The Great Commission has been quoted, preached on, written about, and dissected frequently, as one of the texts that has received some of the most attention in biblical studies. Deservedly so.
In recent days, I wrote a series of meditations on Matthew 28.18-20. And today a neighbor and I studied the same passage in his home. With all this attention given to the text, Jesus’ words about baptism made a greater impression.
The first part of making disciples, he said, is “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” Mt 28.19. First, it bears repeating that Jesus does not command that these words be said at the moment a baptism is performed in order to be scriptural. So this is not a “formula” that makes up a part of some baptismal ritual (contra Richards 578). It is an explanation of the function of baptism in God’s plan.
The English phrase “in the name of” does not apparently express the proper sense. It is not like Acts 2.38 where baptism is commanded “in (epi) the name of Jesus Christ.” Two different prepositions are used. The preposition eis generally indicates direction and purpose. It seems to mean in Mt 28.19 that people are to be baptized into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Continue reading →
The work of evangelizing the world belongs to the Holy Spirit. He it is who moves the pieces so that the mission might be fulfilled. Already in the book of Acts he causes evangelists and listeners to find each other (Acts 8-11). Continue reading →
Remember when James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven and destroy a Samaritan village for not receiving Jesus? That was before the Cross, before the Resurrection, before the Holy Spirit, before the Great Commission. And afterwards? Continue reading →
Memorize: “I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NET
We know the action of sending. We used to send letters written with mechanical instruments that scratched ink upon paper, stuffed into envelopes and sent by truck and plane. Now we hit “Send” to put an electronic message in someone’s inbox. We send, or ought to, on occasion, flowers to loved ones. Continue reading →