One of the most well-known and often-quoted verses in the Bible is Matthew 28:19, which reads, “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.” This verse is commonly referred to as the Great Commission, and it is seen as a call to action for Christians around the world.
But where did Jesus actually say these words? Let’s take a closer look.
To understand where Jesus said “go make disciples of all nations,” we need to look at the context in which he spoke these words. Matthew 28:16-20 provides this context:
Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)
The Great Commission
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. “
This passage takes place after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. He has already appeared to his disciples several times by this point (see John 20:19-23), but now he specifically tells them to go and make disciples.
The text doesn’t tell us exactly where this conversation took place, but it does give us a general location: Galilee. This is significant because it was in Galilee that Jesus had spent much of his ministry (see Matthew 4:12-17). This is also where he had first called his disciples (see Matthew 4:18-22).
So what does it mean to “make disciples of all nations”? Essentially, Jesus is telling his disciples to go and spread the message of the gospel to people from every nation and culture. This includes not only sharing the good news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, but also teaching others to follow his commands.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t just tell his disciples to make converts or gather crowds. He specifically says to make disciples. This requires more than just a one-time decision; it involves ongoing teaching, mentoring, and relationship-building.
The Great Commission is not just a command for Jesus’ original disciples; it’s a call to action for all Christians today. We are all called to share the gospel with those around us, whether that’s in our own community or in another part of the world.
In practical terms, this might look like volunteering at a local food bank or homeless shelter, going on a mission trip overseas, or simply talking with your neighbors about your faith. Whatever form it takes, the goal is always the same: to make disciples who follow Jesus.
So where did Jesus say “go make disciples of all nations”? The answer is in Matthew 28:19-20.
But more importantly than knowing where he said it is understanding what he meant by it. The Great Commission is not just a nice-sounding phrase; it’s a mandate for all believers to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and help others become his followers.