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Universal Mission: The Climax of Matthew’s Post-Resurrection Account

An Exegetical Analysis of Matthew 28

von Benjamin Ogechi Agbara (Autor:in)
©2018 Dissertation XVIII, 300 Seiten


The work is based on the last command of the risen Jesus to his disciples in Matthew’s account of the events that followed the resurrection of Jesus. The command is: «Make disciples of all nations». The command reverses the initial restriction of the disciples to only the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The work presents the command as the climax of Matthew’s post-resurrection account, which is told in four scenes and each of the scenes contains a command. The last command sanctions the mission to the Gentiles without ending the mission to Israel. Making disciples involves baptism to increase the number of Christians (Church growth) and teaching to increase adherence to the teachings of Jesus (Church life).


  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Preface to the Series
  • Vorwort zur Reihe
  • Preface
  • Abbreviations
  • Table of Contents
  • Chapter One: General Introduction
  • 1.1 Background of Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Aim of the Study
  • 1.4 Significance of the Study
  • 1.5 Argument of the Thesis
  • 1.6 Scope of the Research
  • 1.7 Method of Research
  • 1.8 Definition of Key Terms
  • 1.8.1 Mission
  • 1.8.2 Disciple
  • 1.8.3 Nations
  • 1.9 Design of the Study
  • Chapter Two: Literature Review
  • 2.1 Understanding of Christian Mission in General
  • 2.2 The New Testament and Mission
  • 2.3 Mission in Matthew
  • 2.4 Exegetical Works on Matthew 28
  • Chapter Three: Some Background Issues to the Universal Mission in Matthew
  • 3.1 The Place of the Jews in Matthew
  • 3.1.1 The Jewish Origin of Jesus
  • The Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1:1-17)
  • Jesus as the Immanuel (Matt 1:18-23)
  • Jesus as the Representative Jew (Matt 2:15)
  • 3.1.2 The Jews as the Chosen People
  • 3.1.3 The Jews as the Opponents of Jesus
  • Clashes between Jesus and the Jewish Leaders
  • Woe Oracles and Parables against the Jews
  • The Crucifixion: The Climax of Jewish Opposition
  • 3.2 Matthew and the Gentiles
  • 3.2.1 The Women of the Genealogy
  • Tamar
  • Rahab
  • Ruth
  • Bathsheba
  • 3.2.2 The Wise Men from the East
  • 3.2.3 Other Gentile Characters in Matthew
  • The Faith of a Centurion (Matt 8:5-13)
  • The Faith of a Canaanite Woman (Matt 15:21-28)
  • 3.2.4 Negative References to the Gentiles in Matthew
  • 3.3 Discipleship and Church in Matthew
  • 3.3.1 Call to Discipleship (4:18-22)
  • 3.3.2 The Future Fate of the Disciples (10:16-25)
  • 3.3.3 Matthew’s use of Ekklesia
  • 3.4 Authority/Kingship of Jesus in Matthew
  • 3.4.1 Kingship of Jesus in the Introductory Section of Matthew
  • 3.4.2 Kingship of Jesus in the Galilean Ministry
  • The Teaching Authority
  • The Healing Authority
  • 3.4.3 Kingship of Jesus in the Jerusalem Ministry
  • The Triumphal Entry
  • The Eschatological Discourse
  • Chapter Four: Exegesis of Matthew 28
  • 4.1 Greek Text
  • 4.2 Delimitation
  • 4.3 Context of Matthew 28
  • 4.4 Literary Genre
  • 4.5 Structure of the Text
  • 4.6 Content analysis of Matthew 28
  • 4.6.1 First Commissioning of the Women (vv. 1–8)
  • The Visit of the Women to the Tomb (v. 1)
  • The Spectacular Events at the Tomb (vv. 2–4)
  • The Commissioning of the Women at the Tomb (vv. 5–7)
  • The Departure of the Women from the Tomb (vv. 8)
  • 4.6.2 Second Commissioning of the Women (vv. 9–10)
  • 4.6.3 Commissioning of the Guards (vv. 11–15)
  • 4.6.4 The Universal Commissioning of the Disciples (vv. 16–20)
  • The Appearance (16–17)
  • The Declaration (18–20)
  • Chapter Five: Theology of Matthew 28
  • 5.1 Christology of Matthew 28
  • 5.1.1 Absolute and Universal Authority of Jesus
  • 5.1.2 Abiding Presence of Jesus
  • 5.2 Ecclesiology of Matthew 28
  • 5.2.1 The Church as Disciples of Jesus
  • 5.2.2 The Church as Christocentric
  • 5.2.3 The Church as a Witness to the Resurrection
  • 5.3 Missiology of Matthew 28
  • 5.3.1 Jesus as the Sender
  • 5.3.2 The Disciples as the Sent
  • 5.3.3 Women and Mission
  • 5.3.4 Universal Mission as the Climax
  • 5.3.5 Content of Missionary Activities
  • 5.4 The Nigerian Experience of Mission
  • Chapter Six: Summary and Conclusion
  • 6.1 Summary
  • 6.2 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Series index

