Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”
Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
The central command of the Lord Jesus to the Church involves discipleship. He said “...therefore, (you are commanded) disciple all the nations, . . .”
The verb “disciple” or “make disciples of” is the verbal action around which the rest of the Great Commission revolves. The rest are either participles or a part of subordinate clauses, reflecting actions in respect to this command. Because of this, the verb necessarily receives our full attention. The Lord Jesus commands that his disciples make disciples. We are to reproduce ourselves, or more exactly, He is to reproduce His own through our Spirit-inspired obedience. This is the labor of each and every Christian and it is done with all His divine authority in Heaven and on Earth.
This verb "disciple" is in the imperative. The imperative mood is why I have used the clause “(you are commanded)” in parenthesis. Attitude often determines how people respond to instructions. Many will not take instructions seriously unless the degree of emphasis and authority is felt strongly. Some may treat this command as an “ought to, when I get around to it” but the command to disciple comes with His complete authority over all things in Heaven and on Earth.
This is one of the four instances in which the imperative mood is used in the post resurrection instructions that our Lord gave for the ongoing conduct of the Church. The obedient, mature Christian does not have an option to neglect the command if he wants to respect Christ's authority The immature believer likewise is to develop a lifestyle of discipleship according to the standards of New Testament discipleship (John 8:31–36).
The Greek aorist tense lends to the imperative mood the idea that the process of making disciples is “to be undertaken at once.” This adds urgency. With the present tense, the idea of urgency is missing. However, by using the aorist with the imperative along with Christ’s assertion of all authority, there is much greater force than in the naval command: “Now hear this, I, the President, your Commander-in-Chief, COMMAND YOU FULL SPEED AHEAD!” Obedience to His command also brings about a very certain end, for Christ has the victory in all things, so we need not fear going forward in His authority.