THE FOUR ALLs OF THE GREAT COMMISSION

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.

All Authority
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).

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.

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.”

All Nations
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.

All Things
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.”

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14 thoughts on “THE FOUR ALLs OF THE GREAT COMMISSION

  1. Gary June 9, 2020 at 7:11 am

    Would you please explain your statement re: Matt22:21.

    What would you recommend for reading on God’s Law & the laws therein?

    Thank you.

  2. Kenneth Gentry June 9, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Basically, Jesus is saying that Caesar (the government) has the right to taxation (as does Paul in Rom.13:5-8). But the government cannot claim divine privilege, such as is suggested on the coin given to Jesus (Matt. 20:21). That coin had inscribed on it: “Tiberius Caesar, son of the Divine Augustus.” On the reverse side it said “Pontifex Maximus” (“greatest priest”). Rome was beginning to engage in emperor worship and Jesus was warning against.

    You might want to check my book, <em>God’s Law Made Easy.

  3. Gary June 9, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Much appreciated! Thank you.

  4. Jason Elliott June 10, 2020 at 5:05 am

    This is a great post! I would also like to add that postmillennialism and the Great Commission give REASONS for sanctification. If the dispensationalists are correct, there is no reason to do anything except have individuals “ask Jesus into his heart” or “ask Jesus to forgive you” because God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. The postmillennial hope gives generational goals to sanctification. There are reasons for applying the Bible to every aspect of individual, family, church, occupational, and political life. Why bother learning the law of God if we are only trying to get individuals out of hell? It seems to me that postmillennialism is the only consistent eschatology that encourages and gives tangible reasons for sanctification. Just look at our nation today, in fact. The current generation of young people have been taught that abominations to God are “good” and lies from the public school system as they wait on the rapture. The world may get “worse and worse” BECAUSE Christians do not have an eschatology of victory but of defeat. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. All professing Christians should give their children a biblical education and worldview so that, when they become adults, there may just be a majority of people with a biblical worldview rather than a secular humanist one. As always, discipleship begins with the individual, then the family, and then outward. Keep up the great writing, Mr. Gentry!

  5. Fred V. Squillante June 10, 2020 at 7:55 am

    I agree with Mr. Elliott when he points out our sorry national spiritual condition. And I also agree with him, and you, Dr. Gentry, that postmillennialism is an eschatology of victory (Kik), but my questions are these: why have we allowed our schools to become such spiritual wastelands? And, in general, why have we allowed the church to adopt pessimillennialism as we await Jesus to come back to rescue us from this mean and nasty world? I think Jesus would look at us as the church of Laodicea and spew us out of His mouth.

  6. Jason Elliott June 10, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Mr. Squillante,

    When thinking about your question “why have we allowed the church to adopt pessimillennailism as we await Jesus to come back to rescue us from this mean and nasty world”, I am driven to remember two things: God’s sovereignty, and Christ putting all enemies under his feet. The conquest of the nations and false doctrine is and will be a long and grinding one for sure. But, on that glorious last day, no man will be able to stand up and say to the Lord Jesus that he had a “better way”, for all “better ways” will have had their day and crushed by the rod of iron. The fruit of the Spirit includes “longsuffering” for a reason; it is needed for a stone to become a mountain. We must always look at the future from what the Bible says will happen. After all, it took around 4,000 years for Genesis 3:15 to come to pass. All nations where the gospel has gone are mostly cultures that now rely on science, medicine, law, courts, and other concepts that are completely consistent with a biblical worldview although they deny the Lordship of Christ himself. The public school curricula declares that math is immutable, science is evolutionary, history is malleable, and morals are cultural. The Triune God of the Bible is the only way to harmonize all disciplines without contradiction. All absurd forms of government and religion must rise and fall for Christ to declare ultimate victory (Psalm 2; Psalm 110).

  7. Gary June 10, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Although I agree that certain eschatological views are a problem, I think the problem is more foundational – even back to the foundational point of the Good News, what Biblical Faith is, and what the scope of Biblical Salvation actually is.

    The short version:

    Using Paul, but finding what he was more comprehensively teaching as the Good News, of which 1Cor15 is just a part, this tracks back through Acts & to Ps2, where we get an extremely strong statement re: YHWH’s Annointed & His authority & a warning re: angering Him. The foundational point per Paul is The Christ = Jesus! So, Jesus is to be bowed to & obeyed. The prevalent 1Cor15 Gospel does not say this without connecting dots, which most are not taught to do. The obligatory bowing to His authority is not the foundation for most in this age.

    Coupled with this, Biblical Faith is virtually synonymous with obedience. To say one believes in Jesus is a farce if one is not learning to live & living in obedience to Him. And since this brings us into a concept of sanctification, we need to be taught that our sanctification is mandated. And since this mandated sanctification brings us into the concept of spiritual maturity, so too is growth to spiritual maturity mandated. And with this, we need to discuss overcoming sin to ever greater degrees, which is one of the, if not the main point of this process.

