SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2019:
“REMEMBER THE TRUE GOSPEL”
Lesson: Galatians 1:6-9; Matthew 28:1-7, 18-20;
Time of the Action: In the first part of our lesson Paul writes to the Galatians around 48 A.D.; the second and third parts of our lesson in Matthew take place about 30 A.D.; Place of the Action: In the first part of our lesson, Paul writes to the Galatians from Syrian Antioch; the second part of our lesson takes place in Jerusalem, and the third part in Galilee
Golden Text: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Galatians 1:6).
I. INTRODUCTION. Imagine you had led someone to Christ only to later discover that that person had become involved in a cult. It would probably break your heart. If you wrote a letter to that person, what would you say? The Apostle Paul faced a similar situation. He fiercely defended the true gospel of Jesus Christ against false teachers who were seeking to mix it with a doctrine of works. In this week’s lesson, we will learn how Paul responded to hearing that the Galatian Christians were abandoning the true gospel that they had heard from Paul and his associates. We will also be reminded of what the true gospel is based on as well as the commission the risen Christ gave to His disciples to spread it all over the world.
II. THE LESSON BACKGROUND. After completing their first missionary journey (see Acts 13:2-14:28), where they visited Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, cities in the Roman province of Galatia, which is now present day Turkey, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch in Syria. While there, Paul was accused by some Jewish Christians of diluting Christianity to make it more appealing to Gentiles. These Jewish Christians or Judaizers disagreed with Paul’s statements that Gentiles did not have to follow many of the religious laws that the Jews had obeyed for centuries. Some of Paul’s accusers had even followed him to those Galatian cities and had told the Gentile converts there that they had to be circumcised and follow all the Jewish laws and customs in order to be saved. According to these men, Gentiles had to first become Jews in order to become Christians. In response to this threat, Paul wrote this letter to the Galatian churches. In it, he explains that following the Old Testament laws or the Jewish laws will not bring salvation. A person is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else. Paul wrote this letter about 48 A.D. shortly before the meeting of the Jerusalem council which settled the law versus grace controversy (see Acts chapter 15). After a brief introduction (see Galatians 1:1-5), Paul addresses those who were accepting the Judaizers’ perverted gospel which is the first part of our lesson.
III. FALSE TEACHING: THE THREAT TO THE TRUE GOSPEL (Galatians 1:6-9)
A. Perverting the gospel of grace (Galatians 1:6-7).
1. (vs. 6). Our first verse says “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel…” The Apostle Paul is obviously upset with the Galatian believers for so quickly turning away from the truth. He said “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” In other words, he was astonished or amazed that these Christians were “so soon removed” or so quickly turned away from “him that called you into the grace of Christ.” The pronoun “him” refers to God who calls us to salvation through the “gospel” (see II Thessalonians 2:13-14). Paul considered their change to be an affront to God, the One who had called them “into the grace of Christ” or into salvation. To desert the “gospel” of grace for something else was to abandon the God who had given it, and also called them to share in it. The phrase “the grace of Christ” refers to salvation which by “grace” is free to all. “Grace,” or God’s favor, is the very essence and heart of the “gospel” (see John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8; Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul had no doubt that the Galatians were genuinely called by God and were saved. But after a short period of being saved, they were in danger of turning to “another gospel.” The Greek word in this verse for “another” is heteron and means “another of a different kind.” The teaching that the Galatians were falling for was a completely different and untrue “gospel.” Note: Although Paul doesn’t directly say what the false teaching was at this point, his words indicate that it was a false message in opposition to the grace of God. The Galatians, who were mostly Greeks were being taught by Jewish Christians that in order to be saved, Gentile Christians had to follow Jewish laws and customs, especially the rite of circumcision (see Acts 15:1; Galatians 6:12-13). Faith in Jesus Christ was not enough. This teaching undermined the truth of the good news that salvation is a gift, not a reward for certain deeds or actions. Jesus Christ has made this gift available to all people, not just to the Jews. Beware of people who say that we need more than simple faith in Christ to be saved. When people set up additional requirements for salvation, they are denying the power of Jesus’ death on the Cross (see Galatians 3:1-5). The false teachers were actually preaching “another gospel” that was opposed to the true “gospel” of Christ (see II Corinthians 11:2-6). We should remember that the word “gospel” (see Romans 10:9-10; 15:3-4) means “good news” (see Galatians 1:4), and there is no good news in hearing that a person needs to become a Jew via circumcision before they could be saved. If that was true, what about women?