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Chapter One: General Introduction

1.1 Background of Study

The book of Matthew would not have been rightly classified as a Gospel if it had ended in chapter 27. “Gospel” as a term occurs frequently in the New Testament in both noun and verb forms literally meaning “good news” and “proclaiming good news respectively.”1 According to Raymond Brown, “In NT times euanggelion (‘good announcement,’ the word we translate ‘gospel’) did not refer to a book or writing but to a proclamation or message.”2 In Isaiah 40:9, the Prophet proclaimed the “good tidings” that God would rescue his people from captivity.3 The term εὐαγγέλια (gospel) is also used in the emperor cult to describe some of the fortunes and joyful celebrations. In his book, Die religiöse Umwelt des Urchristentums (The religious environment of primitive Christianity) Hans-Josef Klauck acknowledged the use of εὐαγγέλια in extra Christian circle like the emperor cult. According to him, „Wir halten aus unserer Schlußzeil den Begriff εὐαγγέλια (im Plural) fest, der auch im Kaiserkult zu Hause ist und dort auf Geburtstag, Volljährigkeit, Thronbesteigung und Genesung von Krankheit angewandt wird“.4 Generally, the term expresses a message of victory and deliverance from oppression. “Such news of victory was normally brought with great speed and joy by a messenger or town crier to an anxiously waiting citizenry. It gave rise to public, jubilant celebrations among such liberated citizens (cf. Isa 52:7-12)”5. This is the kind of function that Matthew ← 1 | 2 → 28 plays in the entire book. Chapter 28 is made up of series of good announcements of the resurrection, culminating in the announcement of the absolute authority of Jesus, which is the basis for the universal mission.

Matthew 28 is a gospel within a gospel. It brings the news of the resurrection of Jesus to an intimidated and anxious group of disciples. They were intimidated by the events of the passion and death but anxious because of the earlier promise of resurrection, something that is unprecedented in their history. The gospel is not considered as a new plan of salvation. It is the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation that was begun in Israel, was completed in Jesus Christ, and is made known by the Church.6 The commissioning of the Church, therefore, is not only an essential part of the gospel in Matthew 28, but also considered as its climax. In her commentary on the genre of the Fourth Gospel, Teresa Okure maintains that the use of the term “gospel” as a genre is uniquely Christian. According to her, “it applies specifically to the account of Jesus’ origin, both divine (1:1-2,18) and human (1:14,45), his Galilean and Judean ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection, and commissioning of his spirit-filled disciples to proclaim this good news to the whole world (20:21-23).7

What we find in Matthew 28 could be called the “post-resurrection” account. Like the other Evangelists, Matthew did not present a picture or an eye witness account of how the resurrection of Jesus actually took place. He rather gave his account of what happened thereafter. According to Donald Hagner, the narrative presupposes the resurrection of Jesus rather than giving an account of how or when it happened. It is fundamentally an announcement of the fact of the resurrection without an actual resurrection appearance.8 For him this announcement is not an empty one. It is accompanied with some spectacular events. “The startling announcement is made with appropriately spectacular accompaniments: an earthquake, an open tomb, the appearance of an angel, and the revelation of instructions ← 2 | 3 → for the disciples.”9 That is why it is referred to in this research work as “post-resurrection” account.