    And now we have a foundation for understanding what the scope of Biblical Salvation in Christ Jesus actually is and includes.

    So, what [non-defeatist] eschatology seems to flow well with this? If “Christians” were not just being entertained, then we’d have more mature ones, who knew how to think, let alone vote.

    As a side-note, I set aside eschatology studies & debates years ago when I received word that a split had taken place – in part over the “Gospel” – in a part of the dispensational camp I was schooled by. When I looked into it and read some of the arguments, it seemed very clear to me that the problem was foundational. I came to the conclusion, right or wrong, that the real problem was that some did not seem to understand Faith, nor Salvation. My mostly solitary studies (some with 1 trusted friend from Seminary) have only confirmed and enhanced my initial clarity. And I don’t think this malady is solely in the dispensational camp.

    One thing I’ve found in personal & forum discussions with those who have been mislead from the above, is that they will actually disregard the mandated, ‘teach all the nations to keep what Christ commands’ portion of the Commission. And many will essentially disregard the “all authority” portion as well.

    So much for a discussion on the spiritual problem of the nation, let alone the world… Whatever the mandate, from the Cultural Mandate on, it’s always the same issue: lack of submission to His Absolute Authority, which is Biblical Faith, which is Biblical Love for God.

  8. Fred V. Squillante June 10, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Mr. Elliott,
    I’m really not sure I understand this statement: “The conquest of the nations and false doctrine is and will be a long and grinding one for sure.” There have always been many false doctrines, but the conquest of the nations being long and grinding is what I find interesting. If I’m not mistaken, Biblically familiar cities in Lebanon (Tyre), Syria (Damascus), and Turkey (Antioch, Ephesus, and the rest of the seven churches of Revelation), all now solidly Islamic, were the first to be evangelized by the apostles. Constantinople (now Istanbul), once the capital of the Byzantine Empire and arguably the Christian capital, was named after Emperor Constantine, who ended the great persecution – the Great Tribulation, by signing the Edict of Milan. European cities like Corinth, Athens, Thessalonica and Berea (remember them?) in Greece – all evangelized by Paul. What happened? The rest of Europe, like Germany where the Reformation was born. What happened there? Then, the New World – America. Founded under Judeo-Christian principles. What happened here? Premillennial dispensationalism with its view of a literal, earthly, 1000-year reign by Christ that actually has its roots in the 1st century in Papias (known as chiliasm), more recently started in the early 19th century and has taken hold. It appears as though the conquest of the nations has been reversed. The blame for that can only be laid at the feet of the church.

  9. Gary June 11, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Good points & questions, Fred. What’s your view of why we are where we are? When you said on 6/10, “why have we allowed…,” what would you propose “we” (whoever this is) do?

  10. Jason Elliott June 12, 2020 at 2:30 am

    Perhaps the declension is because the nations are not explicitly naming Christ and his law in or as their constitutions. When a nation is not founded on Christ, regardless of good intentions or starting points it has already doomed itself to failure. There is no neutrality. The blame can be laid at the churches in that the Lordship of Christ over all spheres of life is not being preached, and therefore, not leavening society (individual, family, state responsibility, etc.) The church leadership, I would argue, is primarily to blame in this area. Big numbers, big buildings, and many goats among the sheep due to believing a false gospel could very well be to blame here. Perhaps America only has a remnant at the moment. The US Constitution, as good as it is, still produced bad fruit because of religious pluralism. Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 require full obedience, and while God is longsuffering, his judgment does fall eventually.

  11. Gary June 12, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Jason:

    I’m essentially in agreement with you & with Fred in his comment re: Jesus spewing the current church out of His mouth.

    In my longer post above, after years of study & contemplation, and as I said, I think the problem is foundational. A 1Cor15 “Gospel” used by most does not state who Christ is (nor does inviting Jesus into your heart) & thus what our orientation to His absolute authority MUST be. It’s belief in a truth about what He has done, but not who He is. And Biblical Faith is Faith-Obedience (Obedience of Faith as Paul states His mission is & bookends Romans with), which is ultimately Faithfulness, which is ultimately Love for God & for one another.

    And Salvation is comprehensive in scope, providing for God’s Law to be written on our hearts by His Spirit & the Faithfulness of Christ working in us to develop us in Faithful Obedience/Love for God, which on the other side of the coin is becoming les & less sinful.

    This is the same scope of Salvation that will eventually bring His entire creation back to order & it started with His people – a term when studied is centered in obedience to Him – as is the phrase, “Children of God.” When in Matthew it states that His name is Yeshua, for He will save His People from their sins, this is not simply a “believe in Jesus & go to heaven when you die, statement. It’s a statement with loaded terminology about making the new creation beginning with making Christians that become more & more like their Lord & First-Born Brother – Faithful Children of God.

