Search Bible Outlines and commentaries




Daniel Doriani: The commission has a sandwich structure. At the top and at the bottom, Jesus gives reasons for accepting the commission. To start the commission, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (28:18). Jesus, as the Son of God, always had authority, but he exercised only a fraction of it during his ministry. He taught with authority and healed people with a word, but now the Father has bestowed full authority on him. He exercises it in a wider sphere: in heaven and on earth, over men and angels, over his disciples and over all mankind. His reign over the nations now begins (Dan. 7:27). Jesus came to serve, but he will now be served.

At the end of the commission he says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). At the beginning of Matthew, we learn that Jesus is God with us to redeem his people (1:23). At the midpoint, we learn that he is God with us to purify his people (18:20). At the end, we learn that he is God with us to disciple the nations (28:20). We have his strength, his Spirit, his presence, and his comfort for our mission; we are not alone.

Jesus supplies two sweeping motives to fulfill a charge that is as large as the world itself. We have all the authorization we need for the task. We never need to hesitate, never need to apologize. Whenever we speak of Christ, we are within our rights. We also have all the power we need, for we have the very presence of God.

Robert Gundry: This paragraph contains a compendium of important Matthean themes: Jesus as the greater Moses, the deity of Jesus, the authority of his commands, the trinitarian associations of baptism, the danger of doubt among disciples, their ministry of teaching, discipleship as obeying Jesus’ commands, the presence of Jesus with his disciples, and the directing of Christian hope to the consummation. Paramount among these themes, however, is the mission to all nations.

R. T. France: Theologically one may read back from this final scene to illuminate the significance of much that has been said and done in earlier chapters.

Craig Blomberg: This short account contains the culmination and combination of all of Matthew’s central themes:

(1)  the move from particularism to universalism in the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom;

(2)  discipleship and the establishment of the church;

(3)  Jesus’ commands as ultimately incumbent on Christians; and

(4)  the abiding presence of Jesus as teacher, as divine Son of God, and the risen and sovereign Lord of the universe.

Jeffrey Crabtree: These instructions must have been a surprise to the disciples. Their expectations were probably neither worldwide (Acts 1:6; Wilkins 954) nor long-term. Compare the question in Acts 1:6 with “unto the end of the age.” However, these mountainside instructions were the long-term marching orders of the church. All disciples must make other disciples and teach disciple-making—or we have failed (Carson, Matthew 599).

This commission may well give a hint of Matthew’s purpose for penning his Gospel. He brought together large blocks of Jesus’ teaching to share with later generations of believers. This written record was one way Matthew obeyed and satisfied his obligation to make disciples and teach Jesus’ commands. (This writer hopes this commentary will do the same!) [Ed: As do I!]

With these words, Matthew brought his record to a close. The King has come (1:1). He is God with us, Immanuel (1:23; Blomberg 100). He is God in the midst of the assembly (18:20). He is God who is always with His people as they carry His kingdom news to the ends of the earth (28:20) in this the end of the ages (1 Cor. 10:11).

David Turner: One is immediately struck with the repetition of the word “all” in this passage:

  1. Jesus has been given all authority (28:18).
  2. Disciples are to be made of all nations (28:19).
  3. Such disciples are to be taught to obey all that Jesus commanded (28:20).
  4. Jesus will be with his disciples all the days until the end of the age (28:20).

Leon Morris: We must bear in mind that the picture of Jesus as a Jewish rabbi, with a little group of disciples around him, traveling in leisurely fashion in rural Galilee contrasts sharply with the missionary-minded church that we find in the early chapters of Acts. From the beginning the church exercised a missionary function and sought to make disciples out of those who listened to its proclamation. Why this sudden and dramatic change? Surely it is the fact of the resurrection of Jesus, coupled with the charge the risen Lord gave to his followers to make disciples of all nations.

