I received the following question:

Considering II Corinthians 5:17-21, the “commission” for today, are we required to fulfill any aspect of “The Great Commission,” Matthew 28:16-20? I think not, but in doing the former then hopefully many will become disciples, possibly even nations? “The Great Commission” has been put on hold along with the nation of Israel rejecting Jesus? Yes? Some Christians get upset when I say that we are not under or to fulfill “The Great Commission.” I say it was for the Jewish disciples of the Kingdom dispensation, not us now? 

I am a little hesitant over the suggestion that II Corinthians 5:17-21 is “the commission for today.” In verse 20 is a significant use of “we” and “you.” Many errors in doctrine come about because of failure to note or improper assumptions about such pronouns! Some act like “you” must be unbelievers, and “we” must be believers today. Yet notice that Paul is writing II Corinthians to “the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia.” (II Corinthians 1:1b) Paul was not writing to the unsaved, so how could “you” be unbelievers? If that is what the verse meant, it should have read “we implore men on Christ’s behalf” or “we implore the world on Christ’s behalf.” Yet this is not so, for he is imploring HIS READERS on Christ’s behalf, and his readers are already believers!

Thus, this passage cannot be talking about imploring people to be saved, but must be talking about imploring believers to “walk with God” AFTER their salvation. Also, there is no indication that those “we” are pleading with can likewise go out themselves and implore others in the same way they are being implored. The statement is only that “we” implore “you.” How does this give “you” a commission? Who, then, are the “we” in the passage? I believe Paul is talking about himself and his fellow apostles. Paul’s apostleship, his authority as an apostle, the work and ministry of the apostles…all these things are major themes in II Corinthians. If anything, I would say that this gives the “apostle’s commission,” not our commission.

That said, on to your question about “the Great Commission.” I agree that we have nothing to do, and are not required to do, any part of the commission of Matthew 28:16-20. You are right, by spreading the gospel we will hopefully make many disciples, but that does not mean we will be doing it as part of the commission of Matthew 28. I believe that Matthew 28 was a command that only the men to whom Christ personally spoke the command on the mountaintop can fulfill. In God’s future government, as it takes control of the earth, men will be amazed and in awe at the perfection and beauty of God’s Kingdom as it moves to take control of the world. Many of the nations of the earth will clamor to be allowed to enter the Kingdom and become a part of that government. God will send these men, His apostles, to these nations. They will disciple them in all that Christ commanded, teaching them how they can become a nation that is identified with God. Upon satisfying the attendant apostle of their sincerity, knowledge, and readiness to enter the Kingdom, and with God’s leading, the apostle will at the end of his visit declare the nation to be identified with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, thus identifying or “baptizing” that nation as part of God’s government and, from then on, under His control. There is no part of this action that can in any way be carried out by the believer today. God’s government does not exist on earth at this time, and so it is impossible for any of us to teach anyone else how to be a part of it, or baptize any nation as having come under it. This commission cannot be removed from the future time period it was meant for. (Please note that the commission in Mark 16:15-18 is an entirely different commission, and an entirely different story.)

The commission of Matthew will not be fulfilled until some future time because of the unexpected arrival of the dispensation of grace, so yes, it has been put on hold. I have had people look at me with horror when I suggested we are not under the “Great Commission” at all (Matthew or Mark,) so I know what you are saying. We are out to believe and speak the truth, not win popularity contests. At the same time, we don’t try to shock people just to feel superior. You are quite correct that it was for Jews, specifically the disciples, and for the Kingdom or government dispensation, not the current grace dispensation.