Seminar 11: The Mission of the Church: Exegesis and Hermeneutics


¬ďMaking Disciples¬Ē (Matt 28:16-20) and

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬ďBeing Witnesses of Christ¬Ē (Acts 1:8):


Theology of Mission and A Study in Contrast


Joseph Pathrapankal


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Interpreting beyond borders has recently become a fundamental and indispensable need of our times in all branches of knowledge. In Christian theology it focuses on the emerging trans-border biblical and theological interpretation of basic issues that constitute the faith and praxis of the church transmitted through the centuries. Liberation studies, subaltern studies, post-colonial studies as well as diasporic studies have all come up as part of this new branch of discipline.[1] I do not want to confine the topic of our present study to any one of these newly emerging studies; but I still hold the view that this is a study beyond the borders or rather a study ¬ďon the margins¬Ē, a term suggested to me by the recent book of John P. Meier on Jesus, A Marginal Jew. [2] Ever since the Crusades organized by the church and the colonial expeditions undertaken by the Christian West during the past centuries, the mission of the church in the world was understood and defended more along historico-political as well as psycho-sociological categories than on sound biblical and theological premises.¬† Even after the termination of these painful burdens of history there remain several trends of thinking which seem to violate the sound principles of critical reflection in theological and biblical studies. The main reason for such a phenomenon is that a post-colonial mindset is still very much operating in several branches of theological and biblical reflection. And one such area is the study on the mission of the church. From the time of the Roman emperor Constantine, Christianity grew up as a religion of domination, imperialism and intolerance towards other religions. The missionary activity of the Church during the past several centuries, associated with colonialism, was an exercise of this spirit of domination. In fact, Christianity has a long history of being an intolerant religion, and it has played a very decisive role in creating and perpetuating hatred and intolerance among religions as a result of its claim that it is the only true religion, and that it has superiority over all other religions. The basic question in our times is this: What is the scope and goal of our study and discussions on mission? Is it to analyse some biblical texts philologically and form-critically and defend our traditional positions, or is it to critically examine biblical texts and relate our studies to several other issues that constitute the mission of the church in the world?¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†


What we have in mind is the presence of two biblical passages, which are presented as the concluding directives of the risen Jesus to his disciples about what they have to be doing in the future. One of them is found at the end of the gospel of Matthew as a command of the risen Christ to his disciples to go and make disciples of nations (Matt 28:16-20) and the other is in the Acts of the Apostles as a directive of the same risen Christ given to the same disciples to become his witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:8). The emphasis in the first passage is on what the disciples have to do in relation to others, by making them also the disciples Christ. The focus of this mission, as it was understood in the history of the church, was all about a spiritual conquest of the world through which Christianity had to expand itself. Implied in it also was an assumption that Christianity is the only true religion which had to take care of the salvation of the whole world. The emphasis in the second passage is on what the disciples themselves have to become during their mission, namely, to be the true and authentic witnesses of Christ in the world. Here the obligation and the burden of bearing witness were on the missionaries themselves. The truth about these two passages had been that during the past few centuries exclusive attention was given to the first passage by the missionaries of the churches in recruiting members, as if in obedience to a divine command, while very little attention was paid to the equally demanding directive to become the authentic witnesses of Christ in the world. It seems that a closer and systematic study of these two passages is very important because of the inner tension and challenge these directives of the risen Chrisit constitute in the mission of the church in our times. Hence it is a study in contrast. Here contrast means two distinct and different orientations. It is true this was not at all an issue in the past, when many things in the practice of the church were taken for granted. But times have changed and issues are to be discussed in a globalized world, which presents not only economic and cultural issues but also religious and theological issues. Moreover, the study of this issue is to be seen within the larger context of several other challenges which the church and her theologians and exegetes are facing in the contemporary world.  


New Challenges in our Times


            The most important challenge that the church faces in our times is the challenge of religious pluralism. More than ever before humankind is becoming aware of  its being in a pluralistic world. Pluralism means the acceptance of the other as the other with all its uniqueness. Once pluralism is accepted as a basic reality of this world and its historical process at all levels, it becomes easier for all to see the legitimacy of the other to exist and to operate at all levels of life. There is a rich variety of pluralism, such as ethnic, cultural, linguistic, ideological, religious and even theological. Religious pluralism seems to be the most challenging one. World Religions are beginning to experience that their future does not consist in any kind of domination but in their readiness to respect each other. Religious pluralism deeply affects the church’s self-understanding and her mission in the world. There is no more question of understanding Christianity and the church in terms of uniqueness, exclusivism and superiority over other religions. Closely related to the challenge of religious pluralism is the challenge of secularization, a challenge that has both positive as well as negative aspects. Secularization basically means the affirmation of the positive meaning of the temporal order as something planned and willed by God, and it is a teaching well founded in the Bible. The church itself is advocating some basic principles of secularization, and liberation theologies in our times are the outcome of these new trends. But it has also aspects that eventually influence the religious thinking of humans. Science and technology have been to a great extent responsible for this process of secularization. As a result, several religious values and priorities, which were considered sacrosanct, have become neglected and rejected in course of time, without anyone raising any question about them. Some would even speak about this new phenomenon as a post-christian syndrome. Others would qualify this state of affairs as a healthy sign of a world come of age. But the basic point is that we have to live with this situation and face the consequences. 


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Thirdly, in the field of biblical studies we have the new challenge of a more contextualized understanding of the Bible. We would call it a contextualized interpretation of biblical texts. What is proposed here is something different from the study of the original context of the biblical text, which we could call the ¬Ďauthor context¬í. Contextualization here means the transcending of the original context, by which the biblical text is made to speak to the context of the reader and the interpreter. It may be called a ¬Ďsituative context¬í. The biblical text, as the inspired Word of God, is to be further interpreted by successive generations of readers in their respective social, cultural and religious situations. Therefore the biblical text has not only a past history accessible to historical criticism, but also a kind of openness to the present and to the future which far surpasses the past. It means that the biblical text has a life of its own as it moves through history, assuming new dimensions and connotations as it relates itself to new contexts.[3]¬† What is aimed at here is not a demythologization of the word from the event, rather a re-application of the original message of the biblical text to the new situations with their new challenges, problems and promises. In other words, the meaning of a biblical text is not exhausted by what was intended by its author or what the text, in fact, says; it is also what the readers today understand as part of the dynamic meaning of that text within their own historical, cultural and religious context. As a result, the interpretation of biblical texts, which have a strong bearing on the faith and praxis of the church, is to be re-examined and re-interpreted and re-applied, taking into account the changed historical, cultural and religious contexts. This observation is of profound significance with regard to the interpretation of biblical texts that are related to the theology and praxis of the mission of the church.


