Thursday, November 11, 2010
The Imperative in the Great Commission
Many think the focus in the Great Commission is on “go.” It is not. “Go” is not an imperative in the Greek text; it is a participle (“as you go on your way”). Its force is in the assumption that Jesus’ disciples already were commissioned to go (the force of the aorist participle in Greek). “Make disciples” is the only imperative in Matthew 28:19-20. “Baptizing” and “teaching” are two present participles that extend the meaning of “make disciples.” One of these is administering a symbolic ritual that signifies commitment and identification with a cause; the other is the ongoing task of the church: “teaching them [these new disciples] to obey everything that I have commanded you” (NRSV). “Obey” translates a word that connotes “keep watch over, guard, hold on to, preserve, observe, fulfill, or pay attention to.” Our goal in making disciples is to invite commitment and instill devotion to Christ and his commands.