Misreading the Great Commission

Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19)

This might be the most widely known and misunderstood verse in Scripture.

For years, I read this verse and felt guilty that I was working as a tech entrepreneur in suburban America, rather than moving away from home to “go and make disciples” elsewhere.

My mindset transformed when pastor Kennon Vaughan showed me that the Greek word we translate “Go” literally means “having gone.” Dr. Vaughan explains, “‘Go’ is not a command. [Jesus] is not commanding them to go. He is saying, ‘Having gone…turn men into disciples.’ The going is assumed. Jesus didn’t go more than 200 miles away from his hometown, and yet he is the greatest disciple-maker in history. It wasn’t about how far he went. It was about what he did while he was going. The same is true for you and me.”

You don’t need to change your vocation or location to participate in the Great Commission. Jesus has called each and every one of us to be “full-time missionaries,” making disciples as we go throughout our lives and work. 

This is one of the ways our work matters to God. But we must be careful not to assume it is the ultimate or even primary way. 

In the Church today, we talk a lot about “making disciples” and “saving souls,” but very little about what Jesus called “the kingdom of God.” This is startling because it is the exact opposite of what Jesus emphasized in the gospels, where he spoke of being “saved” less than 10 times and referred to his coming “kingdom” more than 150 times.

So, how does our work matter for the kingdom? That’s the question we’ll address tomorrow.


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