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† These preliminary observations have been made precisely to examine the inner meaning of two biblical texts mentioned above, which have two different orientations and two different implied meanings.¬† The first of these, the Matthean text, has been interpreted in the past and applied in such a way that through the centuries it has become a classical passage to specify the mission of the church in the world. This Matthean text is also known as the ¬ďGreat Commission¬Ē or the ¬ďGreat Command¬Ē, given by the risen Jesus to his immediate disciples about what they have to be doing after the earthly ministry of Jesus. Jesus said: ¬ďAll 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age¬Ē (Matt 28:18-20). When this passage in Mathew was linked to another commission by Jesus recorded in the longer ending of the Gospel of Mark, the implications of the mission command of Jesus became all the more crucial: ¬ďGo into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned¬Ē (Mk 16:15-16). We shall, first of all, analyse the Matthean pericope in its original context and see the meaning of this section within which we have to understand this so-called Great Commission. This will be followed by the analysis of Acts 1:8 which seems to constitute the new focus of the mission of the church in our times, precisely because of the new context in which the Christian movement has to relate itself to the contemporary world.¬†


The Great Commission and the Making of Disciples (Matt 28:16-20)


            The Great Commission in Matthew is the conclusion of what can be understood as a mountain epiphany of the risen Jesus in Galilee (Matt 28:16-20) according to a promise Jesus had made, which we have in the passion narrative (Matt 26:32).[4] The first part of this narrative describes the journey of the eleven to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them and it also explains the reaction of the disciples when they encountered him, some adoring him and other doubting. It is very important to keep in mind that the entire scene takes place on the mountain, which is not named.[5] It is quite probable that here Matthew is referring to the mountain wherefrom Jesus is said to have given his radical teaching about discipleship, which is known as the Sermon on the Mount. Through this linking of this final meeting of the risen Jesus with his disciples on the mountain Matthew tries to show that the mission of the disciples is precisely to educate the nations on the values of the kingdom of God, which are systematically explained in the Sermon on the Mount. This point will be analysed further. This introductory statement is followed by the description of Jesus sending out his disciples with his full authority, the same kind of authority he exercised when he taught the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 7:29). The mission of the disciples consists of three activities, which are related to their going (poreuthentes), namely, making disciples (matheteusate) from all nations, baptizing (baptizontes) them and teaching (didaskontes) them to keep everything that Jesus had commanded them. Of these three, the main activity of the disciples is the making of the disciples, and this is the principal verb. Making disciples, as Matthew understands it, is much more than recruiting members to a group or enlisting them to a new religion. It means a whole process of educating and guiding people to have a new world-vision and a new way of living and doing in accordance with the values of the kingdom of God. This first exercise of making disciples is to be completed through the giving of baptism. Baptism is here understood as an event of making a transition from an old way of living to a new way of living. In this reference to baptism, Matthew was perhaps influenced by the rite of baptism, which the Jewish synagogue required from the proselytes. The presence of the Trinitarian formula for baptism has puzzled many commentators, especially becasuse the Acts refers only to a baptism in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48). We may not look here in this passage for the fully developed post-Nicene orthodoxy of Trinitarian theology. Nor is the case here to fix up the liturgical formula for baptism, which all got established much later in the history of the church. What we have here is specifying the goal and aim of discipleship, to which these disciples entered through their baptism.[6]   


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† At the end of this theophany in Matthew, a divine assurance is also given to the disciples for the fruitful realization of their ministry, namely, the continued presence of the risen Lord in their midst (28:20). While the other evangelists refer to the ascension of the risen Jesus, Matthew speaks about the continued presence of the risen one with them. When the prophets had to speak to the people, Yahweh always promised them his assistance: "I am with you" (Jer 1:8). Gideon was promised divine assistance in his campaign against the Midianites (Judg 6:11-18). It is this divine nearness and assistance, which all his disciples need, when they are engaged in their work for the kingdom of God. ¬†What Mathew had announced in the birth story of Jesus that he would be an Emmanuel, a God-with-us, is once again confirmed through these words. Besides being an assurance, the presence of Jesus in the community demands that those in charge of the community have to discharge their duties fully aware of the need of their listening to Jesus in the accomplishing of their mission. Hence it is also a reminder to all his disciples because there is always a human tendency to replace the divine with the human and to evaluate and judge things from the human point of view. We have the same assurance as a warning in the leadership discourse in Matt 18:1-35. Jesus concludes his teaching: ¬ďWhere two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them¬Ē (Matt 18:20). The disciples should remember that they have to carry out their mission as representatives of Christ and not as the masters. When Jesus entrusted to Peter the care of his disciples, he said: "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep" (Jn 21:15-17). Peter had to be conscious of the fact that the lambs and the sheep are not his own, and treat them with that awareness. They were to be loved and taken care of in the same manner, as Jesus loved them.¬† Peter was not replacing Jesus; rather he was taking charge of his sheep. Like the watchful servants, the leaders in the community have to look after those who are entrusted to them (Lk 12:35-48).


