On being a Great Commission Christian

Ajith Fernando in his NIVAC work on Acts writes in relation to being a Great Commission Christian:

ActsWhen we realize the important place that the Great Commission had in the early church, I think we can endorse the use of phrases like “Great Commission Christian” and “Great Commission Lifestyle.”  Some object to these phrases, thinking that they will detract people from other aspects of Christian mission, such as fulfilling the social mandate.  This can happen and has, alas, happened with Christians who have overemphasized the Great Commission.  But it should not happen.  The social mandate is clear in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament.  We must never be afraid to be fully biblical.  True, combining these two elements of mission is not easy, as we have found in our own ministry with the poor.  But when was biblical ministry easy?  Thank God that there is a noble history of evangelicals who put into practice this dual commitment to the social and evangelistic aspects of our mission. 

In view of the urgency of Jesus’ commission, we should all seek to be Great Commission Christians and endeavor to have all Christian organizations and churches to be Great Commission movements.  We should constantly live under the influence of our mission, so that we are willing to pay whatever price is necessary in order to reach the lost.  Mission, of course, includes involvement across the street and around the globe.  It is the responsibility of Christian leaders first to burn with passion themselves for mission and to pay the price of such commitment (see 10Cor 9); then, out of the credibility won from such passionate commitment, they must constantly keep the vision of mission before the people they lead. 

Ajith Fernando.  Acts, NIVAC.  Zondervan, 1998, 69. 


Indeed and Amen!  This is what we try to do at least once a month when I or Debbie preach a sermon on missions – we try to keep the Great Commission before our congregation.  Why?  Because a passion for missions burns in our own hearts and we are paying the price.  We live here at the canyon and don’t get paid for this pastorate.  We work like everyone else does (the pay is quite low) but we also “work” as we seek to extend the kingdom of God in the Grand Canyon Village and in the lives of those who live and work here, which includes international students from all over the world, even those from unreached nations and people groups (Thailand, China, Vietnam, and other places)! 

Come, will you be a Great Commission Christian too?

The Book of Acts

If I were teaching a graduate level course on The Acts of the Apostles the following texts might be what would use:

For a technical commentary I would probably consider using Fitzmeyer’s work on Acts in the AB (if I could find a low cost edition).  Otherwise I would consider using Luke Timothy Johnson’s commentary on Acts in the Sacra Pagina Series.  

I would also use Ben Witherington’s The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Eerdman’s, 1997. 

For a more pastoral commentary I would most likely use Ajith Fernando’s work on Acts in the NIVAC Series. Fernando is a Sri Lankan Missionary Scholar who gives a majority world perspective on Acts and or I. H. Marshall’s forthcoming update of his Acts Commentary in the Tyndale Commentary Series, IVP, 2008.  

For exegetical stuff I would use Walter Liefeld’s Interpreting the Book of Acts in the Guides to New Testament Exegesis Series and or Richard Erickson’s Guide to New Testament Exegesis IVP, 2005.  

Recommended text might include: 

Carson’s (badly needing an update) Exegetical Fallacies, Baker Academic, 1996. 

Richard Bauckham’s The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting. Eerdman’s 1995.  

Beale and Carson, et. al. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament Baker Academic, 2007 – for work in analyzing OT quotes.