PMT 2016-045 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In my last article I began to consider the Great Commission and its implications for postmillennialism. I am highlighting the greatness of the Great Commission as a key component of the postmillennial system. My study will focus on each of the four appearances of the word “all” in the Lord’s truly Great Commission. In this study I will focus on “all authority.”
As with “all authority,” it is important that we grasp the significance of “all nations.” The word “nations” is the Greek word ethnos. It is based on the Greek word ethos, which indicates habits or customs of people; cultural relations. Thus, ethnos speaks of collected masses of men, considered as bound together by social bonds, forming a culture.
Ethnos here does not signify merely “gentile.” The Jews themselves are called ethnos ten times in the New Testament (e.g., Luke 7:5; John 11:48; Acts 10:22). The term indicates people grouped in terms of their cultural relations, and involves Jews and non-Jews. He speaks of every culture of man, when he speaks of “all nations.” And He speaks of men in terms of their cultural relations.
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It is important to recognize that the Lord did not say, “disciple all men” (anthropos), as if His interest was individualistic, concerned with men only as stray individuals. Neither did He , “disciple all kingdoms” (baseleia), as if His interest was purely political. The to disciple “all nations” is directed to the conversion and discipling of the human race, as such, in all of its cultural endeavors. It begins deep within involving the personal, spiritual aspects of life. But it branches out to include the social, legal, academic, economic, and political areas of life, as well.
Thus, we see how the Great Commission is a counterpart to the Cultural Mandate. In the Commission, Christ is implementing a plan to redeem all men and nations. The Commission is not designed so that the Church might “snatch brands from the fire.” It seeks the salvation of man in his every relationship, as massed in cultures. The Great Commission not only has cultural implications, it creates a redeemed culture.
We need to be careful when we say, “Christ is my personal Savior.” Idol worshipers often had a “personal savior” that they could carry around with them wherever they went. Their gods were limited. Certainly Christ is my Savior: He intimately loves me as an individual. But too often Christians tend to imply Christ is sparingly parceled out to individuals in history.
Here, though, we see He has called us to disciple all nations as such. That is His , based on His possession of “all authority.” And He surely expects the discipleship of all nations by His people and the full accomplishment of the task under His providence, as we shall see.
Thus, the Scripture speaks of Christ very often as “the Savior of the world.” When it does so it is not setting forth the doctrine of universalism. There are those who will populate hell forever. Rather such references point to the eventual actual conversion of the world as a system, as a kosmos. The passages that speak thus clearly portray salvation in all of its fullness. These passages do not merely say, “He is the only Savior in the world,” allowing for the vast majority of men to reject Him.
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Consider the strong redemptive terminology used in these passages. John 1:29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” 1 John 2:2: “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” Romans 11:15: “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” 2 Corinthians 5:19: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Truly Christ expects to see a redeemed world one day! The world will be saved, man’s sins propitiated, and the human race reconciled to God. Certainly He commissions us to promote this very task. We are to disciple “all the nations” so that the world as a kosmos, a system of men and things will become Christian.
It is abundantly clear that He seeks the actual discipling of all nations. They are to be brought under the yoke of the authority of the Triune God: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). The plural “them” in the to baptize, refers back to the plural noun “nations,” which is separated from it by only one word in the Greek. And baptism is only for those under the rule of Christ’s kingdom — believers and their seed.
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