Grant Osborne: Mission for Israel to the nations was to be centripetal; that is, Israel was to stay in the holy Land and witness to the grace of God, so that the nations could come to them to be blessed (the Abrahamic covenant, Gen 12:3; 15:5; 18:18; 22:18: 26:45).  The centrifugal mission, taking the message to the nations, would be a messianic act (Isa 11:9-10; 42:6; 49:6).  This passage is that messianic launch of that universal mission, and it constitutes “the final word of the exalted Jesus to the disciples” in Matthew.


A.  (:16) Clear Logistics

  1. Participants

But the eleven disciples

Donald Hagner: For the first time the disciples are referred to using the poignant term οἱ ἕνδεκα, “the eleven,” rather than οἱ δώδεκα, “the twelve” (cf. 10:1–2, 5; 11:1; 20:17; 26:14, 20, 47).

  1. Location

proceeded to Galilee,

  1. Commander

to the mountain which Jesus had designated.

David Turner: Jesus’s meeting them on a mountain echoes the giving of the Torah from Mount Sinai as well as previous mountain experiences in Matthew (4:8; 5:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3; 26:30; T. Donaldson 1985: 170–90; Allison 1993b: 262–66).

B.  (:17) Confused Outlook

  1. Worshipful

And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him;

  1. Hesitant Initially

but some were doubtful.

Richard Gardner: When the moment of reunion finally occurs, the experience evokes two reactions. As did the magi at Jesus’ birth (2:11), the disciples worship Jesus. Some, however, even as they worship, do so with the same hesitant or little faith that has characterized the disciples throughout the Gospel. They doubt (cf. 14:28-33; 17:20-21). It will take the reassuring word of Jesus in the verses that follow to fortify them for their calling.

R. T. France: The last time these eleven disciples had seen Jesus was as they ran away from him in Gethsemane; so what sort of reception could they now expect from the master they had deserted? The conflicting instincts to worship the risen Jesus and to avoid a potentially embarrassing encounter make very human sense in this context.

Donald Hagner: It is natural to believe that the eleven disciples would have been in a state of hesitation and indecision. Too much had happened too fast for them to be able to assimilate it. They did not doubt that it was Jesus whom they saw and whom they gladly worshiped. If their faith was too small in measure, that was because they were in a state of uncertainty about what the recent events meant and what might happen next. They found themselves in “a situation of cognitive dissonance par excellence”; (Walsh and Keesmaat, 195). It is precisely this state of mind that is addressed in the words that Jesus speaks to the disciples in the following verses (vv 18–20; see Giblin, who refers to “reassurance”). Jesus’ words will accomplish what the sight of the risen Jesus alone could not. Two things remain intriguing, however: first, that Matthew bothers at all to insert the reference to their doubting, and second, that Matthew records no resolution of their uncertain state of mind (cf. Leon-Dufour, “Origin”). It seems clear that Matthew wanted members of his community to apply the truth to themselves. This can be put in a variety of ways. Garland writes: “Matthew understands that the fluctuation between worship and indecision is every disciple’s struggle. What is needed is confidence that Jesus is Lord of all and present with them at all times”.

Grant Osborne: The disciples are still growing in their faith and understanding and have not yet reached maturity.



And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying,

‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’

Craig Blomberg: Because of this authority, Jesus has the right to issue his followers their “marching orders,” but he also has the ability to help them carry out those orders.

Jeffrey Crabtree: First, Jesus established His “power”: that is, His right or authority (v. 18; Greek exousia). He had every right to give the instructions He was about to give. Matthew recorded earlier mentions of Jesus’ authority.

  • Jesus had taught them as one having authority (7:29).
  • He had authority to forgive sins (9:6, 8).
  • He gave His disciples authority against unclean spirits (10:1).
  • He claimed authority over the temple (21:23-24).

Now, following His resurrection He declared possession of all authority in heaven and on earth. He is Supreme Commander of the universe. He is Ruler. He has the right to govern. He has authority over all—even over those who do not want His story told (vv. 11-15).

David Turner: The glory seen by the disciples at the transfiguration has become the permanent mode of Jesus’s life as the exalted Son of Man.

