Vol. 8, No. 8
~ Page 13 ~
As we read the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, it is our conviction that few of us get the impact of what Jesus said as the apostles did. There are at least two things in the construction of the original language that need our attention, in addition to some other lessons we may get.
First, in verse 20 when the KJV says, "I am with you," the original text has "egoo meth humon eimi." Since "eimi" means "I am" if all Jesus meant was simply "I am with you," he would not have used the expression he used. But when "egoo eimi" is used, it means something like this, "I, myself, the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth, the Savior who died for you and rose again and who is alive forevermore, even I am with you."
Second, we may note that he will be with them, but he uses the expression, "I am." This is the same expression he used in John 8:58 where he says, "Before Abraham was I am." This is the expression God used in Exodus 3:14 when he told Moses to tell Pharaoh who sent him. The Jews understood this expression for what it implied, and therefore accused Jesus of blasphemy. But to the apostles and to us, it should mean that the One who was in the beginning with God, who made us and died for us, plans to be constantly with us provided we meet the conditions he mentioned. If we used the expression, "I will be with you," it is a promise of something in the future, but rather indefinite, for it does not say or emphasize when. But "I am with you" is a present tense, continuous action emphasizing continuity even to the end of the age.
Third, we need to emphasize that the promise of being with them and with us is contingent upon our recognizing and appreciating his claims, and obeying his commands. That is, if we do not recognize that he is God in the flesh, that he died for us and rose again, that he has all authority in heaven and on earth, the promise is not to us. Furthermore, if we admit that and still do not try to practice what he commanded, the promise is not ours. What he commanded was, "As you go (or whenever and wherever you go into the world) make disciplined followers of me, by teaching them the gospel, baptizing them into the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you." If a person teaches that it is not necessary for one to accept Jesus as Lord, with all authority in heaven and on earth, it matters not what else he may do or say, the promise of the presence of Christ is not his. If he teaches that it is not necessary to be baptized into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit--that he can be saved without that, the promise is not his. If he teaches that we are under no law, and do not need to do the things Jesus commanded for the apostles to teach us to do, the promise is not his.
Remember that Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered together in his name, he would be with us. One cannot be gathered together in the name of Christ unless he has been baptized into that name and operates by the authority of Christ. Is all you teach authorized by the authority of Christ?