NORTHSIDE BAPTIST CHURCH
Philosophy of the Great Commission
When Christians think of the Great Commission, the passage of Scripture that most often comes to mind is Matthew 28:19-20. But we must not interpret these two verses without considering the entire paragraph in Matthew's narrative. The paragraph begins in verse 16 with the eleven disciples traveling to Galilee to meet with Jesus at a predetermined place.
Verse 17 is actually a key verse in understanding the Great Commission. "When they saw Jesus, they worshiped Him; but some doubted." The Greek word translated "doubted" is not the normal word for doubt (referring to unbelief). So this verse does not mean that some of the disciples doubted Who Jesus was, nor does it mean they were doubting their own salvation. This is a rare word in the New Testament -- only used in this passage. There are a growing number of commentators and Bible teachers that believe this Greek word should be translated "hesitated." Therefore, "when they saw Jesus, they worshiped Him; but some hesitated."
For hundreds of years, the Jews went to the Temple in Jerusalem and worshiped God. They were taught that God is a Spirit -- invisible to their eyes. They worshiped Him, but with a feeling of being physically distant from Him. Now the disciples are standing face to face with God incarnate in human flesh. How should they properly worship Him? It's no wonder they "hesitated." We probably would have reacted the same way.
Christ responds with "All authority has been given to Him" in both realms (visible and invisible). There is no one higher than Jesus Christ, and no one Who deserves our loyalty and worship more than He does. However, their are only eleven standing there to worship Him. And even then, their worship fell short of what it should have been. So both the quantity of the worshipers and the quality of their worship is not what it should be for the King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore, Jesus commissions them to go and make disciples of all nations and teach them the spiritual truths Christ taught. Why? So that there will be a greater quantity of worshippers and greater quality in the worship they render to Him.
Some churches view the Great Commission as referring to evangelism only. Such churches then will have an incorrect view of why the Church exists. The ultimate goal of the Great Commission is the proper worship of Jesus Christ. If a church does not understand this, it will not fulfill the Great Commission. Evangelism is just the first step in fulfilling the Great Commission. Churches must also teach and train new converts, so that they will become mature disciples who will worship Christ properly, and who will then teach and train other new converts to become mature disciples and worship Christ properly as well. This is all part of the Great Commission, and all part of why the Church exists.