    When Paul speaks of “enemies of the cross of Christ,” he’s naming those who do not function per all of this and are thus not on the track to the comprehensive Salvation that Jesus died to put in place. Our Father by His Spirit is raising His Children in Christ to be mature/spiritual/”perfect” (as He defines perfect) & these institutions that at best perpetuate infancy that, per Paul, is tantamount to being fleshly, are working against the true Salvation in Christ. Goats are welcome in such institutions as the pseudo-shepherds entertain all & speak a few words from our Text for a short period, which does nothing to raise God’s Children to become more & more like their First-Born Brother & Lord.

    Thus the maturing Remnant is small in numbers & the nation(s) suffer for the lack of Truth about bowing to Him & learning & living by His commandments as the Commission mandates. God call those who profess to know Him, but deny Him in works, disgusting.

    Incomplete gospel at best > perpetuated infancy at best > eschatology of e-ticket to heaven when you die – all of this fits together nicely. What can one expect a nation to look like?

    The bigger question for me became, What is the real problem here? Is eschatology just a symptom – at least one of them?

    Through prayerful studies, observations, asking professing Christians, what does “Christ” mean & what is it that you think shows me you believe in Him?, the problem only comes to be more well-lit.

    Then we can also talk about “works” and how this has become over-protected, so as to become nearly as problematic as all the above. Many do not understand James, because they begin with Paul. James is foundational in the “works” area. Paul clarifies one area & all is well…………

  12. Fred V. Squillante June 12, 2020 at 10:14 am

    Thank you Dr. Gentry for posting such thought-provoking articles.

    First, I am proposing nothing; I am only commenting on what I perceive to be. “We” – are Christians, the church. The gospel is powerful. Paul preached the resurrection, and that got him in trouble, yet, Christianity conquered the world by the power of the resurrected Christ changing hearts.

    I do not advocate theocracy, but I believe the US Bill of Rights had the right idea when it listed freedom of religion first and gave it a two-sided billing. Legal wrangling has allowed man to twist it and turn it into a box for people of faith to be imprisoned. The law is good, but it isn’t perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist this side of heaven.

    Allowing the power of the gospel to permeate our life and affect our decision-making is where I believe we need to be, and where we started as a nation. However, again, legal hair-splitting caused American schools to ban prayer in the 1950s. Then, the US Supreme Court saw “emanations” and “penumbras” in the law, which led to Roe – the American holocaust – the 20th – 21st century Molech – an abomination before the Lord.

    More navel-examination and hair-splitting led to the removal by the American Psychiatric Association of its designation of homosexuality as a mental disorder, also an abomination to the Lord. Today, with the COVID pandemic, I see hypocrisy as the medical community talks about “contact tracing” as a tool to contain it, but were browbeaten into submission by the political might of the militant gay lobby, so contact tracing was not used in the AIDS pandemic.

    No, perfection doesn’t exist here on earth, but we, the church, have lost our grip on the power of the gospel, which has allowed those things to happen. The cares of this world have overcome the power of the gospel in our lives. That has drowned out the victorious message of postmillennialism.

    When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. But have no fear, God always saves a remnant.

  13. Gary June 12, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Fred:

    Firstly, thanks for your posts. They to are also thought provoking, as these things should be.

    Secondly, please don’t take my following questions & comments as being more provocative than they are meant to be.

    With that said, a few questions & comments:

    1. What’s a “Christian”? I doubt you’d think that all people in the pews are Christians. So, back to my question about who the “we” are. How does the current condition of what calls itself “church” police itself to not allow the widespread condition of “church” to run off into things like false eschatologies? Aren’t we really talking about the Remnant continuing to do what it’s supposed to do in every generation? Can the Remnant really prevent things called “church” from degenerating? What precisely is the Remnant (aka Christian?)? How does this all work out eschatologically? What are the “we” to do?

    2. Is theocracy the same as theonomy? And what are your thoughts re: theonomy?

    3. What is the “Gospel”? I assure you this is not a question asked lightly. When you speak of the gospel permeating our life, what do you mean?

    4. Depending on how you translate at least one NC Greek word, I would argue that “perfection” does take place on this earth. In fact, I’d argue that “Christians” are commanded to be “perfect” (Matt5:48). The caveat is to let God define the word instead of immediately allowing it to be taken into the typical discussion of sinless perfection used to negate His command to be perfect.

    Just intended to be thought provoking towards more elaboration and all based back in the article’s topic of the Great Commission – mainly the prelude re: His “all authority” & His commanded to teach what He commands.

    Thanks.

  14. Fred V. Squillante June 12, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Gary,
    With all due respect, I’m not going to debate you on the definition of a Christian, the church, or the gospel. When you put it “Christian” and “Gospel” you are using sarcasm toward Christians and the gospel. If you don’t know what they are then you should not be on this site. Nor am I interested in discussion theonomy. I explained what I meant regarding our founding. Yes, Jesus said the be perfect, knowing we cannot attain it. Only because of Christ’s work on the cross are we considered perfect. Thank you.

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