The 7 Assemblies - Jewish or Christian?:Only three of the seven cities of the assemblies are mentioned outside of Revelation: Ephesus (Acts 18.19, 21, 24, 19.1, 17, 26, 35, 20.16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15.32, 16.8; Ephesians 1.1; 1 Timothy 1.3; 2 Timothy 1.18, 4.12), Thyatira (Acts 16.14), and Laodicea (Colossians 2.1, 4.13, 15, 16). The other four are not mentioned.
The three assemblies mentioned are clearly different from the churches associated with Paul’s ministry. The language surrounding them is wholly Jewish and vastly different from the language Paul used in writing to members of the body of Christ. Paul’s language of grace, peace, the cross, resurrection, the body of Christ, etc. does not exist in these passages. Rather, the messages are of judgment, works, repentance, overcoming, etc. Each message contains the Lord’s familiar refrain “he that has an ear” from the gospels (Matthew 11.15, 13.9; Mark 4.9; Luke 8.8). Members of these assemblies were not saved by believing Paul’s gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24; Romans 16.25; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Those composing the assemblies of Revelation were Jews who believed the gospel of the kingdom. They had believed who Christ was (Matthew 16.15-16; John 11.25-27)–in His identity.
Did Peter Preach to the Gentiles?Peter’s visit to Cornelius was not a ministry. It was a one-time event (Acts 10). We have no record of the Twelve going to Gentiles. According to the agreement at the Council of Jerusalem, the 12 ceded Gentile ministry to Paul (Galatians 2.7-9).
The Great Commission - Jewish or Christian?Most of Christendom has been taught that Jesus’ words in Matthew 28.18-20 to His eleven apostles constitute the Church’s “Great Commission.” This passage usually is presented as Jesus’ last words to His apostles and as the Church’s marching orders. The passage reads, 8 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.18-20).
Under the “Great Commission” the apostles were commanded to preach the gospel. But what gospel? The Scriptures teach more than one gospel–the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4.23), the “gospel of the circumcision” (Galatians 2.7), the “gospel of the uncircumcision” (Galatians 2.7), and the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24). What gospel did John the Baptizer, Jesus, and the apostles preach? Did they preach that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4)? Hardly. That gospel remained undisclosed until God revealed it to Paul (Romans 16.25). The “good news” preached prior to Paul was the gospel of the coming kingdom.
God had sent John the Baptizer to baptize and Jesus sent the twelve apostles to baptize. But Paul made it clear that Jesus had not sent him to baptize. Paul does not command us to baptize either. Why? Why indeed if we are under the “Great Commission” that Jesus gave to His apostles? The answer again is that we are under a different commission.
What is Missing in the "Great Commission"?
1) Grace2) The Cross as Good News3) Removal of the distinction between Jew and Gentile4) The Body of Christ5) Heavenly Position6) Our Glorious Commission
Fulfillment of The Great Commission
To understand the last teachings of Jesus while on earth, it is necessary to review what He taught during the three years of His ministry. Jesus’ ministry officially began with John the Baptizer. John served in the role of a herald for the prophesied Messiah-King and introduced the ministry and message of Jesus. The key theme of John’s message was “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3.2; cf. Matthew 9.35; 10.7; Mark 1.4; Luke 3.3. Jesus took up and continued to preach the same message (Matthew 4.17). The apostles understood correctly that the kingdom that John the Baptizer, Jesus, and they themselves had preached was that kingdom the prophets had foretold for hundreds of years. In the course of His teachings Jesus had promised His apostles that they would reign over the twelve tribes of Israel with him in this kingdom (Matthew 19.28). Clearly, this kingdom idea had become firmly planted in their minds. It was an earthly, political kingdom. This is apparent from the fact that the last question they asked Jesus before He ascended regarded the timetable for the kingdom’s establishment (Acts 1.6-7). The ministry and teachings of Jesus that the apostles understood all related to the prophesied kingdom in which Israel would be preeminent among the nations of the world with Jesus ruling the world from Jerusalem as the Messiah-King and with themselves serving as judges over the twelve tribes of Israel. They believed that the long foretold prophetic declarations and promises of the prophets were about to be fulfilled.
Our Glorious Commission
God has commissioned us as “ambassadors for Christ.” God has committed to us the “ministry of reconciliation.” This is our “Great Commission.” God has commissioned us to tell the world that He has reconciled the world unto himself by means of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Under this commission, we are to “recognize no one according to the flesh.” Our commission recognizes no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Under our commission, we are to proclaim faith in him “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In our commission, all is of God. Nothing we do can gain acceptance with God. There are no sacrifices, feast days, or baptisms. Salvation is through simple trust in Christ and the work He did for us. The grace of God is the operative theme of our commission.