You’ve all heard the Great Commission at the end of Matthew right? The one that goes:
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
People regularly quote this verse to inspire Christians to go out into the the world and evangelize their co-workers, friends and family. Unfortunately, that’s not what this verse says at all. That’s not what it’s about, and it certainly isn’t telling you to run out and get everyone saved.
This verse is badly translated, and as a result many Christians are being slaughtered wholesale (falling away), living a defeated life, and the Church in America is dying.
That bugs me.
That bugs me a LOT.
(NOTE: I absolutely agree that evangelism is vital to the Church. I just believe that the most effective way to evangelize is to not focus on evangelism. I think the most effective way to evangelize is to focus on what Jesus focused on… but more about that in a minute.)
Okay, first, my accusation that this verse is badly translated.
(You can double check everything I’m about to say by checking Matthew 28:19 in an interlinear Bible.)
The first word in Matthew 28:19 is the word “GO” and it is written as an imperative command. This translation leads us to believe that Jesus has commanded us to “GO” out into the world and evangelize. However, in the original Greek, it is not an imperative verb.
It’s actually the opposite of a command.
It’s a passive participle.
Participle: a word formed from a verb and used as an adjective or a noun
Jesus did not use this word as a verbal command (“Go!”), he used it as an adjective or noun. This is a passive participle, which is VERY different from an imperative command. (“Go!”)
Passive Participle: A participle indicating an ongoing or completed action or state in the passive voice, where a noun modified by the participle is taken to represent the patient of the action denoted by the verb.
Jesus was talking about an “ongoing or completed action”. Think about that. He wasn’t giving a command (“Go and do this“). He was describing something that was ongoing (or finished).
Many interlinear Bibles translate this “Having gone”, which is good, but in English would tend to indicate a past action. In Greek, it’s in the Aorist aspect which is simply means “undefined”. (the time the action takes place is undefined, so could be past, present, or future)
Simply translating into an English participle, it should be “going”
Not “Go” as a command, but “going”, as an ongoing state/action.
So it’s not:
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
(note: I’ve greyed out the word “and” which isn’t in the original Greek)
19 “Going therefore,
andmake disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
But wait, it gets worse
Remember I said it was a passive participle? Well, “passive” has a very specific meaning in Greek. Greek verbs have three different “voices” in which the action is described.
- Active verbs mean the subject does the action: “He persuaded her“
- Middle verbs are complicated to explain, and thankfully not relevant here, so I’ll skip them
- Passive verbs mean the action is done to the the subject: “He was persuaded by Her“
In a passive verb, the subject does not do the action, but rather the action is done to the subject. It’s not “The boy threw the ball“. It’s “the ball was thrown by the boy“.
Remember, in a passive verb the action is NOT being done by the subject, but is being done to the subject by someone/something else.
Now for the reveal:
The “go” in the Great Commission is PASSIVE.
Not active, but passive.
Think about that.
Really think about it.
Jesus did NOT tell His disciples to “go”; He said someone/something else would make them go.
A proper translation – capturing the essence of the Greek – is actually:
“Being made to go therefore,
andmake disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
We shouldn’t be surprised though because that’s exactly what Jesus told them to do, and exactly what He said would happen.
23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
(Note: the “coming” of the Son of Man here likely refers to judgement, not Jesus’ Second Coming. He “came” in judgement in 70AD when the Romans wiped out most of Israel. See my article on Revelation for more information.)
The disciples listened to Jesus. They stayed in Jerusalem until the persecution came, then as someone else forced them to leave, they took the gospel with them… just like Jesus said in the Great commission.
So What is the “Great Commission” About Then?
In a single word: discipleship.
(Because that’s the most effective way to evangelize; I’ll explain in a moment)
The Rest of the Great Commission
I’ve been focusing on only two aspects of the Great commission, but there are four verbs in the sentence that we call the Great commission.
Matthew 28:19-20 (original version)
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Of those four verbs, three are participles (verbs acting like a noun or adjective); only one is an active imperative command.
- “Go” – as we’ve already covered – is a passive participle meaning something like “being made to go”
- “Make Disciples” is in the Greek Active voice, and is an active, imperative command; “Make Disciples” is a good translation because it’s a command to actively do something.
- “Baptizing” is a participle in the Greek active voice. It’s not a command, but rather a description of an ongoing action (that follows from making disciples).
- “Teaching” is the exact same as discipling above.
If I were going to condense, simplify, and paraphrase the Great commission, I would say it this way:
“(As) you’re being made to go, make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them everything I taught you.”
Notice again, 3/4 of the verbs are about discipleship and only 1/4 is about “evangelism”. This exact pattern – with the same ratios – is repeated elsewhere.
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
(Note: pastors and teachers are linked in the Greek, so the list actually has four items)
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Again, are 3/4 of the list is about discipling/equipping, but evangelists are only 1/4. Mature/maturing Christians – i.e. well trained disciples – are the key to winning souls.
The way to win souls is NOT to focus on winning souls; the way to win souls is to focus on maturing/discipling Christians.
A handful of elite warriors will beat an army of raw recruits every time. (age and experience will beat youth and enthusiasm…).
What Jesus and the Apostles did
Jesus Himself did almost zero evangelism.
You must remember that He lived His life around Jews who were serious about their faith; they just missed the forest for the trees. Jesus never chastised them for not observing the Mosaic Law; He chastised them for observing it as a mere religious event and ignoring the heart behind it.
