part 6 is short and sweet.
Verse 19 – “Make disciples” is the verb matheteuo. It is the main verb of this passage. This verb reveals the primary responsibility and action of the church. We are not striving to just get people saved. We are striving to make disciples. More specifically, we make disciples of Jesus Christ. Individual members of the church must guard against copycat discipling. If we try and make disciples in the exact same way Jesus did we run the risk of making disciples who act just like us. People are diverse and different by God’s design and the church is the only place equipped to fully disciple them. This is why Jesus gave this command to the church. One-on-one mentoring/discipling has its place and is a part of the discipleship process, but it is not the primary means for discipleship. We want disciples of Jesus Christ and they can only come about through the work of the church and God’s Spirit.
In the following verses we have a series of participles (e.g., go, baptize, and teach), describing how the main verb (matheteuo) is to be done. Who is responsible for carrying this out? The church is. The participles help establish actions the church can perform in making disciples. Going, baptizing, and teaching characterize the discipleship process.
Verse 19a – “Go” The church must take the initiative to bring Jesus to the people. Here we see making disciples is intentional and somewhat aggressive. A church cannot effectively reach sinners if it does not go to them. Jesus does not have a bleacher section for His followers to sit and enjoy the game. We are in the game. We are the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13, 14). Evangelism depends on churches going. It is between our going and baptizing that people receive Jesus. Another principle for discipleship emerges here.
- Discipleship involves God’s people going to others.