2. (vs. 7). Paul continued to say in this verse “Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Having called the new or false teaching “another” gospel in the previous verse, here Paul immediately explained that in reality it “is not another” gospel. Those who taught it may have promoted it as a “gospel,” but it was nothing like the true “gospel.” The word “another” here in this verse is a different Greek word from the one in the previous verse. The Greek word for “another” here is allo and means “another of the same kind.” So, when Paul said that what was being taught by the Judaizers “is not another,” he was saying that it was not of the same kind as the true “gospel.” In other words, the message proclaimed by the Judaizers was not just another version of the same “gospel,” it was a completely different message altogether. Note: Paul taught salvation by grace through faith; the Judaizers taught salvation by law through works. They did not deny the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, but they also taught that circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses were necessary as well (see Galatians 3:1-5; 4:9-10; 5:2-4; 6:12-13). They taught that Christ’s death and resurrection were insufficient and had to be supplemented with certain prescribed human works or deeds. What these false teachers preached was not the “gospel;” that is, it was not good news at all. As Peter declared, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (see Acts 15:10-11). Then Paul said “but there be some that trouble you” meaning that there were people masquerading as teachers who were disturbing and confusing the Galatian believers with a misleading, counterfeit teaching. In addition, not only were these false teachers troubling or confusing them, their teaching also “would pervert the gospel of Christ.” The word “pervert” means “to twist” or “change the meaning of something.” To add to the plan of salvation or to deny the basic facts of “the gospel” message is to “pervert” or twist “the gospel of Christ.” Twisting the truth is more difficult to spot than an outright lie. The Judaizers were twisting the truth about Christ. They claimed to follow Him, but they denied that Jesus’ work on the cross was sufficient for salvation. Note: As already noted, those who had confused the Galatian believers and perverted “the gospel” were zealous Jewish Christians who believed that the Old Testament practices such as circumcision and dietary laws were required for all believers, Jew and Gentile. Because these teachers wanted to turn the Gentile Christians into Jews, they were called Judaizers. Most of the Galatian Christians were Greeks who were unfamiliar with Jewish laws and customs. The Judaizers were an extreme faction of Jewish Christians. Both groups believed in Jesus Christ, but their life-styles were very different. Whether or not these Judaizers were sincere Christians, their teaching threatened these new churches in Galatia and had to be addressed. When Paul called their teaching a perversion of “the gospel,” he was not rejecting everything Jewish. He himself was a Jew who worshiped in the temple and attended religious festivals. But he was not going to, and neither should we, let anything get in the way of the simple truth of his message that salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But how can we tell when people are perverting or twisting the truth? Well, try this: before accepting the teachings of any group, find out what the group teaches about Jesus Christ. If their teaching does not match the truth in God’s Word, then it is perverted or twisted.
B. False teachers condemned (Galatians 1:8-9).
1. (vs. 8). In this verse Paul said “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Paul had taught the Galatians the true “gospel” or good news that Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world” (see Galatians 1:4). To show how serious he was about preserving or keeping this true “gospel” intact, Paul said “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” The pronoun “we” indicates that Paul was including himself and his associates as deserving to “be accursed” if they “preached” any other “gospel” or way to salvation to the Galatians than the true “gospel” that they had already “preached.” The Galatians were to reject any such message. The seriousness of Paul’s remarks are made even clearer when he said that even if “an angel from heaven” preached anything different from what they had “preached,” the “angel” was also to “be accursed” which means to fall under God’s curse or to suffer His wrath. Note: Just because someone claims an angelic visitation or a divine revelation does not make their message authentic. In fact, this is one way that cult leaders and other false teachers keep their followers. If leaders can convince them that their teachings come directly from God, followers are more willing to give blind allegiance to these false prophets. Paul said “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (see I Thessalonians 5:21). In essence, in this verse, Paul declared, “Let God’s curses or wrath fall on anyone, including ourselves, who preaches any other way to be saved than the one we told you about; yes, if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed.”
