by Shawn Brasseaux
For ever so long, I was confused about the Great Commission that Jesus gave His disciples. I could never understand why some Christian denominations would follow Matthew chapter 28 while others claimed to be following some parts of Mark chapter 16 (no one today follows every single verse of this passage). Still others said they were following Luke chapter 24, and one particular group claims to be following the instructions in John 20:22,23. This is typical “hopscotch theology,” where people use verses they like and ignore those they hate. There are so many variations among the so-called “Christian churches.” God “is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33); man is!
My friend, are you also confused? Would you like to read God’s truth, without the traditions of men clouding the clarity of God’s Holy Scriptures? Setting aside my opinion, your opinion, and every other opinion, we let the Word of God speak for itself. I sincerely hope that you get a firm understanding of God’s Word, and see that God’s Word is such a thrill when it makes sense!
The Bible says in Romans 15:8 KJV: “Now then I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision, for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” Clearly, the earthly ministry of Christ was to Jews only—the Gentiles had no covenant promises from God. Whatever Jesus says in the “Great Commission,” He is giving those instructions to Jews (John 4:22; Matthew 15:24). In fact, Jesus Christ is addressing His 12 apostles, whom He had sent exclusively to Israel to preach the “Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 10:1-10; compare Luke 22:35).
We look at the “Great Commission” as the Lord presents it in installments in each of the Four Gospels. We will examine each of the four installments separately.
MATTHEW 28:18-20 KJV
Let us look first at Matthew 28:18-20 KJV:
“18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Many good, sincere church members claim they are following these words of Jesus, but are they really? Looking very closely at Matthew 28:18-20, we see a number of points that lead us to the conclusion that NO ONE is following these instructions today—NO ONE! For instance, the “ye” in verse 19 is the nation Israel and Israel’s apostles (“ye” refers to a group of people, whereas “thee” refers to an individual). Israel is to evangelize all the world, which is why Israel is told “teach all nations”—Numbers 23:9 says that Israel shall not be reckoned among the nations.
According to Acts 3:18-21, Romans 11:26, and Hebrews 8:9-13, the nation Israel will be saved at Christ’s Second Coming, when the New Covenant is established. Redeemed Israel will then evangelize the Gentiles (non-Jews). When Christ sets up His kingdom on earth, Israel will be saved, and Israel will minister to Gentiles; Jews would not minister to fellow Jews (see Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:11). In fact, Jesus Christ even told His apostles that they would only cover Israel by the time He would return at His Second Coming: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matthew 10:23). The Lord Jesus Christ knew that these Jews would not reach Gentiles until after His Second Coming, but rather during His earthly kingdom.
If we followed Matthew 28:18-20 today, we could not preach to Jews—we could only minister to Gentiles. Who is doing that today? When Jesus says in verse 20 to “teach them… whatsoever I have commanded you,” He is telling His disciples to teach the Mosaic Law (see Matthew 5:17-19). Paul writes today, in the Dispensation of Grace, we are NOT under the Mosaic Law, but rather under grace (Romans 6:14,15). If you preached Mosaic Law-keeping today, you would be out of God’s will! How can we follow Matthew chapter 28, when Paul our apostle, led by the Holy Spirit, was not even following it? God is doing something different today with us as members of the Church, the Body of Christ. This is why Matthew chapter 28 has nothing to do with us! It belongs in Israel’s program, so leave it there.
MARK 16:15-20 KJV
This passage is one of the most perplexing passages in Christendom. It is so controversial that some modern Bibles question or completely remove Mark 16:9-20 from the Bible text! Let us read the last six verses of the Gospel of Mark as found in the King James Bible:
“15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”
Today, Christendom stubs their toes on these verses. Some churches only like verse 15. Others like 15 and 16. Even fewer churches claim 15-18. (No one who drinks the poisons of verse 18 lives today!). We do not have the liberty, however, to just pick and choose verses that we like and ignore the ones that contradict our statement of faith or our religious tradition. This entire passage goes together, and should not be segmented! It is not written to us; it is for the nation Israel to follow during the seven years of Tribulation.
