A friend of mine encourages me to “Question the assumptions” of why I believe what I believe. There are some assumptions we should question in today’s reading.
How do we know Matthew 28:19-20 is intended for the Church? Jesus is addressing his Jewish disciples. The Gospel has not gone out to the Gentiles, the Church has not yet been established. So what would the disciples have preached and to whom?
Could it be this Great Commission is for the disciples to continue to extend the Kingdom offer to the nation of Israel? Some think so (some say the offer of the Kingdom was held out to the nation of Israel until A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Temple). In other words, at the time Jesus commissioned his disciples, if the nation of Israel would believe in him as Messiah, he would return and set up his kingdom. After the destruction of the Temple the kingdom offer was taken off the table since there was no Temple for the King.
Could it be that this is not our Great Commission? Perhaps we should base our doctrine of evangelism on other passages, like Romans 10:14,15? It is something to think about.
Another assumption to question is Mark 16:15-18. Some say it was added to the account at a later date (as many translation footnotes state). If Jesus is still offering the Kingdom, then these signs he is presenting in Mark are Kingdom signs, and therefore this passage is written by Mark, and not added later. We see in the book of Acts that apostles were able to do many of the signs described in the passage.
I personally take the Mark passage as the Word of God (because I look at the signs as Kingdom acts). As for the Great Commission passage, I am considering the implications and questioning the assumptions.