Matthew 28:18

This is the grand missionary charter. Here is more than our justification for urging on missionary work, more than our encouragement for maintaining it; here is our positive duty to evangelize the world. Let us look at the source, the object, and the encouragement of this great commission.

I. ITS SOURCE. The authority and commandment of Christ.

1. The authority of Christ. Jesus speaks these words after his resurrection. He is now to be exalted to the right hand of God. But his exaltation is not to a place of idle honours. It is to a throne of power. The authority which he has won by his triumph over sin and death he will now use in conquering the world.

(1) This is authority in heaven; therefore it will involve heavenly blessings - pardon, regeneration, eternal life.

(2) It is also on earth; therefore it will bring numberless blessings, and will help men here and now

2. The command of Christ. He uses his authority by commissioning his disciples to preach his gospel. The first claim of missionary work does not come from the misery and need of the heathen; it does not come from the blessings of the gospel, which it would be so well for all to share in; though here are two powerful motives. It springs from the direct command of Christ. The Church that neglects missions is disregarding the express orders of her Lord.


1. To go. The disciples are to become apostles; Christians are to be missionaries. When it is possible, the Church is to spread abroad. We are not to wait for the world to come to Christ; we are to go out into the world to preach Christ. Christianity must be aggressive, and Christians must be active in carrying the gospel to all who, have not yet received it.

2. To make disciples. It is not enough to live among the heat, hen. Many do this for purely selfish reasons. The gospel is spread by teaching. There is a teaching of great power in the true living of a Christian life. But we must add definite instruction in the truths of our faith. The kingdom of heaven rests on truth, it finds its way best through the making known of its facts and principles. It does not dread the light; it welcomes it and spreads it. Evangelistic appeals in which there is no teaching, unless they follow on good sober instruction, must vanish in the smoke of shapeless emotions.

3. To baptize. Not merely is the truth to be preached; Christ requires a confession of discipleship. He expects his people to be bound together in Church fellowship. The great central revelation about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is to be the foundation of our teaching and the bond of our union. This does not mean that we must comprehend the Trinity; it means that we must know the Fatherhood of God, the Divinity and saving power of Christ, and the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit.

4. To discipline. "Teaching them to observe," etc. Mission converts must be taught the will and commandments. of Christ - trained in Christian ethics.


1. The living presence of Christ. We do not preach a dead or an absent Christ. We have not only to do with the Jesus of ancient history. The living Christ is with us. But that is not all. It is a mistake to detach this verse from the preceding verse, as is often the case in popular discourse. Christ is with us in our missionary work. We have no right to expect the encouragement of his presence if we do not fulfil the condition he lays down. The missionary Church is the Church that has most of Christ. The power and inspiration of missionary work is his presence in our midst.

2. The abiding presence of Christ. He is with his people in their missionary work to the end of the world.

(1) Then missionary work is to be continuous.

(2) Then Christ is with us now in this work as truly as he was with the apostles. We cannot fail with such a presence. We are to preach to all nations, and in the end all nations will be won, and "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." - W.F.A.

All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.

1. Its nature — "power." This means authority and ability.

2. Its extent — "all."

3. Its acquisition — "given."

II. VIEW IT IN REFERENCE TO HIS PERSONAL CHARACTER. When an individual obtains elevation we are anxious to know something of his qualities. We would not wish an ignorant, unfaithful, impatient, unmerciful man to possess power. Christ gave Himself for us; power in good hands.



(W. Jay.)

Had Cornelius Winter obtained an income of ten thousand a year, he would not have been the better for it. But many others would; and I know — being then under his care — that when he had an addition of two hundred a-year to his small income, it was no advantage to him; he never added one article to his dress, or one dish to his table, or one ornament to his dwelling. If Howard — the apostle of compassion — had obtained all the power of the late Napoleon, oh! how many millions would have been blessed! How grievous it is to see a cold-blooded, selfish wretch rising up in life, and prospering I for you know that his power will be only a capacity to insult, to strip, to oppress, to grind the faces of the poor. But how delightful it is to see a man of tenderness and generosity rising! for you know that his increased power will be a capacity to teach the ignorant, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to cause the widow's heart to sing for joy, and to bring down blessings upon the heads of those who are ready to perish. But what was a Winter, and what was a Howard, to the Friend of sinners! Their hearts were no better than ice or iron, compared to His. Ah! Christians, we here find that power, absolute power, is placed just where it should be placed — where it is safe, where it is beneficent, where it will be glorious.

(W. Jay.)

I. An account of the extent of our Saviour's power; that He is invested with all power, both in heaven and earth.

II. A declaration of the original of that unlimited power and authority. "All power," saith He, "is given Me," that is, from the Father.

III. The commission He thereupon grants His disciples — "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations."

IV. The doctrine which all nations were to be taught, and into which they were to be baptized.

V. The practice of those who were to be baptized into this faith — "teaching, them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.

VI. The promise of effectual assistance to the disciples sent forth upon this commission — "And lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

(S. Clarke.)