2. (vs. 9). This verse goes on to say “As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” In this verse, Paul repeats what he said in verse 8 to show just how serious he was. So he warns those in Galatia who were presently preaching a different “gospel” from the original “gospel.” He said, “As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” God’s original message has not changed over the centuries. Look at it this way: if the “gospel” is new, it is not true; if it is true, it is not new. This is why we should “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (see Jude 3). The true “gospel” was given to mankind once and only once. There is no need for another.
IV. THE RESURRECTION: THE BASIS OF THE TRUE GOSPEL (Matthew 28:1-7). On the day following Jesus’ death and burial, the Sanhedrin council sent a delegation to Pilate (see Matthew 27:62). This would have been the First day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was a Jewish Sabbath day (see John 19:31) and the day after the observance of Passover. It was an especially sacred day. According to Jewish law, there were at least two Sabbath days during that week. Jesus was crucified on the 14th of Nisan or Passover (see John 12:1; 19:14-16) and the next day the 15th of Nisan, was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was a Sabbath day (see Leviticus 23:6-7), and then two days later, the 17th of Nisan was Saturday, the regular weekly Sabbath day (For an outline of the last week of Jesus’ life, please search for “The Last Week of Jesus’ Life” on this web site.). The Sanhedrin members thought the disciples might steal Jesus’ body and declare His resurrection. Since the council had no military authority outside the temple complex, they asked Pilate to command that the “sepulchre be made sure until the third day” (see Matthew 27:64). Pilate gave in to their request telling them “Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can” (see Matthew 27:65). Having Pilate’s authorization, the Sanhedrin delegation went to make sure the tomb was secure (see Matthew 27:66). This is where the second part of our lesson begins.
A. The women’s arrival at the tomb (Matthew 28:1). Our first verse says “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” The “sabbath” here refers to Saturday, the weekly “sabbath” day. The weekly “sabbath” ended at sundown or about 6 pm, and the first day of the next week began which would be Sunday. This is what is meant by the phrase “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” So, early Sunday morning, sometime after 6:00 pm Saturday night, “came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” The women who came to Jesus’ tomb could not have accomplished their mission in the dark, so they waited until “dawn” or when daylight began to break. Matthew says that they went to “see” or view Jesus’ “sepulchre” or burial place, but we learn in Mark and Luke that they also wanted to anoint Jesus’ body with spices (see Mark 16:1; Luke 23:55-56). Among those who went to the tomb were “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.” We know “Mary Magdalene” was the woman out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (see Luke 8:2). “The other Mary” was the mother of James the Less and Joses (see Mark 16:1; 15:40). She was probably the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother and was also identified as “the wife of Cleophas (see John 19:25). These were only two of several women who had been at the cross and now visited the tomb (see Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10). Although Matthew does not mention Salome as one of the women, Mark does (see Mark 16:11). This is just one example of how the gospel accounts supplement one another. In their devotion to Jesus, these women were willing to take risks that His male disciples tried to avoid. Note: Jesus’ ministry had been followed and supported by a number of faithful women. They had served Him in life; now they intended to minister to Him in death. It was the intent of Jesus’ friends to give Him and honorable burial. This work was begun by Nicodemus and Joseph (see Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-55; John 19:38-42).
B. The arrival of the angel (Matthew 28:2-3).
1. (vs. 2). This verse says “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” As the women approached the tomb, according to Mark’s account, they were wondering who would roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb for them (see Mark 16:3) when their thoughts were most likely interrupted by an “earthquake.” Matthew said here, “And, behold, there was a great earthquake” which refers to what happened before the women arrived at the tomb. The “earthquake” was associated with the coming of an “angel.” This was the second “earthquake” to hit Palestine in three days. Both the death and resurrection of Jesus were accompanied by earthquakes (see Matthew 27:50-51). Matthew then said “for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” As part of his mission, the angel rolled the stone away from the entrance to the tomb and sat on it. The angel didn’t do this to let the risen Jesus escape, but to allow witnesses to see that His body was gone.
