A World Waiting To Be Won Duncan Heaster email the author


5. “Into all the world”

5-1 “Into all the world” || 5-2 The Great Commission || 5-3 The Light Of The World || 5-4 Preaching “To every creature” || 5-5 Latter Day Fulfilment Of The Great Commission || 5-6 The Great Commission In Matthew || 5-7 The Great Commission In Mark And Luke || 5-8 The Great Commission In John || 5-9 Reaching The Unreached


5-5 Latter Day Fulfilment Of The Great Commission

The great commission bids us go into all the world with Gospel; and we have pointed out the evident connection with Mt. 24:14: " This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" .  This definitely suggests that the great commission will be mightily obeyed in the last days. When the Lord sent out His disciples upon their preaching tour during His ministry, He envisaged them being brought before Gentile "governors and kings... for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles" (Mt. 10:18). But they didn't achieve this, and so He used the same kind of language in the Olivet prophecy, in the expectation that the Gospel would go into all the world in the lead up to AD70. But again this didn't happen; and so the Olivet prophecy, including the demand that we take the Gospel "unto all nations" before His coming in glory, has been rescheduled in total fulfilment until our last days. There are may other Biblical implications that there will be an unprecedented spread of the Gospel to the whole planet in the last days:

- Dan. 12:4 speaks of a time in the very last days when “many shall run to and fro (an idiom often used concerning response to God's word: Ps. 119:32,60; 147:15; Amos 8:11,12; Hab. 2:2; Jn. 8:37 RV; 2 Thess. 3:1 Gk.), and knowledge shall be increased [the context is of Daniel wanting to understand about the second coming of Jesus]... many shall be purified, and made white, and tried (in the tribulation); but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand" . This increase of knowledge of the Gospel is to be spread world-wide by many running to and fro in the last days. The great commission will be fulfilled then as never before.

- The parable of the marriage feast  highlights the tragedy of Jewish rejection of what could have been theirs. There will be an ever-increasingly vigorous preaching campaign by the " servants" , seeing that " they which were bidden were not worthy" (Mt. 22:8) - the Greek implying not enough numerically.   As a result of this preaching, " the wedding was furnished ('filled' - numerically) with guests" (Mt. 22:10).   This indicates that in some ways, God does work to a number. Once the required number of converts is made, then the supper can begin. Their appeal being to " the poor...maimed... halt and...blind" suggests that the marginal and desperate within society will be those who respond- and this is happening right now in the triumphant progress of preaching in our day. The servants are sent " into the highways" (Matt. 22:9), the Greek meaning 'a market square'.   This must be designed to recall the parable of the labourers standing idle in the market place at the 11th. hour (Mt. 20:6,7).   The very short probation of those 11th.-hour workers will match that of the latter-day converts. And again, it was the old and weak who nobody wanted to hire.

- In the parable of the great supper, which is similar but not necessarily the same as that of the marriage feast, the same point is made. The servants going forth " at supper time" (Lk. 14:17) fits more naturally into the context of a preaching appeal just prior to the second coming than to the first century.   The " supper" , i.e. the Kingdom (Lk. 14:15; Mt. 22:2), is prepared, and at " supper time" - 'Kingdom time' - the appeal is made.   " All things are now ready" (Lk. 14:17) explains the unmistakeable sense of urgency in the commissions given to the servants to preach.   This again indicates reference to an eleventh hour preaching campaign just prior to the second coming.   The 'decorum of the symbol' suggests that the animals being killed for the meal would necessitate a brief period of invitation immediately prior to the feast, rather than them being on the table for 2,000 years.

- A careful reading of Mt. 10:16-39 reveals many links with the Olivet prophecies concerning the latter day persecution of the saints; verses 17-21 are effectively quoted in Lk. 21:12-18. However, Mt. 10:16 prefaces all this by saying that these tribulations will attend those who go out preaching the Gospel in that latter day period. At this time, when many " shall be offended" (spiritually stumble) and " the love of many  shall wax cold" for the truth (Mt. 24:10,11), the " Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Mt. 24:14)- i.e. the full establishment of the Kingdom. At that time, " What ye hear in the ear (in quiet halls at the moment), that preach ye (then) upon the housetops" (Mt. 10:27). This seems to be giving special encouragement to persevere in preaching during the last days.  There is a connection here with Mt. 24:17, which advises those upon the housetops to go with Christ at the time of his coming. This implies that at the moment of Christ's coming there will be zealous " upon the housetops" preaching by the faithful. This latter day witness will be accompanied by some measure of  persecution. " Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake" connects with " this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached for a witness unto all nations" (Mt. 24:39,14). " My name's sake" and the Gospel of the Kingdom's sake are interchangeable expressions (Mt. 19:12,29; Mk. 10:29; Lk. 18:29).

