58. The Great Commission the Old Testament Promise

In Your Bible Read This Out Loud: Psalm 2

Memorise This Verse: Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still and know that I am God I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’

Afterwards Talk About This:  What do you understand by the reference that Abraham would bless all nations in Genesis 12:3.

Something To Do Before Next Time:  Pray for men, money and materials to be released towards the Great Commission.

Written Diploma Work:  List as many Old Testament references to the Great Commission as possible.

Meditate Word By Word On This Verse:  Habakkuk 2:14

The Great Commission can be loosely defined as the promise that the gospel of Jesus Christ will eventually be preached to every ethnic people group in the whole world such that every one of these groups will have an indigenous, witnessing church and a printed bible. Consequently, the day will eventually come when every people group on the face of the earth from the tribes of the Amazon to the Eskimos, from the Pygmies to the Aborigines, will have Christians, churches and bibles.

The Old Testament gave several references looking forward to the day when the knowledge of the God of the Old Testament would reach into the whole world. Ultimately, these Old Testament scriptures are a reference not just to the God of the Old Testament but they find their fullest meaning in the person of Jesus Christ and his gospel going into the whole world. This section will therefore look at the Great Commission in the context of it being an Old Testament promise that is fully realised in Christ and his church – the specific scriptures are set out below.

  1. Gen.12:3 ‘All peoples on earth will be blessed through you’

    This is one of the promises of God given to Abram who is later called Abraham and it is a clear promise that every people group on the earth would be blessed through Abraham. Clearly Abraham didn’t accomplished this in his own lifetime and clearly couldn’t accomplish this by himself so how can the peoples of the earth be blessed by a man who has been dead for over 4000 years?. Galatians 3:8 is a key New Testament scripture which actually quotes Genesis 12:3 here, it is argued that all those who have put their faith in Christ (in the same way that Abraham put his faith in God), share in Abraham’s faith and are his spiritual children. Consequently, Christians who are the spiritual children of Abraham will bless all peoples on the earth by taking their faith in Jesus and sharing it to them.

  2. Psalm 2:8 ‘Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, and the ends of the earth your possession’.

    The second Psalm would appear to portray a dialogue between God the Father and God the Son and the Father in verse 8 declares that his Son will eventually inherit the ends of the earth as his possession.

    The New Testament constantly applies this Psalm to refer to Jesus (see the verses listed below), and there can be no doubt that verse 8 is a definite foreshadowing of the Great Commission.

    Verses 1-2 > Acts 4:25-27

    Verse 7 > Acts 13:33 Hebrews 1:5 Hebrews 5:5

    Verse 9 > Revelation 2:26 12:5 19:15

  3. Psalm 22:27 ‘All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all families of the nations will bow down before him’.

    Although written by David, Psalm 22 is undoubtedly foreshadowing the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, (Jesus himself quotes from it on the cross) once again, listed below are the verses from the Psalm that are applied to Jesus in the New Testament. Verse 27 uses the same expression as Psalm 2:8 when it says, ‘the ends of the earth’ – showing once again that the gospel of Jesus will reach every people group.

    Verse 1 > Matthew 27:46

    Verse 18 > John 19:24

    Verse 22 > Hebrews 2:12

  4. Isaiah 49:6 ‘I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth’.

    This portion of scripture is a reference to Jesus not only being servant and Messiah to the Jews but also to the whole world – namely the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas refer to it in Acts 13:47 to leave the Jews who rejected the gospel and to go into the wider world and preach to the Gentiles.

  5. Isaiah 52:15 ‘So he will sprinkle many nations, and Kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand’.

    The whole portion of scripture from Isaiah 52:13-12 again is a foreshadowing of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and parts of this are quoted from it several times in the New Testament. Isaiah 52:15 speaks of Jesus cleansing many nations of their sins and Paul quotes this scripture in Romans 15:21 to justify his desire and ambition to go into the whole world and preach the gospel where Christ was not known.

So we have seen how the Great Commission has several Old Testament promises that are alluded to in the New Testament as referring to the person, and the gospel, of Jesus Christ. Moreover there are also many other Old Testament scriptures that also look forward to the world wide spread of the knowledge and rule of God (ultimately through the gospel of Christ).

Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’.

Psalm 57:5 ‘Be exalted, O God, above the heavens let your glory be over all the earth’.

Psalm 67:2 ‘May your ways be known on earth, your salvation among all nations’.

Psalm 86:9 ‘All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord’

Isaiah 52:10 ‘The Lord will bare his holy arm in the sight of all nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God’.

Habakkuk 2:14 ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’.

A House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations

Pray for South Korea

46,843,989 people, 31% Christian

Very strong missionary force – surely the best is yet to come.


This study contains the personal beliefs and practices of of the author who recommends them to the reader. The author takes no credit for their success where applied and likewise takes no responsibility for any failure or disappointment.

The House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations at the end of each section is based on Operation World 21st Century Edition © Patrick Johnstone, Jason Mandryk. Published by Paternoster. All scriptures are NIV © Hodder & Stoughton.

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