There are certain Bible verses most evangelical Christians know. There’s John 3:16. Who doesn’t know about how God so loved the world? The mere mention of John 3:16 brings “amens,” fells giants and ends all theological debate. Genesis 1:1 has that power, too. “In the beginning God created” … and we’ve been quoting it ever since.
The closing words of Matthew’s Gospel have that kind of power as well. Even if we can’t quote it verbatim, even if we’re not sure of the exact chapter and verse, those of us of the “born again” persuasion know of the Great Commission. We even spell it with capital letters to make sure we recognize its importance. Ask us what it means, and we quickly tell you that Christians are to share their faith.
It seems, however, that many of us haven’t really read that verse. I mean really read it, actually let the verses speak to us and tell us what it means. Instead, we read it with a casual familiarity that lets us approach the text with a closed mind and certain evangelical presuppositions that have been informed by weak exegesis.
While I am convinced that too many Christians read the word “go” incorrectly in Matthew 28:19, I have a greater concern about the way in which many of us misread the text. We assume that the Great Commission only applies to Christians in that they are to be sharing their faith. The text says more.