The spectacular accompaniments in the account build up to the final commissioning of the disciples. They were commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations. That is why the fundamental command given by the risen and exalted Jesus to the disciples is: μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη (make disciples of all nations). There are four scenes in the chapter: at the tomb (the Angel, the guards and the two women) verses 1–7, on the way (the risen Jesus and the women) verses 8–10, in the city (the chief priests and the guards) verses 11–15 and at the mountain in Galilee (the risen and exalted Jesus with the disciples) verses 16–20. Each of the scenes is made up of the sender and the sent. Only the senders speak in the entire narrative. The sent are silent all through. That is why all the scenes contain imperatives. In the first scene, the Angel sent the women to the disciples. The instruction here is: “then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has been raised from the dead and goes before you to Galilee.” καὶ ταχὺ πορευθεῖσαι εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ὅτι Ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἰδοὺ προάγει ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν (verse 7). The imperative here is εἴπατε (say, tell). In the second scene, the risen Jesus appeared to the women and repeated the message of the Angel to them. The instruction here is: “go announce to my brothers to go to Galilee.”

Ὑπάγετε ἀπαγγείλατε τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου ἵνα ἀπέλθωσιν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. (verse 10). The imperatives in this scene are ὑπάγετε ἀπαγγείλατε (go tell, go announce). In the third scene, the chief priests sent the guards with this instruction: “say that his disciples at night stole him while we were sleeping”. Εἴπατε ὅτι Οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς ἐλθόντες ἔκλεψαν αὐτὸν ἡμῶν κοιμωμένων (verse 13). The imperative here is Εἴπατε (say, tell), though the guards were not sent to any definite group. In the final scene of the chapter, which is also the final scene of the entire gospel, the disciples are sent with the command: “go therefore and make disciple of all the nations” πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. The imperative here is μαθητεύσατε (make disciples). Some translate it as teach or instruct. That is rather an interpretation. It is an interpretation that is taken from the subsequent participles that ← 3 | 4 → followed the imperative in the command of Jesus to the disciples: “teaching them to observe….”

It is clear from the foregoing that the text is all about sending. It is a mission text. The thesis considers this sending of the disciples with the instruction: μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη (make disciples of all nations) as the climax of all the “sendings” in the account. It is what is considered as the universal mission of the disciples.10 The importance and the climactic nature of the scene make it to be referred to as “The Great Commission”. It is the summit of the gospel and the link between Jesus and the whole world. This commissioning takes place in Galilee. Galilee does not only indicate an inclusio in the ministry of Jesus,11 it also has a great significance in the Gentile mission. “The consummation of the story will thus take place where the ministry began: in ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’ the light dawns that overcomes the shadow of death (4:15-16) and makes possible the mission to the Gentiles (v. 19).”12 The present study carries out an exegetical analysis of the text, which climaxes in the Great Commission.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

