Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Missional Jesus 58

posted by xscot mcknight

The Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20) is one of the last things Jesus says that shapes our perception of Missional Jesus.
1. Missional Jesus asserts authority at the level of divinity, even if it is co-regency.
2. Since missional Jesus has “all” authority, his commission is for “all” people.
3. “Go and make” are not two separable acts; this is a pleonasm (two words used to say one thing). You might italicize or bolden “make disciples” and read it like this: “Go make disciples.”
4. Disciples of the missional Jesus are made through baptism (a conversional act) and instruction (catechism act).
5. Missional Jesus’ disciples are instructed to “obey” his teachings — all of his teachings. Not some; all.
6. Missional Jesus is with missional disciple-making disciples.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It is not impossible to historicize this text. Jesus’ vision of a Gentile mission is at best rarely in view in the Gospels. It is possible then to understand “end of the age” as 70 AD’s destruction of Jerusalem as the ending of national privilege; it is possible to read “disciple all nations” as “to the Jew first” throughout the diaspora. Possible. Against the grain, to be sure. Why think of it? Because “age” is an epoch not the end of history; because Jesus’ missional vision focused on Israel.
Please don’t get bent out of shape on this one. I put it forward as a view I have at times entertained.



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Todd Robinson

posted September 12, 2007 at 8:08 am


Thanks for making this point. In fact, this has always been my question for partial-preterists (toward which I lean). Many seem a tad inconsistent in their treatment of Mt. 28 vs. their treatment of Mt. 13 and 24. Throughout Matthew’s context, “age” and “end” seem to speak more locally and “near” than what we normally think of when it comes to the Commission.
So just to clarify for me your last point: You’re suggesting that “nations” are representative of the scattered Jews among the nations, rather than the “gentiles”/”nations” themselves? Is also possible Jesus’ horizon was simply shortened (like Paul’s seems to be, and the prophets of old) and, assuming the regathereing of Israel around the 12 (Acts 2-8, roughly), he was looking to the reaching out to the Gentiles (Acts 13-28 roughly)? I mean, was Jesus considering “all the nations” in the global sense that we understand it today rather than a more Roman Empire sense? Any further thoughts.
Thanks again for bringing it up.



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Todd Robinson

posted September 12, 2007 at 8:14 am


Sorry, one more thought to quell discomfort. Even if we were to preterize the Great Commission, that doesn’t thereby nullify the application and extension of Jesus’ promise to be YHWH’s continued presence “with us”. Surely Jesus didn’t suddenly abandon his reconstituted people at AD 70!



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Scot McKnight

posted September 12, 2007 at 8:21 am


Todd,
For this partial preterist view to work, “disciple all nations” would have to mean “disciple Jews in the lands of the Gentiles” (primarily or with their primacy — as in Paul’s practice in each community) instead of straightforward “disciple Gentiles.” A case for such a view is entirely consistent with Jesus’ practice but it is harder to make grammatically, which looks like “disciple Gentiles.”



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Mark

posted September 12, 2007 at 8:26 am


Thanks for my word of the day – pleonasm. Never knew that this was the term for text here. And of course, thanks for pointing the appropriate grammatical reading that disciple-making is the the commission accomplished by baptizing and teaching rather than three separate acts that I have heard some pastors declare.
In Christ,
Mark



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RJS

posted September 12, 2007 at 8:57 am


Is the reason to consider “historizing” this text for consistency with a view of Mt 13, 24 only in the last phrase “to the very end of the age” and the interpretation this type of phrase is given in the earlier passages? Or is there a deeper reason?



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Scot McKnight

posted September 12, 2007 at 9:23 am


RJS,
Two things led me to think about this, but it is unresolved in my mind because the evidence is insufficient.
1. Jesus’ “mission” was not with Gentiles.
2. “End of the age” normally means “era” and not “end of history.”



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ChrisB

posted September 12, 2007 at 9:28 am


Scot, I think you missed something important in Todd’s question:
If “the end of the age” was 70ad, did “with you always” expire then?



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RJS

posted September 12, 2007 at 9:35 am


I don’t find the first reason convincing – because we are here talking about post resurrection, not Jesus’ “earthly” mission – which I agree was prophetic in word and deed and to the Jews.
The second is another issue – but certainly the resurrection in a real sense introduces a new age or era – uniting mission to Jew and Gentile. In the context of this saying the initiation of the new era overlaps with the conclusion of the earlier era. History is seldom if ever characterized by clean breaks.



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Beyond Words

posted September 12, 2007 at 9:39 am


Are you saying Jesus, having himself become everything central to the Jewish faith and practice: Torah, Temple, Wisdom, Justice–then commissioned his disciples to call all Jews to repentence and restore them to the convenant community–so they would have a way to be faithtul after the the Temple and their national identity was destroyed?
And the trajectory of that faithfulness would lead to Israel–even as diaspora–becoming “a light to the nations?”
Here’s why I think historicity is important. Without it, over the years we’ve missed the point of what Jesus’s ministry was all about. Some of the stumbling blocks we’ve imported into the faith are so pagan! (Of course, Israel always struggled with pagan influence). I think it’s ironic we blame the heresy of salvation by works on the Jews when perhaps we read that idea back into Scripture from our idolatrous Gentile roots. And the abstract propositional doctrines we cherish would have been somewhat alien to the pre-Rabbinic Jews, too, I imagine.
Thanks for giving so much to ponder.



