The Great Commission
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Before Jesus calls the disciples to mission, he reassures them of the good news: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18).
The mission Jesus is about to give is based exclusively and entirely on his authority. There can only be a mission imperative because there is first this glorious indicative. God does not send out his church to conquer. He sends us out in the name of the One who has already conquered. We go only because he reigns.
Then we come to the four verbs in verses 19 and 20—one main verb and three supporting participles. The main verb is the imperative “make disciples.” Jesus’s followers are to make disciples of the nations (ta ethnē). As is now widely known, this is the word not for political nation-states but for people groups. Jesus envisions worshipers and followers present among every cultural-linguistic group on the planet.
DeYoung, Kevin. What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (pp. 45-46). Crossway. Kindle Edition.