This last chapter of the book of Matthew is important in the study of the entire book. This is against the background of the book being considered as a Jewish and narrow Gospel. Matthew is always careful to show how the promises of the Old Covenant are fulfilled in the institution of the New Covenant.13 According to Adrian Leske, “A careful reading of this gospel will reveal its Jewish background and origins. It emphasizes the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures, deals with concerns regarding Jewish understanding of the law, pharisaic traditions, and scribal interpretations, and focuses ← 4 | 5 → on the controversies with Jewish religious leaders”.14 It is this tendency and the outright and explicit prohibition of his disciples from going to preach to the non-Jewish territories that have made many to conceive the book as narrow and Jewish, with a bias against the Gentile mission. Writing about his earlier view of Matthew’s Gospel, John Nolland observes, “Matthew seemed very narrow and Jewish. And it was hard at first to find in Matthew the generosity of spirit that I had come to value so much in Luke.”15 But the gospel presents Jesus as bringing “the blessing promised through Abraham to all nations (cf. 8:10-12; 28:18-20) even as he confirms the transitional and temporary nature of the Mosaic laws.”16 The notion of the Jews being the chosen people, to the exclusion of people of other nations, is a major characteristic feature of the Old Testament. “Covenant and election loom large in the received form of the Hebrew Bible. It is perhaps small wonder, then, that both have been proposed as the organizing centre about which an Old Testament theology could be built.”17 It is therefore strange to believe that a work that has a Jewish character could have a space for the Gentile mission. In Matthew Jesus establishes a New Law. He prescribes a new standard for living. This new standard he prescribes goes beyond the demands of the Mosaic Law and calls for a form of holiness that is deep, interior, and integral, as well as new definition of fraternal love.18 This brotherly love does not have racial boundary and its full expression is in the inclusion of the Gentiles among the members of the community. It is with this understanding that the call for universal mission is seen as an integral and essential part of the project of Matthew in his gospel account. ← 5 | 6 →

In the light of the problem stated above, the study seeks to answer some questions: Are there pointers to the universal mission in the earlier parts of the Gospel according to Matthew? Is there any link among the different “sendings” in the pericope under study? What are the points used to delimit Matthew 28 as a separate unit in Matthew’s Gospel? What does it mean to make disciples? What does the universal mission actually imply? What makes the universal mission climatic in the post-resurrection account of Matthew? What is the function of the text in the Matthean community? What is the relevance of the text in contemporary Ecclesiology? These are questions that form the focus of the research.19

1.3 Aim of the Study

The present work is aimed at an exegetical analysis of Matthew 28 with special focus on the universal mission. In this way, the unity of the entire text is highlighted. Because of the climactic nature of the text, it also aims at looking at the earlier features of the Gospel that look forward to the universal mission. The views of other exegetes and commentators on the issues are also reviewed and analyzed.

1.4 Significance of the Study

Exegetical analysis of Matthew 28 is not new in the circle of Biblical exegetes. The thesis is not merely to join the queue of exegetes in this chapter. The present thesis demonstrates the unity of the text through a systematic exegetical analysis of the scenes in the story. It presents the very last scene as the climax of the post- resurrection story and the denouement to the tension in the entire work.20 This is the scene of the sending of the disciples to make disciples of all nations. The passage is often referred to as the “Great Commission.” It is great not just because of the absolute authority or universal ← 6 | 7 → discipleship, but also from the textual angle of being the summit of the preceding events. The tendency among many scholars has always been to separate the final scene from the rest of the scene in the chapter. The thesis understands the scene of the Great Commission as the final outcome of the main dramatic complication and the sequence of events in the chapter, and, by extension, the entire Matthew’s Gospel. It is seen as a climatic event that signals the commencement of the mission of the disciples.

1.5 Argument of the Thesis

The Gospel according to Matthew can be said to have a Jewish character but written for the benefit of the Gentiles and in support of the mission Gentile or universal mission. According to Merrill Tenney, the Gospel according to Matthew was written to show how Jesus of Nazareth enlarged and explained the revelation that had been begun in the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.21 “Although it is strongly Jewish in its character, it was written for the benefit of Gentiles, since the final commission enjoined the Twelve [sic] to make disciples ‘of all nations’ (28:19)”.22 For Raymond Brown, the sending to all nations at the end revises the restricted sending to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and not to the Gentiles in the middle of the Gospel (10:5-6).23 In this work, the sending to all nations is seen as the climax of what the Gospel stands for. It is the contention of this study that the concept of the universal mission has been there from the very beginning of Matthew’s Gospel. It was only made explicit at the final commissioning, using the universal authority which Jesus possesses, proved by his resurrection. At that point of the resurrection, every reasonable doubt had been put to rest. Resurrection becomes the point and proof of exaltation. “The exalted son of Man comes to his church to inaugurate his universal reign. This is the sense of Jesus’ announcement of his power, which in turn grounds his worldwide commission.”24 The thesis argues that the gospel ← 7 | 8 → progressed systematically to the universal mission. Matthew presents a Hellenistic-Jewish Christian Church still firmly rooted in its Jewish origins but on its way to receiving all Gentiles among its ranks on the basis of the universalism it finds in Jewish Scriptures, both Hebrew and Greek.25 The study argues that if the universal mission is understood as the climax of the post-resurrection account of Matthew, it will help to unify the Gospel. This is because the Gospel looks up to the resurrection, whereas the post-resurrection story climaxes at the sending of the disciples to make disciples of all nations.

