Are You Planning to “Make Disciples” in 2018? [Matthew 28:19-20A]

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

Matthew 28:19-20A is a great verse to inspire us in the new year (2018). While most translations translate both “go” and “make” as imperatives (i.e. commands), technically, the “go” is only a participle and not an imperative. This means it is subordinate to the main verb “make,” which is in the imperative mood (i.e. stated as a command). In other words, we are commanded as disciples of Yeshua, as our first order of business, to MAKE disciples wherever we “go.” What it means to “make disciples” is a teaching unto itself, but with regard to this verse specifically, the word “go” here literally can be translated “when you go.”[1] So what does this mean and imply?

In the greater context of the passage it can be inferred that Yeshua knew that many of the disciples that He spoke these words to would soon have to flee because of persecution and ultimately, in 70 AD, when the Temple was destroyed. But, the reason translators translate “go” in the imperative (command) form can also be explained by the fact that although it is a grammatically subordinate participle,

such participles remain conceptually coordinate. In other words, they can be translated as equivalent in mood to the verbs they modify. Since the main verb of this sentence is an imperative, a participle of attendant circumstances modifying it also takes on some imperatival sense and may be translated accordingly. This case particularly applies when the participle precedes the verb it modifies, as it does here.[2]

Therefore, there are arguments on both sides as to whether we are commanded to “go” somewhere and make disciples or whether it means simply that “wherever we go” we are to make disciples. If we cross reference Mark 15:16 which states, “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” here we also have a passive participle translated “go,” and not an imperative, but it is followed by the imperative “preach” or “proclaim” the Good News or Gospel.

Why does any of this matter whether the “go” is a command or not? Because we should understand that the “go” and “make disciples” is not limited to those who “go” as “missionaries” to far off lands, but is a calling for all disciples of Yeshua to “make disciples” and “preach or proclaim” the Good News of Yeshua wherever they “go.”

If you are a mother or father, you have been “called” to “go” into your home and make disciples of your children. This is your first and most critical calling by God. One that has been significantly lost in our modern culture and church to the great detriment of the current generations. But even if you are not a parent, God is calling you also to “make disciples.” You might say, “But I don’t know how! What do I have to do?”

No worries, it is not as hard as you might think and can be done with a simple and easy method anyone can achieve. [Suggestions to follow below]

At the end of the day, as you think about what you hope to achieve in 2018, make sure you think about where God has sent you in this world this year, and to whom He may be calling you to preach/proclaim the Gospel to or whom you are called to raise up as disciples of our Master. You do not need to reach a spiritual “level” before starting to raise up disciples!

If you and I are to take God’s commandment to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples seriously, and we hope to make it a reality this year, here’s a suggestion to help you get started.

Step 1: Pray about 1 person you can mentor this year (whether believer or non-believer)

Step 2: Begin to send them weekly verses to read and encourage them to memorize (you can memorize the verses with them if you haven’t yourself). Here is a handy list to get you started from Topical Memory System LIST 1

Step 3: Plan to get together for lunch or fellowship at least once a month to build relationship and simply be available to serve and listen to that person’s needs. You may even want to do a Bible Study together if they are able and willing on Shabbat.

Step 4: The most important thing is to develop and deepen your relationship with the person you are seeking to disciple. Do something fun together at least once a month, be available, pray daily for that person, and be open to God’s leading as you seek God and seek to invest time into someone else’s life.

Remember, investing in others has a cost. Are we willing to pay that cost and “go” make “disciples” wherever it is God has sent us?

Blessings in your new year!

[1] J. Scott Duvall & Verlyn D. Verbrugge, ed., Devotions on the Greek New Testament, (MI: Zondervan, 2012), 24.

[2] Ibid., 25.


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