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Insofar as Matthew is a didactic gospel, the author had to conclude it with a catechetical note and that is what we have in Matt 28:16-20 as the only post-resurrection narrative about the risen Jesus meeting with his disciples. Moreover, Jerusalem as the entire scene of the passion and the resurrection is left out in order to focus the attention on Galilee, and that, too, on the mountain where the risen Jesus meets with the disciples.[7] Whereas the other evangelists and the Acts of the Apostles dwell on some kind of an ascension, through which the emphasis on the earthly presence of the risen Jesus is terminated, Matthew makes a solemn announcement about his continued presence till the end of the age. In the light of these specific characteristics of this post-resurrection narrative it seems that the focus of this section is not exclusively on the mission of the church as it is explained in our times, but on re-instating the entire teaching of Jesus found throughout the gospel and especially in the Sermon on the Mount. Since the event is taking place on ¬Ďthe mountain¬í, it suggests such an interpretation. The making of the disciples, which is presented as the main activity of the disciples of Jesus is again to be understood not as recruiting members for a group but as the ongoing transformation of the humankind through the teaching of Jesus about the values of the kingdom of God. What we understand as the mission of the church is to be seen within the larger context of this universal mission.¬†¬†¬†¬†


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† But what has happened with this Mathean text is something entirely different. In missionary circles much of the discussion about Matthew has been obfuscated by the high prominence given to the significance and interpretation of this so-called ¬ďGreat Commission¬Ē (Matt 28:18-20).[8] It may be observed that in the past New Testament scholarship for a long time appeared to have been very little interested in this passage. Matt 28:18-20 became a basic text for mission only from the 16th century onwards. The early church took this passage as a directive given only to the immediate disciples of Jesus.[9] According to Ulrich Luz it was through William Carrey, the English Baptist, through his writing in 1792: ¬ďAn Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of Heathens¬Ē that this Matthean text became the Magna Carta of Mission. According to William Carrey, the command given in Matt 28:19a is a universal, absolute and all-time command as well as the assistance of the risen Christ in Matt 28:20b. Moreover, he understood mission more in terms of obedience to God¬ís command than as a response to God¬ís love. Towards the end of the 19th century Gustav Warneck presented Matt 28:19 as the ¬ďStiftungsurkunde der Mission¬Ē and making disciples as a missionary exercise meant ¬ďso viel wie Nichtchristen zu Christen machen¬Ē.[10]


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† It was around 1940 that biblical scholarship, pioneered by O. Michel[11] and E. Lohmeyer began to pay serious attention to these concluding words of Matthew. Michel says that the entire gospel was written only from the perspective of the presuppositions embodied in this pericope. Since then there has been a sustained and expanding interest among the New Testament scholars in the closing lines of Matthew¬ís gospel. Scores of theologians have tried to explain the origins and significance of this passage. In 1973 Joachim Lange devoted a monograph of 573 pages to a tradition- and redaction-critical study of this pericope. In a recent essay Friedrich lists some phrases scholars have used to give expression to the importance of these verses for understanding Matthew¬ís gospel, such as: ¬ďtheological program of Matthew¬Ē (J. Blank); ¬ďa summary of the entire gospel of Matthew¬Ē (G. Bornkamm); ¬ďthe most important concern of the Gospel¬Ē (H. Kosmala); ¬ďthe ¬Ďclimax¬í of the gospel¬Ē (U. Luck); ¬ďa sort of culimination of everything said up to this point¬Ē (P. Nepper-Christensen): ¬ďa ¬Ďmanifesto¬í¬Ē(G. Otto); and ¬ďa ¬Ďtable of contents¬í of the Gospel¬Ē (G. Schille). Friedrich himself says: ¬ďMatthew has, as if in a burning-glass, focused everything that was dear to him in these words and put them as the crowning culmination at the end of the gospel¬Ē. [12] Today some scholars tend to argue that the entire gospel points to these final verses: all the threads woven into the fabric of Matthew, from chapter one onward, draw together here. Hence, the great mission command in Mathew (28:18-19) was the rationale within which the theory and praxis of the mission of the Church were built up. Presented as a post-resurrection rendezvous between Jesus and his eleven disciples, this passage refers to the total authority, which the risen Jesus has been given, on the basis of which he was sending out the disciples. Though it is clearly stated that the authority is given to Jesus, it was spontaneous on the part of the church and its missionaries to presume that this authority was given to them also. Since there was no one to question this usurpation of authority, it got accepted and established through the centuries. ¬†


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† As a consequence of this new emphasis on the Matthean text in the Protestant circles, Roman Catholic theology also began to concentrate on this passage as central to mission theology.[13] C. Spicq formulated his views in the following words: ¬ďEn virtue de la puisisance re√ßue de son P√®re (Mt 28,18-20), J√©sus communique √† ses Ap√ītres le pouvoir d¬íenseigner. Aucune restriction n¬íest apport√©e √† cette autorit√©. C¬íest √† la hi√©archie qu¬íil appartient de promulguer la doctrine et les pr√©ceptes du Christ¬†¬Ľ.[14] Even in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,¬† Matt 28¬†:19-20 is referred to as the key text for the missionary task of the Catholic Church, although this task is referred to as related to the eternal love of the Holy Trinity. It could even be said that in the conflicting attempts of the various churches and christian denominations to expand themselves this Matthean text has been used as a convenient passage to reinforce and enlarge one¬ís own ecclesial and denominational boundaries under the pretext of a ¬ďdivine command¬Ē, an expresion sometimes having an aggressive as well as a military nuance. The multi-religious world of ours will not any more appreciate such terminolgies, if only we remember that Jesus only preached the good news of the kingdom of God and never gave any command. This is precisely what we have referred to in the beginning of this study as the post-colonial mind-set with its psycho-sociological overtones.¬†¬†¬†¬†


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Among the scholars it also came up for a lively discussion during past decades whether the panta ta ethne in Matt 28:19 refers to all nations consisting of Jews and Gentiles, or only the Gentiles, since, for Matthew,¬† the Jews had already rejected the Gospel.[15] It would then mean that the prohibition Jesus gave in Matt 10:5 is reversed in Matt 28:19 in such a way that now the gospel is to be preached to and members are to be recruited only from among the Gentiles. All these trends in the interpretation of Matt 28:16-20 show that the way the ¬ďGreat Commission¬Ē has been traditionally utilized in providing a biblical basis for mission has to be challenged or at least modified. It is inadmissibile to lift these words out of Mattew¬ís gospel, as it were, allow them a life of their own, and understand them without any reference to the context in which they first appeared. Where this happens, the ¬ďGreat Commission¬Ē is easily degraded to a mere slogan, or used as a pretext for what we have in advance decided, perhaps unconsciously, that it should mean. We then run the risk of doing violence to the text and its intention. One thing contemporary scholars are agreed upon, is that Matthew 29:18-20 has to be interpreted against the background of Matthew¬ís gospel as a whole and unless we keep this in mind we shall fail to understand it. No exegesis of the ¬ďGreat Commission¬Ē divorced from its moorings in this gospel can be valid. It is also important for us to remember that the entire weight of mission theology placed on the Matthean text was also the result of an implicit fusing of Matt 28:18-19 with a similar passage in the Longer Ending in Mark. There it is clearly stated that only those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mk 16:16). It is the considered view of New Testament exegetes that the longer ending in Mark (16:9-20) is a later addition to the gospel. It differs in vocabulary and style from the rest of the gospel and it is absent from the best manuscripts now available. It is most likely a second century compendium of appearance stories placed at the end of the gospel, based primarily on Luke 24, with some influences from John 20. We can still detect the references to the various appearance stories in Luke and John in this summary.


