What Is The Great Commission? Bible Verse and Explanation

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the Great Commission?  Are Christians commanded to obey this commission?  What is the purpose for the Great Commission and the Christians part in it?

The Great Commission

The Bible records Jesus giving the disciples the Great Commission.  In Acts 1:8 it is the last command given by Christ before His Ascension that 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.”  This is similar to Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus tells the disciples:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given 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.”

The Great Commission was not just for the immediate disciples that He was speaking to but it is given to all believers.  Today, the Great Commission is still being fulfilled by international missionary work, by local churches in actively seeking the lost in their community, in outreach activities and by believers witnessing for Jesus Christ to their next door neighbor.  The Great Commission will not end until the consummation of the Kingdom of Heaven.  That is, during the church age today, all believers are commanded to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to go into all the world, even if it starts next door.

Making Disciples

By the way, when I share the gospel, I am not responsible for the outcome.  God is!

By the way, when I share the gospel, I am not responsible for the outcome. God is!

Part of the great commission is to “make disciples of all nations”, meaning that this gospel should be preached in all the world.  A disciple is literally one that is disciplined or taught about the Kingdom of God and these disciples are to make disciples or students of other people once they have put their trust in Christ.  No believer is supposed to be an underground or private believer.  Christianity is not a covert operation!  We must all tell others the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is not optional.  To be discipled is to be instructed or to learn from one who is a disciple themselves.  We can never teach what we first do not possess and so once a person receives saving faith from God, they are to impart this to others and to teach others to “obey all that [Jesus has] commanded” us.

To be a disciple means to be a learner of, a student of, and to discipline (root word for discipline) oneself in the things that Jesus Christ taught.  Since God wants us to be holy just as He is holy, we are to be constrained to be more like Christ over time.  This process takes a lifetime and it’s what we call sanctification.  It doesn’t happen overnight but it takes a concerted effort of studying God’s Word, obeying the principles taught in the Bible, being taught in a local church and to follow Christ first and foremost in this present life (Matt 6:33).

An Imperative Command

When Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world, was this an imperative command?  Yes, it is the same type of command that a parent would yell to a child in the street:  “Get out of the street right now!”  We can not take the Great Commission as optional but as a direct command given by the Lord Jesus Christ.  If He is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all.  By the way, as some have believed, there is no gift for sharing the gospel.  We are all to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ to those who are lost.  Why wouldn’t we knowing the final destination and fate of those who die without Christ?  The good news must be shared.  If we had a cure for cancer and we knew that thousands of people are dying every day from this deadly disease, why wouldn’t we want to offer this cure, in this case, eternal life for those who are perishing?  To not share the gospel is to be negligent to our duties.  When we keep this good news to ourselves it reminds me of the Parable of the Talents.  The one servant buried his talent in the ground.  When we do that we are robbing others of the chance for eternal life.  Why wouldn’t we want to offer hope for people who will die in their sins?  How awful to not share this news and participate in rescuing the perishing.  There is no excuse for not doing it. What keeps most from doing this is the fear of man which is a snare.  Should we not fear God more and understand that He will hold us responsible someday on the Day of His Visitation?

The Great Omission

Only a small fraction of the church actively shares the faith with the lost.  Less than 1 in 10 will share their faith with at least one other person in a lifetime. Only 1 in 20 will ever lead someone to faith in Christ during their life.  That is why for most Christians it’s called the “great omission.”  There are sins of commission and sins of omission and I believe not being involved with the Great Commission is a sin of omission.

Jude tells us tosave others by snatching them out of the fire(Jude 23).  Paul asked the church at Ephesus and Colossae to “pray also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19) and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things (Ephesians 3:9) as well as pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains (Colossians 4:3).  Paul declared that I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).  By the way, when I share the gospel, I am not responsible for the outcome.  God is!  I can only sow the seed of the Word and leave the results up to God but I must tell you…after I do, I feel such joy and peace.  I can not compare it to any feeling in the world.  Sadly, for so many years in my Christian faith I was simply a pew potato.

Conclusion

Are you ashamed of being embarrassed by sharing the good news?  Here is a serious warning from Jesus Christ about that.  He says that everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).  He repeats this warning in Mark 8:38 that the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels andwhoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God (Luke 12:9) and there is no doubt that If we disown him, he will also disown us (2 Timothy 2:12b).  That should be a wake up call for all of us because many profess Christ to other Christians but not to the lost.

