Matthew 28:18-20 ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.’
A Christian’s *authority to make disciples comes from the delegated authority given to him by the risen Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus made it abundantly clear that disciples were to teach other people to be disciples who in turn would teach yet more to be disciples. Therefore it follows that every disciple has the Lord’s authority to teach from the Word of God.
Teaching and making disciples is not just the prerogative of pastors and elders within a church. In fact, all of Christ’s disciples are commanded to exercise their authority in this way. Incidentally, there’s no reference within the text of Matthew 28:18-20 restricting female disciples from baptising believers. Jesus explicitly commanded His eleven male disciples to make disciples of all nations, but at the same time He did not exclude women from doing so. I grant you, the Scriptures do not present us with an example of a female baptiser.
Perhaps the best exemplar of an obedient disciple is Paul the Apostle. Not only did he make three missionary journeys in response to Christ’s command ‘to preach the gospel’, but he established churches and nurtured them. Surprisingly he did not baptise many (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). He left the baptising to others. He saw himself more as an evangelist and teacher. In respect of being a teacher, he wrote more Scripture than any other New Testament writer. Arguably he is the most influential disciple of all time.
In 2 Corinthians 5, verses 16 to 21 Paul explained to the Corinthian Christians that they, were ‘ambassadors for Christ’ whose purpose was to reconcile people to God. This is true of all Christians, and they have authority for the task through Christ’s commissioning of them. Their enabling is from the Holy Spirit who empowers them (John 16:13-15), and they are motivated by the compelling example of the Lord, who came to earth for ‘reconciling the world’ to God (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Christians can therefore speak with authority about what has been revealed to them through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4-12); indeed, they are encouraged to do so in their role of being ambassadors to Christ – the privileged role of reconciling the world to God.
* Authority of Christ