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The mission command was also linked to Paul's rabbinic argument about the whole process of salvation as something based on preaching, faith and its confession of ¬ĎJesus as the Lord¬í, the need of hearing the gospel for such a confession, which, in turn, is based on the proclamation of the gospel and ultimately on the importance of the preachers for such a proclamation (Rom 10:9-15). With all these texts as the basis of their theology and praxis, missionaries went around the world baptizing millions and making them disciples of Christ, and thereby they were assured eternal salvation. In course of time some other biblical texts were also added to the mission command in order to reinforce the need and intensity of the praxis of mission. They were mainly Christological texts, which presented Christ as the unique and universal mediator of salvation for the whole humankind. Thus we have Peter¬ís solemn statement before the Jewish Council: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among humans by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). So also we read in 1 Timothy 2:5: "There is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself¬† human, who gave himself to win freedom for the whole humankind". How are we to evaluate these biblical statements? Here we have to make a clear distinction between faith statements and metaphysically valid theological statements. What we have in these two passages are faith statements accepted by those who believed in Christ, and for them they were absolute and binding. But we cannot take these statements out of their context and make them metaphysically valid theological statements, as if they are binding for all humans. From the fact that it was so understood and taught for several centuries by Christian missionaries and nobody questioned it, it does not follow that therefore we can or we have to somehow defend it. A sense of finiteness and limitation in the understanding of the Infinite is at the root of religious pluralism. Hence no religion should make absolute claims. It is not a question of relativization of Christian theology, but the acceptance of a basic truth fundamental to the theology of religious pluralism. It is painful to have to accept it, but it is a question of surrendering to the truth. The Spirit relates people to people, people to things and all creation to God.¬† We are all pilgrims and, as such, we do not possess the whole truth.


            If the Matthean text, supported by a few other New Testament passages were the most important one for understanding the mission of the Church, what about the many other texts in the Synoptic gospels where Jesus is said to have sent out the 12 and the 70 for announcing the kingdom of God, for healing the sick and for driving out the demons and above all for bringing peace to the people? In particular, Luke with his universal vision has taken extra care to understand the mission of Jesus and the mission of the 12 broaden itself into a universal mission, but having the same objectives as in the mission of the 12. Every aspect of making disciples and baptizing is excluded from these missions. In fact, what we have in the mission of these disciples is the continuation of what Jesus himself did in response to the mission he received from God. It all means that mission in the New Testament is to be understood from a broader perspective as renewing and transforming the face of the world. The church had enough of proselyting mission in the past and now we have to turn our eyes to the future and develop a new theology of mission. It is in this context that we try to analyse the inner dynamism of another New Testament text, which uses a powerful language to articulate the mind of the risen Christ about what his disciples have to be doing, once his historical presence has come to end through his ascension. This crucial text is given in the very beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, which is also the summary of the entire Acts.


Mission as Witnesses  in the Acts of the Apostles (1:8) 


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Acts of the Apostles is rightly called a ¬ďMissionary Document¬Ē insofar as this is the only New Testament document, which describes the movement of the gospel from Jerusalem into the length and breadth of the Roman empire. Written as a theological history, the book combines and synthesizes historical data and theological insights. A unique characteristic of this book is that the author has succeeded in presenting his work as a systematic and ongoing articulation of a major theological theme introduced at the very beginning of the book and carried on to the end. We would call it the theme of witnessing as the main task of the disciples of Jesus. Taking for granted that this is the second of a two-volume work written by Luke, the third gospel and the Acts, the gospel had already announced the mission of the disciples as witnessing, when the risen Christ told his disciples: ¬ďYour are witnesses of these things¬Ē (ymeis martyres touton) (Lk 24:47). But it is important to bear in mind that the evangelist, already at this stage, wanted to qualify the nature of this witnessing by associating it to the power of the Spirit. Hence we read: ¬ďI am sending upon you what my Father promised: so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high¬Ē (Lk 24:49). Whereas the English word ¬ďwitness¬Ē is closely associated with a legal use both in common practice and in biblical language, its Greek equivalent martys ¬†is very often related to suffering which is involved in bearing witness to one¬ís faith even to the point of death, commonly known as martyrdom. But it seems that in the Acts of the Apostles the word ¬ďwitness¬Ē has a much broader and comprehensive meaning, from which the concept of martyrdom arose at a later time. ¬†


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† It is interesting to note that martyria, martys and other word groups acquired their specific importance in biblical theology, more precisely in Acts and the Johannine literature. Thus of the 76 instances of the verb martyreo, 43 are found in John and the Johannine letters alone, a further 4 in Revelation, 11 in Acts and 8 in the letter to the Hebrews, while there are only 6 instances in Paul and only 2 in the Synoptics. Of the 37 instances of martyria, 21 belong to John and the Johannine letters, and 9 to Revelation, and the word is entirely lacking in Paul and the letter to the Hebrews. With 35 instances, the noun martys is found a total of 13 times in Acts, 9 in Paul (including 3 in the Pastorals) and 5 times in Revelation. It is also clear that a new aspect of the concept of being a witness is revealed by Luke in Acts. The verbal form martyreo is used in the sense of human attestation for good conduct (Acts 6:3; 10:22; 26:5) and the substantive martys is used in Acts 6:13 and 7:58 of the witnesses brought against Stephen in accordance with the requirements of the Jewish law. The verbal form martyresai¬† occurs for the first time in Acts 23:11, meaning to bear witness in the sense of proclaiming Christ. Paul is to continue in Rome to bear witness to his Lord. This corresponds with the meaning of witnessing in Acts 4:33, where it is said that ¬ďwith great power the apostles gave their testimony¬Ē, and it takes up that conception of martys, which is found for the first time in Lk 24:48, where the risen Christ introduces the concept of the future mission of the disciples in terms of witnessing. Thus Luke is no longer restricitng the meaning of¬† the word witness for witnesses of facts, but specifically for the witnesses of the risen Christ, who by this very qualification are authorized and legitimized as his witnesses among the nations. It seems that the contribution made by Luke to the concept of witnessing is something we have to take more realistically than technically. Hence distinctions made between witnesses of facts and witnesses of truths, historical witnesses and confessional witnesses do not seem necessary. Moreover, the later martyrological sense of bearing witness is very much absent in the Lucan theology. The underlying emphasis in the concept of witnessing is not so much on the facts of history as it is about the ability to stand for the cause of Christ.¬†¬†