R. T. France: Jesus has spoken several times, using the language of Dan 7:13–14, of the future sovereignty of the Son of Man (16:28; 19:28; 24:30–31; 25:31–34; 26:64);23 three of those passages have indicated that that sovereignty would be achieved in the near future, to be seen by those then alive (16:28; 24:30–34; 26:64; cf. also 10:23). But now what has been a vision for the future, albeit the imminent future, has become present reality. The risen Jesus, vindicated over those who tried to destroy him, is now established as the universal sovereign, and his realm embraces not only the whole earth which was to be the dominion of the “one like a son of man” in Daniel’s vision but heaven as well. At the beginning of the gospel Satan offered Jesus sovereignty over the whole earth, but his offer was refused (4:8–10); now Jesus, going the way of obedience to his Father’s will even to the cross, has received far more than Satan could offer. He has spoken already in 11:27 of “everything entrusted to me by my Father;” now that authority is fully spelled out—indeed Jesus himself now possesses the authority that he attributed to his Father as “Lord of heaven and earth” in 11:25. It is this universal sovereignty that is the essential basis of the commission which is to follow in vv. 19–20, and thus of the continuing life of the disciple community until the end of the age.

Grant Osborne: This is not a new authority, for it is linked to the authority Jesus displayed throughout his earthly ministry.  Yet at the same time it is a new level of authority, as Jesus receives from his Father his preexistent glory and authority (a further link to the transfiguration).  As seen in 16:19; 18:18 this authority “in heaven and on earth” is linked to the authority to “bind and loose,” given to the church, so it is intimately linked to the church’s mission in v. 19.



David Turner: Those who are baptized are to be taught not only to know all of Jesus’s commands but also to obey all of them (28:20). Thus in discipleship the intellectual component is secondary, the means to the end, which is spiritual formation (cf. John 13:17). All this implies the central role of the church as God’s primary agency for mission. Only in the community/family that is the church can disciples be baptized and taught to observe all that Jesus has commanded (cf. Matt. 16:18–19; 18:17–20).

A.  (:19a) Scope of the Discipleship Mission Requires Missionary Outreach

Go therefore

Jeffrey Crabtree: Make disciples (v. 19), is the main verb in this sentence in the original and the only imperative. The other three actions—go, baptize, and teach—are participles that function as adverbial modifiers of this main verb and are part of the command.

Charles Swindoll: First, making disciples takes going.  It will take reaching into hearts and communicating the good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead victorious.  People need to know that there’s nothing they can do to earn salvation.  It is received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  That’s the proclamation we bear as those entrusted with the Great Commission.  And we take that proclamation not just to family members, and not just to neighbors or people within our own country.  We take it to the world – to the nations, as Jesus said.  There are no exceptions, no borders, and no boundaries to our disciple-making mission.

B.  (:19b) Summary of the Discipleship Mission = Making Disciples Worldwide

and make disciples of all the nations,

Craig Blomberg: The main command of Christ’s commission is “make disciples” (math teusate). Too much and too little have often been made of this observation. Too much is made of it when the disciples’ “going” is overly subordinated, so that Jesus’ charge is to proselytize merely where one is. Matthew frequently uses “go” as an introductory circumstantial participle that is rightly translated as coordinate to the main verb—here “Go and make” (cf. 2:8; 9:13; 11:4; 17:27; 28:7). Too little is made of it when all attention is centered on the command to “go,” as in countless appeals for missionary candidates, so that foreign missions are elevated to a higher status of Christian service than other forms of spiritual activity. To “make disciples of all nations” does require many people to leave their homelands, but Jesus’ main focus remains on the task of all believers to duplicate themselves wherever they may be. The verb “make disciples” also commands a kind of evangelism that does not stop after someone makes a profession of faith. The truly subordinate participles in v. 19 explain what making disciples involves: “baptizing” them and “teaching” them obedience to all of Jesus’ commandments. The first of these will be a once-for-all, decisive initiation into Christian community. The second proves a perennially incomplete, life-long task.