In fact, Jesus commanded the disciples not to evangelize when He sent them out:
5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
I’m not saying evangelism isn’t important – it’s very important – I’m saying that heart behind Jesus’ ministry was discipleship. He spent three years mentoring and growing the twelve disciples (and others). Afterward, they went out and changed the world.
Paul did roughly the same thing:
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;
14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased
16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.
Paul also spent three years learning before he became great among the apostles.
(Notice a pattern?)
Galatians leads us to believe Paul learned from Jesus Himself while he was in Arabia. He definitely spent a few years learning before he went out and did anything great. New Christians simply aren’t equipped to change the world. It takes time. (Three years seems to be a pattern.)
In my opinion, the way to change the world is NOT to focus on evangelism; it’s to focus on discipleship.
That’s what Jesus did.
That’s what happened to Paul, and what Paul did too. He spent three years “in training”. After he was trained, he would go to a city, proclaim the gospel, train/equip/disciple the new recruits for a couple years, then move on to the next city. And really, this approach makes a ton of sense.
If you were charged with taking over the world, would you want a highly-trained, elite fighting force, or would you charge into battle with raw recruits?
In the movie “The Last Samurai” staring Tom Cruise, there’s a great scene that illustrates the importance of being ready.
(~2 minutes, please watch.)
(BTW, in the movie, these raw recruits were sent into battle and were slaughtered. You can see the battle scene here: this is what happens when you send raw recruits against battle-hardened warriors)
Modern Christians… yeah, “they’re not ready“.
Most Christians seem like the poor, under-trained peasant who was fumbling to load his rifle under pressure because he wasn’t ready.
Mature Christians are far more effective in spreading the gospel than baby Christians.
We don’t send human babies/kids to war; we wait until they are old and mature enough to handle the challenge. In the same way, baby Christians shouldn’t do much except learn how to be better followers of Christ.
However, discipleship is sorely lacking in Churches today. Other than a basic version of the Gospel, people aren’t given much more instruction besides “go out and get your neighbors saved.” That’s not enough, and it’s throwing new recruits onto the battlefield not fully equipped.
That’s a horrible idea!
Everyone talks about the Armor of God. The Roman military it’s based on provides the perfect example of how baby Christians can help.
If you look at the early Roman Military formation (the Triplex Acies) you’ll see that the front line was the inexperienced skirmishers. (baby Christians) However, they never joined battle with the enemy. They would run up under cover of large shields, throw a couple of javelins, and then run away. The young/inexperienced were involved, but never went head-to-head with the enemy because “they’re not ready“. Front line combat was reserved for the more experienced troops who could handle the challenge.
That’s how it should be with the army of God.
(And by the way, the Roman military is arguably the finest military force in world history. So even if the Armor of God wasn’t based on them, their tactics are still of note.)
No modern soldier goes to war without first going through bootcamp (and then AIT). Sending inexperienced, untrained troops into battle is a sure way to get them killed.
That’s why we need discipleship.
The enemy will rip new Christians apart without proper training. Once they’ve had the training, they can go out and conquer/save the world… but they need the training first.
Would you rather have this:
The difference is training (discipleship).
The United States Marine Corps is arguably the most effective regular fighting force in the world (barring special forces). Is it a coincidence that they have the longest bootcamp and arguably most intense training?
Modern Christians (in America anyway) send baby Christians into battle and are surprised when they are slaughtered wholesale (fall away), and we’re shocked that the Church in this country is dying.
Why are we surprised at that?
Raw recruits have no place in warfare because “they’re not ready“; their place is in training. It’s only after they’ve been properly trained and equipped that they belong on the front lines. Even then, they should be there only with experienced Sergeant (elder) to help guide them.
That’s what discipleship is about: proper training and equipping; if you want to win the world, start by having well-trained Christians in the fight.
The way you train them is discipleship, and that’s what Jesus did.
He spent 3 years training some raw recruits, then sent them out and they crushed it. (Paul did the same thing; after he was trained for a few years, he would visit a city, train new believers for a couple years, then move on to the next city.)
- Jesus focused very little on evangelism, and His disciples turned the world upside down.
- We focus on evangelism, and the Church in our country is dying.
Maybe we should realign our priorities a bit. Maybe if we focused on what Jesus focused on, we’d have His results. Jesus said to “make disciples” not merely “get people saved“.
Maybe the former is the key to the latter, and that’s why Jesus focused on discipleship.
There is only one active, imperative command in the Great Commission: “Make Disciples”. That’s it, the rest is how disciples are made (going, baptizing and teaching).
You would never send a brand new (baby) Christian to deepest darkest Africa to be a missionary. You just wouldn’t. You need mature Christians who are “strong in the Lord and the strength of His might“, and who have “taken up the full armor of God” and thus are “able to stand against the evil one.”
Until baby Christians have been trained, I suggest we follow the example of the Roman army that the Armor of God was patterned after. They were arguably the most effective fighting force in the history of the world, and they only used young/inexperienced soldiers in a skirmishing role; never for direct front-line combat.
Jesus’ primary focus was discipleship, and He commanded us make disciples.
I think we should listen because that’s how we win the world.
interesting observation…Can you find anyone with a similar view?
I also wish to emphasize that the expression “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” is not necessarily a formula to be uttered at baptism, but merely an indication of the manifestations of God. On the other hand, baptism “in the name of Jesus” (Acts 2:38) is also not necessarily a verbal formula, but a recognition that Jesus is the Messiah.