            But in the beginning of the Acts, Luke has taken special care to dwell on the uniqueness of this witnessing mission of the disciples of Jesus by contrasting this task with the still human way of thinking that was prevalent in the mind of his disciples. After a brief summing of the events narrated in the gospel, the author looks into the future as an era of the Spirit who would empower the disciples in their future task. But the immediate reaction of the disciples is something entirely different. It all begins with a serious misunderstanding on the part of the disciples about their expectations of an earthly messianic kingdom. So their question: "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6), thereby meaning their yearning for an apocalyptic or political kingdom in which they would have a glorious role to play.  But Jesus gave them a clear answer about their future role as his disciples. Jesus said: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses (martyres) in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). What is important about this text is that it is also serving as a compendium of the entire Acts of the Apostles till the witnessing ministry of his disciples would reach Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, the oikoumene of the then-known world. It is also a propehtic statement about the ongoing mission of the church. Whereas in the Synoptic Gospels the mission of the disciples was to preach the kingdom of God, to heal the sick and to cast out demons, here it is made more concrete and personalized insofar as the disciples have to become the witnesses of Christ who through his ministry, passion, death and resurrection has emerged as the focal point and embodiment of the kingdom of God. This witnessing has to take a chronological and geographical process, starting in Jerusalem and going as far as the end (eschaton) of the inhabited earth (oikoumene), meaning thereby the fulfillment of the human and cosmic history. By introducing this new concept into the theological language of the early church, the author of the Acts of the Apostles has organically linked the historical ministry of Jesus to the continued ministry of the church.


            We shall try to see the major themes of this instruction of Jesus in Acts 1:8:


a)      You will receive power (dynamis) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (v.8a)

b)      You will be my witnesses (martyres  mou) (v. 8b)

c)      (i) In Jerusalem, (ii) in all Judea (iii) in Samaria (iv) to the End of the Earth (v. 8c) 


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The concepts of¬† Spirit and power are interrelated. It is a power from above, a power that operated right in the beginning of creation and the same power was active in the history of Israel, especially in the mission of the prophets. According to the third gospel, Jesus himself was always guided by the power of the Spirit. He was conceived by the power of the Spirit (Lk 1:35), the Spirit came down on him during his baptism (Lk 3:22), he was led to the wilderness by the Spirit (Lk 4:1) and filled with the Spirit he returned to Galilee (Lk 4:14). He presented his mission in the Synagogue in Nazareth as the result of his anointing by the Spirit (Lk 4:18). It is the power of the very same Spirit which he promises to his disciples as the source of the success of their mission. In fact, this creative witnessing is beyond human power. Hence Jesus promises the power (dynamis) of the Holy Spirit, which will come upon them, the promise of the Father (Lk 24:49), who will empower the disciples to carry out their mission of witnessing. It is a power from above which will enable the disciples to look at and understand things from a God perspective, from the perspective of the kingdom of God. The effect of this empowerment by the Spirit is that the disciples are rendered the witnesses of Christ. The concept of witnessing is given a personal note by prefixing ¬Ďmy¬í to ¬Ďwitnesses¬í. Thereby the concept is elevated from the realm of witnessing to facts to the realm of personalism, which is something unique about the Acts of the Apostles. The factual witnessing the disciples had experienced in the company of Jesus during his earthly ministry has to be transformed into a dynamic and personal witnessing through which they should share with others.¬† It is not question of what they can make of others; rather it is more about what they can become for others, following the example for Christ. One could say that this is a prophetic statement about the future mission of the church.


            Here it is important to examine the inner meaning of witnessing as the new dimension and new content of the evangelizing mission of the disciples of Jesus. Witnessing to some one in the biblical sense means to reproduce the personality of the one whose witness one claims to be. The disciples of the risen Jesus are asked to reproduce in their life the personal qualities of Jesus, whose historical witnesses they were during his earthly ministry. Hence we see the importance attached to the historical witnessing of the one who had to be elected to the group of the Twelve in the place of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:21-22). The disciples had to reproduce in their words and deeds the value systems and world vision of Jesus, as they have experienced them during his earthly ministry. This exercise has to do with Jesus' attitude towards God, towards the world, towards Judaism, towards the Torah, towards the followers of other religions, towards the poor and the outcast, towards the sick and the suffering and towards the very concept of religion. What Jesus has started as a new movement and as a new way of thinking and living, transcending the conventions and criteria of established religions, the disciples have to continue in their mission of witnessing to Christ in this world. They have to stand firm and struggle towards creating a humanity committed to the values of the kingdom of God, to establish which Jesus had to work hard, suffer and die and then rise again to show that the cause he stood for, was  that of God.


