Recently a request was made to Seeking the Truth website for an article about Mark 16:15.
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.(NAS unless otherwise noted)
No other comment or request was made so we should attempt to answer several questions, in examining this verse:
Is Yeshua (Jesus) talking about more than humans? (I. E. all creation)
Is Yeshua talking only to the 12 disciples, or to us today as well?
If so, how do we accomplish this command?
Is Yeshua (Jesus) talking about more than humans?
Before attempting any type of commentary, it is always important to read and understand the context of the verse. We do this by reading several verses around the text in question and referring to other scriptures that address the same event.
The context of this verse occurred shortly after Yeshua was resurrected from the dead and had appeared to the eleven disciples for the first time. Yeshua corrected them for their unbelief about the reports of his resurrection. Then He gave the words to them about preaching the gospel, followed by a statement about the miracles that would be performed by those who believe. (Reference Mark 16:9-18)
Parallel and similar verses:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,(Matthew 28:19)
The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.(Mark 13:10)
…and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.(Luke 24:47)
From the above cross-references, it is evident that Yeshua is talking about bringing the gospel to the nations, to humans. In Mark 16:15, the Greek word for "creation" means just that, creation. Interestingly, the Greek word for "to all", which proceeds the word "creation", includes the meaning "supreme or greatest" (taken from the Friberg Greek Lexicon) so we can translate the verse …preach the gospel to the greatest of the creation.
John Gill’s comments on this verse:
"…not to inanimate and irrational creatures, as stocks and stones, the beasts of the field, nor to all rational creatures, as angels, good or bad; … but men, the offspring of fallen Adam, the objects of God’s good will: these are styled "the creatures", because the chief of God’s creation on earth; and are often in the Jewish writings so called…."
The first and simplest question has been sufficiently answered. However, the second, more difficult, question remains.
Is Yeshua talking to only the 12 disciples or to us today?
At first look (especially from the above bible text), it appears that Yeshua’s actual words are only for His disciples. While this is very true, a question remains. Do any of the words apply to us today?
In order to appropriately answer this, we must also look in other areas of scripture that may apply here. This principle of study comes from Isaiah 28:10.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.(Isaiah 28:10)
…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.(Acts 1:8)
The above verse is the commission given to the disciples immediately before Yeshua was lifted up into heaven. The comment was in answer to a question by His disciples regarding the kingdom being restored to Israel. Yeshua’s answer was that they were to be witnesses for Him in all the earth before the restoring of the kingdom. Could it be possible for His disciples to do this in their lifetime?
Obviously not, Yeshua has yet to return. Therefore, the work needed to be continued after the disciples, by someone.
Look at the following text. This is a parable about the Kingdom of God. Notice that if you make excuse for your calling, you lose the opportunity.
But He said to him, "A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ "Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ "Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ "And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ "And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ "And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.(Luke 14:16-23)
Paul, who was called Saul, was also called to be a witness for Yeshua. His calling started with the famous "bright light" on the road to Damascus. Yeshua, in a dream, spoke to Ananias (a disciple) saying:
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; (Acts 9:15)
Paul was also given this commission to be a witness. Notice, however, some of the words of Paul:
What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.(2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT)
This text is saying that we have been given the job of bringing people back to God! We too have a responsibility, based on the gifts given to us by God. The reason these gifts are given is to build the Body into a fitly joined building (Eph. 4:14-16). So how do we build this Body? By teaching the good news (the gospel) to those around us.
For what purpose? For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) In this verse, the word "believe" means "to be committed to". The goal is to have no one perish. There have been a lot of people alive since the death of the original apostles. Who has carried on for them?
So, how do we accomplish this?
Ask three people this question and receive four different answers.
Hence, instead of getting several opinions about how we need to do these things, we need to find out God’s will in this matter. How do we find out God’s will?
The best way to know and do God’s will is to empty ourselves of our own will on the matter. If we get ourselves out of the way, we will be more open to His will. We need to be willing to do His will even if we do not want to. Remember Yeshua’s statement: "…saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
Not my will but Yours be done. Are we willing to do this? Do we say this to God in prayer?
Yeshua said: For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother. (Mark 3:35)
How do we understand what God’s will is?
The next step is to read His word, to find out what His will is.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.(Romans 12:2)
Any feelings we get on the matter must be in agreement with His Word. Remember, Yeshua said His Word is truth: "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." (John 17:17) Any thoughts or ideas we have must be in line with the Word; if not then they are not from God.
Next, we need to see how God has been leading us through the circumstances in our lives. Many times these will plainly indicate God’s will for us. Therefore, through prayer to God (asking Him to reveal His will in the matter), study of His Word, personal meditation, and observation of circumstances, we can often come to a wise conclusion in the matter. The process can apply to minor issues as well as major decisions in our lives. Do not, however, underestimate the most important step in this process; getting ourselves out of the way. We must make sure that our own will is not influencing our thoughts, and therefore our decision.
Now, let us delve into His Word and begin to find out our role in preaching the gospel today.
Mark 13:10 says "And the gospel must first be published among all nations."
The word "gospel" means good news, but the good news of what?
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."(Mark 1:15) The good news is of the Kingdom of God. The gospel also entails a message to repent and believe.
We do indeed have the great commission from Yeshua: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
Typically, Matthew 28 is referred to when speaking of the great commission. And Jesus came up 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, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
An interesting matter is seen in the above text. The first step is to make disciples of the nations. The word "disciple" (in English) means someone who believes. However, in the Greek philosophical schools, a disciple was a person who submitted himself to a gifted teacher. So a disciple is one who submits himself to the teacher. This means to follow and obey what the teacher has said.
The next step is to baptize them and then teach them to observe (or obey) all that Yeshua commanded them. An interesting thing to note is that the disciples that are gained, themselves become ministers to make more disciples, and so forth and so on.
If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.(Colossians 1:23)
There are many ways to teach all nations. Obviously we each cannot fill the same roles. But we all can do one thing; pray. Notice Yeshua’s prayer for His disciples.
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.(John 17:20-23)
Yeshua was asking for unity, the type of unity that is rarely seen today. We are to be His servants, willing to do whatever is required. If believers are not in unity one with another, how will the rest of the world ever be convinced that the Father sent the Son at all?
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.(Mark 16:15)
Our goal in this article was to answer what Yeshua meant when He said to preach the gospel. We have shown that He was speaking of preaching to the "greater" creation, mankind. He was speaking to more than just the disciples. The hardest question to answer is how do we "preach the gospel" today? It is impossible to tell each reader specifically how to fulfill this commission. Instead, we have given more of an overview of the subject. God calls each one for His purposes; not for what we think we should be doing. The best place to be in our relationship with God is immersed in His word and prayer. The best way to "preach the gospel" to our neighbor is to love and serve them. We have to be right with God before we can be useful in helping our neighbor be right with God. We must go to God in prayer and ask Him how we can fulfill our role in Mark 16:15. Ask Him how we can be a servant for Him in this endeavor. Our goal is to honor and glorify God.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 5:14-16)
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