Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 7, 1950

The Authority Of The Great Commission: Its Application

E. C. Koltenbah, Pekin, Indiana

What is the primary reference of the claim of Jesus Christ when He said, "All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth?" (Matt. 28-18).

1. It has primary reference to the culmination of the divine scheme of human redemption. It should go without saying that this scheme of redemption was made necessary by the sin of man. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:21, 22) Not only so, but man's redemption from sin was delayed until it had been demonstrated through Him that He was not able to save Himself; (1) by a divinely given code, as the Mosaic Law, or, (2) by man's departure from God's way to the ways of his own devices, as among the Gentiles. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Prov. 14:12) Also, the Scripture says, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin." (Rom. 3:19-20) The introduction of the definite article in verse 20 by the translators in order to modify the word, "law", is, perhaps, a bit misleading. Paul omitted it. The sense is best as Paul wrote it. The context shows that he contemplated more than the Hebrew nation, including the "whole world" as well. God gave the Mosaic law to the Hebrews only, but He did not leave the Gentiles without law, otherwise they would not have been guilty of sin, for sin is transgression of the law. (Cf. 1 Jn. 3:4) God did give them up to wickedness (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28) while working with the Hebrews, but He could not be said to give them up if He had not given them law. So whether under Moses or under moral code, man demonstrated completely and for all time that he could not save himself. Therefore there was provided the way of salvation by Jesus Christ in the infinite wisdom, mercy and love of God. Let no one suppose that this human demonstration was a matter of trial and error with God. What it did was to show created intelligences what God foreknew and had foreordained, viz., that man was to be saved by Jesus Christ. Any system of philosophy or theology which makes the gospel of Christ and His church the result of a divine trial and error scheme of things is at once materialistic and blasphemous and a demonstration of either ignorance of what the Bible teaches or else a complete disregard for what it does teach. God is not human that He should toy with the future that He might learn what it holds. What can any portion of time withhold from Him "who is and who was and who is to come?" (Rev. 1:8).

God is just and because "the soul that sinneth it shall die," (Ezek. 18:4) He sent forth the Son to die for man. (Rom. 8:3, 4; Gal. 4:3-5).

2. It also has primary reference to the atonement of Jesus Christ. First of all, in His offer before the bar of eternal justice in high heaven. Next, He came to earth and provided in Himself a sin-offering on the cross. Then, upon His ascension, He presented the blood of the atonement in the Holy of Holies, heaven itself, as our high priest. "He (god) shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied." (Isa. 53:11) "Now if He were on the earth, He would not be a priest at all, seeing there are those who offer the gifts according to the law." (Heb. 8:4) Finally, in heaven He continues His eternal high priesthood. "Whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Heb. 6:20).

3. Again, it has primary reference to His then imminent coronation to the throne of David and of God. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy of David. (2 Sam. 7:4-17) When David had restored the dominions of Israel and had obtained peace all about him, he proposed to make a house for God. (2 Sam. 7:2, 3) But God promised to make a house for David instead. (2 Sam. 7:11) He gave the time and the identity of David's heir. (2 Sam. 7:12-14; Heb. 1:5) It could not apply to Solomon for he began to rule while David yet lived. (1 Kings 1:3248) Besides, it was later prophesied that he was to be priest while he ruled and this meant in heaven. (Zech, 6:13; Heb. 8:4) Both the rule and the priesthood is forever, hence, co-extensive. This coronation was also in realization of the divine oath to David. "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant: Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations." (Psa. 89:3, 4; Cf. Psa, 89:34-37, 132:11) The contention that his rule upon this throne is limited to one thousand years on earth is rendered a farce by the witness invoked by God Himself in the giving of the oath. "His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me." (Psa. 89:36) His throne was to endure as the sun. Who is he so foolish as to limit that orb to a thousand years! Furthermore, as man is powerless to effect the sun in any manner sc is he powerless to effect the reign of the Son of God in any manner, hence not even the Jews have postponed it.

Again, the coronation of Jesus was in fulfillment of the judgment upon Coniah. "0 earth, earth, earth hear the word of Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall net prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling in Judah." (Jer. 22:29, 30) Coniah (Jechoniah) was of the lineage of David, Jesus was of David through Coniah (Matt. 1:1, 6:11) Hence, Jesus was to rule forever in fulfillment of the prophecy and oath to David; not on the earth in fulfillment of the judgment upon Coniah; while priest in fulfillment of the word by Zechariah; in heaven by the word of the Author of Hebrews, (8:4) and Peter. (Acts 22:29-31) Paul is very emphatic using a double superlative, "hath fulfilled," (i.e., "hath fulfilled to the uttermost") in declaring the fulfillment of the promise to the fathers in Jesus Christ. (Acts 13:32, 33) If there were any way to make it stronger in human language than this statement of Paul we have not been able to discover it. The final act of this divine drama was the coronation of Jesus in heaven (Dan. 7:13, 14) which was proved to the world by his sending of the Holy Spirit. (Jn. 16:7; Acts 2:1-4) If it requires authority to send men forth into the world with a mission, how much more to send the Holy Spirit himself!

4. Finally, it has primary reference to the giving of the gospel to all men for all time. This was so submitted in the giving of the great commission. It was so committed in the delegation of authority to the apostles by Jesus Christ. It is so admitted by everyone who truly renders obedience to the gospel delivered by the apostles. It is made immutable by Christ's invocation of divine pardon on the terms of the gospel which he authorized the apostles to preach.

"Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of the eternal covenant, even our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Heb. 13:20, 21).