What Is the Great Commission?
Jesus answers this question! In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (NKJV). What is the great commission? It’s an order that all believers in Jesus have been given!
This commission was given just prior to Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Now numbering 11, the remaining disciples have joined together on a mountaintop somewhere in Galilee. They are away from the bustle of Jerusalem. Jesus gives His followers instructions about what to do in His absence. He actually answers the question, what is the Great Commission!
He begins by reaffirming a concept He has told them many times: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” In just a few more seconds, Jesus would give them authority too. The disciples, and the followers coming after them, would be His representatives to the world. They were tasked with this Great Commission, a specific call to make more disciples.
Does the great commission apply to all believers or just the disciples who were listening to Jesus that day on the mountain? It is a message to us too! The Great Commission compels us to share the Good News until everyone has heard. Let’s study two aspects of this commission:
“All Nations” – We are called to make disciples of all nations. This is noteworthy because Jesus wanted the Good News of Jesus Christ to spread beyond the nation of Israel to the entire world—to every ethnicity and people group.
For GFA World, we are called specifically to those who have never heard this great message in Asia and Africa.
“Make Disciples” – The followers of Jesus are tasked with making more disciples. Got Questions Ministries defines disciple this way: “The Greek term for ‘disciple’ in the New Testament is mathetes, which basically means ‘student’ or ‘learner.’ But a disciple is also a ‘follower,’ someone who adheres completely to the teachings of another, making them his rule of life and conduct.” Those who heard this commission that day on the mountain knew firsthand what being a disciple entailed.
Jesus had already told them that discipleship would be costly. Luke 14:33 says, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (NKJV). Also, in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (NKJV). Jesus was clear that a significant sacrifice would be expected.
“The disciples learned to pray by watching their Master spend all night before the Father. They learned what it meant to be a broken, humble individual by watching His life of total submission and obedience to the Father,” says GFA Founder K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan).
What is the Great Commission and how does it relate to discipleship? Jesus gave us two descriptors in this passage about what making disciples means:
- Baptism – A public confession of Jesus through baptism is mentioned as an essential part of making disciples. It is a way to give evidence that a person has believed in Jesus for salvation.
- Obedience – A disciple of Jesus will be obedient to their new Master—Jesus Christ. Yohannan writes, “The model the Lord gave us to become like Him is through observing and following an example. That means we must observe those who truly walk like Christ and learn from them. The Apostle Paul was such an example. He wrote to the believers: ‘Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ’ (1 Corinthians 11:1).” Jesus gave us answers to what is the great commandment and the great commission, and as we follow His answer, we fulfill the obedience part of His instructions.
GFA has been making disciples and fulfilling the Great Commission since 1979. Starting in South Asia and expanding to Africa, we train national missionaries and give them the resources to make disciples in their communities. These pastors and missionaries pray for the hurting, listen to the broken and share the Good News with people who have never heard the name of Jesus.
These men and women on the frontlines fulfill the Great Commission among their own people. They already know the language and the culture. They know the most effective ways to help people overcome poverty. This is a tremendous advantage over their coworkers coming from other countries. National missionaries are able to bring light into dark communities, developing more disciples for Jesus. “In the eyes of the local people, national missionaries do not represent a foreign country or a strange religion because these men and women look and talk the same as them.”
You can support these national missionaries for just $30 per month, making it possible for them to bring hope to those in their country. Your support will enable them to be an ambassador serving as Jesus’ hands and feet.
Why is the great commission important? For us at GFA, we see it as having utmost importance because Jesus imparted us with a great task! We aim to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission in some of the hardest places in the world. Help us with this important task today!Learn more about the 10/40 window
 “What Is the Difference Between a Christian and a disciple?” Got Questions Ministries. Accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-disciple.html.
 “Living as Christ Lived.” GFA World. Accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.gfa.org/kpyohannan/5-minutes-with-kpyohannan/living-as-christ-lived.
 “National Missionaries.” GFA World. Accessed July 27, 2023. https://www.gfa.org/sponsor/why-national-missionaries/.