The following is a rough translation and some initial comments on Matthew 28:16-20, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for Sunday, June 15.
Matthew follows Mark in saying that Jesus had – before his death - planned a meeting with the disciples at a specific place in Galilee. In Mark’s original ending, the women at the tomb are to tell Peter and the disciples to meet Jesus there, but they say nothing to anyone because they were afraid. Later Markan scribes added to the story, since that is such an unsatisfying ending. Matthew has a different ending, with the eleven meeting Jesus as they had planned.
The context of c.28 seems important to me. Verses 1-10 have the resurrection story, ending with Jesus telling Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to go and tell the disciples to meet him as they planned. Verses 11-15 have (IMHO) an interlude, to deal with the matter of the soldiers’ lie that the disciples had removed Jesus’ body. Verse 15 shows that the rumor continued to be an issue for Matthew’s community many years later. Then, verses 16-20 tell of the meeting itself.
My point is that vv. 16-20 are a continuation of vv.1-10. One thing that becomes clear in that pairing is the repetition of the verb or participle πορεύω in vv. 6, 9, 16, and 19. I think that the common designation of this passage as “The Great Commission” is misleading, if one thinks that the point of the commission is “Go!” The imperative of v.18 is not “go” but “disciple.” For a longer argument on this point, see my book Talking About Evangelism, c.2.
16 Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ
ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς,
Yet the eleven disciples went into Galilee to the mountain which Jesus appointed to them,
ἐπορεύθησαν: API 3p, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer 1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one's journey
ἐτάξατο: AMI 3s, τάσσω, 1) to put in order, to station 1a) to place in a certain order, to arrange, to assign a place, to appoint.
1. The verb τάσσω suggests that this place and meeting is a rendezvous.
17 καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν προσεκύνησαν, οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν.
and having seen [him] they worshiped [him], yet they doubted.
ἰδόντες: AAPart npm, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes 2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know
προσεκύνησαν: AAI 3p, προσκυνέω, 1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
ἐδίστασαν: AAI 3p, διστάζω, 1) to doubt, waiver
1. Of which verb is αὐτὸν (him) the object, ἰδόντες (having seen) or προσεκύνησαν (worshiped) or both?
2. Many translations make this “they saw” and “but some doubted.” The “they” is the implied subject of the plural verb προσεκύνησαν. The “some” is the curious translation. as “they” but reduce the pronoun οἱ to “some”? Precedent is ‘the 11.’ Kudos to the New American Bible (translated by the US Council of Bishops), which renders: “When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.”
3. Worship and doubt are coexistent in this verse. Again, worship and doubt are coexistent in this verse.
18 καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων, Ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ [τῆς] γῆς.
And having approached, Jesus spoke to them while saying, “All authority in heaven and on [the] earth was given to me.
προσελθὼν: AAPart nsm, προσέρχομαι, 1) to come to, approach 2) draw near to 3) to assent to
ἐλάλησεν: AAI 3s, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound 2) to speak 2a) to use the tongue or the faculty of speech
λέγων: PAPart nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 1a) affirm over, maintain 1b) to teach 1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct
Ἐδόθη: API 3s, δίδωμι, 1) to give 2) to give something to someone 2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
Mt 28:18 - ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ [τῆς] γῆς; Mt. 6:10 ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·
1. The two aorist participles followed by aorist verbs in vv.17-18 seem to be staging the story: “Having seen him, they worshiped and doubted” then “Having approached, he said.” It could be that in v.17, they see Jesus ascending the path up to their rendezvous spot and that is when they worship and doubt. Then, in v.18 Jesus gets to the spot and speaks.
19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς
εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,
Therefore, having gone, disciple all the nations, while baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit,
πορευθέντες: APPart, nmpl, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer 1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one's journey 1b) to depart from life 1c) to follow one, that is: become his adherent 1c1) to lead or order one's life
μαθητεύσατε: AAImp 2p, μαθητεύω, 1) to be a disciple of one 1a) to follow his precepts and instructions 2) to make a disciple
βαπτίζοντες: PAPart npm, βαπτίζω, 1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
1. To “disciple” is the only imperative in this verse. The word “Go” is not an imperative, but another aorist participle followed by an aorist verb, the same pattern as in vv.17-18.
2. Matthew uses the verbal form of “to disciple” including here. The first use is evidence that ‘discipling’ is not exclusively an act of Jesus’ followers. The only other instance of the verb in the NT is in Acts 14:21.
13:52 And he said to them, `Because of this every scribe having been discipled in regard to the reign of the heavens, is like to a man, a householder, who doth bring forth out of his treasure things new and old.'
27:57 And evening having come, there came a rich man, from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was discipled to Jesus.
20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν: καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ
μεθ' ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.
while teaching them to attend to all that I commanded to you; and behold I am with you all the days even to the completion of the age.
διδάσκοντες : PAPart npm, διδάσκω, 1) to teach 1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses
τηρεῖν: PAInf, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of 1a) to guard 1b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is 1c) to observe 1d) to reserve: to undergo something
ἐνετειλάμην: AMI 1s, ἐντέλλομαι, 1) to order, command to be done, enjoin
συντελείας: gsf, συντέλεια, 1) completion, consummation, end; συντέλεια a bringing to one end together; the combination of parts to one end, marking the unity, perfection, and accomplishment of a scheme
1. What has Jesus “commanded” ἐντέλλομαι them? Mt. 17:9 is only use of Jesus ‘commanding’: “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” It could be a reference to the teaching on the mountain in chapters 5-7 (the so-called Sermon on the Mount). That setting, in cc.5-7 and in this text, places Jesus in a similar position to Moses, who went up onto the mountain to receive instruction from God that was given in the law.
I like this excerpt from the March 1, 2007 edition of South African missiologist David Bosch: Only with William Carey's fresh interpretation of this text in his 1792 Modern Missions Movement launching "Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen" did this text begin its ascendancy in the church's mission consciousness. But Bosch contends that its subsequent use as a missions - mantra —and its concomitant divorcement from its Matthean context—have not been wholly salutary for the practice of mission nor for the church's appropriation of the guidance of the text itself.”