Matthew Chapter 28: 16-20 and Waldenström’s Commentary
[Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and Waldenström’s comments from the Swedish text, 2nd Edition, 1902. — Ed.]
Verse 16 — But the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain that Jesus had directed them.1
1. What mountain is unknown. Some Bible scholars have assumed that the word “Galilee,” here means the name of the mountain, not the land Galilee. This is without foundation. The plain understanding clearly refers to a mountain in Galilee.
Verse 17 — And when they saw1 Him, they worshipped2 Him; but some doubted.3
1. One imagines the disciples gathered on the mountain and Jesus comes to them. They first noticed Him at some distance.
2. See comments to chapter 2:2, which read: “To worship someone is to express ones submission and reverence.”
3. If it was He (Compare Luke 24:37, 41), they did not really recognize Him. His body was not yet the “heavenly body” (Philippians 3:21) He would become. Yet He was changed. He was, for us, in an unimaginable intermediate position between what He was before the resurrection and what He would become through the Ascension. See John 20:17. In this condition Jesus could suddenly appear and disappear (John 20:19, Luke 24:31), could eat and drink (Luke 24:43, Acts 10:41), and be touched (Luke 24:39 and John 20:27).
Verse 18 — And Jesus came forward1 and said to them: To me has been given2 all power3 in heaven4 and on earth. Psalms 8:7, Matthew 11:27; John 3:35, 13:3; Ephesians 1:22; Hebrews 1:2, 2:8.
1. Came close to them.
2. By my Father. Compare chapter 11:27, John 13:3.
3. Nothing created is excluded. See Hebrews 2:8. Yet it is clear that the Father himself is exempt (I Cor. 15:27). Jesus had accepted this power for the salvation of sinners (John 17:2) and He will make it valid for the whole universe when He has crushed all enemies, even the last enemy, death. Then He shall turn over the kingdom to His Father and become subject to The Father, that God may be everything in all (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
4. Chapter 6:10: “May your will reign over all the earth, that all generations and people and individuals will bow before You in obedience, as the angels in heaven do.”
Verse 19 — Go and make disciples of all nations,1 and baptize them2 in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.3 See Luke 24:47.
1. At first the Lord forbade them to go the Samaritans and gentiles (10:5). Now He cancels that restriction. His command to baptize is not the establishment of baptism. The disciples had already baptized at His direction (John 3:26, 4:1f.). Here He extends their commission to all nations. He does not say if non-Jews required circumcision to be grafted into the family of Judah. Uncertainty about this prevailed in the first congregation. At the meeting in Jerusalem, the Apostles decided circumcision was not required (Acts 15:6, Galatians 2:1).
2. The Lord does not say: Having made them disciples, baptize them. He says make them disciples baptizing them. Curiously, two of the oldest New Testament manuscripts, including the oldest and most important, read: “Make nations into disciples, having baptized them.” The Apostles went out among the Jews and gentiles and preached the gospel about Christ. When some believed, they made them apostles by baptizing them. Through preaching, the Jews became believing Jews and the gentiles became believing gentiles. Through baptism, both became Christ’s apostles in its true meaning. It is the same in Christian mission today. How shall it be dealt with in the Christian congregation? The Lord does not give any direction whether the believer’s infants shall be baptized at this time. This is a commandment about mission, not about congregational order. One can not prove for or against infant baptism from this.
3. In other places baptism is called “baptism in Christ” (Galations 3:27; Romans 6:3), “in Jesus’ name” (Acts 8:16), “in Jesus Christ’s name” (Acts. 2:38). Christian baptism is a baptism for incorporation with Christ and communion with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. About the meaning and power of baptism, see further in John 3:25; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:26, 27; Ephesians 4:4-6, 5:25, 26; Colossians 2:11, 12; Titus 3:5; I Peter 3:21. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:11, 12:13; John 13:10. Comments from Mark 1:4 that the baptism of John was not the same as Christ’s baptism are very clear. John’s baptism was a sign of a changed heart, a condition required for forgiveness of sin. Christ’s baptism was a baptism of forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38). John the Baptist’s baptism was not a baptism in the name of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor is it written that he baptized in the name of the coming Christ. Note also the combination: Father, Son, and The Holy Spirit. Here is one of the most important supports for Christian teaching about the Trinity which though it has been distorted by theological discord, nevertheless belongs to The New Testament.
Verse 20 — teaching1 them to observe everything, that I have commanded you. And see, I am with you2 all the days until the end of time.3
1. Teaching about a disciple’s duty is united with baptism.
2. Protecting, supporting, strengthening you with the power, that is given to me. Compare Acts 18:10; II Corinthians 12:9, 10. Expression of His presence was the triumphant success of their work (II Corinthians 10:4, 5), the wonderful rescue they often experienced ( Acts. 12:6f; 27:23f), the signs and wonders that they did (Romans 15:19; II Corinthians 12:12), the visions and revelations, that they had (II Corinthians 12:1; Acts. 22:17). Compare Psalm 46.
3. Which comes with the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom. Compare 13:40. Matthew doesn’t mention Christ’s ascension, but the ascension is an important prerequisite for everything he says in his Gospel about when Christ returns. Without ascension a return cannot be possible.