1.6 Scope of the Research

The research, as indicated in the topic, is limited to Matthew 28. It is the last chapter of the Gospel. It presents Matthew’s account of the events that followed the resurrection of Jesus with its climax at the commissioning of the church to make disciples of all nations and the promise of the abiding presence of Jesus. Allusions are, however made to other parts of the entire Matthew’s Gospel that are relevant to the topic under discussion. This is because of the researcher’s acceptance of the unity of the entire work. Thus, the earlier texts of Matthew that are looked into in this work are connected to the chapter under study and they are looked into based on their connection with the last chapter of the Gospel.26

1.7 Method of Research

The research is basically an exegetical work on the last chapter of Matthew. This involves a dispassionate analysis of the text to read out the meaning it conveys. The research makes use of the narrative criticism, using the synchronic method of biblical exegesis. The driving conviction of the synchronic method is that the study of a text’s development through time must be followed by the study of a text’s meaning once its final form has become ← 8 | 9 → fixed for all time. Synchronic approaches give primary consideration to the text as it stands in the Bible. The end-text is what is studied in this synchronic approach. The preferred synchronic approach in this research is narrative criticism. “Narrative criticism allows the text to speak for itself, and does not attempt to bring the author back to life, so as to give meaning to the text. The meaning of the text must be derived by the reader from the narrative hermeneutic principles.”27 Narrative criticism studies the features and functions of storytelling in the Bible. In this method of exegesis, analysis is made of such things as plot, character development, context of the text, conflict resolution, and even the narrator’s point of view.

The research does not doubt the importance of the historical-critical method, which is a diachronic approach. The historical-critical method recognizes that the Bible, though containing the word of God, is an ancient record, composed by a multitude of authors over a long period of time. And so being an ancient composition, it has to be studied and analyzed as are other ancient historical records.28 However, the research prefers the narrative criticism, which is a synchronic approach. The reasons for the preference include the African background of the researcher and the fittingness of the method to the Gospel stories. According to Anthony Iffen Umoren, in African stories, authors are presumed to be more or less dead after having told the story. The story has a life of its own.29 There is no investigation into the original story-teller, his or her social background and even the original recipients of the story. There is no investigation into the history of the redaction of the story.30 “Rather, the story is accepted without questions as currently told by the contemporary storyteller. Indeed, every narrator of the same story brings in his or her own narrative artistry in order to drive home the point of the story.”31 Umoren concludes that “the dynamic of ← 9 | 10 → the African context appreciates unity and wholeness, incidentally the twin hermeneutical keys of Narrative Criticism.”32 That is the first reason why the researcher prefers the method.

The second reason is that the method is suitable for the Gospel stories. According to Raymond Brown, “Narrative Criticism is fruitful for continuous stories like those of Jesus’ birth and death.”33 The post-resurrection account of Matthew is one of the Gospel stories. And so, the researcher makes preference for the narrative criticism. This method will involve the analyses of words and expressions from the Greek original language. It will also involve a structuring of the text as it is received. Library research is used to carry out the study. In this way, the researcher seeks to work on the views of scholarly predecessors in the areas of universal mission and Matthew 28.

1.8 Definition of Key Terms

There some key terms that will feature prominently in this work. Understanding how they are used and what they mean in this study will make for a better understanding of the study and the argument therein. That is why in this section of the work, the operational definition of the following words: Mission, Disciple and Nation are given. The aim is to give the meaning of the words in the present study. The exegetical analysis of the terms will be made in the later part of the work.