- Before every 'coming' of the Lord there has been a period of persecution and zealous preaching: Noah preached righteousness before the flood, as Lot probably tried to before the Lord's coming down in judgment on Sodom (would God have wrought such wholesale destruction without giving the people a chance to repent? Cp. Nineveh and Jonah). The schools of the prophets preached from the street corners and temple steps to warn of the coming of the day of the Lord at the hand of the Babylonians and Assyrians. And of course the dramatic coming of the Lord in judgment upon Israel in AD70, was heralded by Paul and his committed band of zealots staging the greatest preaching campaigns this world has seen.

- We have suggested elsewhere that the great commission is repeated in John’s Gospel but in more spiritual language. The whole world is to know the Gospel because of the unity of the believers (Jn. 17:18,21,23); and it follows that a situation will arise in which the extraordinary nature of true Christian solidarity over linguistic, ethnic, social and geographical lines will make a similar arresting, compelling witness as it did in the first century. The Lord had prophesied that His followers over time “shall become one flock” (Jn. 10:16 RV); they would be “perfected into one, that the world may know” (Jn. 17:23 RV). He surely hoped this would have become true in the first century. As the Gospel spreads world-wide in the last days, the unity of the believers will become all the more comprehensive, and this will of itself provoke yet more conversions. It could have been like this in the first century- for Eph. 3:9 speaks of how the unity of Jew and Gentile would “make all men see” the Gospel. This is the urgency of Paul’s appeal for unity in Ephesians- he knew that their unity was the intended witness to the world which the Lord had spoken of as the means of the fulfilment of the great commission in Jn. 17:21-23. But sadly, Jew and Gentile went their separate ways in the early church, and the possibility of world-converting witness evaporated.

- Dan. 11:32,33 speaks of how in the time of the end " The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits...instruct many .

- The dragon/ beast made war with the seed of the woman " which keep the commandments (word) of God, and have the testimony (i.e. preaching) of Jesus" (12:17); it was because of " the word of their testimony (i.e. preaching) (that) they loved not their lives unto the death" (12:11), and then  Rev.12 goes on to describe how this final witness amidst tribulation is resolved by the coming of Jesus and the establishment of the Kingdom.

There are some definite links between the Greek text of Matthew’s record of the commission, and the LXX of the end of Daniel 12:


Daniel 12:13 LXX

Go ye into all the world (Mt. 28:20)

Go thou thy way

“…then shall the end come” (when the Gospel has been preached to all the world)

till the end

I am with you all the days (28:20 Gk.)

for still there will be days

unto the end of the world

to the end of the world.

-  Daniel being sent away with God’s promised blessing, the very picture of spiritual calmness and peace with his maker, sure in hope, yearning for the day…this is the very picture which the Lord gives of His preachers as He sends them forth. If we are to understand the time periods at the end of Daniel as literal days, i.e. a three and a half year period at the end, then we have in the great commission a specific hint that it will be fulfilled during the three and a half year tribulation. This possibility is developed at length in The Last Days.

The crucial question, of course, is whether the Gospel has truly gone into all the world. One perspective to bear in mind is that in the preaching of Paul, ecclesias which he founded are taken as representing a whole area- e.g. Philippi is called "Macedonia" (Phil. 4:15); Thessalonica is "Macedonia and Achaia" (1 Thess. 1:7); Corinth is Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15; 2 Cor. 1:1); Ephesus for Asia (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Cor. 1:8). In this sense Paul felt that he had fully preached the Gospel in a circle, moving from Jerusalem through Asia to Rome, and projecting onwards to Spain. Perhaps the Gospel goes into all the world in the sense that believers, however small in number, are to be found world-wide. And that seems to be where we're now up to in the 21st century.