HTS Theological Studies
On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422
SIM, David C.. Is Matthew 28:16-20 the summary of the Gospel?. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2014, vol.70, n.1, pp.01-07. ISSN 2072-8050. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/HTS.V70I1.2756.
It is generally acknowledged that the Great Commission at the end of Matthew's Gospel is a dramatic and fitting end to the evangelist's narrative. In the eyes of many scholars this final pericope does more than simply conclude the Gospel; it serves as a summary of the text's major themes and even provides the interpretative key by which the earlier story should be read. This view, however, is questionable for two reasons. Firstly, the Great Commission introduces new themes and motifs into the Gospel story, which means that it cannot be viewed as a mere summary of what has come before. Secondly, this passage does not mention all the major themes of the Gospel. While some important motifs are included in the final pericope, there are others that receive no mention at all. This point too casts considerable doubt on the view that Matthew 28:16-20 serves to summarise Matthew's story of Jesus. Moreover, the Great Commission, despite recalling a number of earlier themes, looks more towards the time of the future Church than back to the time of 'the historical Jesus'. It is therefore better viewed as a bridging text that concludes one Christian story about the mission of Jesus and introduces another story about the history of the Church.