Vol.II No.III Pg.7
April 1965

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Dear Sir:

Who was commissioned by the "great commission?" If it was not the church (and candid honest consideration favors this conclusion) then by what authority does the local church send evangelists into "all the world"?


"Candid honest consideration" is rare these days, but it uncovers the truth. Who was commissioned by the "limited commission?" (MAT.10:5). Not just anyone who reads the passage, but those addressed in context (Use dictionary for "commission"; comparing JOH.5:22; ROM.3:2; 2CO.5:19 etc.).

MAT.28: MAR.16:; and LUK.24:, record a commission which the Lord gave his apostles (Note LUK.24:48-49). They were sent forth "with power" to "bind on earth" that which was bound in heaven (MAT.18:18). The apostles occupied a unique position with reference to the gospel (cf.GAL.2:7-9). They were ambassadors in a sense that can not rightfully be applied to any who preach the gospel today. Thus the "apostles and prophets" (inspired men) were the "foundation" of the church (EPH.2:20). Authority was given the apostles; i.e., they were endued with power by the Holy Spirit -- were vessels, "with portfolio" (2CO.10:8). The "church" was not so commissioned.

But there is divine approval (or "scriptural authority") for preaching the gospel today "to all the world". Disciples which the apostles made were to be taught to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (MAT.28:20). Faithful men were to "teach others also" (2TI.2:2)

If it be objected that this points up individual obligations, I would remind you that Christ envisioned the spread of truth, and the influence of truth, in terms of salt, leaven, etc. Every Christian is expected to "do and teach," individually as well as collectively.

Authority for collective support of the gospel is found in PHI.4:15 2CO.11:8 3JO.8 ACT.11:22 etc. Bro. Turner:

When one congregation is disciplining a brother who is in sin, what is the responsibility of neighboring congregations? Should they receive a man who is rejected by the first congregation?


Common sense, and respect for the actions of brethren whom we hold to be sound in the faith, should make a church wary of one who is disciplined by another church. It seems reasonable that the "home" church would be better able to determine the light or darkness of his course than others.

However, it is error to consider the rulings of one congregation binding upon all others. Fellowship is hinged upon truth (God's word) not upon the actions of any congregation (1JO.1:3-7 2CO.10:12-f). Sometime men keep fellowship with one who has walked in darkness, and is no longer in fellowship with God (1CO.5:1-f). It is also possible for men to refuse fellowship with some -- -putting them out of the church -- whom God continues to fellowship (3JO.9-10).

Disfellowship calls for collective action (MAT.18:17 1CO.5:4) and the organizational structure of the church is limited to that of a single congregation. One church can not take disciplinary action for another, any more than it can take any other action on behalf of another. Each must make an independent decision as to whom they receive into their number, with a view to pleasing God, according to His word. Any other standard will denominationalize the church.