Matthew 28:16-20 Jesus and His authority
Thoughts from Matthew 28:16-20.
In this passage, Jesus gave the Great Commission. After the resurrection, His eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee that Jesus had designated. While they were there, Jesus appeared. Matthew says, “Whey they [the disciples] saw him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful” (verse 17).
When we read this, we wonder what the nature of their doubt was. It was not unbelief in a rebellious sense. They were not refusing to believe. Rather, their doubt was probably a matter of questioning what they already believed. It was, perhaps, best described as hesitation. Their doubts occurred right while they were worshiping Jesus.
As I. P. Ellis says, “hesitation amid worship is a paradox well known to most believers.” Even while we worship, we may have doubts. We may have a sense of discouragement, confusion, or lack of clarity about our life and our tasks. This may cause hesitation to arise. If so, we may take comfort from the fact that we are not the first disciples to encounter such difficulty.
Whatever the precise nature of the doubt, Jesus responded by stressing His authority (verses 18-20). He said: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (NASB). The English word “authority” is a translation of the Greek word exousia. This Greek word is sometimes translated as “power.” The more commonly used Greek word for “power” is dunamis.”
Authority and power are related words. The word “authority” often includes the idea of position. A person with a position often has the authority that goes with the position. One can have authority without power or power without authority. However, one can have both authority and power.
Our text deals with the Great Commission. Jesus had both the authority and power to help the disciples fulfill this commission. We may have some doubts about our ability to fulfill Christ’s commission. Our doubts will diminish as we consider the authority of Jesus. We derive our authority and comfort from Him. Given this, we can with joy renew our commitment to the unfinished task.
In my next “thoughts” we will discuss these points from our text: (1) All authority (verse 18), (2) in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (verse19), and (3) lo, I am with you always (verse 20).
More Thoughts from Matthew 28:16-20: The Authority of Jesus.
Jesus said: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Here, the word “authority” is the translation of the Greek word exousia. Sometimes this word is translated as “power.”
The authority of Christ extends to all aspects of life. It includes teaching (Matthew 7:29), healing and forgiving sins (Matthew 9:6-8), casting out demons (Mark 1:27), and determining the ultimate destiny of men (Luke 12:5). The word exousia is used in all these verses.
In the Scriptures, we see a progressive realization of the authority and power that is Christ’s. Satan is the “god of this world” as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Satan offered Jesus authority (Luke 4:6), but Jesus rejected His offer. Jesus and Satan have been in total conflict ever since. Although Satan is the god of this world his power is limited.
During His ministry, Jesus said, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (Matthew 11:27). Although “all things” have been handed over to Christ, the complete implementation of His power happens over time.
The death, burial, and resurrection brought an advance in the realization of the authority of Christ. The inauguration of Christ came on resurrection day. Jesus Christ ascended (John 20:17). Jesus was made both “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Thus, with new meaning, on the mountainside at Galilee, He says, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (verse 18).
Yet there is more. We look forward to an even greater establishment of His power. This is the eschatological dimension of His authority. He will return in power and glory (Mark 13:26). The authority of Christ then will be fully realized on earth.
What is our appropriate response? We praise, exalt, and magnify Him now! We worship Him as King and Lord. All authority and power are His. This instills in us an attitude of trust. He is in control of all things. Given this, we cease to worry.
More Thoughts about Matthew 28:16-20.
Our text tells us that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus. Today, we will examine what authority was given to His disciples while He was on earth.
Concerning the disciples, Jesus said: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12). Because the disciples were His children, they could share in His authority. This was true of all those who followed Jesus.
Concerning His twelve disciples, Mark states: “And He [Jesus] appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons (Mark 3:14-15). According to Luke 9:1-2, “And He called the twelve together, and gave hem power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.”
Later, Jesus appointed seventy others and sent them out to preach. When the seventy returned, they reported “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17). The disciples ministered in the name of Jesus. Jesus replied, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:19-20).
We need to realize that in Christ’s name, we have authority, but our greater joy should be evoked by the fact that our names are recorded in heaven. In my next “thoughts” we will discuss more this and what authority we have now as followers of Christ.
More Thoughts About Matthew 28:16-20.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to present the gospel to the entire world. Undoubtedly, this seemed like an “impossible” task to the disciples. To reassure them, Jesus declared that God the Father had given Him all authority in heaven and on earth. Then, Jesus gave the disciples the authority they needed to accomplish the commission.
