I am contesting that Matthew 28 must be interpreted to imply that all disciples are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. The premise for this interpretation is that the command itself, given to the apostles in Matthew 28, is included in the commands taught to all disciples. The apostles were designated apostles by Christ (Luke 6:13), so not everyone is an apostle (Ephesians 4:11, Galatians 1:11-2:10), and the role of an apostle is different from that of disciples in general. The apostles were given other commands, some of which we don't carry out (Acts 1:4; Luke 24:45-49, Luke 22:8). We are also aware that the O.T. pointed that the gospel would be preached to all nations and often the scope of the apostles' ministry was the whole world (Matthew 24:14, 28:19). Not once in any letter (from Romans to Revelation) was preaching ever suggested as the role of every member of the congregation. This might suggest that the writers were either disobeying Matthew 28, or that Matthew 28 was not relevant to the subject matter discussed in the letters. Since preachers were to be paid (1 Corinthians 9:7-14), the over-interpretation of Matthew 28:19 does not leave room for anything other than all Christians being full-time preachers. -- Labi Knight

You are right. If we have to obey every command Jesus gave the apostles, we should raise the dead and drive out demons. Like you, I want to preach, obey the commands in the N.T. to share our faith, and I agree that the case I used to make from Matthew 28 is weak. "Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you" is qualified, not unlimited. Traditionally, the passage has been understood as Jesus' commission to the church, not to every individual. While we all want to share our faith, not all are preachers.

You need not expect me to resist the logic of what you have written! The 2006 edition of Shining Like Stars reflects a softer, though still a serious and evangelistic, understanding of the commission. After all, there are plenty of verses on evangelism. But correctly interpreting scripture is paramount, since everything we do as Christians is validated or invalidated by what the Bible itself says.

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