THE COMMISSION AND SOVEREIGNTY (1)

mountainPMT 2016-073 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The Great Commission is a key foundation stone in the New Testament for postmillennialism. Is not called the “Great” Commission for no reason. It is great in terms of its program (worldwide victory), as well as its Presenter (Jesus Christ). It powerfully presents the sovereign Lord declaring his sovereign mission.

As we approach the Great Commission from a covenantal perspective, we discover that its contextual setting clearly points to its sovereign disposition in a number of ways.

Opening the matter, we must recognize that the books of Scripture were written by real, flesh-and-blood, historical men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Thus the books were given in particular, concrete historical contexts (2 Pet. 1:21). The Scriptures did not fall from heaven as a book of mysteries. Consequently, at least a general understanding of the historical and geographical contexts of any given passage is helpful to its fuller and more accurate apprehension.

In addition to being aware of the historical and geographical contexts of any given passage, it is often helpful to understand something of the literary structure of the particular book of Scripture in which it is found. This is especially true of the Gospels, which represent a new literary genre that is neither biography nor theology. This literary genre is “gospel.” As New Testament theologian Donald B. Guthrie has noted of the Gospels: “Whereas they are historical in form, their purpose was something more than historical. It is not, in fact, an accident that they were called ‘Gospels’ at an early period in Christian history . . . . [T]here were no parallels to the Gospel form which served as a pattern for the earliest writers.”

 

The Greatness of the Great Commission


Greatness of the Great Commission (by Ken Gentry)

An insightful analysis of the full implications of the great commission. Impacts postmillennialism as well as the whole Christian worldview.

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The Gospels were written by common men, who organized the material according to a thought-out structure, plan, and purpose (cf. Luke 1:1-4). So something of the literary structure of Matthew will also be helpful in opening to us the sovereignty of the covenantal Great Commission. In this three-part series I will consider the place, time, and literary setting of the Commission. I will begin with:

Sovereignty and It’s Geographical Context

As we turn to the geographical matter, we will note the covenantal significance of both the region and the topography of the place where the Commission was given. The region was in “Galilee”; the topographical setting was on a “mountain.”

Galilee

The Gospels teach us that Christ’s disciples were instructed by Him to go a certain, specified place in Galilee to meet Him after the resurrection. And, of course, the Matthew 28:16 reference is from the very context of the Great Commission.

It is interesting that Christ instructs His disciples to meet him in Galilee. Of course, Christ lived there in His youth, called His disciples in Galilee, and performed much of His ministry there. Yet the fact that He would prearrange a post-resurrection appearance with His disciples in Galilee in order to commission them as He does, is instructive. This change of locale is noteworthy in that they were already in Jerusalem, the heart of Israel in Judea, and were very soon to return there to await the Pentecostal empowerment for their mission. Why were they now instructed to take the trip to Galilee?

Galilee was an area in Israel that contained a mixed Jew and gentile population from the earliest times, having been only inadequately conquered and settled by the Jews during the original conquest of the Promised Land (Jdgs. 1:33). In addition, during the later Assyrian conflict, the Jews of the area were carried off into captivity, leaving many gentiles as the inhabitants of the land (2 Kgs. 15:29). For these reasons, Upper Galilee was known as “Galilee of the gentiles.” Also for these reasons, Galileans were noted for their peculiar mixed accent, and were looked down upon by the Jews in the southern, more “pure” regions.


I Will Be Your GodI will Be Your God
by T. M. Moore
This book is dedicated to encouraging such an outlook on life. It does so by promoting a better understanding of the nature, meaning, and implications of living in God’s covenant.

For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com


Interestingly, Matthew is the only Gospel that mentions Christ’s early command for the disciples to avoid the gentiles in their ministry, refers to Jerusalem as “the holy city,” and records Christ’s being called the “king of the Jews” prior to Pilate’s cross inscription. Yet three times at the end of this Gospel Matthew mentions that Christ was to meet His disciples in Galilee, well away from Jerusalem and well into the area of mixed Jew and gentile inhabitants.

In addition to this information, we should note that just prior to the Great Commission is mentioned the Jewish bribe and the lie regarding the whereabouts of Christ’s body: “They gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, ‘You are to say, “his disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ . . . And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.” Upon mention of this cover-up by the Jews in Jerusalem, Christ appears in Galilee to give His commission to “disciple the nations” (Matt. 28:16, 19).

The gospel, as we will see, was designed to promote Christ’s sovereignty over the entire world of men, not just the Jews. Thus, even the place of its giving anticipates this, for “in light of [Matt. 4:15ff] it is likely that Galilee here represents all peoples in vs. 19.”

The Mountain

That the disciples went “to the mountain which Jesus had designated” seems also to be for some particular purpose. Christ’s employment of mountains for instructional effect is familiar enough. For instance, the Sermon on the Mount, the Olivet Discourse, and the ascension were from a mountain — the Mount of Olives.

Mountains are significant in Scripture as symbols of sovereignty, majesty, exaltation, and power. As such, they often stand for kingdoms, as several of the verses in the preceding note suggest. It was on a mountain that Christ commissioned His disciples to take the gospel to “the nations.” The majestic effect of this commissioning from a mountain will be dealt with in detail later in Chapter 4. There I will focus on the implications of the hierarchical authority of the commission. At this point, I merely point out the appropriateness of the majestic commissioning of the disciples from a mountain for symbolizing His sovereign transcendence in this covenantal transaction.

The idea is captured well by Lenski: “On mountain heights heaven and earth, as it were, meet, and here the glorified Savior spoke of his power in heaven and on earth. With the vast expanse of the sky above him and the great panorama of the earth spread beneath him, Jesus stands in his exaltation and his glory — a striking vision, indeed.” This is why the disciples “worshiped” Him there (Matt. 28:17a).

Conclusion
As we consider the implications of divine sovereignty in the Great Commission we can learn much simply from its geographical setting. But there is more. In the next article I will consider divine sovereignty exhibited in its temporal context.

000 Conference Ministry

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One thought on “THE COMMISSION AND SOVEREIGNTY (1)

  1. Jason October 3, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    This is a great article! I’m looking forward to the rest!

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