Master of Arts (MA)


Edward L Smither


Commandments, Discipleship, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Obey, Observe All


Biblical Studies | Christianity


Christian leaders often bemoan the typical American believer for his lack of commitment to Jesus' commands. Wanting the blessing of God, she looks for it in all the wrong places. The Great Commission, however, commands Church leaders to teach their disciples "to observe all" (terein panta) that Jesus commanded. This thesis has the underlying assumption, therefore, that diminished faithfulness to commandments may stem from exegetical oversight. First, Christians may be overlooking the full meaning and significance of the verb terein. A literature review revealed that the word implies four independent concepts, the primary one being observation; the others are guardianship, cognition, and obedience. Because of this etymological link with the sense of sight, and fully supported by scripture, this thesis proposes that disciplers must personify Jesus' commands so their students can observe them optically and behaviorally. The second exegetical oversight this thesis proposes is that Church leaders may be incorrectly identifying the Great Commission's core curriculum. A literature review discovered that there is no consensus surrounding the content of "all." Many theologians simply assume their readers already know what it means. Of those that directly address this issue, however, a multitude of views exist. Some scholars, nevertheless, do rally around Jesus' commands in Matthew as the content of "all"--but even these have a variety of interpretations. One major issue they disagree over is Jesus' support for commandments in the Law and the Prophets. Based on a variety of factors, this thesis concludes that the in situ meaning of "to observe all" in Matthew 28.20 is that Jesus' disciples shall observe (and keep, heed, and obey) all that Jesus commanded in the Gospel of Matthew. Because of Matthew 5.17-48, this also includes observing everything commanded in the Old Testament as reinterpreted in the light of Christ.