D. A. Carson: “To disciple a person to Christ is to bring him into the relation of pupil to teacher, ‘taking his yoke’ of authoritative instruction (11:29), accepting what he says as true because he says it, and submitting to his requirements as right because he makes them” (Broadus). Disciples are those who hear, understand, and obey Jesus’ teaching (12:46–50). The injunction is given at least to the Eleven, but to the Eleven in their own role as disciples (28:16). Therefore, they are paradigms for all disciples. Plausibly, the command is given to a larger gathering of disciples. Either way, it is binding on all Jesus’ disciples to make others what they themselves are—disciples of Jesus Christ.

Leon Morris: In this Gospel a disciple is both a learner and a follower; a disciple takes Jesus as his teacher and learns from him, and a disciple also follows Jesus.  The life of a disciple is different because of his attachment to Jesus. The Master is not giving a command that will merely secure nominal adherence to a group, but one that will secure wholehearted commitment to a person. In the first century a disciple did not enroll with such-and-such a school, but with such-and-such a teacher. Jesus’ disciples are people for whom a life has been given in ransom (20:28) and who are committed to the service of the Master, who not only took time to teach his disciples but who died for them and rose again. Those who are disciples of such a leader are committed people. And, of course, this is the kind of disciple that he looks for his followers to make. They are to make disciples of all the nations, which points to a worldwide scope for their mission. It took the church a little time to realize the significance of this, and in the early chapters of Acts we find the believers concentrating on proclaiming their message to the Jews. But there seems never to have been any question of admitting Gentiles, the only problem being on what conditions.

C.  (:19c-20) Specific Components of the Discipleship Mission = Baptizing and Teaching

  1. (:19b)  Entrance into the Faith via Evangelism and Baptism

baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Stu Weber: Baptism is not a step to salvation. Rather, it is an initial step of obedience that results from a person’s decision to trust the Messiah. Baptism represents the identification of people with this new way of life and faith. Baptism should be experienced as soon as possible after a person trusts Christ.

Craig Blomberg: The singular “name” followed by the threefold reference to “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” suggests both unity and plurality in the Godhead. Here is the clearest Trinitarian “formula” anywhere in the Gospels.

Jeffrey Crabtree: Faith in Jesus (18:6), not baptism or learning, brings one into a discipleship relationship with Jesus. Baptism is a testimony that grace has been received (“the answer” or “the pledge” (NIV) in 1 Pet. 3:20-21). It is not a means of grace (contra Bruner 2:821; 1 Cor. 1:14). Once a person becomes a disciple of Christ, the first act of obedience for that individual is to follow Jesus in baptism. According to N.T. practice, only believers were baptized (Acts 2:41; 18:8), which is one reason gospel baptism is only for those who are mentally mature enough to place personal faith in Jesus as Savior. In other words, baptism is not for children too immature to place saving trust in Christ. . .

Baptize” is a transliteration of the Greek verb (baptizō). In its most basic sense, it means to dip, to immerse. John the Baptist, Jesus, the Twelve during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the early church all practiced immersion as their mode of baptism. Other forms were introduced into church practice decades later but they were not part of the original practice. Extended teaching times between profession of faith and baptism were also a later introduction. . .

In Christian believers’ baptism, Jesus’ disciples identify with the Triune God. This is the fullest revelation of the divine, greater than the revelation of the O.T. In the N.T., devotion to God encompasses all three Persons of the Godhead. The doctrine of the Trinity is distinctive to kingdom theology and mandates a commitment to Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well as to the Father.

This listing of the members of the Godhead also reflects Jesus’ own baptism. The Father spoke, the Son was in the water, and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove (3:16-17). It is important to note that in 28:19 each member is mentioned equally. Neither Person is presented as being superior to or less than either of the other members. This is a clear pronouncement of Jesus’ deity (Wilkins 955).

Grant Osborne: baptism “into fellowship with” (Allen, Albright and Mann) or “into the Lordship of” (Carson) the Godhead, expressing a new relationship (Davies and Allison).