What most Christians do not understand is that there is no formula to be repeated at baptism. It is not necessary to say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”; and neither is it necessary to speak: “I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ.”
What is important is that the disciple to be immersed believes in the biblical God, and also believes in the threefold manifestation of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is not so much relevance in the words to be uttered, but in the genuine intent of the heart.
How can I become discipled?
I have two suggestions. First, I recommend you become extremely familiar with your Bible. Second, I suggest you find an older, mature Christian who you want to be more like and then ask them if they could disciple you. That’s how it was always done. The Bible says older women teach the younger women, and older men teach the younger men. It’s good advice, you just need to find someone to teach you. Also, I wold pray about it; a lot. God knows what you want and will bring it around in His time.
EDIT: also, if you want to know more about about what discipleship meant in the 1st century, I suggest looking at the first video here: Seeing the Bible from the Hebrew Cultural Perspective
Question according to this comment:
“The way to win souls is NOT to focus on winning souls; the way to win souls is to focus on maturing/discipling Christians.”
You are not saying that we shouldn’t evangelize, correct, but that before we send new believers to evangelize, they should be equipped to share the gospel and be ready to give an answer for the questions they will receive?
That’s my point in a nutshell.
While you’re right in saying that “go” is technically not an imperative, yet the imperative is “make disciples” of all nations. I wholeheartedly agree that discipleship is key before we send people out to evangelize. But we do need to take into account that part of Jesus’s discipleship training was sending his disciples out to evangelize, heal and deliver the oppressed from evil spirits. They came back to Him and told Him the issues they had and how some spirits couldn’t be cast out and He taught them that much prayer and fasting were required in these cases. All that was part of the disciple-making process. Since “make disciples” of all nations is imperative, that can only be achieved by going. Therefore, several bible commentators have said that there is an imperative force in the aorist “go”. Grant Osbourne in his commentary said: ““The circumstantial participle ‘go’ followed by the main verb is a common Matthean stylistic trait, and it becomes in effect another imperative, ‘Go and make disciples.’ In fact, the two participles that follow (‘baptizing’ and ‘teaching’) are also circumstantial and are imperatival in force. Still, the main verb ‘make disciples’ dominates, and all are aspects of that central part of the commission.” (Matthew in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, p. 1080)
The “rule” you refer to is more correctly called “attendant circumstance”, which other Greek scholars have also proposed; key word: “proposed”. However, There is no universal agreement on it, though a few prominent scholars will argue vehomently for it. The “attendant circumstance participle” theory is nice, but the only place it really comes into play is this verse and the parallel passage in Mark. Creating an entire Greek rule for two (near identical) verses savors strongly of doctrinal bias. Zondervan is one of the worst offenders of Bible translation. The post-2011 NIV is a terrible translation that is absolutely saturated in doctrinal bias, so forgive me if I don’t trust their Greek commentary at all.
Translating it merely “going” would solve nearly all the issues, since it’s nearly impossible to render a passive participle in English anyways. Further, just reading it in English with going, teaching, and baptizing clearly imbues some imperative force. There’s no need to start playing with words forms to make the passage say “go”, when it says “going”.
Granted that there will always be disagreement amongst biblical scholars. Whether it is “go” or “as you go” or “while you are going”, we all agree that Jesus said, “make disciples of all nations” as an imperative. The question is, how do we make disciples of ALL nations without intentionally going to all nations or mandating the church to go to all nations? I guess what I really want to be cautious about is any interpretation of Mt.28 that would reduce that intentionality of going to all nations. You may not be doing this, but some proponents of “as you go” theology, are telling Christians to simply make disciples wherever you are without saying that we are to make disciples of all nations.
I might accept “Going therefore, disciple all the gentiles… (or nations; same word)”, which actually does retain some imperative force. You said:
Be careful not to translate according to (subconscious) doctrinal biases. The article in your next comment quotes from Dan Wallace’s book, and that’s my trouble with him. I’ve met him personally, and he seems to have no trouble altering the translation to fit his doctrinal biases. (see John 1:1 in the NET Bible for example, I agree with his position on the Deity of Christ, but altering the text is just wrong.) That makes much of what he writes suspect.
I read anther article about this with a bunch of comments, and the first one by the commenter “Fungi Crazy” fairly well sums up my position.
You might also want to have a look at Bob Mounce’s post on this – https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/the-participle-as-imperative – he says, “with the help of Accordance I found that in the New Testament there are twenty-seven occasions where poreuthentes is followed by a main verb in the imperative mood. The result? In every case the participle should be translated as an imperative.” And I think you might be committing a fallacy of composition when you write off Zondervan for the post-2011 NIV. I’ve learned to still eat the fish but spit out the bones instead of rejecting the whole fish.
I agree whole heartedly with Barnabas here as well as Mounce and Wallace. You would then need to be consistent and say “Therefore as you go, make disciples as you baptize and as you teach.” Similarly Matt. 2:8 is a prime example of poreuthentes taking on the imperative force of the main verb exetasate. Therefore, it translates as “Go”.
To say that the passive participle needs to be translated as a passive participle “as you go” would be to completely neglect the rule that participles support the main verb. Which is why Matt. 28 translates as “Go”, in line with the main verb “make”. It seems as though the warning given to “be careful not to translate according to (subconscious) doctrinal biases” needs to be headed and observed by the author of this article.
Matthew 28:19 doesn’t need to be translated as you have proposed to maintain the fact that all christians are to make disciples everywhere they go. That is a very prevalent theme elsewhere in scripture that can be deduced without manipulation.
