The Great Commission: Disciple -- By: Wallace Arthur Alcorn

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 02:4 (Winter 1959)
Article: The Great Commission: Disciple
Author: Wallace Arthur Alcorn

The Great Commission: Disciple

Wallace Arthur Alcorn

THERE probably have been no forty days in history when a particular group of men learned as much about such important matters as did the eleven disciples between the resurrection and the ascension of their Lord.

Toward the end of these forty days Christ commissioned them for His service which was to follow His return to the Father. So succinct and comprehensive was this Great Commission that the Holy Spirit led one of them, Matthew, to conclude his account of the life and ministry of Jesus with it.

Every well-written piece of motivational literature will conclude with a “therefore.” And so Matthew does not leave his readers to guess what is the implication of the miracles, teachings, and examples which he has just narrated. He tells them, in the words of Jesus: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...” (28:19, 20, AV)

It is a frequent experience of serious Bible students to discover, by careful study, something which they have missed in a particular passage on previous occasions. Inasmuch as the mission of every Christian, of the Church of Christ, and of every local church reflecting His Church is contained herein, we dare not miss anything in the passage. An exegetical (Greek: to bring an explanation out of) study, therefore, is certainly valid.

The Verbs

There are four key verbs in this command which must be understood: “go,” “teach” (actually: disciple), “baptizing,” and “teaching.” If. we understand these, we understand the Great Commission.

The Imperative: Disciple

The Greek word which the translators of the King James Version (Authorized Version, AV) rendered “teach” is matheteuo. This rendition is unfortunate, since it presents only the initial action in that which our Lord commanded. The word for “teach” is didasko, and is used later in the Commission. Matheteuo certainly involves teaching—but also conviction, conversion and continuance. It means, literally, “to disciple” or “to make disciples” (so corrected in ASV and RSV).

This, of course, presents a more serious and infinitely more difficult task to the obedient Christian. It is not enough to “teach” or “witness”; we must win those we teach and make disciples of those to whom we witness. When our Lord instructed His disciples that they were to b...

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