  1. (:20) Edification in the Faith via Teaching Obedience to Christ’s Teaching

teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;

Craig Blomberg: Evangelism must be holistic. If non-Christians are not hearing the gospel and not being challenged to make a decision for Christ, then the church has disobeyed one part of Jesus’ commission. If new converts are not faithfully and lovingly nurtured in the whole counsel of God’s revelation, then the church has disobeyed the other part. Key implications for preaching appear here. There must be a balance between evangelistic proclamation and relevant exposition of all parts of God’s Word, including the more difficult material best reserved for the mature (cf. 1 Cor 2:1-5 with 2:6-10). So, too, the ministries of the church overall must reflect a healthy balance of “outreach” and “inreach.” Individuals who have differing gifts should be encouraged to expend most of their energies developing their strengths, whether evangelizing or nurturing, speaking or serving. Nevertheless, Jesus calls all Christians to be both witnesses and disciplers.

D. A. Carson: Remarkably, Jesus does not foresee a time when any part of his teaching will be rightly judged needless, outmoded, superseded, or untrue. Everything he has commanded must be passed on “to the very end of the age.”

Grant Osborne: We are at the heart of Matthew’s gospel here, with the five discourses centering on Jesus’ ethical teaching as the basis here for the teaching ministry of the disciples.



and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Richard Gardner: As disciples pursue their mission, they do so with the assurance Jesus offers in 20b: I am with you always. It is the promise that God gave to Jacob in Genesis 46:3-4, to Moses in Exodus 3:12, and to the exiles in Isaiah 43:1-7. Now Jesus speaks as God speaks. To put it another way: The One who is named God-with-us at the outset of the Gospel (1:23) promises that he will continue to be God-with-us in his community. (Note how 28:20b and 1:23 thus form a literary inclusion.) Earlier, Jesus indicated that he would be with his disciples when they assembled in his name (18:20). Here he assures us that he will accompany us in our going out as well, until the day dawns when his now hidden presence becomes visible in glory.

Grant Osborne: The final of the six uses of “look” in ch. 28 points to the dramatic truth that provides a proper conclusion to this commission and to the gospel as a whole.  It completes one of the key Christological themes of the book, namely, the omnipresence of Christ with his new kingdom community, seen in the beginning (1:23, “Immanuel . . . God with us”) and center (18:20, “there am I in the midst of them”) of Matthew; and so it stresses the deity and divine glory of the Christ.  The gospel ends with the “Emmanuel” with which it began.  The Great Commission is thus framed by the omnipotence (v. 18) and omnipresence (v. 20b) of Christ.  The theme partakes of the Shekinah glory of the OT and the divine comfort of Yahweh’s presence among men (not just divine presence but divine assistance).  So God’s protection of his people throughout the ages is promised to the church.

David Turner: Jesus’s presence will last until “the end of the age.” This expression (13:39–40, 49; 24:3) clearly refers to the time of eschatological judgment and renewal at the conclusion of the present order (cf. Cuvillier 1999a). This makes clear that the commission is not only for the original eleven disciples but also for their disciples and their disciples’ disciples in perpetuity until Jesus returns. Through all these days, there will never be a single day when Jesus will not be with his disciples as they are busy about his business.

Marvin Rosenthal: If “the end” in Matthew 24:14 is inside the seventieth week, then “the end of the age” in Matthew 28:20 must also be inside the seventieth week. . .  If the Great Commission of the church is to evangelize the world up to the end, then the church must enter the seventieth week of the book of Daniel in order to fulfill its holy calling, only then to be raptured before the Day of the Lord judgment.

Donald Hagner: The great commission and its frame with which Matthew ends remain, like the whole Gospel itself, one of the priceless treasures of the Christian church, providing comfort, strength, and hope until the final dawning of the eschaton.

D. A. Carson: Matthew’s gospel ends with the expectation of continued mission and teaching. The five preceding sections always conclude with a block of Jesus’ teaching (3:1 – 26:5); but the passion and resurrection of Jesus end with a commission to his disciples to carry on that same ministry in the light of the cross, the empty tomb, and the triumphant vindication and exaltation of the risen Lord. In this sense, the gospel of Matthew is not a closed book until the consummation. The final chapter is being written in the mission and teaching of Jesus’ disciples.