Let me leave you with a true story that is a great analogy as to why we need to be participating in the Great Commission.  About 20 years ago a man was walking his dog about 530 in the morning when he spotted smoke coming out of a two-story house.  When he looked around he saw that there was no chimney for a fireplace and so he thought the occupants may be endangered.  He went up to the porch and peeked into the living room window and saw smoke coming out of the kitchen area.  This is when he knew that there was a fire and he started pounding on the door.  He rang the door bell furiously but got no response.  Then he started pounding so hard on the front door that he thought it might break it down and the neighborhood dogs started barking and the lights started coming on in the neighborhood.  Finally, a light went on in the second floor of the house and when a man came down to the living room only then did he realize that there smoke coming out of the kitchen.  This was lomg before smoke detectors were commonly used.  The man then ran upstairs to evacuate his family.  The family escaped with what could have been a disastrous fire.

Here is the analogy.  There is a fire coming.  The man who was walking his dog didn’t think, “Well, I don’t want to disturb anyone at this hour…and I don’t want to embarrass myself.”  No, he was bold and did everything within his power that he could to warn the occupants of the fire.  There is another fire coming.  Jesus spoke of it more than heaven and in fact, more than just about anything else that He ever taught in the gospel.  Hell is very real.  Should we not fear for those who don’t yet know about a fire that is coming and be bold enough to take whatever steps are necessary?  Who cares if you are embarrassed or you are humiliated?  Shouldn’t we care enough to warn the occupants of this coming fire…like our neighbors, our friends, and our family…even strangers?  Remember that the power is in the message and not in the messenger.  If God can use even a shy, timid, tongue-twisted person like me to go into the streets, door to door, in the stores or anywhere that there are people…then He can use you.

It takes the Spirit of God,

with the Word of God,

and a person of God

to make children of God.

  As Jesus said, “GO!” 

What are you waiting for?

Take a look at this related article, also by Jack Wellman:

How to Evangelize Door-to-door

Reference – New International Version Bible (NIV) THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide



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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Addis June 25, 2013 at 5:45 am

Hi,

I’m moved by your article, especially the story of the fire-notifier. I’m the Messenger, and I’m here to proclaim to you that God the Father, Christ the Lord, and the Holy Spirit have arrived in this world (in fact, almost 30 years ago). They are being made known to the public. Jesus is watching over you right now, and so is the Father. Pls kindly help spread the word upon knowing in the days that follow. 🙂

You are a great guy and possess great capabilities. You have the power within you, so keep up the good work! May the Spirit be with you! Tell us more of your thoughts soon. The Father just knows, the Lord observes and thinks, and I’m just learning. 🙂

Good luck and Gods bless you!!!

Cheers,
Addis Cang Xuan
(*addiscangcang)

Reply

Geno June 26, 2013 at 8:52 am

Can you tell me why you removed my comment?

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Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Hello Geno. I am sorry but links or url’s are not usually allowed. Thank you.

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Geno June 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Sharing the gospel and making disciples can only be done by the Lord, Jesus Himself… working in and through His people.

This is something I learned well while overseas, and I relate a story about this dynamic on my site. The post is called “The Living Body Of Christ”.

I actually learned that I can do NOTHING, as the word shows… regardless of how highly I think of my knowledge, boldness and experience… but He can do everything.

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Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Thanks Geno. Yes, we can do nothing of ourselves but He does use us to make disciples. Why else would Jesus give this imperative command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations?” He didn’t say, “Go therefore and I will make disciples of all nations.” See what I mean sir.

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Geno June 26, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Sure, Jack; you’re absolutely right. He did give the command.

I simply wanted to make the point that… unless the work is done as a result of HIS moving and working through His people… as the head… then our work is in vain. I learned this the hard way.

Of course, everyone I’ve ever been around says that Jesus is the head and is given place as such, but, in my view, that dynamic doesn’t go on a real lot. If it did, I don’t think the churches would be so anemic and lacking in true, biblical vitality.

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Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Truly stated my friend. So true…may God richly bless you and your family and ministry to the glory of Jesus Christ, which what it is all about, really.