Could you link us to some articles or scholars you are affirming your position?
(NOTE: You make a good point about the other participles and “as you___”. I’ve edited the article to make it “being made to go”, which I’ve only recently come up with as a translation to capture the Greek.)
To be technically accurate to the Greek forms, it should be something like “Therefore (when) being made to go, disciple…” because πορευθέντες (“being made to go”) is both passive and a participle. Now, the Greek word is undeniably a passive participle. No one disputes this. However, “Go” is an active, imperative, finite verb. It’s hard to imagine another grammatical construction that could be farther from a passive participle than an active, imperative, finite verb. They are essentially complete opposites.
Let me flip the burden of proof: What’s the justification for creating a rule who’s only purpose is to completely flip the meaning of certain words? I’m very skeptical, especially because those who currently espouse this “rule” have a history of Biblical and translational revisionism. Wallace especially ignores anything that doesn’t agree with his presuppositions. (See my article on Textual Criticism for a prime example)
I’m doubly skeptical because I haven’t found any reference to this “rule” outside of these (often revisionist) Bible scholars.
That makes me go, “Hmm…”
Greek has many types of circumstantial participles, including temporal, conditional, concessive, etc. None of these flip the forms on it’s head. I’m glad you brought up Matthew 2:8, because it’s a perfect example. The first clause of the verse tells us that Herod sent them to Bethlehem. That makes their “going” not active, but passive because they were being sent by someone else. A passive participle is entirely appropriate there and accurately describes their action (they were “being made to go”).
Man, thanks for being so agreeable! Genuinely! Do you feel as though, (hypothetically) if the grammar necessitated that the “Go” meant “Go” in the way I am affirming, that that would nullify our responsibility to be active in making disciples no matter where we are, or only limit it to going to places that are unreached such as the 10/40 window (in line with Romans 15:20 and the Apostle Paul’s goals)?
You’re welcome. 🙂
Speaking only from my personal experience – no data so take it with a grain of salt – I think it has a powerful subconscious effect. I don’t deny the importance of going, but I’ve noticed the churches I’ve attended tend to ignore the community they’re in and focus on just evangelism. Usually, they cite the “go” part and accidentally neglect the weightier parts of the great commission.
The epistles contain very few instructions on evangelism, but are essentially a treatise on discipleship. Since the apostles seemed to focus on discipleship, I’d like to share their focus. Meanwhile, you won’t be able to keep those who are gifted in evangelism away from the 10/40 window and other unreached places.
Also, I think you might like the article I recently published on the Cultural Context of Grace in the New Testament. New the end, the fellow I was quoting gives what I think is a more effective, powerful, and natural method for ordinary Christians to evangelize. If you have time, I suggest giving it a read.
I’m tracking with you. I agree with you that it can cause a subconscious effect that can be negative. However, that would be a problem with our thinking and not, rather, with a translation of the text. Very clearly we are to do evangelism (2 Tim. 4:5, Romans 15:20, Acts 14:7, 1 Cor. 1:17, 9:16). Jesus came proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom (κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας, Matt. 4:23) Matt. 9:35, Mark 1:4, 1:14, Luke 8:1. The weapons we use to wage war against the kingdom of darkness are words. The Good News is to be proclaimed to people (Isaiah 52:7). So on the one hand, evangelism is of very high priority and without it, disciples of all nations will not be made. However, we don’t want to fall into the ditch of only ever doing evangelism and never developing converts into healthy multiplying disciples (2 Tim. 2:2). On the other hand, we can’t fall into the other ditch of only ever meeting for bible studies, accountability, prayer, and fellowship but never do evangelism. In fact, as being myself one working for a college campus ministry, if after I have preached the gospel to unbelieving students, see them come to know Jesus as Lord, and train them to obey “all that he has commanded us”, and yet I fail to teach them to also be evangelists and laborers in the harvest field, I have only done half of my job. I am to be a Fisher of Men. And not just myself but every follower of Jesus. And I fear that pressing hard that it actually means “as you go” or “being made to go” (though the latter translation seems more true to the text than the former) will cause the opposite effect of telling believers that mission to unreached peoples or sharing the gospel (with your mouth) is not necessary.
On a slightly back-tracking note, I’d like to respond to your comment, “Let me flip the burden of proof: What’s the justification for creating a rule who’s only purpose is to completely flip the meaning of certain words? I’m very skeptical, especially because those who currently espouse this “rule” have a history of Biblical and translational revisionism. Wallace especially ignores anything that doesn’t agree with his presuppositions. (See my article on Textual Criticism for a prime example). I’m doubly skeptical because I haven’t found any reference to this “rule” outside of these (often revisionist) Bible scholars.”
As far as I can tell, the only translations I can find that translate πορευθέντες in a like manner to what you have prescribed are the God’s Word Translation (of which I’ve never heard) and the Message (which is not a translation). If it were so that “Go” is a product of revisionist translation, why is it that 2 of the 38 English translations I checked, translate in some way or another as you have prescribed above? The evidence for that theory seems scant indeed.
To your first point, I offer this:
When read in context, the verses you quoted don’t apply to all Christians. In 1 cor 12, Paul lists a bunch of gifts and then says “all aren’t ___, are they?” God seems to match someone’s passion, gifting, and calling so they are all aligned. For you, that seems to be evangelism; for me, it’s teaching/shepherding. Not everyone is a mouth (for evangelism), and not everyone should make that their focus. Again, “Only as the Lord assigned to each…”. Each gifting working together as God directs is what will change the world.