            As such, this creative witnessing is beyond the power of humans, characterized as they are by their basic selfishness, pride and ambition. Hence Jesus promises the power (dynamis) of the Holy Spirit, which will come upon the disciples and empower them to carry out this mission. It was all natural to Jesus of Nazareth but difficult for the disciples, as we see them struggling to understand the very mystery of the mission of Jesus (Mk 8:32-33; 9:31-37; 10:32-45) and seeking after greatness and privileges (Mt 19:27-29; Lk 22:24-27). In spite of the power they received on the day of  Pentecost, it was not anything easy for the early apostles and their immediate successors to bear witness to Christ in the manner Jesus wanted them to do. This is the complex story of the Acts of the Apostles, which is about a struggle between centripetalism and centrifugalism, between sectarianism and universalism, between myopia and far-sightedness. This gave rise to crises right in the beginning of the history of the Church (Acts 6:1-6) soon after the euphoria of the early heroic life of the homogenous community of Jerusalem had diminished (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35). Leaders like Stephen and Paul had to play their critical and creative role to define the nature and purpose of the movement inaugurated by Jesus of Nazareth and thereby the Christian community began to unfold its inner nature as a reality characterized by crises of growth. The churches of Jerusalem and Antioch became centres from where the witnessing mission of the disciples received their strength and weakness even as there were those who would allow themselves to be guided by the power of the risen Christ and of his Spirit.


            This witnessing mission has to take on chronological and geographical sequence, through which the disciples have to start from the same place where Jesus had concluded his earthly ministry, namely, Jerusalem. In spite of his probable Gentile origin, Luke always has given great importance to the city of Jerusalem, which is also the goal of the movement of Jesus after his Galilean ministry. Through his death and resurrection Jesus made Jerusalem the convergent centre and the starting point of salvation movement. This is progressively stated through the reference to Judea, Samaria and the End of the Earth. These three geographical units refer to three ethnic groups who, according to the information available to Luke, constituted the humankind. Univeralism being the keynote of the theology of Luke, the progressive movement of the witnessing mission from the territory of Judea through the territory of Samaria towards the end of the earth (eschaton tes ges) is precisely what Luke has in mind. Here again the expression eschaton and ge have a meaning that is more than etymological, chronological and geographical. Here eschaton stands for fulfilment and consummation, and ge stands for earth as the inhabited earth. As one interested in the progress and process of history, Luke emphasizes the historical as the backdrop of the theological. Taken as a whole, we should say that this is a solemn and prophetic announcement through which the future mission of the church is articulated, much beyond the visible dimensions of the early church of Jerusalem. 


Church’s Mission as Christian Witnessing in our Times


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The concept of witness (martys) has certain basic and in-built associations, which we have to review before we proceed towards a more flexible and broader understanding of this concept in our times. With its probable origin from the root smer, meaning to ¬ďto bear in mind¬Ē, ¬ďto remember¬Ē, ¬ďto be careful¬Ē, martys meant ¬ďone who remembers, who has knowledge of something by recollection, and one who can thus tell about it¬Ē. [16]¬† In the evolution of this concept in non-biblical Greek we still see the use of this concept as a witness to facts in the legal sphere and also wintess to truths as well as views. In the LXX martys is the equivalent of the Hebrew ed, and in a religious sense it is presented when Yahweh arranges before the nations a kind of trial in which Israel is presented as martys (Is 43:10, 12; 44:8). We have the same religious sense continued in the New Testament in the sense of witness to facts and witness to truths, and the devlopment of the distinctive Christian use of the term is the result of their application to the content of gospel proclamation and to the circumstances in which this took place. It is Luke¬ís usage, which takes us far beyond its general usage, in such a way that for him also the emphasis is on the facts known to him. But the facts are those related to the history of Jesus, especially in relation to his resurrection. Since resurrection is a concept transcending historical verification, witnesses cannot be borne to these facts uncless their significance is also known to them. However, the effect of their witnessing is not a mere knowledge of facts and truths by the hearers, but rather their faith. But Luke has taken special care to establish the historical foundations and the trustworthiness of those who are witnessing. These witnesses are those who are qualifed to be witnesses because they themselves lived through the events. It is to these same wintesses that the risen Jesus gives the final directive: ¬ďYou will be my wintesses¬Ē (esesthe mou martyres) (Acts 1:8). But to restrict the meaning of witnessing only to this group of disciples who were historical witnesses of the ministry of Jesus would be totally wrong. In this regard the subtle distinction proposed by Strathmann in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament seems to be unwarranted because that would mean that the entire weight of witnessing is based on the historical witnessing and no due importance is given the power of the Holy Spirit which is the real transforming power behind the witnessing in the theology of the Acts. Moreover, since it is a witnessing that is leading to faith, the historical witnessing cannot be the entirely normative factor. Hence Paul is called a witness (Acts 22:15; 26:16); so also Stephen (Acts 22:20) who were not historical witnesses.


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† A closer study of the New Testament would make it clear that the concept of witnessing is a dynamic one and it has two major aspects that need to be emphasized. The most important aspect of witnessing is that in the Acts of the Apostles it is basically a personalized one. The legal as well as the factual aspects are elevated to the personal dimension insofar as the person of Jesus Christ has to thoroughly transform the witnesses to stand for his cause and the cause of the kingdom of God. Since this is personalized concept, we can also say that witnessing is much more than a communication of information and arguments; rather it is a sharing at the level of an inner compulsion. This is reflected in the words of Peter when he told the members of the Jewish Council: ¬ďWe canot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard¬Ē (Acts 4:20). As a result, the concept of witnessing takes on a new meaning as the witnessing community moves along in history, especially in our times. It seems that in the changed circumstances of the contemporary society there are two major areas where the church has to concentrate on its witnessing ministry, namely, in the socio-economic world and in the growing¬† phenomenon of religious pluralism. On the one hand, the church must get more and more involved in the holistic liberation of the human society in a globoalized world. Equally important is the task of the church to make concrete efforts for the harmony among religions, after it had played a very negative role in the past through its hatred of other religions. The unchecked enthusiasm of the missionary movement in the past, through which other world religions were presented as the work of the devil, has done more harm to the cause of church. It is to emphasized that the present stage of history offers the best chance to create a better image of the church in the family of religions.¬†¬†¬†¬†