2. (vs. 3). This verse says “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow…” Mark describes the angel as a “young man” (see Mark 16:5); Luke speaks of “two men” (see Luke 24:4) and John spoke of “two angels” (see John 20:12). Apparently there were two angels at the tomb, but some eyewitnesses focused on only one, who was most likely the speaker. But all gospel accounts agree about their appearance. Since Matthew speaks of only one angel, for the sake of this commentary, so will we. While it is impossible to adequately describe an angelic appearance in words, the report by Matthew indicates that the women beheld an awesome sight. He said that the angel’s “countenance (or face) was like lightning, and his raiment (or his clothes) white as snow…” In other words, Matthew said that the angel had a glorious appearance or countenance. His face beamed with the brightness of lightning, and his clothes shone with the brilliance of sunlit snow. No doubt both angels had the same appearance. Many commentators see a similarity between this description of the angels and the description given of Jesus at His transfiguration (see Matthew 17:2). The appearance of the angels spoke of holiness and power. Although Mark in his gospel speaks of the angels wearing “a long white garment” and Luke describes the angels’ clothes as “shining garments” (see Luke 24:4), John spoke of “angels in white” (see John 20:12). The point is that in all four cases, the angels’ appearance was dazzling and intimidating.
C. The fear of the guards (Matthew 28:4). This verse says “And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” Here, Matthew gives us one detail the other Gospels leave out; the effect the angel had on the guards. We are told that “for fear of him (the angel) the keepers did shake.” When we consider the brilliant appearance of the angel, it is understandable that the men who had been posted to guard the tomb would “shake” with “fear” at the sight of him. I probably would have reacted the same way! They were so terrified that they “became as dead men.” In other words, sudden “fear” overtook and they became motionless or paralyzed with panic. Note: Guards were posted at Jesus’ tomb because the chief priests and Pharisees remembering that Jesus had foretold His resurrection were afraid that His disciples would steal His body and say He had risen. So they obtained permission from Pilate to post guards to secure the tomb from any intruders (see Matthew 27:62-66). Some Bible scholars believe that these guards were temple police, the Jewish force that arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Mark 14:43; Acts 4:1-3). They believe this based on the fact that the guards reported back to the chief priests instead of Pilate which suggests that they were not Roman soldiers. However, it seems more likely that these were Roman soldiers not temple police because the Jews didn’t have any military authority. So they needed Pilate’s approval for a Roman guard to defend the tomb and he gave it to them (see Matthew 27:65). Since the soldiers had been released to the chief priests who had given them their orders, it was only natural that they would report back to them. In addition, the guards knew that failure to perform their duty would get them in trouble with Pilate and even lead to their deaths (see Acts 12:5-19; 16:27). So, having seen what happened at Jesus’ tomb, the soldiers most likely believed that only the Jewish authorities, who gave them their orders, had the power to protect them, and they were correct (see Matthew 28:12-15). The chief priests and Pharisees did all they could to keep the body of Jesus in the grave, but they were no match for the power of God. No one is! When the women got to the tomb, the stone was rolled away. The guards who had been paralyzed by fear had apparently recovered and fled to report the events they had seen to the chief priests (see Matthew 28:11). That was not at all what the women expected to see on that Sunday morning.
D. The angel’s testimony: Jesus is risen (Matthew 28:5-6).
1. (vs. 5). This verse says “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.” As the women came to the tomb, they found the stone rolled from the door (see Luke 24:1-2). Seeing the stone rolled away, Mary Magdalene left the other women to go and tell Peter that the Lord’s body had been stolen (see John 2:1-2). But the other women entered the tomb to investigate (see Mark 16:5). There they saw the angel. Note: According to Mark’s account, the first thing the women saw was the rolled away stone. They didn’t see the angel until they had entered the tomb where they saw “a young man sitting on the right side.” Of course this was one of the angels. Again, Luke says that there were two angels standing inside the tomb (see Luke 24:4). There is no contradiction here. Each writer wrote what was important to them as guided by the Holy Spirit (see II Timothy 3:16). As we noted earlier (see verse 3), one of the angels may have acted as the spokesman and was much more prominent. This may be why the gospels of Matthew and Mark speak of only one angel. At this point, Matthew says that “the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye.” These words were meant to put the women at ease. Matthew says that he “answered” the women, even though they had not spoken a word. Luke’s account indicates that in their fear, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground. Then the angel asked them why they were looking for a living person in a place intended for the dead (see Luke 24:5). Matthew’s account here does not include the angel’s question to the women. However, the angel’s words “Fear not ye” reassured the women that they had no reason to be afraid. Then “the angel” told them that he knew why they were there. He said “for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.” The “angel” was well aware of the purpose behind the women’s visit to the tomb. They were looking for “Jesus,” the One who had been “crucified” a few days earlier.
