Who is the Great Commission For?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, Jun 5, 2006.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I find the Great Commission to be virtually unexplored on the Baptist Board, and even in theology in general. So, my question is: Who is the Great Commission intended for, the individual believer, the church, or both? Please be aware, as a missionary I've been down this path before, so I recommend careful reading of all five statements of the Great Commission in context: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts!! :smilewinkgrin:

    Further possibilities for discussion: what authority is given in the Great Commission? To who? On another thread I brought up baptism in connection with the Great Commission in Matthew--care to comment?
     
  2. 4His_glory

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    I just noticed this thread now. This would be a good discussion.

    I would like to explore baptism in connection with the GC in Matthew. There is great book out their by a guy named Abraham Frisen. Its titled Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission. It explores the Erasmian interpretation of the Great Commission in regards to baptism. Erasmus- though evidence points to him always remaining an unregenerat Catholic, believed that the Matthew text of the GC was proof of believers baptism and he did have an influance on early Anabaptists as they formed their position regarding believers baptism. Its a good read.
     
  3. 4His_glory

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    I just noticed this thread now. This would be a good discussion.

    I would like to explore baptism in connection with the GC in Matthew. There is great book out their by a guy named Abraham Frisen. Its titled Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission. It explores the Erasmian interpretation of the Great Commission in regards to baptism. Erasmus- though evidence points to him always remaining an unregenerat Catholic, believed that the Matthew text of the GC was proof of believers baptism and he did have an influance on early Anabaptists as they formed their position regarding believers baptism (note that the Anabaptists for the most part did not practice immersion but rather sprinkeled believers). Its a good read.
     
  4. John of Japan

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    Hi, 4His_Glory.

    So, who do you say the authority to baptize rests in? I say it rests in the leadership of the local church (as per Eph. 4:11), since the context of the Great Commission in Matthew indicates that it specifically was given to "the eleven disciples" (28:16), who were the original leaders of the church at Jerusalem. We find support for my position in the fact that in Acts 8 Philip, an evangelist, baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, and it wasn't in a church service, which is where it should have been if Matthew's Great Commission had been given to the church.

    I look at Matthew's Great Commission as the church planter's (read "missionary" here) methodological Great Commission. It clearly outlines the structure we follow as church planters: evangelism, baptism and follow-up training. If someone wants a Great Commission specifically to the church or to individuals, there are those too, but not in Matthew.
     
  5. 4His_glory

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    It all depends

    I would imagine that ones understanding of when the church started would play into their understanding of Mat. Great Commission. If one blieves the church started in the Gospels then I would think they would say that the Great Commission in Matthew is for the church.

    I blieve that the church had is "conception" in the Gospels but its birth in the book of Acts. I do believe however that Matthew's GC is for all believers or dare I say the church universal (all truely born again Christians). There was no chruch yet in Matthew though the disciples did become the first leaders.

    It is also possible though that more than the 11 were present when the Great Commission was given in Mathew. The support for this comes from verse 17: When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. By this point in Christ's risen ministry, none of the twelve still doubted He was truely the risen Son of God, but it is possible that other disciples who were seeing Him for the first time would. Many Bible scholars suggest that this is the possible time that Paul writes of in 1Corinthians about Christ being seen by over 500 at one time.

    P.S. Your argument is good John- I found it interesting and I will have to think on it some more.

    If that is true, then it is not the leaders of the church that Matthew's Great Commission is for, but rather all of Christ's disciples.
     
  6. John of Japan

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    Good post and good points, 4His_Glory. I just typed in a long post and then lost it all. I used to save to a word processor under the old software, but I can't find any place on this new software to "copy" so I can paste into a word processor.

    Anyway, it's late here, so I'll just hit the high points before I go to bed.

    (1) You are speculating about there being more than the 11 there in Matthew.
    (2) I believe Luke's Commission, given to "the eleven and them that were with them" (v. 33) to be to the church in embryo. Even putting the first church at Pentecost, Jesus taught baptism, the Lord's Supper, evangelism, church discipline (even using the word "church" in Matt. 18), etc. during His public ministry. He had to prepare His disciples.
    (3) If Matthew's Commission is for all believers, then any believer can baptize, right? You could have a six-year-old little girl baptizing her daddy, and that would be fine!

    Catch you in the morning. :sleeping_2:
     
  7. 4His_glory

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    Try hilighting the portion you want to copy then hit "ctrl-c". It will copy the selection they paste it with "ctrl-v".

    Expect that vs. 17 is strong indication that others were there besides the 11 since the 11 had no doubts regarding this being the ressurected Christ. So it is more than just speculation. Many strong bible scholars believe this to be the case.

    I would agree with that- as I said I believe the church had is conception in the Gospels but its birth in Acts, in fact the book of Acts records the "infancy" of the chruch. This fact alone regarding the church being in an "embryo" stage suggests to me that Matthew's commission is for the church. If we find church dicipline, Lord's supper, etc. taught in the Gosples; all clear activities of the chruch, then why should we assume that the Great Commssion in Matthew is any different.

    Except we see later in Acts that the pattern was for the recognized chruch leaders to do the baptizing. But if the GC in Matthew was only for the 11, then that would mean that only Apostles could baptize, but we do not find that in the NT. It would seem that others who were baptized and mature believers were able to practice immersion.

    The question that I raise in my mind is: How do we recognize a church leader if they are the only ones who can baptize? What about groups during and before the Reformation that had no recognized chruch leader but still were conviced of believers baptism (though it may have been by sprinkling not immerssion- at least they got one part right!)?

    This is an interesting discussion. I would like others to chime in with their thoughts as well.

    P.S. Have a great night John!
     
  8. PastorSBC1303

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    I would say that there is readon to believe in Matthew that more than just the 11 were present.

    v. 17 "They worshipped him; but some doubted." If it is only the 11 present, did some of them still doubt?