1.8.1 Mission

Mission is an important term in New Testament Ecclesiology. However, the term is not strictly speaking restricted to the Church or to the Bible. It is a term that applies in many other situations of life. From the point of etymology, “Mission” translates the Latin “Missio”. It is related to the verb “Mitto Mittere Missi Missum” which means “to send”. There can be acts of sending or mission outside the religious sphere. For example, the term can be used in military parlance to refer to an important assignment that is done by a soldier or a group of soldiers. πέμπω is a Greek verb that means ← 10 | 11 → “send” or “commission”. The vocabulary of sending throughout both Old and New Testaments, in theologically significant contexts, highlights the divine initiative in providing specially chosen servants in order to bring about the fulfillment of Yahweh’s redemptive purpose.34 While the verb πέμπω and its equivalent ἀποστέλλω occur many times in the New Testament, the noun mission is lacking. “Interestingly, the term mission is not found in the scriptures, yet the concept of mission permeates the entire Bible”.35 The present work is about the universal mission and so a proper understanding of the term in the perspective of the present research is inevitable.

According to Adrian Hastings, mission “represents one of the most decisive but also complex themes within Christian belief and life. Its primary meaning is ‘sending’, and in the deepest thrust of biblical and Christian religion there has been a repeated sense of the sending of men by God to do his business in the world”.36 According to David Bosch mission does not have a sharp definition. “We may, therefore, never arrogate it to ourselves to delineate mission too sharply and too self-confidently. Ultimately, mission remains undefinable; it should never be incarcerated in the narrow confines of our own predilections. The most we can hope for is to formulate some approximations of what mission is all about”.37 In this work, mission is seen as the activities of the disciples in response to the mandate from Jesus. This understanding does not only mean the fact of being sent, it also involves the assignment given. It is to be understood in the contemporary parlance as everything the church does because the church is simply on mission. “Mission has always helped the Church to go beyond the frontier of the accomplished in order to face the one of novelty, of the unheard-of, of the risky, as long as Christ is preached”.38 In the context of the text of Matthew 28, mission underscores not only the fact of Jesus sending his disciples, ← 11 | 12 → but also the specific assignment given to them. They were sent to make disciples of all nations. Mission then entails introducing another group of people to salvation.39 “In the Christian context the person sent is called a missionary. This person is charged with the task of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to people to whom he is sent”.40 The missionary dimension of the Christian faith is not an optional extra. Christianity is missionary by its very nature, or it denies its very raison d’être.41 The term is thus closely related to vocation. Vocation is synonymous with call because every call, especially in biblical tradition implies an act of sending. “The notion of call or vocation is used to express the communication of God’s intention…. In subsequent Christian tradition the notion of call has been applied not only to the call to faith, but also as a call to a specific ministry or to a specific way of living the Christian life”.42 It goes without saying that the disciples of Jesus were simply missionaries. They were not only called but were also sent. The mission of the disciples can in a way be seen also as the vocation of the disciples. This act of being sent is what this present work refers to as mission. They had specific assignment to carry out. This assignment is also seen in this work as mission. Thus, mission texts always contain imperative or command given to a person or group. The imperatives, in most cases, involve verbs of going, saying or doing. In Matthew 28 we find such imperatives as: πορευθεῖσαι εἴπατε (go and say) ὑπάγετε ἀπαγγείλατε (go and announce), πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε (go therefore and make disciples). That is why mission is an essential theme in the text.

1.8.2 Disciple

The term “disciple” is another term that needs to be given an operational definition for the purpose of the present study. At the post-resurrection commissioning of the disciples, the term μαθητεύσατε was used. It is the imperative form of the Greek verb μαθητευω. The Greek verb μαθητευω has no English word that directly translates it. The phrase “to make disciple” ← 12 | 13 → captures the sense in which it is used. The verb is coined from the noun μαθητής (disciple). Understanding the way disciple is used in this work is very important for the understanding of μαθητευω or μαθητεύσατε.

