Hidden Treasures: Word Studies in the New Testament–MAKING DISCIPLES


This week’s hidden treasure is found in the last paragraph of the Gospel of Matthew, from our readings in IMMERSE/MESSIAH Bibles.

I’ve often wondered what will my final words be to the people gathered around me before I leave this life. Jesus offered final words to those he loved, those gathered around him. Our Hidden Treasure is one of those final words.

At Cannon Beach Community Church, we are reading through the Bible in four years, and currently we are reading through the Gospel of Matthew, completing that Gospel this week.

Here is the last paragraph of the Matthew, found in Matthew 28:18-20.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Our Hidden Treasure this week, in Greek, a single word, μαθητεύσατε, matheteusate, is translated into two words, “make disciples.” This word is a command from Jesus, an Aorist Active Imperative, 2nd person plural command. 2nd person plural simple means Jesus is commanding a group of people directly, not just an individual. This is a communal, or corporate command. Jesus is talking to us!

Aorist refers to actions that take place in a specific time and place. Normally, aorist actions take place in the past, in a specific place with a specific person at a specific time. Discipleship takes place at specific times, with specific people, in specific ways, in specific places. Discipleship is something that occurs relationally, with people in real time in real places. That is what this Aorist verb is telling us.

The Hidden Treasure, “make disciples” is a command, in the imperative mood. Commands are non-optional, required ways of living. When our Lord commands, He expects us to follow through, to obey and begin living in this way.

Jesus’ final instructions involve ways of living that totally transform us and others. We all have daily opportunities to impact one other person with Jesus’ life and good news, in specific times, places, ways.

We are commanded to “make disciples.” We make disciples by influencing people, by training people in ways of living, by helping people learn God’s Word, helping others to grow up in faith in God, become matured in their live with Christ, grow inwardly and outwardly as Christ followers. Matheteuo as a verb, “to discpiple,” is based upon mathetes, the noun “Discple.” Anyone who follows Jesus is his “Disciple.” To help someone become an active, life-long follower of Jesus is to “make disciples.” That is what Jesus commands us at the end of his time with us, as his final instructions, his final command.

One of the fascinating aspects of Jesus’ final words is the pattern he gives us in the action words. In Matthew 28:18-20, often known as the Great Commission, Jesus teaches us how to disciple. The only command verb, also known as “imperative,” is our Hidden Treasure, μαθητεύσατε, matheteusate, translated “make disciples!” The other three discipleship oriented verbs are all participles, verbs that act like nouns: GOING, BAPTIZING, TEACHING. We are invited to be the people who are “GOING,” who are “BAPTIZING,” and who are “TEACHING.” These are three approaches to the sacred work of discipleship. These three verbs are not commands, but are ways of fulfilling Christ’s command to “make disciples!”

GOING: πορευθέντες, poreuthentes, “having gone” (aorist passive participle nominative masculine plural): Jesus assumes that we will be on the move in our life. He recognizes that we are people who are often on the move, having gone here and there for years, moving as we do across the face of this planet, from town to town, home to home. In our GOING, as we GO, we are to make disciples! Wherever you GO, consider how Jesus is asking you to make disciples; how you may help another turn Godward, lean into Jesus and grow inwardly more into the perfect image of Jesus Christ.

BAPTIZING: βαπτίζοντες, baptizontes, “baptizing” (present participle active nominative masculine plural): Jesus invites us to fulfill the great commission command to “make disciples,” by enrolling people into God’s School of Life. Welcome people into a God-centered life. Baptism is not just a water-event, but a God-introduction event, where someone is incorporated into a whole new way of living with others. Baptism is done in the name of the trinitarian God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God’s entire selfhood welcomes you and me, in our entire selfhood into a new way of living, including living with others.

TEACHING: διδάσκοντες, didaskontes, “teaching” (present participle active nominative masculine plural): Jesus calls us to all to be not only students (disciples), but teachers (disciple-makers). You may not think of yourself as a teacher, but your life is an instruction to others for better or for worse. May as well become more intentional about how your life is helping others come to know the living God of love.

In all our Going, in all our Welcoming/Inviting/Involving/Baptizing, and in all our ways of Teaching, we are invited by Jesus to make a difference in the lives of other people, including those who do not yet know anything about God.

God invites us to “MAKE DISCIPLES.” This Hidden Treasure is one of Jesus’ final commands.

In the Gospel of Matthew, his final command is ἰδοὺ, idou, BEHOLD, or PAY ATTENTION!

Jesus calls us to be alert, and fully aware and sure of this: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Only with Jesus close and intimately present with us will we be able to “make disciples.” Without Jesus presence, our faltering work of disciple-making falls apart and leaves disappointment and pain in people’s lives. With Jesus’ presence in our sacred work of making disciples, we will witness God using our lives to bring people into purposefilled, joyful lives of hope, peace, and deepening love.