concerning commandments" ('Horn.,' 90.). All that Christ commanded, both in doctrine and morals, all that he had taught and enjoined during the three past years, they were henceforward to take as their textbook, and enforce on all who were admitted into the Church by baptism. As the Greek is, "I commanded," being aorist and not perfect, it may be rightly opined that Christ here alludes also to various details which he set forth and enjoined during these great forty days, between his resurrection and ascension, when he gave commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen, and spake to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:2, 3). And, lo. "After that, because he had enjoined on them great things, to raise their courage, he says. Lo! "etc. (Chrysostom). I am with you alway (ἐγὼ μεθ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας). Every word is emphatic. The Ascension was at hand; this implied an absence of his visible presence, to be replaced by a spiritual presence, more perfect, potent, effectual, infinite. It is I myself, I, God and Man,who am (not "will be") henceforward ever present among you, with you as Companion, Friend, Guide, Saviour, God. I am with you in all your ministrations, prayers public and private, baptisms, communions, exhortations, doctrine, discipline And this, not now and then, not at certain times only, but "all the days" of your pilgrimage, all the dark days of trial and persecution and affliction; all the days when you, my apostles, are gathered to your rest, and have committed your work to other hands; my presence shall never be withdrawn for a single moment. Often had God made an analogous promise to his servants under the old dispensation - to Moses (Exodus 3:12), to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:23), to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:8); but this spiritual presence of Christ is something unknown to previous history, a nearness unspeakable, in the Church at large and in the Christian's heart. Even unto the end of the world; the consummation of the age, as Matthew 24:3 (where see note). When the new era is ushered in, evangelizing work will cease; God shall be all in all; all shall know him from the least unto the greatest. And they shall ever be with the Lord; "wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Amen. The word is here an interpolation, but it expresses what every pious reader must say in his heart, "So be it, O Lord; be with us unto the end; guide and strengthen us in life, and bring us safely through the valley of the shadow of death, to thy blessed presence, where is the fulness of joy forevermore!"



End of the world (συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος)

Rev., in margin, and lit., consummation of the age. The current age is meant; and the consummation is coincident with the second coming of Christ, after the Gospel shall have been proclaimed throughout the world. "The Saviour's mind goes no farther; for after that, evangelizing work will cease. No man, after that, will need to teach his neighbor, saying, 'Know the Lord'" (Jeremiah 31:34) (Morison "On Matthew").

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