We’re foot soldiers; God is the General. Our responsibility is to the mission He assigned to each of us; that’s how we win the war. I’m guessing it’s evangelism for, though that’s not His assignment for everyone. For example, God has guided me into a position where I almost never encounter unbelievers, but I’m continually helping believers.
(BTW, I think the best way for most “non-evangelist” Christians to evangelize is mentioned in my recent article about the context of Grace in the New Testament.)
To the second point, do we want to use a “majority is right” approach to translating? The majority of translations grossly pervert 1 Cor 7:36-38; should we follow the majority there? (NASB and NKJV get it right). How about Mark 3:29, where every single modern translation completely leaves three Greek words out of the translation? Again, should majority rule on translational issues?
I’ll respond to your second point and then to your first.
You might’ve missed the point I was making. I am NOT saying that majority consensus is proof of truth. Rather, I was responding to the “revisionist translations” theory you were proposing and providing (what I believe to be) a defeater for that belief. That doesn’t mean that you are wrong but it makes your theory much less likely. So, they could all very well be incorrect! For example, I lean towards agreeing with the idea that certain passages such as Romans 3:22 and Galatians 2:16 ,that the translating of πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ should be translated as a subjective genitives and not as objective. However, the only major translation I’m aware of that translates as a subjective genitive is the NET (of which Dan Wallace is the Chief Editor). You would need to give positive evidence for that theory instead of just asserting it and expecting us to not think critically and just accept it.
To your first point, the Context of 1 Cor. 7:17 is irrelevant to the topic at hand. The context is Principles for marriage and Paul is instructing spouses not to divorce just because they become believers. This has nothing to do with the mission of churches or believers individually. It is about how we are to live as new creatures. The following verses then dive into circumcision and remaining in the condition of that which they were called. I imagine no one did evangelism, teaching, shepherding or the like prior to conversion. Ought they remain that way? To your points on 1 Cor. 12, is that what Paul is saying? Do you believe that only those who are given the gift of “x” ought to ever do x? Paul enumerates the gift of helping. Ought I never help? The gift of teaching. Ought I never teach? Administrating. When given a administrative task in my ministry would it be appropriate to throw my hands up and say, “No sorry, my gift is only evangelism!” Surely you wouldn’t agree with that. Your main gifting in life might not be evangelism but to not be burdened in your heart with the souls of those, both near and far, who will spend eternity from their creator ought to compel us to proclaim the Gospel, to seek and save the lost.
I’m sorry to hear that you don’t get around unbelievers much! I would greatly recommend it and it is in fact life giving. When Paul says that when Christ reconciled us all to himself he gave us the ministry of reconciliation, how does one not interpret that as a universal call to mission? 42.1% of the world’s population will live and die and never hear the name of Christ.
In the words of Charles Peace, a convicted criminal headed to his execution chair said to the chaplain, “Sir, I do not share your faith. But if I did — if I believed what you say you believed — then although England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would crawl the length and breadth of it on hand and knee and think the pain worthwhile, just to save a single soul from this eternal hell of which you speak.”
And Charles Spurgeon, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
One might not have the gift of evangelism! That is very okay. One is not less justified or united with Christ because of that. However, they are not off the hook of world mission. We are all fishers of men.
You’re asking me to prove the rule is wrong, which – without an “advanced rule” – would be obvious because Greek is an inflected language. I want to translate according to the inflection (“being made to go”). Wallace and others say to ignore the inflection (which is the foundation of the language) because of an advanced rule. I contend that they fail to meet the burden of proof to establish the rule as valid. Therefore I see no reason to accept the rule as valid (because I’ve never seen proof it is) and therefore I don’t accept it.
I’m unwilling to simply take them at their word. (as you are unwilling to take me at mine)
I’m not saying “some Christians shouldn’t evangelize” and I misspoke if I’ve given that impression. I’m saying evangelism shouldn’t be the focus of every Christian.
My point is simply that the world will be evangelized better/quicker/more completely if we all focus on our giftings. Wars aren’t won by putting every serviceman on the field with a rifle (evangelism). For every combat troop, there’s 3-4 non-combat troops supporting them. Not coincidentally, that’s the same ratio as Ephesians 4:11-12. The non-combat troops do occasionally see combat and thus should be well trained for it; but it’s not their focus, nor should it be. Yes evangelism is a huge part of the goal. But a rocket scientist best supports the war by designing engines, not firing a rifle.
You said “Paul enumerates the gift of helping. Ought I never help?” That’s almost what the apostles did in Acts 6 when they instituted deacons… almost. That’s taking it to an extreme, but you see my point.
I’m following with you. Obviously, you see the reality of all Christians bearing the burden of the lost and therefore being called to partake in evangelism (I can agree with your emphasis on “focus” as long as you leave open the general call for all people to proclaim the Gospel, which I think you’re doing), because everyone believer doing evangelism would be the logical output of such a translation as “as you go”! Great discussion. Thanks for being so cordial and thoughtful.
Thank you Berean Patriot,
as you point, first phrase mistranslated: not “go”, but “as you going…”
Second phrase changed from: “in name of Jesus”, compare Acts 2:28, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16, Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27, Acts 4:12.
Maybe that is why not many read third phrase(actual command, Mat. 28:20a): Teach to obey what was commanded to you!!! Jesus is talking to eleven(v.16). What is that was commanded to eleven? Not what Jesus preach to crowds(Mark 4:11,34, Mat. 13:34), not what said to Pharisees(opposition, enemies, Mark 12:12-13, 29, thru 34, Mt.22:34-37).
