One of the most known, yet unknown, passages of Scripture is the Great Commission. This volume has been written with the purpose of edifying the Lord’s church regarding the Great Commission. This volume does not endeavor to answer all questions on the Great Commission, but to reply to aspects of the Great Commission that have lately troubled the Lord’s church.
There are at least three dangers for the Lord’s church inherent in the study of the Great Commission. The first is in the practices in which some will engage because of their misunderstanding of the Great Commission. The second is in the usage of unsound hermeneutics when interpreting the passages relating to the Great Commission. The usage of unsound hermeneutics will affect other areas of the doctrine of the church when this same unsound hermeneutics is applied to other passages of Scripture. The third is the irrationality of certain preachers may lead to other errors (a lack of logical thinking will open the door to all sorts of errors).
A Synopsis of the Problems in This Study
There are at least seven basic reasons that various people claim the Great Commission is binding upon all Christians. First, it is asserted that the words of the Lord in Mt. 28:20: “… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you” prove that the Great Commission was self-perpetuating. Second, Jesus promised to always be with those who were obligated to obey the Great Commission (Mt. 28:20). Third, Jesus promised to be with those who were obligated to obey the Great Commission: “… even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20). Fourth, some say: “This is what the church has always taught on this matter.” Fifth, there were non-apostles present when the Great Commission was given. Sixth, some claim: “Since we are obligated to do some parts of the Great Commission, we must be obligated to do every part of the Great Commission.” Seventh, we have no other reason to teach the lost if the Great Commission is not binding upon us today.
Methodology Used in This Study
I will follow the same approach that I have followed in my earlier books. We will learn a principle of logic or a principle of hermeneutics (Bible interpretation technique) and then apply it to the Great Commission. Later (in another section or another chapter), we will learn another principle of logic or hermeneutics and apply it to the Great Commission. If we keep coming up with the same answer, we can be virtually certain we understand the biblical doctrine on the Great Commission.
This volume will accomplish at least three things. First, we will determine the biblical doctrines on the Great Commission. (I will appeal to principles of logic, principles of sound hermeneutics, principles of Greek grammar and syntax, and definitions of Greek words to determine this doctrine.) Second, I will demonstrate that the doctrine and practices (public practices) of certain preachers in the Lord’s church do not harmonize with the biblical doctrine on the Great Commission as taught in the Scriptures. Third, I will demonstrate that the doctrines taught by certain other preachers will eventually change the practices of the Lord’s church (if accepted as truth and put into practice). It is axiomatic that the practices of the church will change when the doctrine changes.
Some of those who are teaching errors on Great Commission have appealed to Greek grammar, syntax, and word definitions to support their unsound doctrines. In addition, most of them have attempted to make logical arguments (whether using formal logic or not is irrelevant, they are still logical arguments). Because of this we are forced to respond to them on their level (with arguments from both Greek word definitions, grammar and syntax, and from logic). In responding we have decided to use standard terminology from both logic and Greek to explain the errors of those who are teaching these errors. The reader who does not have a background in either Greek or logic should consult the glossary for explanations of the terminology. Some of the terminology is more thoroughly explained in other works written by the author (referenced in this volume).
Notes on One Problem in This Study
It has been virtually impossible to get certain preachers (who have caused division over The Great Commission) to tell us what passages constitute the entirety of The Great Commission. Unless there is agreement on what passages constitute the totality of the great commission, there cannot be any reasonable discussion on this subject. The reader should go to Appendix A for what various brethren have written on this subject.
I wish to state my appreciation to all those whose counsel and encouragement have enabled me to write this volume. A number of Christians have greatly encouraged me to write this Volume. This author is solely responsible for any errors in this volume.
I especially appreciate the help of Martie Williams for her help in making the charts and in formatting this book for the printer.
I wish to express my appreciation to the Barnes church of Christ for their patience with me while I was preparing this Volume.
NOTES FOR THE READER
The reader is instructed to use the Scripture Index at the end of the book to study the interpretations of various passages. Various passages are discussed in more than one chapter and the reader cannot get the total picture of what is set forth on each passage without looking at every page where it is discussed. I have introduced the various problem areas in the early chapters and developed such things as hermeneutical principles, logical principles, and even biblical doctrines that are all essential to understanding the development of the truth on these issues. Some readers will want an answer to a question as soon as it is asked, but that may not be easy because we need to develop principles by which we can understand the answer. For example, if a person asked you to explain some aspect of the book of Hebrews, it might be necessary to go back and explain some Old Testament principles as groundwork for your explanation. As we might need to lay some groundwork to explain something in the book of Hebrews, we might need to lay some groundwork to explain some answers to questions on The Great Commission.
The reader is also encouraged to study my two volumes: “The Role of Women, Vols. I & II” which were printed in 2006. These volumes contain additional arguments on the Great Commission.
There is one chart in the back of this volume and a number of charts in my other books. These charts will give the reader a visual image of the arguments being made by the author. The reader is permitted to make copies of these charts for his preaching and/or teaching.
This book also contains a glossary of the less common words that are used in this volume. Along with the glossary there is an appendix (Appendix B) that contains the lexical definitions of some of the more important words used in this volume.
The reader should note that, for the most part, there have not been any appeals to tradition to establish any doctrine. One of the most disappointing aspects of the books of many preachers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is that many writers spend a lot of effort quoting prominent members of the church to prove their cases. The reader can peruse the writings of the author of this volume and find, very little if any appeals to tradition in them. This has not been done because he could not find other preachers with whom his doctrines agreed, but out of conviction that the writings of men who lived since the age of miracles do not establish a doctrine as truth. Many of those who are teaching error on the Great Commission are forced to appeal to traditions to support their errors.
Marion has taught at the Elk City School of Preaching, Westside School of Preaching, Oklahoma School of Bible and Preaching, Great Plains School of Bible and Preaching, Online Academy of Biblical Studies, Rocky Mountain Audio and Video Bible Institute, and presently serves as director of the Oklahoma City School of Biblical Studies.