Recently, a local-church preacher addressed the issue of physical baptism for believers. His message included being baptized both in Jesus’ name, and also being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His last statement is based on God’s so called ‘Great Commission.’
Jesus’ ‘Great Commission’ in Matt. 28:16-20 is interpreted almost exclusively by Christians as pertaining to the church. However, based on the twelve reasons below, Jesus’ commands to His disciples did not relate to the church but related exclusively to the generation of Jews living in the land of Israel at the beginning of events leading up to Jesus’ Second Coming. At that point in time, the church is no longer on the earth. Ergo, present-day baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit does not pertain to the church.
- Biblically, the ‘Great Commission’ occurred on a mountain in Galilee. A mountain is symbolic for a kingdom and not for the church. Restoration of the kingdom to Israel was of paramount interest to Jesus’ disciples between the forty-day timespan between His resurrection and His ascension (Acts 1:3-7).
- The church had not yet been formed when Jesus gave commands to this group of disciples on a mountain in Galilee, probably within several miles from Jerusalem (Matt. 26:32).
- Everything in the church is done in Jesus’ name and not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Col. 3:17).
- Jesus is not with church believers even to the end of the age (1 Thess. 4:13-17).
- Jesus is in church believers, not with church believers (Col. 1:27).
- The end of the age is likely Jesus’ Second Coming.
- The disciples going into all the nations are likely all Jews who have been promised protection from death (12 thousand from each tribe for a total of 144,000 Jews, Rev. 7:4-8).
- The Jews going into all nations will preach to both Jews and gentiles. The believing Jews will migrate to the land of Israel as part of God’s second recovery of His people (Isa. 12:11) and will become part of the kingdom that God restores to Israel. Please note: the first recovery of Jews to the land of Israel began in 1948.
- The believing gentiles will populate all the nations apart from Israel. Those doubtful disciples on the mountain in Galilee likely didn’t believe the testimony of the three disciples who had been present at Jesus’ transfiguration featuring the non-church saints Moses and Elijah.
- From the local church at Antioch, Saul and Barnabas were the only members sent by the Spirit to make disciples (Acts 13:1-5). John Mark did tag along as a helper. The entire local church membership was not sent by the Spirit.
- Evangelists were only a small part of the church—the entire church was never commanded to be evangelists in order to make disciples (Eph. 4:11).
- No biblical evidence exists reporting that an entire local church departed their location and premises for another nation or nations to make disciples.