Only to eleven Jesus gave New commands(John 13:34, 15:12, 15:17), which replace old (Hebrews 7:12, Ephes. 2:15). Real discipleship is not only preaching new commands, but practicing them with one another, as Jesus did(John 15:12), as church did(Acts 2:42-47)
Thanks for this article! I am not by any means a Greek scholar so I’m lent with translations and Greek scholars I trust.
I came to the “as you go” or as you translate it “being made to go” concept through some historical knowledge (the diaspora after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70ad) and logic.
For most of my life (I’m 62) growing up in an evangelical (Southern Baptist) church I saw the doctrine that evangelism is exactly the same level call on every believer produce more guilt than actual evangelism. As though there is somehow a value in the feeling guilty by itself!
Kind of like “I know I should ______ more (fill in the blank with prayer, Bible reading, evangelism, or whatever other religious checkbox)! It’s kind of a way to be legalistic in judging folks Christianity without being a legalist in terms of salvation by grace alone.
Dear friend. I do not disagree with how the word “go” was used in this verse. I want you to think about this now; Matthew 24:14 says “and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” This is an end times prophecy. Meaning people who took the great commission as a commandment are and will fulfill their duty as Christians and preach the word to people. I too am frustrated with how some people preach on the street calling others harsh words and preaching doctrine before Christ. If we all street preached with wisdom and love, then things would be different.
There is more than one way to take that verse in Matthew 24. I suggest you look at my article on revelation.
Good article! I have only one comment. You are correct that “go” is a Greek aorist participle and not an imperative, and that the main verb in the sentence is “make disciples.” However, the Greek verb for “to go” is technically a deponent verb, meaning it has a passive form but an active meaning. This is a common characteristic of many verbs in both Greek and Latin. So it probably isn’t quite correct to translate “go” with a passive meaning. But apart from that, your article was provocative and a good coorective to the “get out and witness” mentality of the broad evangelical church
Glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂
I’m aware of several arguments that make πορευθέντες (poreuthentes, an inflection of poreuomai) an active verb here, and some even argue imperative. However, I’m not convinced by any of them, nor am I convinced that deponent verbs even exist in Koine Greek. I recommend this video for an explanation (and he does touch on πορεύομαι) but I don’t think they exist. The so-called “deponent verbs” can be used as inflected perfectly without needing a deponency system. Deponency is actually a Latin idea that was overlayed onto Greek from the Latin scholars, and it appears to be completely foreign to Greek. It’s unfortunately still taught, but that’s thankfully starting to change.
This is a bad interpretation of the word, and the word says exactly what JESUS said to do so you cannot argue with they nor translate it to fit your own belief system. Adding and taking away from the word of GOD puts you in extreme danger as the word tells us in Revelation
Great article and however it’s translated the gospels are very clear that Jesus is only giving this instruction to the 11 apostles. The nominal Christian position should be that of being ready, thus able, to give a defence of one’s hope. Which as you observe is a result of discipleship.
Thank you Berean Patriot for this article! The mistranslation has unnecessarily created a class within the ekklesia called missionaries who are sent overseas to share the gospel. The right reading of the passage would have encouraged all disciples to aspire to make disciples as we all are going the Way. This is a great example where a mistranslation or biased translation lead to a far different understanding and praxis. Shalom!
Have a question here. I didn’t see any mention of what “original greek” you are referring to? Do you have a specific text that you’re referring to when you mean the “original greek”?
There’s a link right under the table of contents to the verse in an interlinear bible. The text of that interlinear in that verse is the same as the underlying text of every modern Bible translation.
Hi Berean Patriot. I didn’t know for many years about the manuscripts that are being used for many modern translations. If I am seeing this correct on the interlinear Bible page, it is deriving from the 1904 Nestle as a base text, which is heavily based on Alexandrian corrupted texts such as Codex Sinaticus and Codex Vaticanus. Both of these have extremely sketchy histories at best and actually downright perversions of the Biblical Received Text that was used by Christians throughout the centuries. Many of the people involved in these “critical text” “Bibles” didn’t even believe the Word of God and doubted so many things of the Christian faith. So the problem is if we are using a source text that is based on corrupted text, it doesn’t matter how old it is or if it is in the original Greek writing, it will be an inaccurate translation. So, what I am trying to say is if you are wanting to look at the “original greek”, you must look at the original greek based on a correct source. In this case, base off of the Received Text, which is what the King James Version used to translate. Even if a text is older, it does not mean that it is a good manuscript. The gnostics were perverting manuscripts even in the 1st or 2nd century. Paul gives an alluding about those who would corrupt the word of God in 2 Corinthians 2:17 as can be seen in the KJV. It is unfortunate that so many of the modern “Bible” translations are sourcing from corrupt texts that many times only agree with eachother 70 percent of the time. They pick and choose and cast doubt as to the actual clear and received meaning of the text that believers have had for centuries. God promises to preserve His Word and He has kept and done it through believers throughout the centuries using the Received Text (Textus Receptus) and the translation in English that we have in the KJV.
The textual history of the KJV is actually more complicated than that, see my article Majority Text vs. Critical Text vs. Textus Receptus – Textual Criticism 101 for details. Regardless, the Greek there is the same in the Textus Receptus, Majority Text, and Critical text. They all agree there.