    Jesus has already brought in the idea of building the "church" in Matthew 16, so would that not also connect here with the GC in Matthew 28?

    Even if they GC in Matthew is only given to the 11, does it not still carry over to the church as they were the leaders of the early church?

    I guess I fail to see the real signifigance if it was to the 11 or to the church/beleivers?
     
  9. psalms109:31

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    Scripture

    2 Corinthians 5:

    16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us....
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Thanks for the hint on copying and pasting.

    "Strong indication" that there were others besides the 11 listening in Matt. 28 is still not proof, though it may be considered a step above speculation. The fact remains, the Bible simply says "the eleven disciples," so that is the fact that I work with.

    You mention that the pattern in Acts is that the recognized church leaders did the baptizing. I will go even further and say that the only ones baptizing in the book of Acts were preachers. This includes Philip the evangelist, the Apostle Paul, etc. This to me bears out the idea that the GC in Matthew was considered by the early church to be given to preachers, church leaders, what have you, rather than the whole church.

    As to how to recognize a church leader, I would say that, first of all, that is up to each individual to know whether or not God has called him to preach. Philip did not ask permission of the church at Jerusalem to baptize the eunuch. He just acted like he already had the authority. Of course whether or not an individual church would then acknowledge that baptism is up to each church, based on the autonomy of the local church.
     
  11. John of Japan

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    The issue to me is one of authority. Remember that in v. 18, the "power" that Jesus is talking about is exousia, power in the sense of authority. So when Jesus gives the Matthew GC He is giving authority, because v. 19 has "therefore" (Gr. oun), making the GC (winning souls, baptizing them, teaching them, or in other words planting and building a church) in Matthew to be based on the authority of Christ. Virtually all Baptists agree that not just everyone has the authority to handle the ordinances, and this is one passage that can be used to back that up.
     
  12. 4His_glory

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    I would agree John, that church leaders should be the ones to baptize, but I will have to "agree to disagree" with you on the Matthew passage. I think it was given to the church in general. If it were for just the preachers, then others are exempt form the evangelism and disciplship parts of Matthew's Great Commission as well. Plus I think that there were more than the 11 there.

    Regardless of our disagreemnt about this passage and baptism, I think we both agree that it is to be the recognized leadership of the church who administers the ordinence of baptism.

    Here is somthing else regarding the Great Commission that I was wondering what your opion might be. In the Acts 1:8 passage, some view the mention of the different regions as a progression. First you must wittness in Jersualem, then Judea, and so on; but others say that Christ's intention was for His disciples to active simultaneoulsy (sp?). I tend to agree with the latter. What do you think?
     
  13. John of Japan

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    Okay, 4His_Glory, we'll agree to disagree on Matthew's GC--for now anyway! :smilewinkgrin: :smilewinkgrin:

    Concerning the Acts GC, note first of all (again!) the target audience. It is very clear in v. 2 who the recipients were: "He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen." So the Acts GC is specifically to the apostles.

    Now I believe, as do most veteran missionaries I know, that "apostle" in the NT means "missionary." Thus, the passage is a lesson from Christ in missions strategy. Now I agree that it can be interpreted as instructions to act simultaneously in the different areas. I think the language "both...and" can be used to say so. I have preached whole furlough messages on that theme!

    At a minumum, the Judea effort should have come soon after the Jerusalem effort. However, I see it further as a strategy to reach the big cities first. Jesus did not send them to their home area of Galilee, but to the city of Jerusalem. This gave them a base of operations to reach out into the wider area of Judea, and then to Samaria and the rest of the world. Here in Japan in particular I have seen others try for years, sometimes decades, to plant a church in a small town, and fail miserably.

    I hope this answers your question--and maybe raises more! It's almost bedtime here in Japan. Oyasumi!! (Good night!) :sleeping_2:
     
  14. PastorSBC1303

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    May I ask how you get here?
     
  15. 4His_glory

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    I believe they get it from the basic definition for "apostle" which is "sent one". However I think that the Apostles were defiened by a great meaning. Theirs was a unique ministry that was for a special time in church history and no longer exists today.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    The short answer is, we get to the mission field, make it through language study, start our ministry and then ask, "Where is this in the Bible?" The evangelist = missionary gig is very hard to defend, but the apostle = misisonary position comes quite naturally from a study of the book of Acts. We look at the apostles in Acts and say, "Well, that's what I'm doing."

    The scholarly answer can be found in the article on "Apostle" in the original ISBE (of 1918, I believe). The revised ISBE replaced it with something more politically correct.

    The common "wisdom" among everybody but veteran missionaries and Charismatics nowadays is that the office of apostle ceased in the first century. However for much of church history that position was not held by the majority of evangelicalism. I would be happy to interact with you gentlemen on a thread specifically about apostles and missionaries, if you want to start one. I can't start it now--have to go to the church with my wife to work, and then make a hospital visit.

    If one of you hasn't started a thread on it by about 4:00 my time (at which time you will be snoring :sleeping_2: ), then I'll probably start one.
     
  17. John of Japan

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    This is what you and everyone else (me, too) were taught in Bible college and/or seminary. Can you defend it from the Bible? I'd be happy to meet you on a new thread for that purpose.
     
  18. rlvaughn

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  19. John of Japan

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    Thanks for these links, rlvaughn. I gave them a quick glance, but they don't seem to address the major point I meant to make in my OP, which is that there are five (count 'em) different statements of the Great Commission, and each of them has a different target audience.

    So who is the Great Commission for? It is for the individual believer, it is for the church, it is for the leadership of the church, all three!!:thumbs:
     
  20. 4His_glory

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    Sounds like an outline of yours.:smilewinkgrin:
     

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