Given all this, we will now consider how this applies to us. The commission and authority that God gave to the disciples extend to all of us who follow Jesus. The apostles had a special role, but in general, Jesus gives us the authority to do His bidding. Several points are of interest to us.
First, we are to go in name of the Triune God. This includes the names of all three members of the Trinity. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (verse 19). When we go in the name of God, we represent Him and His authority.
Second, after His resurrection, Jesus said “repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).
Very often the disciples acted in the name of Jesus (Mark 16:17; Acts 4:10; 4:18; 5:28, 40; 9:27). When the disciples went in the name of Jesus, they were going with His authority, which was the authority of the Triune God.
Third, the commission in Matthew’s gospel includes not only “baptizing” but also “teaching” and making disciples” (verses 19-20). Mark stresses preaching the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15). This preaching will be accompanied by many signs, including casting out demons, speaking with new tongues, and healing. In Luke 24:49, Jesus emphasized witnessing.
In my next “thoughts” I will address the question of “how” we can fulfill the Great Commission. We have been commissioned to preach the gospel all over the world. How can we do this? Stay tuned.
More Thoughts about Matthew 28:16-20.
Jesus had the authority to give us the Great Commission and to help us fulfill it. This authority included all aspects of life. Along with the commission, He gave us the authority to do His work. That authority included the power to proclaim the gospel.
Even though all of this be true, sometimes things seem to go wrong. Our ministry may seem to be stymied. Our church may not be growing. Our desire to do projects in missions may lack funding. Governments may be limiting our outreach. Many believers are persecuted. The list goes on . . . We may be tempted to ask, “Where is our authority?
Difficulties can occur in our personal lives as well. When something happens to our family, we might think that the enemy has overcome us. When a marriage breaks up, negative characteristics may seem to get the best of us. We may pray for healing from illness without experiencing any immediate result. Again, we may ask, “Where is our authority?
To all of this Jesus has an answer. He says, “and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (verse 20). He is not just outside of us watching. He goes through it with us. We have a closeness of fellowship with Him. He identifies with us. His friendship knows no bounds. Nothing can happen that He does not allow. Why does He allow it? We do not always know. But we do know that He is with us in authority and power. Moreover, He is with us “in” our trial.
Today, as always, we can put ourselves fully in His care. He will take care of us. He will empower us to proclaim the gospel to all nations. He identifies with us in our trials. Yet, He is fully victorious. In His time, we will experience His victory.
More Thoughts from Matthew 28:16-20.
Jesus and His Authority. Jesus declared that “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (verse 18). Having spoken of this great authority, He commissioned us to proclaim the gospel throughout the earth. He then said, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (verse 20). Today, we will think about “the end of the age.”
First, we realize that even now His authority prevails. Peter said that Jesus “is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). After His resurrection Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4). Whatever circumstances we face, we know that He is with us always.
Moreover, Jesus will be with us as long as we live. Even if we live to the end of the age, He will be with us. We all look forward to a great consummation. Paul wrote this about it: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to the God and Father when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:22-24).
That end of this age will come. We must not grow weary in well-doing. We must keep before us the extent of the unfinished task. Let us be confident of His authority. Let us proclaim the gospel to all people everywhere.
More Thoughts About Matthew 28:16-20.
Jesus and His Authority. After the resurrection, Jesus told the disciples that He had all authority in heaven and on earth. Then, He commissioned them to go into all the world and make disciples. He declared that He would be with them always, even to the end of the age.
Our firm conviction is that the Great Commission applies to all of us who follow Jesus. The task is huge. Vast numbers of people live in restricted countries. In restricted and unrestricted countries, multitudes live in stretches of country that do not have modern means of communication. The number of languages is staggering. The challenging factors are many.
So, this leads us to what I would call the “big” question. That question is, “How can we accomplish this great task? The callings, methods, and ministries are many. We proclaim the gospel in many different ways. This can be in-person, by radio and television, or through magazines and books. Missionaries go and live among the peoples of the world. A major objective is the planting of churches. Many missionaries teach in Bible schools and train pastors.
Jesus gave us the Great Commission. He gives us the authority to proclaim His gospel. Given all this, He will help us find ways to accomplish the task. One of the great tools that God has given us is the Internet. Our ministry over the Internet is called Network211. About 10,000 people access our evangelism and discipleship sites every day. You can see one of our sites at www.journeyonline.org. We have many volunteer “connectors” who interact with inquirers. We thank Jesus for His presence with us as we pursue His goals.
George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.