18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)
Of all the passages that involve the Great Commission (cf. Mark 16:15–16; Luke 24:44–49; John 15:16; Acts 1:8), Matthew 28:18–20 is more well-known than others. From this passage, we see that the Great Commission involves a mandate to make disciples (28:18–19a) and the means of making disciples (28:19–20). First, consider a couple of points about the mandate to make disciples.
So how do we make disciples? At the least, we go, give the gospel with the help of Christ, baptize those who believe, and teach them to observe Christ’s commandments. May God help us as we honor Him in the Great Commission.
Paul spent two years in Ephesus “reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9). A few manuscripts add “from the fifth hour to the tenth,” which would have been from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Even if this addition was not part of the original text, it likely served as a commentary for when Paul’s time in the hall took place. Regardless, Paul’s ministry was so effective “that all of the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10).
What was “the hall of Tyrannus”?
The Greek word for “hall” is schole, which sounds similar to our English word scholar. A hall in Paul’s day would have been a public auditorium of sorts that was used for lectures. Tyrannus was the person who either owned the hall or was one of its notable teachers, thus labeling it as “the hall of Tyrannus.”
What was Paul doing?
Paul was “reasoning” (Greek, dialegomai), and the result was “that all of the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” Dialegomai is used to describe Paul’s preaching in the synagogues (e.g., Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8) and to the church (Acts 20:7, 9). This word is used to describe how the disciples “argued” with one another (Mark 9:34) and Paul’s claim that he was not “disputing” with people (Acts 24:12). Paul “reasoned” with Felix about “righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (Acts 24:25). From these references, we see that the way the word “reasoning” is used in Acts 19:9 indicates Paul was in the hall of Tyrannus teaching the truth of the gospel, interacting with his listeners, and showing God’s Word to be true when faced with objections.
What can we learn from Paul’s example?
We can learn at least four lessons from Paul’s example of evangelism. First, it can be helpful to evangelize people somewhere in the public square. Paul used a public building to teach the truth. Second, it is helpful to teach truth to people for an extended period of time. Paul taught for two years. Third, it is necessary to interact with unbelievers and answer their objections with truth. The word for “reasoning” likely implied Paul met their objections with truth (cf. Mark 9:34; Acts 24:12). Fourth, evangelism is not done by one person alone. Paul “took the disciples with him” and taught in the hall of Tyrannus (Acts19:9). Though Paul led the discussion, these disciples likely shared their faith with others as well.
The word “evangel” comes from the Greek word evangelion, a word that simply means “good news” or “the gospel” (e.g., Rom 1:16). Someone who is known for preaching the gospel is what the Greek would call an evangelistes, an evangelist (e.g., Eph 4:11). Perhaps a synonym could be a “gospel-er” or a “good news-er.” Sometimes the Bible speaks of giving the gospel with just a word as well, evangelizo, which means “to evangelize” or “to proclaim the good news.”
The first time the Book of Acts uses the word evangelizo is in Acts 5:42 (translated “preaching” in the ESV). “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” The apostles’ example in this verse teaches us a number of lessons.
We must give the gospel all the time.
The apostles gave the gospel “every day” and “they did not cease” doing so. Our responsibilities in life are obviously dissimilar from the apostles in many ways, but this fact does not mean we cannot give the gospel whenever we have the opportunity to do so. We may not be employed by the church to do nothing but study God’s Word and give the gospel, but, at the least, we should always be ready to give the gospel. And, when an opportunity arises to do so, we should seize it and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
We must be bold when we give the gospel.
The apostles gave the gospel “in the temple,” a place where they experienced much opposition. They were willing to accept the consequences that came their way and even rejoice that they were worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ (Acts 5:41). We should pray that we, too, would be bold to give the gospel.
We must go to the lost to give the gospel.
Since “no seeks for God” (Rom 3:11), we must go and take the gospel to them (Matt 28:19). Acts 5:42 describes the apostles as giving the gospel “from house to house.” They went to the lost and gave them the gospel. We can be missionaries that God burdens to reach people in distant lands, and we can also learn from the apostles and give the gospel from house to house. However we do it, we must go to the lost and give them the gospel.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.