As a last official act before He ascended to His throne of the right hand of the God (Mk. 16:19), Jesus commissioned His Kingdom followers to be His earthly ambassadors with the following words: “Go you, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28: 19-20).
The disciples of Christ had learned about the Kingdom and practiced principles of the Kingdom throughout the years of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus had hand-picked each man and personally tutored them. He had shared heavenly mysteries, interpreted Old Testament law and prophesies, trained in healing and deliverance, revealed His mission and His destiny. Jesus modeled before His followers the administration of a fully mature Son of God over the created order. The elements of heaven and earth, the creatures of the land and sea, the temptations of the devil and activities of his realm, the miraculous power of the Father and His heavenly host, the plots of His religious antagonists, the sincere cries of the hurting and afflicted: all of these subjects and domains were handled in perfect harmony with the will of heaven. Jesus’ management juxtaposed the dominion efforts of the first son of God, Adam. Christ’s disciples were thoroughly exposed to the meaning of “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Mt. 6:10).
Jesus exercised perfect and holy dominion over the earth. He managed the property of the Father, as God is the rightful owner of the earth (Ps. 24:1); and He stewarded the earth in proper congruence with heavenly principles. This was Adam’s original assignment (Gen.1:26-28; 2:15). Jesus succeeded where the first man failed. Adam practiced His mission in the
Garden. Jesus accomplished His directive in the area of Judea and Galilee. Then, Jesus commissioned His church with the same charge but their territory was all nations. “Teach all nations . . . to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” And then, Jesus departed the earth leaving the management of the nations in the hands of his disciples.
What Adam was called to do in the small, unpopulated, unoccupied, and non-cursed Garden, the disciples were mandated to do in the entire earth that was filled with people groups with ethic identities, and geopolitical structures with societal customs. The church was called to nations. The church was commissioned to disciple nations. The delegation of Kingdom ambassadors was presented with the systems of men and summoned to teach those nations the same Kingdom lessons that Christ had taught to them. The disciples were called to disciple – NATIONS.
The church has long known that all the nations in the earth were to be afforded the chance to hear the good news of Christ coming to earth to save the people of the earth. The history of evangelism proves that the commissioning of “Go you, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” has been a mantra for spreading the gospel. Because nations are not baptized but only people are baptized, the application of the scripture was often limited to finding souls in all nations and baptizing those who believed. Throughout the past two millennia, the church has historically shared the message of salvation in Christ and been faithful to cross borders, travel the seas, sacrifice personal safety, and spend large sums of money to carry the story of Jesus as found in the pages of the Scriptures. Those saved souls have also been discipled to be followers of all that Jesus taught. The Holy Scriptures have been held by the church to be the rule of conduct and the method by which individuals should live a faithful and holy life. People in all nations have been taught.
However, disciplining people is not the exact same thing as discipling nations. According to the Strong’s dictionary, nations comes from the Greek ethnos and means “a race (of the same habit), i.e. a tribe.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines nations as “a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together, a company, troop, swarm; a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus.” Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language inhabiting a particular country or territory.”
Teaching nations extends beyond teaching individuals in those nations. Jesus was commissioning His disciples to disciple groups, multitudes, cultures, and territories. The people and their systems, the inhabitants and their customs, the ethnos and with their ethnicities: these were all within His scope when Jesus inaugurated His church into their dominion assignment. Next week’s article will continue to discuss the concept of discipling nations.