Monday, January 18, 2016

Aorist Passive Participle in the Great Commission

In Matthew 28:19, the original Greek reads

πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη

βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς 
καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,...

Now that first word, πορευθέντες, is an aorist passive participle. I have not seen a single translation that gets this correct. They all translate this word as "Go" - an imperative. But the aorist passive participle does not have "mood". A better translation would be, "Having been sent".

The theological implications of this translation are important, I think. The passage most emphatically does NOT mean that you must leave your current location, go somewhere else, and make disciples. The passage says that you are already where God has called you to be. Now make disciples where you are.

Now you should not interpret my comments here as saying that nobody is ever called to move anywhere. Nor should you think that I am saying we do not need missionaries: we do. I am saying that the missionary calling to go elsewhere should not be foisted on people from this passage. This passage will not bear that weight.

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