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Geno June 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Thanks, Jack. I wish the same for you, and I will surely be spending more time on your site. I really like what I’ve seen so far.

Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Thank you again Geno. After viewing your website, I have allowed the link on your avatar to your website. I appreciate your encouragement and edifying words. Most certainly, I can only a broken vessel that can not boast of anything I or this site has done for we are all dedicated to giving to Him all glory, honor, and praise and assuredly, all credit. Even so, thank you sir.

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Messenger June 26, 2013 at 5:58 pm

May the Lord be with you! 🙂

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Geno June 26, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Thanks a lot for allowing the link. I really appreciate that.

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Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm

My distinct pleasure brother of mine.

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Messenger June 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

May I kindly know where overseas? Thanks.!

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Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Hello Messenger. Where you commenting or asking a question of Geno or myself? Thank you and please let either of us know so that we can answer your question and might even ask, what do you mean “where overseas?” Where, what sir?.

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Messenger June 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Hi,

Geno mentioned that he was overseas…. so I was wondering which part of the earth he meant…. and do YOU know much about angels? Their names, functions, and limitations..? Thanks!!

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Geno June 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm

@messenger – If you click on my name, it will take you to my website. When you are there, look for the post “The Living Body Of Christ”. That will clarify things.

Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Geno may know much more than we do here about angels but we do have several articles based upon your questions at this link:

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/search/?query=angels

Just a note, we should first and foremost, in my opinion, focus on Christ and His work (Matt 6:33) and seek to glorify Him above all things. We can get distracted by the less important things, as I have done. Thanks Messenger.

Messenger June 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Thank you. I’ll read and give you a formal reply. Thanks

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Mr A Cotton December 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I have ran into confusion. You read the King James Bible Jack.
I clicked on a link which took me to YouTube and this man Will Kinney was defending The King James Bible against all the rest,
Example – Here is just one of many examples of John MacArthur`s Biblical Agnosticism. In one of his sermons about Matthew 6:13 he has this to say: “The doxology is simply this; For Thine is the Kingdom,the Power,the Glory forever Amen.”That`s a doxology. You just say it,You just think it,You just offer it to God,You don`t dissect it. And by the way,there`s manuscript evidence that Jesus didn`t say this,that`s why it`s not included in some of your version`s of the Bible. We don`t know whether He said it or not.
Some manuscripts have it, some don`t.
Agnostic = One who does not know for sure.
I definitely know the Catholic Bible has about 4 or 5 sheets missing and they have the Commandments wrong,so they can have idols,and change things about to prove that their religion is the true one.
The King James Bible is the only Bible to have the Lords Prayer in capitol letter`s,and he mentioned all the other`s in abbreviation`s which you would know quite well Jack.
There is quite a lot of video`s about Bibles.
Just goes to show that you can`t evan trust a Bible that you buy.

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Jack Wellman December 27, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Thank you my good friend. I know you can trust the King James Bible. You will notice that some comments are in italics. The words or sentences in italics are those that have been inserted and are not in the original. Maybe that will help you. I stick with the King James version but also like and trust the ESV and the New King James, if that will help you Anthony. You already know you can trust John MacArthur and his study Bible for sure (which is also ESV).

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Allan January 31, 2014 at 3:13 pm

I do not believe that this command was given to all believers but only to the 11 that Jesus had been training for 3 years. If you think it was for all believers, do you also think that whenever Jesus commanded the disciples throughout the gospels, that these were also given for all believers? The Holy Spirit leads each believer in different ways. There are those he leads to share their faith but there a those that are not led that way.

The Great Commission also commands to baptize. I have never baptized anyone. I don’t think many people other than pastors have baptized anyone. You said less than 1 in 10 believer shares their faith in their lifetime. What is the statistic for a believer baptizing someone in their lifetime? This part of the command always seems to be ignored.

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David October 15, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Greetings,
I noticed you spoke about “making disciples” and “obeying all that Jesus commands”, but you did not even mention “baptizing them in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. Do you not accept this as part of the Great Commission? Is this also not part of the imperative?

Thanks.

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Jack Wellman October 15, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Thank you David. Yes, that is true, baptizing them in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is part of that. My apologies.

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