Great stuff and a man after my own heart. I have been saying the same thing for years (about discipleship) and its a true pleasure to see someone with the same understanding. I love the exegesis and will use it myself now. Blessings!
Great stuff and good research. I’ll practise what you shared here.
Berean Patriot (admin), “ I have two suggestions. First, I recommend you become extremely familiar with your Bible.”
I can’t say this without me sounding like a smart aleck so I’m just hoping to say it. It’s you also that needs to become extremely familiar with YOUR Bible.”
YOU just had a conversation that YOU were TOLD NOT TO HAVE. (MATTHEW 7:6) (CEB) “And JESUS said “DO NOT” give the (Strong’s #2965 kuón) rendered in English a “coon” dogs (unequal, outcast, unwelcome, unwanted, undesirable, despised) what is holy (SACRED SCRIPTURES). “DO NOT” throw your pearls (LAW of MOSES, GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST) before the swine they will misuse them, turn around & attack you.”
(Romans 9:4) …the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory and the covenants; theirs the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises.”
(Acts 16:6-7) “Now when the ADAMIC apostles PAUL, SILAS & others had gone throughout Phrygia (a region in north central Asia Minor occupied by negroes) and the region of Galatia (the Roman province of North Galatia called the “old kingdom” occupied by negroes) were forbidden by the [HOLY SPIRIT] to preach the Good News Gospel of salvation in Asia.”
“When they approached the province of Mysia, they tried to enter the province of Bithynia, but the [HOLY SPIRIT] would not allow it.” THE [HOLY SPIRIT] told the ADAMIC apostles PAUL, SILAS, & TIMOTHY to go back & preach the Good News Gospel of REDEMPTION, SALVATION, & ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN with JESUS the CHRIST to the ADAMIC [WHITE JESRAELITE GENTILES], NOT THE GENTILES FROM OTHER RACES.
In the book of (NEHEMIAS 8:1) the LORD THY GOD in Heaven above gave the “BOOK OF THE LAW” to (ADAMIC = WHITE & RUDDY) MOSES & the (ADAMIC = WHITE & RUDDY) “JE”SRAELITES “ONLY.” None of the other races were under the “BOOK OF THE LAW” then in the OLD COVENANT because none of the other races had an EVERLASTING COVENANT with “JE”SUS the FATHER of the GODHEAD.
IN LIGHT OF THIS, IT’S ONLY ADAM’S CHOSEN SEED LINE, ADAM’S 100% PURE WHITE STOCK OFFSPRING, THROUGH THE SONS & DAUGHTERS JACOB, JOSEPH, EPHRAIM, & MANASSEH THAT ARE BLESSED WITH A SAVIOR & REDEEMER IN JESUS CHRIST!
(MALACHI 3:6) “For I AM the LORD! I change not; therefore ye SONS OF JACOB ARE NOT CONSUMED,” but everyone else is.
(John 3:3) (GREEK SEPTUAGINT) “JESUS answered and said unto him [Nicodemus-a black Edomite], ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be (Strong’s G#1084) “gennétos,” “BEGΩTTEN FROM ABOVE,” or “BEGΩTTEN OF GOD,” he CANNOT see the kingdom of Heanven.”
Where is the book, chapter, and verse that says JESUS the FATHER created a negro? It doesn’t exist. Where is the book, chapter, and verse that says JESUS the FATHER blew into a negroes nostrils the “DIVINE BREATH OF LIFE,” & the black races became “LIVING SOULS?” That doesn’t exist either.
(Romans 1:16) “For I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST: for it is the power of GOD unto Salvation to “EVERYONE OF JESRAEL” that believeth; to the JUDAHITES FIRST, and also to the GREEKS.” BOTH PEOPLES ARE FROM THE ADAMIC WHITE RACE!
(Genesis 21:12) “MY PROMISE, MY SOLEMN PLEDGE I WILL ESTABLISH WITH ISAAC (FATHER OF THE ANGLO-SAXONS). “In ISAAC shall thy SEED LINE] be called.” (1 Peter 2:9) (ISV) “YOU ARE A CHOSEN RACE.”
(GALATIANS 3:13) JESUS CHRIST purchased OUR FREEDOM & REDEEMED US the ADAMIC WHITE JESRAELITES from the curse of the Law & its condemnation by HIMSELF becoming a curse for US.
(Galatians 3:26) “YOU [ANGLO-SAXON SON’S OF ISAAC] are all SON’S of GOD through faith in JESUS CHRIST.”
(GALATIANS 3:28) (King James Version) “There is neither “Jew nor Greeks” does not translate to Ashkenazi Jews, sephardic Jews, Yemenite Jews, Chinese Jews, or negro Jews. It doesn’t get any lower than that.
(GALATIANS 3:28) **TRANSLATES TO** There is neither “HOUSE/RACE of ADAMIC JUDAHITES” (Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Scots, Irish) nor “HOUSE/RACE of ADAMIC JESRAELITE” (Hellenistic, same White culture, White kinsmen, White ethnos, White toledaw, White race, White tribes of ADAMIC (Americans, British, Australians, France, Canada, pain, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Iceland).
(GALATIANS 3:29) ADAMIC ABRAHAM’S SEED LINE is “ANOINTED & EXCLUSIVE!” The ADAMIC WHITE SEED LINE, of ISAAC, father of the “ANGLO-SAXONS” & the ADAMIC WHITE SEED LINE of JAC OB surname JESRAEL, father of the “CAUCASIAN ISRAELITES,” are the CHRIST’S & ADAMIC ABRAHAM’S SEED LINE and HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE.
