^A Matt. XXVIII.18-20; ^B Mark XVI.15-18; ^C Luke XXIV.46, 47.
^a 18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. ^b 15 And he said unto them, Go ye ^a therefore, ^b into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. ^a and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: ^b 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned. ^c Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [The verses from Luke are taken from a later conversation, which will be handled in our next section. They are inserted here because they are an indicative statement of the commission which Matthew and Mark give in the imperative, and a section professing to embrace the commission would be imperfect without them. The first word of the commission is significant, and should be remembered. We have no right to wait for sinners to come and hear the gospel; we must carry it to them. The "therefore" with which it opens shows that Jesus rests this command on his divine authority; but neither the word "power" nor the word "authority" adequately translated Christ's word. It means all the right of absolute authority, and all the force of absolute power. It is a most transcendent claim which Jesus utters here. All authority in heaven! Paul's qualification of these words, or their counterpart in Ps. viii.6 (I. Cor. xv.27, 28), magnifies instead of detracting from their wonderful import, for he deems its necessary to state that the Father himself is not subject to the Son. Surely in connection with this marvelous celestial power, his dominion over out tiny earth would not need to be mentioned if it were not that we, its inhabitants, are very limited in our conception of things, and require exceedingly plain statements. The command calls for the Christianizing of all nations. If we realized better that authority with which Christ prefaces his commission, the conquest of the nations in his name would seem to us a small matter indeed, and we should set about it expecting to witness its speedy accomplishment. The structure of the sentence in the original Greek shows that it is the disciples and not the nations who are to be baptized; according to the commission, therefore, one must be made a disciple before he can be baptized. Baptism brings us into divine relation to God. Being a part of the process of adoption, it is called a birth (John iii.5). The baptized Christian bears the name into which he is baptized (Rom. ii.24; Jas. ii.7). Luke sums up the whole commission by recording the words of Christ, wherein he states that he suffered that it might be preached to all nations that if men would repent, God could now forgive (Rom. iii.26). From Luke's record we also learn that the preaching of these glad tidings was to begin at Jerusalem.] ^b 17 And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. [The Book of Acts gives examples of each one of these except the fourth, and though we have no record of a disciple escaping the effects of drinking poison, there is little doubt that in the many persecutions such cases did occur.] ^a and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. [This is a promise not of bare companionship, but of full sympathy and support (Isa. xliii.2; Ex. xxxiii.15; Josh. i.5). The duration of this promise shows that it is intended for all disciples.]