35 The Disciples’ Mission (1) 

What is your insight about the following missionary slogans from world famous missionaries?

“The Great Commission” is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed” – Hudson Taylor

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” – William Carey, who is called the father of modern missions

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” – Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” – Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950’s trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador

“The mission of the church is missions” – Oswald J. Smith

“We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” – Oswald J. Smith

“The reason some folks don’t believe in missions is that the brand of religion they have isn’t worth propagating.” – Unknown

When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”

“You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.” – Amy Carmichael, missionary to India

“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” – John Stott

“The concern for world evangelization is not something tacked on to a man’s personal Christianity, which he may take or leave as he chooses. It is rooted in the character of the God who has come to us in Christ Jesus. Thus, it can never be the province of a few enthusiasts, a sideline or a specialty of those who happen to have a bent that way. It is the distinctive mark of being a Christian.” – James S. Stewart

“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets” – William Borden

Matthew 28:16–20

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 

17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 

18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 

19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16–20 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Circle all the words that are related with places and number them in ascending order.

2 Circle all the words that are related with time and number them in ascending order.

3 Underline all the words about the command of Lord Jesus and number them in ascending order.

4 Circle the promise of Lord Jesus and number them in ascending order.

5 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

Jesus Christ conquered death and rose from the dead on the third day. During a period of forty days, He appeared to the believers many times. The Lord granted the believers the Great Commission and demanded His followers to obey its essence.

1 Where is “the mountain where Jesus had told them to go” (Matthew 28:16)?

2 When did Jesus Christ give the Great Commission to His disciples?

3 Why did the disciples still doubt after witnessing the risen Christ (Matthew 28:17)?

4 What is the essence of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)?

A scholar reckoned that the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples ten times; five times happened on the same day and the rest on some other days. These appearances are as follows:

Christ’s 1st appearance: Mary MagdaleneMark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18
Christ’s 2nd appearance: other womenMatthew 28:9, 10
Christ’s 3rd appearance: Simon PeterLuke 24:33-35; 1 Cor. 15:5
Christ’s 4th appearance: Emmaus disciplesMark 16:12, 13; Luke 24:13-32
Christ’s 5th appearance: the ten apostlesMark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25
Christ’s 6th appearance: the eleven apostles (including Thomas)John 20:26-31; 1 Cor. 15:5
Christ’s 7th appearance: seven disciples in GalileeJohn 21:1-25
Christ’s 8th appearance: eleven apostles and more than five hundred disciples in GalileeMark 16:15-18; Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Cor. 15:6
Christ’s 9th appearance: James the brother of the Lord1 Cor. 15:7
Christ’s 10th appearance: eleven apostlesLuke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12; Mark 16:19, 20

Matthew 28:16-17

Throughout the ages, many biblical scholars thought that the “doubtful” did not refer to the eleven disciples, but some of the members of the more than five hundred believers (1 Cor. 15:6). Those gathered in Galilee were not limited to the eleven people for what the angel told the women earlier suggested that they would later meet the Lord Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:7). There was no reason for us to believe that Jesus sent the eleven disciples to Galilee and asked them to return later to the Mount of Olives to witness His ascension. In that case, it seems more reasonable that the Lord chose Galilee as the meeting place because most of His followers were from that area.

Matthew 28:18-20 (Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:44-49)

1 The Time

On a certain mountain in Galilee, the Lord Jesus appeared to the disciples for the eighth time. According to the chronological order of the four gospels, a scholar indicated that Christ made the proclamation of the Great Commission between twenty and thirty-five days after His resurrection.

2 The Characters

Christ did not only appear to the eleven disciples, and it should include the five hundred believers as well. The eleven disciples and other believers went to the appointed Galilean mountainside, many worshipped Him though, but some still doubted (Mt. 28:17; cf. 1 Cor. 15:6). The Lord appeared many times to His people, but some of the disciples were still doubtful, this showed the weak and little faith of man. Despite this, Christ entrusted the important Commission to them, because in order to accomplish the Great Commission, it was not by human effort, but depended on the willingness of the believers to submit and obey God’s commandment, since all authority had been given to Christ in heaven and on earth, those who followed Him would also receive this authority. Also, when believers carried out the Great Commission according to the word of the Lord, Christ promised that He would be with them even to the end of the age. Hence, although humans were weak, if we got the power and strength from the Lord, as well as His presence with us, we could reveal the power of God’s salvation to everyone!

3 The Main Points

Concerning the Great Commission in the Gospel of Matthew, there are a few points worthy of our attention: first, Christ got all the authority from heaven and earth (28:28). Second, “make disciples”, is the core of the mission. There are three participles that go with “make disciples”, that is, “going”, “baptizing” and “teaching”. Many believers misunderstood that the Great Commission is the same as “preaching the gospel”, this is not the most correct interpretation. The Lord instructed the disciples to make those who accepted the gospel become His disciples. Disciples mean protégés; they are those who are willing to practice the teachings of Christ. The Great Commission is full of dynamics and it implies action. Third, the Lord gave a very precious promise that He promised to be with His disciples. When the disciples were willing to follow and practice God’s word, and make all nations to be His disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as well as teaching them to obey all the commandments, Christ promised to be with them forever accordingly.


Before His ascension, Jesus Christ demanded His followers to carry out the Great Commission; He not only expected people to come to Him in His name, but He desired His people would obey His teachings, expanding God’s kingdom effectively as a result.

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Those who witnessed the risen Lord had their moments of doubt, implying the frailty of humankind. This was a warning that we should take as modern believers (Matthew 28:17).

2 As Christians, spreading the gospel and obeying the commands of the Lord are truths that we should follow, and there are no excuses for not acting upon.

3 Memorise Matthew 28:19-20.

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.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

4 Resolve to depend on the Lord’s assistance to spread the gospel and pledge to obey the biblical truths (Matthew 28:20).

5 Those who obey the Great Commission will for sure experience the presence of the Lord Jesus. This is a promise that believers should claim.

6 Believers would have had their moments of faithlessness; those who claim to be strong in faith should help these people with gentleness, patience and love (Matthew 28:17).

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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