(Romans 9:7) “In ADAMIC ISAAC (father of the (ANGLO-SAXONS) shall thy SEED [LINE] be called.”
(Genesis 21:12) “In ADAMIC ISAAC (father of the (ANGLO-SA. XONS) shall thy SEED [LINE] be called.”
(Hebrews 11:18) “In ADAMIC ISAAC (father of the (ANGLO-SAXONS) shall thy SEED [LINE] be called.”
(Genesis 17:19) “In ADAMIC ISAAC (father of the (ANGLO-SAXONS) shall thy SEED [LINE] be called.”
(Romans 9:7) (Phillips) “You cannot count all “Israelites” as the true ISRAEL of God. Nor can all ADAMIC ABRAHAM’S descendants be considered truly CHILDREN of ABRAHAM.”
(Psalm 100:3) “WE are HIS PEOPLE, & the SHEEP of HIS pasture.”
(Psalm 148:14) JESUS the FATHER…of the GODHEAD of (COLOSSIANS 2:9) says ALL of HIS SAINTS, ALL HIS FAITHFUL ONES, ALL of HIS CHILDREN that HE LOVES are the [ADAMIC WHITE] JESRAELITES.
(1 Chronicles 16:17) “HE gave to [ADAMIC] JACOB/JESRAEL an EVERLASTING COVENANT.” JESUS
did not make any kind of covenant to an apostate, multi-racial church, called “spiritual Israel.”
(1 Kings 8:53) (AMP) King Solomon prayed “For YOU SINGLED THEM OUT [ADAMIC WHITE JESRAELITES] from all the peoples/families/races of the earth as YOUR OWN SPECIAL PEOPLE.”
(MATTHEW 15:24) (AMPC) And JESUS answered, “I was commissioned by God (ΑΩ) and sent [ONLY] to the LOST SHEEP of the HOUSE/RACE of [ADAMIC] ISRAEL.”
“Universal Salvation,” “Brotherhood of Man,” “Multiculturalism,” “Equality of the Races” & “All Races Are Saved” are the doctrines of Baal, not the GODHEAD of JESUS.
(MATTHEW 15:24) (AMPC) And JESUS answered, “I was commissioned by God (ΑΩ) and sent [ONLY] to the LOST SHEEP of the HOUSE/RACE of [ADAMIC] JESRAEL.”
I’m actually somewhat impressed that you not only got virtually everything about Greek and Hebrew wrong, but also history and the Bible wrong too.
For starters, the verse that’s the topic of the article (Matt 28:19) says to “disciple all the nations”. That would include ALL of them, regardless of skin color or ethnicity. Titus 2:11 talks about the Grace of God “bringing salvation to all men”, again regardless of skin color or ethnicity.
And finally, the first gentile to receive the gospel was black. Read Acts chapter 8 starting at verse 25, and you’ll see that the Holy Spirit Himself led Philip to preach the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian eunuch would’ve been black, and he was the first gentile convert to Christianity.
Thank you, Berean Patriot. I do hope this day of celebrating our dear Savior’s birth was blessed for you and your family.
I have found so much joy and peace in the spoken and written Word of God and it is with a definite eagerness that I submit all that I hear and read for Holy Spirit approval and understanding further. What a remarkable privilege we have been given as His children! How deep His love is for us! How can we do any less than love Him with all of our mind, soul, heart and strength?
I sincerely appreciate having found your site and the truths given here. Onward!
One thing I see missing in all of this. Why do people throughout the last 2000 years believe that yahshuah is calling them apostles? This instruction is given to 12 men, not pastors and ministers and church goers. 12 men are to teach others which meant the others are to remain students; these students are not to be teachers.
Remember something promised in the new covenant – no longer will brother teach brother about Yahweh. All will know him.
“Christians” should stop trying to prove which team they are on and stop trying to defend God with their subconscious belief that they’ll get something special by doing so and sit down, shut up and learn. Even the most experienced Christian holds a plethora of incorrect doctrine and their years of “preaching and evangelizing” makes it near impossible for them to let go of their incorrect doctrine. If they hold to incorrect beliefs and refuse to let their pride die to learn the truth, what kind of teacher is that?
To start with Matthew 28:19 did not say, father, son, and holy ghost in the alexandrinus codex 3rd century. That verses wording was changed to make their doctrine sound correct. Trinity is Pagan sun god worship by 325 ad catholic church. It really said, ” in my name”, like Luke 24:47. “Jesus name “. The Catholics changed the wording in many verses and deleted many and added some as well. 1 John 5:7, “theses three are one” was added. There was no 7th verses in the alexandrinus codex of the 3rd century. The 5th century codex was their new translated version with it all added and changed. So to start with your whole outline here is lies. God is aunico Spirit and alone, none beside him. Study
You might want to check your sources. Codex Alexandrinus is a 5th century manuscript according to scholarship, and it does include the Trinitarian formula “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” for baptism. If you don’t believe me, you can check it out for yourself. The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts has digital photos of the original if the link above isn’t good enough for you.
You paraphrased the passage in Matthew 28:19, thus: “(As) you’re being made to go, make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them everything I taught you.”
Just to be clear, are you purposely leaving out ‘of all the nations” from it? Or are you saying making disciples of all the nations is an accurate translation?
“of all nations” is definitely in the text and a fine translation, and I was simply summarizing the two verses. Random fun fact: You could also translate the word “nations” as “gentiles”, since the word means either depending on the context.