PMW 2020-045 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In any study of the Christian worldview there are two passages that cannot escape one’s research: Genesis 1:26-30, called the Cultural Mandate, and Matthew 28:18-20, the Evangelistic Mandate, better known as the Great Commission. We will focus on the second, emphasizing the four appearances of the word “all” in these verses. Understanding each of these four aspects will help us better undertake the task of evangelism in the business world. And this will help establish the postmillennial argument.
It is extremely important to remember that the Great Commission is given after the resurrection. Prior to the resurrection, a frequent refrain of Christ was: “I can do nothing of Myself” (John 5:19; 8:28; 12:49; etc). But now after the resurrection, Christ says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). This grant of “all authority in heaven and on earth” is given by the Father, who according to similar terminology in Matthew 11:25, Acts 17:24, and elsewhere, is called “Lord of heaven and earth.”
This investiture of Christ with universal authority is a frequent theme of Scripture. Acts 2:30-31 tells us that David knew God “would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne” (Acts 2:30). He is seated there in confident expectation of victory, as Peter points out by citing Psalm 110 in Acts 2: “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:34-36).
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.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
What, then, is the nature of this grant of “all authority”? The “all” here is used in the distributive sense, indicating all “kinds” of authority, or authority in every realm. He possesses every kind of authority in heaven (the spiritual realm) and on earth (the temporal realm). He does not claim authority only over the Church or over individual redeemed people. He claims authority over the family, education, business, politics, law, medicine—all areas of life. When you call Jesus “Lord,” you are not just speaking of His lordship over your spiritual life as an individual. You are affirming His lordship in all areas of life, in whatever calling you undertake “on earth.”
Though the gospel is “to the Jew first” (Romans 1:16), Matthew clearly sets forth the Messianic king as One who will rule all peoples. In Matthew 8:10-12 Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
As with “all authority,” it is important we grasp the significance of “all nations.” The Greek word for nations speaks of collected masses of people, bound together by social bonds, forming a culture. It is important to recognize that the Lord did not say “disciple all men,” as if His interest was individualistic, concerned with people only as stray individuals. Neither did He command “disciple all kingdoms” as if His interest was purely political. The command to disciple “all nations” is directed to the conversion and discipling of the human race 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 people and nations. The Commission is not designed so 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, but it creates a redeemed culture. Consider the strong redemptive terminology used in 2 Corinthians 5:19: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”
Truly Christ expects to see a redeemed world one day! We are to disciple “all the nations” so the world as a system of people and things will become Christian. He is even now King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling to that end (Revelation 1:5). It is abundantly clear that He seeks the actual discipling of all nations, who are to be brought under the authority of God.
The Great Commission does not merely speak of being a witness to all nations. The discipleship idea involves training in the Christian faith. Certainly this entails evangelism. That is the absolutely crucial starting point for Christian discipleship. The Lord clearly taught that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). We ought to be engaged in reaching out to the lost and presenting them the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
But it does not stop there. Christ did not limit His teaching to the message of individual salvation from hell. In the Sermon on the Mount, we read the Lord’s reaffirmation of the Law of God: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Surely the Law of God cannot be limited solely to personal salvation. It must apply to the wider culture of man. This is one major feature of the “all things” Christ taught, so our discipleship instruction ought to include God’s law as well.
Christ promised to lead His disciples into all truth, so everything they taught was what He wanted them to teach. Yet they did not limit their teaching to personal redemption either. When we read the Apostles’ writings we discover a broad scope in their teaching, as broad as the world. We easily recognize that the New Testament is concerned with marriage and divorce (Matthew 5:27-32), family relations (Ephesians 5:22-33), and child rearing (Colossians 3:21). But it also instructs us regarding the rich man’s duty to the poor (Matthew 25:31-46), employer-employee relationships (Ephesians 6:5-9), honest wages (Luke 10:17), free-market bargaining (Matthew 20:1-15), private property rights (Acts 5:4), godly citizenship and the proper function of the state (Matthew 22:21), the family as the primary agency of welfare (1 Timothy 5:8), the dangers of debt (Romans 13:8), the obligation to leave an inheritance (2 Corinthians 12:14), and more. In doing so, it reflects and supplements the social concern of the Old Testament, urging the people of God to live all of life under Christ’s authority, not just the personal or family or church areas of life.
Thus the Christian discipleship program should teach the whole Word of God, exposing works of darkness and supplanting them with a positive restructuring of all of life (2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Romans 12:1-2).
All the Days
The Great Commission is truly a great commission. It institutes a program of immense proportions, calling for world transformation. How can such a program be accomplished? Surely He did not expect it to occur over night. Millions of Christians teach that Christ’s coming to end history as we know it has been imminent ever since He ascended into heaven. Who would set themselves to the long, expensive, difficult, time consuming task of world transformation if they believed the world as they know it could end at any moment?
He Shall Have Dominion (Kindle version) by Kenneth Gentry
A classic, thorough explanation and defense of postmillennialism (600+ pages). Complete with several chapters answering specific objections.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
But the language of the Great Commission strongly implies the historical long run. Christ says literally, “I will be with you all the days.” He did not say, “Expect me to return to end your labors at any moment.” Just as the preceding “alls” are to be understood in their fullness, so is this statement of the duration of His presence with His people. “I will be with you through all the great number of days stretching out before you.” Had He not taught His disciples to expect a long delay before His return? In the Parable of the Virgins, He warned that “while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5). In the Parable of the Talents, He warned, “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them” (Matthew 25:19).
We must train our children, and those who are converted to Christ through our evangelism, to dig in for the long haul. The task before us is enormous. But the equipment is sufficient—the One with all authority commands us. He has given us all the days. And He promises us, “I will be with you.” In Greek this statement has great emphasis: “I, I will be with you.” We may confidently expect success in the long run because Christ, Christ is with us. The Old Testament prophets, the New Testament apostles, and the Lord of glory all look to glorious days in earth’s future in which all nations will come and bow down before Him. And He uses His people to accomplish the task under His administration.
The Great Commission ends appropriately in some Bible versions, “Amen,” which means simply, “so be it.”