2. (vs. 6). This verse says“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” The angel went on to say to the women “He is not here.” Jesus was no longer in this tomb, it was empty. This could only mean one thing, so the angel added “for he is risen, as he said.” Jesus had spoken of His resurrection several times (see Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:18-19; Luke 9:22; Mark 9:30-32; 10:32-34), but His disciples really paid no attention to it (see Luke 18:31-34; 9:44-45. They were so concerned with denying His coming death (see Matthew 16:21-22; Mark 8:31-32), that they could not see beyond it to His resurrection. It’s interesting that Jesus’ enemies, the Jewish authorities, remembered what He had said about His resurrection (see Matthew 27:62-63), but His disciples didn’t. That’s not a very good commentary on the Lord’s followers. The angel added that Jesus had “risen” from the dead just like He said He would. Jesus had even told His disciples this on the night before His crucifixion (see Matthew 26:30-32). Jesus’ resurrection was undeniable evidence that He was indeed the Son of God just as He claimed all along (see John 5:17-24; 9:35-38). To prove what he said was the truth, the angel invited the women to look for themselves at the spot where the Lord’s body had lain. So he said to the women “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” If they did as the angel said, they probably saw what Peter and John saw later—the linen clothes that had wrapped the Lord’s body and the face cloth neatly arranged where Jesus had lain (see John 20:6-7). It would be obvious that this was no hurried grave robbery. Grave robbers would not have left the clothes there, much less in that condition. Note: The most outstanding piece of evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, aside from the missing body, was the grave-clothes. They included the material used to wrap the body as well as a separate piece of cloth for the head. These clothes had the appearance of something that had been inflated with air and then slowly became flat as the air leaked out. Jesus’ body passed through the grave-clothes just like it did through other forms of matter (see John 20:26).
E. The angel’s instructions to the women confirm the resurrection (Matthew 28:7). The angel continued to say in this verse “And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” This joyous news about the Savior was not for these women alone. The angel urged them to “go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.” Mark’s account records that the angel mentioned Peter separately from the other “disciples” (see Mark 16:7), perhaps to reassure him that Jesus still loved him despite his recent denials (see Matthew 27:69-75; Luke 22:54-61; John 18:15-17, 18, 25-27). The women were also to tell the “disciples” specifically that Jesus was going before them “into Galilee” and would meet them there. Jesus had told His “disciples” the night before His crucifixion that He would go before them to “Galilee” after He arose (see Matthew 26:31-32). Undoubtedly, Jesus knew that they had not paid attention, so this was a reminder that He would do as He had promised. Although Jesus would appear to His “disciples” that Sunday evening in Jerusalem (see Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-24), this meeting in “Galilee” was an important event for them. It was there that the Lord gave the “disciples” the Great Commission to go to all the world (see Matthew 28:16-20). During this time, we generally think of the “disciples” as the inner circle of the Eleven Disciples (this all took place after Judas committed suicide), but there were more followers at this time, and the women spread the word to all of them (see Luke 24:9-10). The phrase “lo, I have told you” was the angel’s assurance that his words were true. As of that time the women had not seen Jesus. They had to accept by faith that He really had risen.
V. THE GREAT COMMISSION: THE SPREADING OF THE TRUE GOSPEL (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry continued for 40 days. He spent this time convincing His followers of His resurrection and teaching them about the kingdom of God (see Acts 1:1-9). After the disciples received Jesus’ directions from the women to go to Galilee (see Matthew 28:7), the remaining eleven disciples went there. The time had now come for Jesus to ascend back to heaven and to commission the apostles for the great work that lay ahead of them. There, on a mountain some five hundred of Jesus’ followers waited for Him to meet with them (see I Corinthians 15:6). This part of our lesson begins when Jesus appeared to His followers just before He ascended into heaven.