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† It seems fitting to ask what the witness theme of Acts of the Apostles can further add to the mission of the church in our times. First and foremost, the witness theme of the Acts of the Apostles stresses the importance of the historical foundations of the Christian movement. For all the major New Testament writers the historical facts of Christian origins¬† are of paramount importance.[17] Christianity is not an idea, it is not a mere message. It is a historical fact. The principal events of the public ministry of Jesus were wrought in the presence of his disciples and in the midst of the people. The testimony of the apostles rests upon the great acts of God in Jesus Christ, and the resurrection forms the very core of this. Has historical scholarship taken this factor sufficiently seriously? Current preoccupation with historical criticism, form criticism and redaction criticism must not blind our eyes to the New Testament¬ís unmistakable stress on those who were the actual witnesses to the primary events. At a time of widespread scepticism about Christian origins this contribution is both timely and significant. The witnesses must be faithful not only to the bare facts of the Christ Event, but also to their meaning. This entails presenting Christ and his message with the significance, which genuinely belong to them. To cite a clear formulation of this holistic witnessing: ¬ďTo be faithful witness we must ever keep before us and before our hearers, the fully rounded, finely balanced, many-sided yet unitary, significance of Christ¬Ē.[18] Witnessing to Christ is the summarizing of the various aspects of the mission manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, his healing ministry, his option for the poor and the marginalized as well as his critical attitude towards religious issues.¬†


            We are very much in need of a shift of emphasis and a change of perspective in our understanding of the mission of the church in our times. It is a change called for not only from the changes that have arisen at the social, political, religious and cultural levels throughout the world but also from an indepth study of the biblical passages themselves that have been used and also abused for the carrying out of mission by the various churches and their missionaries during the past few centuries. The emphasis on making disciples and giving baptism was motivated not so much from a commitment to Christ, but rather from a commitment to one’s own denomination and its competitve growth. This has been a departure from the holistic understanding of mission as we find spread out in the gospels, especially in the mission of the 12 and the 70  in the Synoptic Gospels, where the focus is on announcing the kingdom of God and bringing peace and healing to the people. Luke, in particular, has presented the mission of Jesus as one filled with the power of the Holy Spirit making a solemn announcement about his ministry as preaching good news to the poor which consists in the release of the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed (Lk 4:18-19). With his social concerns and his criticism of the rich, Luke has presented Jesus as one who is committed to the cause of the poor and the oppressed. In fact, Luke was translating the Jewish concept of the kingdom of God into a more intelligible language of the wider Roman Empire. He had already referred to John the Baptist instructing his hearers about the demands of social justice (Lk 3:10-14) and the same concern is now given an official recognition in the proclamation of Jesus of Nazareth. Through this bold presentation of the social dimension of the ministry of Jesus Luke has given us an insight into the nature of the contextualization of gospel values, and this is very much different from the traditional theology of mission.


            As we look at these facts and face the question about what mission today means, the obvious answer is that we need to recognize a shift of emphasis from our traditional concepts and approaches in order to focus on the centrality of the kingdom of God in mission theology. The bane and burden of mission, as it was practised during and after the colonial periods, were that it was almost exclusively ecclesiocentric, so much so that the success and fruitfulness of mission were measured from the growth of the church. Thanks to a new thinking about the mission of the church in a pluralistic world and  the holistic understanding of mission, there is a growing awareness that there is need of a re-conception in our understanding of the concept of mission and its praxis in our contemporary society. We have to allow for some kind of flexibility in our understanding and application of a theology of mission. Bearing witness to Christ, proclaiming the kingdom of God and its values, commitment to justice, peace and freedom, dialogue between peoples of various religious traditions, inculturation, inter-culturation, and caring for the ecological concerns of this planet earth, all seem to belong to the parameters of a holistic mission theology in our times. In all these the church has to play the role of a servant in the same way as Christ was a servant who came not to be served but to serve and give his life for the salvation of the whole world (Mk 10:45). As the church is both divine and human, there is always the danger of it gradually getting tuned to the human dimension, and it is a danger to which the church is always exposed.


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† As this is a study coming from the multireligious background of India, it is fitting that I make some observations made by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, who was more a Christian at heart than many Christians then and now, about what he understands by Christians bearing witness to Christ and to the Christian values. In particular, he was speaking to the Christian missionaries who were going to India in the hope of having a great harvest of conversions. He wrote: ¬ďYou, the missionaries, come to India thinking that you come to a land of heathens, of idolaters, of men who do not know God. One of the greatest Christian divines, Bp Heber, wrote two lines which have always left a sting with me: ¬ĎWhere every prospect pleases and only man is vile¬í. I wish he had not written them¬Ē.[19]¬† In the same address he said that Christian missionaries came to India ¬Ďunder the protection of a temporal power; and it created an impossible bar. So he told them categorically that their mission was not to convert people; nor to give them something; their task was far superior to that, namely, to meet true men and women as fellow seekers and to learn something from them. Then he added: ¬ďI miss receptiveness, humility, willingness on your part to identify yourselves with the masses of India¬Ē.[20] According to Gandhi, the Indian Christians have done violence to their country and even to their new religion by aping the Europeans.


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Gandhi¬ís critical remarks about some of the Christian claims are distant reminders of issues that are being discussed in theological circles today. He believed it absurd and dangerous to speak of superiority in matters of faith. One should leave it to the absoluteness of God, and carry on deepening the bond with one¬ís fellow humans. To claim a monopoly of truth is an arrogant attitude lacking in humility and not recognizing God¬ís absoluteness.[21] In Harijan ¬†he wrote: ¬ďToday they (missionaries) tell people that there is no salvation for them except through the Bible and through Christianity. It is customary to decry other religions and to offer their own as the only one that can bring deliverance. This attitude must be radically changed¬Ē.[22]¬† All the principal religions of the world have produced great saints. One should not turn the holiness of each religion into instruments of division and subjugation. The fact of sanctity in every religion should affirm the fundamental truth¬† of every religion and their validity in themselves, and not in comparison with one another. Respect and reverence for other religions and religious founders were in the very nature of Gandhi.¬† He worte: ¬ďAll religions are divinely inspired, but they are imperfect because they are products of the human mind and taught by human beings. Hence the necessity of tolerance which is as far from fanaticism as the north pole is from the south. True knowledge of religion breaks down the barriers between faith and life¬Ē.[23]