The Old Testament foretold of a coming seven-year Tribulation. It would be a time of great wrath when God would pour our His wrath and judgment on unbelieving man and the nation Israel. There would be diseases, pestilences, and famines. John the Baptist prophesied this seven years as “the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7) and “the fire baptism” (Matthew 3:11). In order for Israel to survive the horrors of the Tribulation, they would need these miracles mentioned in Mark 16:15-18. Clearly, these signs and wonders are absent from the Body of Christ; even Paul lost his apostolic ability to heal the sick and cast out devils (1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20). See, again, God is doing something different today with us, apart from “time past.”
Mark 16:15 has nothing to do with us preaching the Gospel of Grace to the world today because the “gospel” spoken of here is the “Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 24:14). This will not happen until after our Dispensation of Grace is concluded.
Mark 16:16 says that water baptism is a requirement for salvation (Peter preaches this in Acts 2:38). Paul says that we have no water baptism today (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5). Mark 16:17,18 relates to the fact that the Lord God will bind Satan in the bottomless pit during the millennial (1,000-year) reign of Christ (Revelation 20:1-3). All devils and evil spirits will be removed from earth after the Tribulation to make way for the kingdom (Zechariah 13:2). The speaking with new tongues relates to Mark 16:15, when Israel will be able to instantly speak the world’s languages to convert the nations in the kingdom (Zechariah 8:20-23).
During the Tribulation, wild animals will attack and devour people, but the believing remnant of Israel will be safe because they can pick up serpents (Mark 16:18; Revelation 6:8). Also during the Tribulation, a celestial body (meteorite?) will fall from heaven and poison one-third of the earth’s waters (Revelation 8:10,11)—this is where the gift of drinking deadly things belongs!
The healing of the sick of Mark 16:18 parallels James 5:14,15, the power that will make earth ready for the kingdom, as there will be no sickness or death on earth during the millennial reign of Christ (Isaiah 33:24; Jeremiah 30:17).
LUKE 24:46-49 KJV & ACTS 1:8 KJV
We seldom hear these verses when someone talks about the so-called “Great Commission.”
“46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
This is clearly a prophetic reference to the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. Remember, Luke wrote both his Gospel and the book of Acts, so the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts relate to one another. Peter preached to the nation Israel assembled in Jerusalem: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly,…. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:36-38). Let us compare that to Acts 1:8, which was just before Pentecost. The Lord Jesus tells His apostles: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Jesus said these Jewish apostles had to start in Jerusalem, then go to Judaea, next minister to Samaria, and finally the Gentiles. We cannot follow this Great Commission; we cannot steal instructions that God gave to Israel and her apostles. That would not be the attitude of faith—it would be unbelief to ignore the Bible when it says who it is written to! In order to follow the Great Commission, the Bible says we would have to start in Jerusalem! Are the so-called “Great Commission” followers of today going to Jerusalem? No.
JOHN 20:22-23 KJV
“22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
The Roman Catholic Church justifies its sacrament of confession by using verse 23. However, these are clear instructions given to the eleven’s apostolic authority headed up by Peter (Matthew 16:16-18). We are separate from Israel. According to Romans 11:13, Romans 15:16, 1 Timothy 2:7, and 2 Timothy 1:11, Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles,” and Paul never mentions anything like verse 23 in his epistles. Once the Apostle Paul was saved in Acts chapter 9, Israel’s apostles gave us Gentiles (and the lost Jews) over to Paul’s ministry and Peter and the ten (minus the original James) continued with the little flock of the nation Israel.
The Apostle Paul documents this in Galatians 2:7-9:
“7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
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Clearly, the Great Commission found in the Four Gospels was not given to us. We are not the nation Israel; we are the Church the Body of Christ. We are in a separate dispensation, the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2). We are called to witness to the lost world (Romans 10:14-17), but the Great Commission in the Four Gospels is not given to us. Our “Great Commission” as Gentiles in the Body of Christ is found in Paul’s epistles, and to be more specific, it is 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 KJV:
“14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”