The Great Commission Fulfilled?

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JML

Puritan Board Junior
I was reading something today that claimed just that. :scratch: What was said is that Colossians 1:3-6 is the fulfillment of Matthew 28:19-20. Here are the verses:

Colossians 1:3-6
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;

Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.


The argument was made that since the gospel has gone to all nations and disciples were made as it says in Colossians then the Great Commission is fulfilled and no longer applies to us today. Has anybody here ever heard of this teaching before? If so, which theologians hold to this?

I obviously don't agree with it. It seems to me to be a hypercalvinistic excuse to avoid doing any mission work and keeping a good conscience about it. Why even preach if this is the case? What arguments would you make to counter such an statement? It seems from my understanding that the Great Commission is not a verse that can be "fulfilled" as it seems to me that it is something that should continuously be done and therefore we won't get to a point when it is finished (until the return of Christ).
 

saintandsinner77

Puritan Board Freshman
It was not fulfilled at the end of the first century- it did not go to North and South America, not to mention what we know as China today.
 

puritanpilgrim

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not sure what is meant by fulfillment. Obviously, the gospel has not gone to all nations/peoples without exception. I believe Christ's words that He'll be with the officers of the church "to the end" is an intimation that the work will go on until His final return.

Then does all mean all in that passage?
 

puritanpilgrim

Puritan Board Junior
Therefore, it's irrevelent as to how far the gospel has actually been spead, in reference to its fullfillment. It's just something that will continue until Christ returns.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
This doesn't have to be a yes/no answer. By the end of the New Testament, there is a sense in which the Great Commission is fulfilled, and a sense in which it isn't.

The book of Acts is particularly helpful in seeing this. It opens with the Great Commission: "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem... in all Judea and Samaria... and to the ends of the earth." It closes with Paul arriving in Rome and preaching Christ there. The end seems abrupt to us. But it's a good ending given how the book begins. Rome is representative of the ends of the earth. The Spirit has done exactly what Jesus said he would do. Christ is preached all over the world, not just in Jewish regions.

From our perspective of seeing individual Gentile nations, Paul's work confined to the Mediterranian region seems incomplete. But when the world is divided (as Acts does it) into Jewish, semi-Jewish and non-Jewish lands, we see that the Great Commission is fulfilled.

Yet it's also just the beginning. Clearly the work remains ongoing. Paul didn't preach once in Rome and then quit, but rather was still at it two years later. What of his desire to go to Spain? And what of Jesus' promise that accompanies the Great Commission, to be with us "to the end of the age?" Those of us who believe that age has not yet ended must also understand that the Great Commission continues. Its partial fulfillment, told in Acts and referred to in the cited verse from Colossians, should be a great encouragement that the Spirit will continue to work through Christ's church to glorfy his name among more and more nations.
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The promise of Christ in the Great Commission was that he would be with us until the end of the age......is Christ no longer with us?

Also, we are told to baptize and teach as part of the Great Commission...do we no longer need to baptize? Is this fulfilled too?
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
The promise of Christ in the Great Commission was that he would be with us until the end of the age......is Christ no longer with us?

Also, we are told to baptize and teach as part of the Great Commission...do we no longer need to baptize? Is this fulfilled too?

:bueller:
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
The promise of Christ in the Great Commission was that he would be with us until the end of the age......is Christ no longer with us?

Also, we are told to baptize and teach as part of the Great Commission...do we no longer need to baptize? Is this fulfilled too?

Very good points. I knew that you would have some good counter arguments.

Has anybody ever heard the OP argument before? In my few years as a pastor this one was new to me. Quite frankly, it is saddening as well.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
John:

This was a widespread position during the Reformation.

Some of the Reformers said that the Great Commission was given to the Apostles. There are no more apostles = no more Great Commission.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Page 451 of Dr. Timothy Tennent's new book:

Invitation to World Missions: A ... - Google Books


Also,

Dr Verkuyl (Reformed AND Dutch I think) in his Contemporary Missiology book sums up:


"It is incomprehensible that the Reformers and their contemporaries did not relate Jesus' promise in Matthew 28 to be present even to the end of the age to the fulfillment of their missionary task, but it is undeniably true."


Calvin's Commentary on Matt 28 does say this about the Great Commission NOT being fulfilled in the First Century:
"We must note that this is said not only to the apostles, for the Lord promises His aid not to one age alone, but to the end of the world."

So, Calvin believed in the need for worldwide missions per his commentary (see comments on Matt 24, "This Gospel will be preached...." as well) even though he did not believe in a continuation of the apostles...although he did write the following, "Although I deny not, that afterwards God occasionally raised up Apostles, or at least Evangelists, in their stead, as has been done in our time" (Inst. IV, 3, 4).

When Hadrian Saravia wrote chapter 17 of one work (I forget the name) on the present continuation of the Great Commission, Beza tried to refute it chapter by chapter and denied that the Great Commission was still binding. Beza's beef was Saravia's claim that there were still apostles. I can find sources for this if needed.

---------- Post added at 05:55 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:50 PM ----------

http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/huhtinenlutherandworldmissions.pdf

Here is one interpretation of Luther's view of missions.
 
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