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Scot McKnight

posted September 12, 2007 at 9:51 am


ChrisB,
No, Jesus is with them beyond that too — but I haven’t put this forward as my view but as a view that I have at times entertained.
Beyond Words,
Again, not my view but a view. Your first two paragraphs in #9 would be reasonable, though I’ve not heard that argued. The pushing of Israel into a light to the nations is a good historical framing of the issue though.



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Scott M

posted September 12, 2007 at 10:03 am


I definitely agree with RJS. Transitions in history are rarely clean and clearly divided. Nevertheless, as I approach it through the lens of Christ, it seems to me that every Christian must say that something fundamentally and cosmically changed when Jesus came out of that tomb. For us, it seems that event must mark the climax of history. Therefore, even though the old age still had decades to work itself it out through a definite overlap, it seems that from the moment of the resurrection, if it is indeed the climax of history, the world entered a different age. And it seems to me that scripture calls this age the “last days.”
I do generally agree that Jesus had a prophetic role to Israel and generally did not speak much beyond that. They failed to grasp even that, so it’s not surprising. However, at the cross, Israel was narrowed all the way down to Jesus, and the “remnant” has grown from there. It also does seem clear that Israel was always meant to be the “light to the nations”, so I do think this post-resurrection statement is prefiguring the reality of that promise which Paul (and others) would then implement. And in that light, I tend to think “end of the age” refers to the “last days” in which we continue to live.
But that’s just how I piece it together. I don’t personally have a need for similar or identical terms or phrases used at different times and in different settings to have identical meanings. I also think that’s a more realistic perspective than the artificial uniformity of meaning some try to impose.



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Todd Robinson

posted September 12, 2007 at 10:18 am


Would it be wrong to understand Jesus as assuming that such discipling of the “nations” (as Gentiles) would have somehow corresponded in time with, or prior to, the end of the Old Covenant age (AD 70)? Could this not have been what did indeed take place in the second half of Acts? Or would that be imputing error to his words at that point?



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Mike C

posted September 12, 2007 at 10:42 am


Does the last phrase “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” necessarily put a time limit on the Great Commission. Jesus says “I am with you” till the end of the age (which may be AD 70), but he doesn’t say to stop making disciples after that.
And I don’t know the Greek grammar to know if this is legit, but is it possible that “to the very end of the age” wasn’t intended to put a definite end point on Christ’s presence with his disciples, but more a statement of encouragement that “even through the darkest hour, the very end of the Temple era and destruction of Jerusalem, I’ll still be with you.” After all, he also said he’ll be with us “always”, which would seem to include time both before and after the end of the age.



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tim atwater

posted September 12, 2007 at 11:04 am


Isn’t ‘the great ommission’ hovering in the background here our big fat modern heresy of suppressing 90% of Jesus’ teaching (and of his modeling of kingdom of God lifestyle)– in favor of just baptizing and micro-catechizing some version of the ‘4 spiritual laws’?
Dallas Willard may have coined the phrase “great ommission”? but the concept goes way back.
grace,



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John W Frye

posted September 12, 2007 at 1:38 pm


??????????? ????? ?? ????
The object of the imperative is “all the nations.” It is not to be translated “make disciples in or of all the nations,” but “diciple all the nations.” Whole people groups are in view, not individuals. This is the massive task equal to the massive authority that Jesus wields. Jesus is out to reclaim nations (ethnic groups). Protestant pervasive individualism has skewed this text, too.



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tim atwater

posted September 13, 2007 at 11:32 am


Good point John (15)–
tho isn’t the biblical story both/and ??
Plan A often seems to be broad-brush — to all the nations Plan B oft seems to be to individuals (righteous or otherwise –isn’t ‘righteous remnant’ Isaiah’s phrase?) — who oft seem unlikely candidates… who then do try v hard to do the to all the nations thing…
(and yesterday i should also have said the obvious — the great ommission happens not just from who condense it all to 4 laws — but also from those of us (me too) who sometimes condense it all to ‘do the right thing’) —
grace and peace,



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Barry

posted September 16, 2007 at 1:43 pm


Quote:
It is not impossible to historicize this text. Jesus’ vision of a Gentile mission is at best rarely in view in the Gospels. It is possible then to understand “end of the age” as 70 AD’s destruction of Jerusalem as the ending of national privilege; it is possible to read “disciple all nations” as “to the Jew first” throughout the diaspora. Possible. Against the grain, to be sure. Why think of it? Because “age” is an epoch not the end of history; because Jesus’ missional vision focused on Israel.
End Quote
Interesting view and worthwhile as something to look into.
It appears to have lot of merit to it as we begin to look at the setting and thrust of the first century Gospel outreach in its “Israel” context.
However in the end it will not fly (IMHO). It is very clear (IMHO) that Acts 17:18-33 that those whom Paul is addressing is beyond that of a diaspora only.
Act 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
Act 17:17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
So we do see clearly a focus of “Jew first” be then it would be very difficult to see “diaspora” throughout the context:
Act 17:18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
Act 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, [Ye] men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
Act 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Act 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
While in my view the “Gentiles” is used at times in an effectual way toward “diaspora” it is not used in an exclusionary way toward Gentiles at large in its first century context.
So then the coming Judgment toward Israel in view of the Temple made with hands touched the Gentiles as the offspring of God in regards to that which was fashioned by man’s device! This speaks of the “repentance” in the first century context for both Jew and Gentile. But through the validity of the then standing temple of the Jews within the old covenant age.
The destruction of the temple said something very clearly to the Gentiles.
The preaching of the Gospel in the first century context was throughout the “world” of Jewish influence which equated with that of the Roman world.
Just a thought.
Barry



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