A captivating photograph capturing a serene moment of a handwritten parchment, delicately displaying Jesus' final commandment, radiating divine wisdom and love.

What Was Jesus’S Last Commandment Called?

Jesus gave his disciples many commandments and teachings during his ministry, but one of his final instructions has become known as the ‘Great Commission’. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Jesus’s last commandment to his followers before ascending into heaven is commonly called the Great Commission.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine what exactly the Great Commission is, why it is considered Jesus’s final commandment to his disciples, and how it has been interpreted and applied by Christians over the past two millennia.

The Biblical Basis for the Great Commission

Jesus’s Post-Resurrection Appearances

According to the Gospels, Jesus appeared to his disciples and others several times after his resurrection. These post-resurrection appearances reinforced his teachings and prepared them for the mission he was going to entrust them with.

Some key appearances took place when Jesus met with the disciples in the Upper Room (Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23), showed the doubting Thomas his resurrected body (John 20:24-29), and appeared to two disciples traveling to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32).

Through these encounters, Jesus comforted the disciples in their grief after his death, offered proof of his bodily resurrection, opened their minds to understand the Scriptures about him (Luke 24:45), and commissioned them to preach “repentance and forgiveness of sins” to all nations (Luke 24:47).

The Gospel Accounts of the Great Commission

The most direct basis for the Great Commission is found at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, where the resurrected Jesus met his remaining 11 disciples on a mountainside in Galilee and said:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Though with slight variances, this command is reflected in the other Synoptic Gospels as well. Mark 16:15 records Jesus telling the disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Luke 24:46-49 describes Jesus opening the disciples’ minds to understand that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations.” The Gospel of John focuses more on Jesus’ appearances than his final commission, yet the commission is implied in Jesus’ remark about sending his followers “as the Father has sent me” (John 20:21).

Key Elements and Theme of Unity in Jesus’s Final Command

There are some key elements that emerge from these accounts of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances and final instructions:

  • The commission was rooted in Jesus’s supreme authority over heaven and earth, which entitled him to send his followers on this global mission.
  • Making disciples through evangelism, baptism, and teaching was core to Jesus’s command.
  • There was a sense of urgency implied in going swiftly to reach “all nations” or “all creation” with the gospel message.
  • Jesus emphasized unity — baptizing believers into shared faith “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Jesus reassured the disciples by promising his presence as they carried out this immense task.

So in the Great Commission, Jesus strategically mobilized unified action on an urgent, global scale based on the supreme authority vested in him as the resurrected Son of God. This provided clear rationale and motivation for Christianity’s aim to spread quickly beyond Palestine to reach Gentile converts everywhere with the gospel of salvation through Christ.

TheSignificance and Impact of the Great Commission Throughout History

Early Church Missions and Evangelism

The Great Commission served as the catalyst for early Christian missions and evangelism. After Jesus gave his disciples the command to “go and make disciples of all nations,” the apostles and early church leaders took the mandate seriously and set out to spread the gospel message across the known world (Matthew 28:19).

The book of Acts records the missionary journeys of Paul and others to major cities in the Roman Empire. Despite persecution, the early church continued to grow rapidly as missionaries traveled great distances to preach the good news about Jesus.

According to church tradition, some of Jesus’s original disciples like Thomas and Bartholomew traveled as far as India and Armenia to share the gospel. While exact details are difficult to verify, there seems strong evidence that the apostles took the Great Commission as a central mission.

Their evangelistic zeal laid the foundation for Christianity to become a worldwide religion.

The Great Commission and Modern Missions

The Great Commission has continued to inspire and propel Christian missions over the last two millennia. William Carey, sometimes called the “father of modern missions,” cited the Great Commission as motivation to take the gospel to India in the late 1700s.

Adoniram Judson, Robert Morrison, and other pioneering missionaries to Burma and China also declared the Great Commission as their mandate. Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission, which by the early 1900s had over 800 missionaries working in China.

In the 20th century, evangelist Billy Graham preached to millions globally, often ending his sermons with a call to share the message of salvation with others. Campus Crusade for Christ, founded in 1951 on the UCLA campus, has grown to a major international ministry focused on the Great Commission.

The emphasis continues today, as churches and mission agencies cite Jesus’s final instructions as the blueprint for their work.

The Central Role of the Great Commission in Christianity

Because it embodies some of Jesus’s final words to his disciples, the Great Commission holds special significance for Christians. It connects back to God’s promises in the Old Testament to bless all nations through Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12:3).

The Great Commission challenges believers in every generation to actively participate in God’s worldwide redemptive plan.

Though other teachings of Jesus provide ethical guidance and spiritual formation, the Great Commission stands unique as a last, urgent call to action. It implies reaching the lost is the central mission of Christianity.

For this reason, fulfillment of the Great Commission is considered an important indicator of a vital, obedient Christian life and church. Essentially, evangelism remains a priority for Christians today because Jesus made it a priority 2000 years ago.

The Great Commission in 21st Century Christianity

Influential Ministries Focused on the Great Commission

Jesus’s final instructions to his disciples, known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), continues to mobilize Christian ministries in the 21st century. Notable evangelical leaders with international outreach are wholly dedicated to this call, like Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), and Lausanne Movement.

Debates and Differing Perspectives

There are thoughtful discussions among theologians regarding the Great Commission’s modern application. Some believe its missionary focus fits colonial-era mentalities and needs re-interpreting. Others interpret it individualistically, empowering every Christian’s unique contribution, not just clergy or evangelists.

Practical Applications for Believers Today

For many Christians today, the Great Commission continues to shape their daily walk regardless of vocation. It may lead them to

  • regularly pray for friends who don’t know Jesus
  • ,

  • to listen and ask good questions
  • ,

  • to serve their neighborhood
  • ,

  • to give financially to support missionaries
  • ,

  • or even to move overseas.


    In conclusion, the Great Commission has stood as Jesus’s final instructions to his followers for nearly 2,000 years. Despite differing perspectives and approaches over time, Christians of all traditions recognize both the authority and profound importance of Jesus’s call to make disciples of all nations.

    As the church looks ahead in the 21st century and beyond, the Great Commission provides guidance, purpose, and unity to believers seeking to walk in faithful obedience to their Lord.

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