Three Foundational Principles from Jesus’ Commission

The New Testament records four accounts of Jesus commissioning his disciples after the resurrection (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21, Acts 1:1-11).  The four accounts have three common emphases, each of which is foundational: they are principles on which the church bases its witness, and principles in which believers can trust as they seek to share their faith.

(1) It is Jesus’ Commission

As the Father sent him, Jesus sends us…
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  (John 20:21)

…as his witnesses, to the end of the earth…
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)

…proclaiming repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name…
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”  (Luke 24:46-48)

…and making disciples of all nations.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)

(2) Jesus Sends on His Divine Authority

All authority has been given to Jesus
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  (Matthew 18:18)

Jesus’ authority parallels that of the Father
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  (John 20:21)

Jesus’ authority fulfills the law and the prophets
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  (Luke 24:44)

Jesus exercises authority through the Holy Spirit
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.  (Acts 1:1-2)

(3) Jesus Promises His Presence and Power Through the Holy Spirit

Jesus is with us until the end of the age
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus provides the Spirit to empower us
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”  (John 20:22-23)

The promised Spirit provides necessary power from the Father
“I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:49)

The power of the Spirit is the fuel of our witness
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)

So we are sent by Jesus, as the Father sent him.

We are witnesses
on the authority of the Father,
with the presence of Jesus,

in the power of the Spirit,
to fulfill what was written about Jesus—
that forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.