PMW 2018-078 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
An interested reader sent me a question regarding the Great Commission. The question was two pages long, but I will edit it down to a manageable size. He wrote:
I have a question about a certain verse that I believe you use in a certain way…. The Verse is Matthew 28:19…. My question is this: In what sense do you understand Jesus telling His disciples to “make disciples of all nations?” Can you break that down for me and clarify? I know in the KJV it says to “teach” and that has been discovered by many to be wrong and it seems the better translation is “to make disciples of all nations” I always thought that you believed it meant each particular nation would be through the “preaching of the gospel” would be Christianized. Each nation in a universal but limited sense. Not all but the majority of the people of each nation would be made disciples of Christ through the “things that Jesus taught the disciples”….
[The reader cites a scholarly article he has read on the matter. He notes:] The Aorist Imperative form of this verb lends itself to the expression of a simple activity, like the calling to the commitment to follow Jesus, which each one of the disciples who was listening to this commission had previously done. “Baptizing them” would also be understood by these same disciples as being similar to the individual commitment each of them had to make before they were baptized by John the Baptist (cp. Mark 1:5)….
There is another issue in Matt 28:19-20, and that is how to take the participles – “baptizing and teaching” in relation to the main verb “make disciples”. The commentary you quoted interpreted them as participles of means… “Make disciples of all nations BY baptism and BY instruction.” But the word “by” is added for interpretation and is not in the text.
I hope I have saved the relevant portions of his extended question. And I believe I have. So now, to work! Continue reading