A. Jesus gives power to the gospel (Matthew 28:18). This verse says “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Just as Jesus had promised, He met His disciples along with probably about five hundred other followers on a mountain in Galilee. We aren’t told what mountain this was, but Matthew writes in this verse, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” The term “power” here is a broad one that includes the concept of authority. As the resurrected Son of God, the Father has given Jesus absolute control and authority over the entire universe. Nothing could stand against His “power.” Going forward there would be no restraints on the exercise of His authority like there was during His earthly ministry (see Matthew 13:57-58). With this official authority from the Father, Jesus gave His followers their marching orders.
B. Jesus’ command to preach and teach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).
1. (vs. 19). This verse says “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…” Based on the authority the Father had given Him, Jesus commanded His disciples to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” The Greek word rendered “teach” means “to make disciples.” Of course, a “disciple” is a follower of Jesus Christ. Literally, they were to make disciples of “all nations.” During His earthly ministry, Jesus had limited the disciples’ ministry to just the house of Israel (see Matthew 10:5-6). Now all people were to hear the gospel, for Christ’s church would include both Jews and Gentiles. No nation or group of people is to be ignored because everyone needs to hear about Jesus. Making disciples involves declaring the truth about Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation He offers to all who believe in Him. But the process of making disciples includes two distinct, but important aspects. The first is “baptizing.” Making disciples included “baptizing them (everyone who accepts the gospel message) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” This refers to water baptism. Just as John the Baptist had baptized those who identified with his message of repentance, Jesus instructed the disciples to baptize those who accepted the message of salvation in Christ. Through the ordinance of baptism, the believer makes a public profession of his or her faith in Jesus Christ as well as a commitment to Him. The believer also openly identifies himself or herself with Jesus’ followers. Simply put, baptism is the outward show of an inward change. Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize believers in the “name of” the Triune God, that is “the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In this way, the believer identifies himself or herself with all three Persons of the Trinity, proclaiming his or her allegiance and submission to them.
2. (vs. 20). Our final verse says “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. Amen.” Jesus continued with His command saying “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” As baptizing was the first of the two distinct but important aspects of making disciples, “teaching” is the second aspect. Jesus commanded His followers to teach new converts to obey all that He had “commanded” them. This refers to the whole of God’s Word and underscores the importance of it to the lives of His people (see Psalms 119:11, 15-16, 20. 24, 52, 105). Scripture has the absolute right to define what we believe and how we behave. Being faithful in baptizing and “teaching” others would not be an easy task for Jesus’ followers. There would be times of disappointment and grief (see Acts 13:44-46, 50-52). Although Jesus was soon going to leave them to return to heaven, there was no reason for them to despair because the risen Lord also said “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Regardless of the situation, Jesus promised that He would never abandon His disciples. The word “alway” translates a phrase that literally reads “the whole of every day.” The Lord will be with His disciples to the end of the age, the end of history as we know it, when Christ “shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (see I Corinthians 15:24). Note: Jesus’ command in verses 19 and 20 is known as the Great Commission. Like Jesus’ first disciples, we have been commissioned to proclaim the good news of Christ’s resurrection. Those who are lost need to know that Jesus died for their sin and has made redemption available to them. When a person turns from sin by trusting in the risen Lord, he or she is pardoned, reconciled to God and is justified (see Romans 8:30). That is certainly good news worthy of being shared with others. Jesus concluded His command with the word “Amen” which affirmed that His presence would continue to the end of the age. We Christians today can be assured that Jesus is always with us just as He was with the original disciples in the first century.
VI. CONCLUSION. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he wanted them to remember the gospel because they were tempted to follow a false gospel which was not a gospel. The truth of the gospel is that Jesus died on the cross, but three days later He rose from the dead. Some women were the first to discover the empty tomb. They met the risen Savior and brought the news to disillusioned disciples. Jesus met His followers in Galilee and before ascending to heaven, commissioned them to evangelize and disciple all nations. As we near the end of the age, we are aware of Jesus’ promise and also His mandate. He wants our generation to be faithful to the Great Commission just as the first generation of Christians was.
***The Sunday School Lesson, Union Gospel Press Curriculum: The Bible Expositor and Illuminator***
Clarence Price, Jr Sunday School
Poleon L. Griffin
Oak Grove Baptist Church
Jackson, Ga. 30233