A disciple is a student or follower who emulates the example set by a master and seeks to identify with the master’s teachings.43 He or she is an apprentice or pupil attached to a teacher or movement: one whose allegiance is to the instruction and commitments of the teacher or movement.44 Most references to disciple in the New Testament designate followers of Jesus, often a large group including both his close associates (the Twelve) and a larger number who followed with varying positive responses.45 In this work, disciple is used to refer to followers of Jesus, the founder of Christianity. The term μαθητής appears the New Testament only in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles. A disciple is a member of the Ekklesia of Jesus. Thus, church becomes a coming together of disciples. In the theological reflection on the universal mission, “disciples” will be used synonymously with “church”. About the church, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council had this to say, “All those, who in faith look towards Jesus, the author of salvation and principle of unity and peace, God has gathered together and established as the church.”46 The term “church” is important in Matthean theology. He is the only Evangelist to use the term Ekklesia (cf Matt 16, 18). This is translated as church, not as a building but as a gathering of disciples. It is the “community of baptized believers in Jesus Christ, founded by Christ himself and still ruled by Christ as King.”47 In this way, to be a disciple goes beyond the time of the physical presence of Jesus to the time of his abiding spiritual presence among his followers. Men and women, who have accepted the call to follow Jesus and have been initiated into the church, are seen in this work as disciples. Making disciples then will be the process of bringing people into the Christian fold (church). Discipleship, however, is not merely a matter of listening to the teachings of Jesus and ← 13 | 14 → learning wisdom. It entails a commitment to a new way of life.48 That is part of the understanding of discipleship in Matthew. It will also reflect in the way the term is used in this study.

1.8.3 Nations

The term “nation” refers to large political divisions, normally of homogenous ethnic population.49 In biblical usage, in most cases the term, “nations” means the Gentiles in contrast to the Jews. It refers to countries other than the nation of Israel.50 In the Old Testament perspective, the human race is divided into two parts for which biblical language reserves different appellations. On the one hand there is Israel, the people of God (am, ammim) to whom were given the election, covenant and the divine promises. On the other hand there are nations (goyim) [cf. Rom 9:4]: This division is not merely ethnic or political, but mainly religious.51 Capturing the imagination and attention of readers and listeners throughout the centuries, the Old Testament, specifically the Book of Genesis, relates the story of the divine origin of all creation and tells how humanity, part of God’s creation (Gen 1:27; 2:7; 21-23), develops into nations that eventually become known as non-Israelites, (goyim) and Israelites (am, ammim).52

This tendency continued in the New Testament as the Greek word ἔθνη is used to translate the Hebrew goyim. Though not synonymous in English, “Gentiles,” “nations,” “pagans,” “heathens” are variants chosen by translators to render goyim in Hebrew and ἔθνη in Greek. “Gentile” and “nations” suggest race or territory, while “pagan” and “heathens” suggest religion.53 “In a much more positive context, the nations are designated as the object of Christian missionary endeavour, that they might become baptised disciples of Christ (cf. Matt. 28:19)”.54 However, the terms nations ← 14 | 15 → can also be inclusive of both Jews and non-Jews. In this sense it refers to all nations. This meaning is often made clear by the adjective “all” (πάντα) as in Matt 28:19.55 It is this sense of nations referring to both Jews and non- Jews that the term is used in this work.


XVIII, 300
ISBN (Hardcover)
2018 (Oktober)
Faithful Jews Believing Gentiles Immanuel Prophecy Women Disciples Commissioning Making Disciples
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. XVIII, 299 pp.

Biographische Angaben

Benjamin Ogechi Agbara (Autor:in)

Benjamin Ogechi Agbara is a priest of the Catholic diocese of Port Harcourt in the Southern part of Nigeria. He studied Philosophy and Theology at St. Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria, and holds Master’s and Licentiate degrees in Biblical theology from the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He earned a doctorate in Theology (New Testament Exegesis) from the Jesuit University of Philosophy and Theology (Sankt Georgen), Frankfurt am Main.


Titel: Universal Mission: The Climax of Matthew’s Post-Resurrection Account
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320 Seiten