His Church: —

I. The Lord Jesus Christ is THE SOURCE OF ALL AUTHORITY.

II. THE DUTY OF THOSE COMMISSIONED BY CHRIST. To teach, not to sacrifice. To baptize.

III. The SPECIAL PROMISE which is to animate Christ's true disciples.

(R. Hibbs, M. A.)

Oh I how we want "all power" now. We all have our theories of the condition of the Church just now. I do not know what yours may be. Mine is not very bright, but I have this one belief in my soul, that what is wanted most of all is one great revival of spiritual life — one wonderful downpour of the grace of God from heaven to flood all the churches. It seems to me we get something like the barges and the vessels down yonder at London Bridge when the tide is out. There they lie in the mud. There are gangs of men, but they cannot get at these vessels and barges. What is to be done? Now, will you great engineers tell me how much horse power, how much steam power you want? There is nothing wanted but the tide. When the tide rises every barge begins to walk like a thing of life, and every vessel can readily receive its cargo and go out to sea in due time. When the heavenly tides of spiritual blessing begin to come up nothing can withstand them. What a glorious time it was when Mr. Whitefield and Mr. "Wesley were going up and down this land like twin seraphim, burning everywhere with the Divine flame, and carrying everywhere the Divine life. Can this be done again? Can the masses of the people be raised? Can we raise those that are sunk in ignorance and degradation? Do you think it cannot be done? It must be done. It shall be done. And this is the reason why we expect it: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." He can find another student in Oxford; He can find another potboy in Gloucester; He can find some one somewhere upon whom He can pour out His Holy Spirit, and send Him forth to preach with a tongue of fire that shall wake up the churches, and startle the world. Let us cry to God that it may be so. But we must first deeply feel the necessity of it, and rejoice that this necessity is met by the text: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth."

(R. Hibbs, M. A.)

What do we mean by "power" on earth? The politician will answer you, the statesman, the preacher, the orator. It is influence, the ability to turn men to one's own will, to check, curb, turn, and use them, change their natures, and make them subjects and servants in body, soul, and spirit. That is power; something very different from the brute-force of a Samson or a Caesar, and far higher. Still, Caesar, in the organized government of Rome, did possess very considerable power, to which the world was obedient, whether through love or fear. And another such power there was — the ancient idol-worship of Rome and Greece. By these Satan held empire over the world. Two powers they were; yet in our Lord's time so closely connected as to be almost one and the same. The Roman Emperor was the universal ruler. The religions of Roman, Greek, and Barbarian differed in little but the names of their false gods. The Jew alone, though subject to the Roman, maintained his belief in the One God, Creator, and Almighty. Thus the Roman empire and the Roman heathenism were but as one power against all other religions. And who was coming forward, thus claiming a new power, to be alone supreme in the world? Who came to overthrow the ancient, mighty, all-but-universal idolatry — the very perfection of empire to the statesman of that day, the very perfection of religion to the lovers of a gorgeous ceremonial, and the indulgers of human pride and selfish passion? Who came to be King and God? One whose public execution was written in the Roman records. One who preached humility as the only true greatness, who substituted penitence and self-denial for the indulgence of flesh and spirit. A Jew, too, of all races the most despised by Roman and Barbarian alike .... The cause of Christ to the shrewdest human calculation must have looked simply hopeless; His claim to any power whatever a silly boast. Force His followers could not, might not, use. Argument they might; and then they came at once face to face with death. Yet the disciples went forth preaching Christ crucified, and risen again as the life of the world. It was not an attractive doctrine, nor an easy morality, that they preached. There was offered no earthly gain, or pleasure, or honour. And yet old Rome left her idols to worship Jesus; her emperors became Christians; the power of the world fell; the religion of the world was changed.

(W. Michell, M. A.)


1. It pertains to Him as the Eternal Word, by whose immediate agency the worlds were produced.

2. As the second Adam — both Son of man and Son of God.

3. By virtue of His Father's grant.

4. Acquired through suffering and death.

5. Necessary to His government of the Church.


1. It gives unity to history.

2. It explains to us the intermingling of mercy with providence.

3. It gives wealth of consolation to the Christian.

(B. M. Palmer, D. D.)

I. THE UNIVERSAL DOMINION OF CHRIST HERE ASSERTED — "All power," etc. The word "power" in our language is ambiguous. Sometimes it signifies ability or capacity, and sometimes rightful authority. In both these senses it is true of Christ; He has both the ability to act and the authority to warrant His acting.

1. That as a Divine Person the Saviour has all power inherent in Himself.

2. In virtue of office, the power here spoken of is delegated to Christ — "All power is given," etc.

3. This power and authority extend to universal nature.

4. This power is deposited in Christ as the Head of the Church, and to be exercised for her benefit.

5. This power is to be exercised in the destruction of all who do not submit to it.


1. That it is only to those who are called by God, and qualified for His service, that this commission is given.

2. This commission extends to all nations as regards the persons to be benefited by it.

3. It embraces all that the Saviour has made known in His word.


1. Christ is with His Church and people always; not His essential but gracious presence.

2. A particular call to notice this truth, "I am with you always." How highly is Jesus exalted.

(R. McIndoe.)

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