Matthew 28:19-20 – Four Important Points About the Great Commission

By Wayne Jackson

“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The foregoing is Matthew’s account of what is commonly called the “Great Commission.” This injunction contains a number of important truths worthy of notation.

First, observe that baptism is “into the name” of the sacred Trinity. In the Greek N.T., the expression “into the name” signifies to come into the “possession” of another (Arndt & Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 575). Hence, at the point of baptism, one enters a special relationship with the divine Godhead. One does not enjoy this relationship before baptism, as many denominationalists allege.

Second, note that the definite article “the” precedes each of the Holy Three. It is “the Father,” “the Son,” and “the Holy Spirit.” The repetitious use of the article indicates that three distinct Persons are in view (cf. B. Warfield, Biblical & Theological Studies, p. 42). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, therefore, are not simply three manifestations of the same Person, as the Oneness Pentecostal sect asserts.

Third, the baptism here contemplated was humanly administered. The disciples were commissioned to teach, and immerse as they went forth. Such reveals that the rite in view was water baptism, for Holy Spirit baptism was administered directly by Christ (Matthew 3:11).

Further, since the baptism enjoined in this context was to continue till the end of the world (20), it is obvious that the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 was water immersion, the “baptism” in the Spirit having already become obsolete by the time Paul penned that letter.

Fourth, the Lord’s abiding presence with His people unto the end of the world was contingent upon their faithful execution of His plan (i.e., immersing those taught). It is thus clear that Christianity was not to be an evolving system; rather, its doctrinal forms were to remain static. Thus, for example, sprinkling could never become a substitute for immersion.

Mark these important points in your Bible.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.