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Though we have not seen the historical Jesus with our eyes nor heard him with our ears, and thus cannot be the factual witnesses of Jesus, still we believe in him on the basis of the faith that has been handed on to us from the historical witnesses (Jn 17:20), and we participate in the blessing Christ has pronounced on all who believe in him without seeing him (Jn 20:29). This faith in Christ should grow through a closer understanding of the Gospels and a personal experience of Christ and his Spirit. A life that is rooted in faith and experienced in the Spirit naturally expresses itself in words and deeds. If the apostles and the early believers preached the word of God, it is no less the duty of¬† the convinced believers in Christ today to proclaim the Good News of salvation to their fellow humans. But direct preaching and all that is involved in it must take into account the religious and cultural context of our society. It is here that the word of preaching has to take the form of ¬ďdialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, and in witness of Christian faith and life, acknowledge, preserve, and promote the spiritual and moral goods found among these men, as well as the values in their society and culture.[24]. This kind of dialogue and cooperation arising from a spirit of understanding and appreciation can bear fruits only if it is the result of a radical conversion within the Christian believers themselves. There is no question of opportunism and diplomacy in it; that would go counter to the very meaning of witnessing. It should come from a deep conviction that God is present and active in all world religions.


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Biblical exegetes in our times have a greater responsibility to explore the wider dimensions of the word of God and make them available to people in their search for a meaningful life in the changed circumstances of our contemporary society. Times are gone when exegetes spent their time in exclusively literary, historical and textual criticism and philological analysis, bringing out some dry and insipid arguments and views which did not mean anything for the people in ther everyday struggle of life. Now it is question of re-reading, re-conceiving and exploring the richer means of biblical text. To an introvert community, which was brooding over its own security, survival and prosperity after the sad experiences of the Babylonian captivity, Deutero-Isaiah wrote the following exhortation: ¬ďWiden the space of your tent, extend the curtains of your home. Do not hold back! Lengthen your ropes, make your tent-pegs firm, for you will burst out to right and to left¬Ē (Isa 54:2). This exhortation is very much applicable to the exegetes of our times who are also challenged to go out of their centripetal world of exegetical reflection to the wider world of God, which is facing a variety of problems and issues. It is not a call to abandon the sound principles of exegeis and hermeneutics, but rather it is an appeal to go beyond one¬ís own established¬† and well-defined borders and see things from a wider perspective. In a global village of ours it is only natural that the world of theologians and exegetes comes closer and shares their convictions and discuss their problems, which will add beauty and meaning for their ministry. It is heartening to see more and more theologians from the West and East opening themselves to the wider reality of the world, which presents to them issues which they never knew about, such as the challenge of religious pluralism, the challenge of terrorism, the problem of globalization, poverty and misery facing a vast section of the human community. According to a recent study, after 1990 within a short span of 13 years 54 countries in the world have become poorer than before. In the context of these radical problems the world is going through, we have to discuss the issue of the mission of the church in a more concrete and realistic manner.¬† ¬†¬†¬†









[1] Fernando F. Segovia (ed) Interpreting beyond borders, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, 2000.

[2] John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, Doubleday, New York, Vol. I 1991, Vol. II, 1994.

[3] Cf. Joseph Pathrapankal, Text and Context in Biblical Interpretation (Bangalore: Dharmaram Publications, 1993) p. 1-16.

[4] Cf. B.J. Malina, ¬ďThe literary structure and form of Matthew 28:16-30¬Ē NTS ¬†17(1970) 87-103.

[5] In the Matthean text it is oros with a definite article and this would mean that it is not any mountain, but a specific mountain in the Matthean tradition.

[6] It was Paul who has given his profound insights about the meaning of baptism as an entering into the mystery of the Christ event (Rom 6:3-11; Gal 3:26-29).

[7] J.D. Kingsbury, ¬ďThe composition and Christology of Matt 28:16-20¬Ē JBL 93(1974) 573-584.

[8] Joseph Pathrapankal, The Christian Programme, Dharmaram Publications, Bangalore, 1999, pp. 71-100.

[9] Justin, Apol 1,31,7; Aristides, Apol 22,8

[10] G. Warneck, Evangelische Missionslehre I: Die Begr√ľnddung der Sendung,1892 (ZHPT xvii), 94.

[11] O. Michel, ¬ďDer Abschluss des Matth√§usevangeliums¬Ē Evangelische Theologie ¬†10(1950) 19-21.

[12] These details are taken from chapter 2 of David Bosch, Transforming Mission, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1991, chapter 2: Matthew: Mission as Disciple-Making, pp. 56-57.

[13] J. Schmidlin, Einf√ľhrung in die Missionswissenschaft, 1925 (MWAT 1), pp. 133 ff.

[14] C. Spiicq, ¬ďL¬í√©glise du Christ¬Ē in G. Florovsky¬† et alii, La sainte Eglise universelle. Confrontation ¬úcum√©nique, 1948 (CthAP hors s√©rie 4), 208 ff.

[15] D. Hare and D. Harrington, ¬ďMake Disciples of All the Gentiles (Matt 28:19)¬Ē CBQ 37(1975) 359-369; W. Trilling, Das wahre Israel. Studien zu einer Theologie des Matth√§usevangeliums ¬†(3rd ed. StANT, M√ľnchen, Kosel Verlag, 1964, pp. 26-28; B.J. Hubbard, The Matthean Redaction of a Primitive Apostolic Commissioning: An Exegesis of Matthew 28:16-20 (SBL Dissertation Series 19, Missoula, SBL and Scholars¬í Press, 1974, 84-87. John P. Meier, ¬ďNations or Gentiles in Matthew 28:19?¬Ē CBQ ¬†39(1977) 94-102.

[16] Cf. Stathmann, ThDNT, martys. p. 475.


[17] Cf. A. Barr, ¬ďThe factor of Testimony in the Gospels¬Ē ExpT 49(1937-38) 401-408.

[18] N. Alexander, ¬ďThe United Character of the New Testament Witness of the Christ-Event¬Ē in H. Anderson and W. Barclay, eds., The New Testament in Historical and Contemporary Perspective, 1965, 32 f.

[19] CW xxvii, p. 436; Young India, July 1925, p. 28.

[20] CW xxvii, p. 438.

[21] Young India, August 1927, p. 8, 11.

[22] Harijan, 14, 7. 1947.

[23] Cf. Rahavan Iyer, The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1986, vol.I, p. 543.   

[24] Ad Gentes 2