Matthew 28:19 (ESV) … “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
The heart of the Great Commission is found in this one-word disciples, given to us in the Greek language as μαθητεύσατε or matheteusate. This one-word is given as an imperative which means, “to turn into disciples.” Simply stated, if we are to truly fulfill the command of our Lord and Savior, then it is imperative that we not only win people to Jesus but also disciple them in Jesus!
There is also more beauty to be found in this one-word of our Great Commission. This one-word disciples also is in its aorist form, which conveys the mood or the thought that this must actually be done. While the verb itself does not indicate how disciples are to be made, it does designate that some activity created on our part, will result in discipleship.
The implication to all of this is that we will take a hands-on approach to seeing those won to Jesus actually discipled as well. Today we might use the word mentored. The question before us as we consider this one-word is this, “are we actually mentoring/discipling anyone in the faith and in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ?”
This one-word disciples implies results, not methods and ways. That is why using the translation “teach” is, therefore, unfortunate and even misleading at times to those who are not able to examine the original Greek word. That word, teach when used, causes us to draw the conclusion that we must always teach first. Discipleship goes beyond just mere teaching.
In the Great Commission, Jesus is asking for us to get results. Jesus is asking for us to get hands-on with those we lead to Him in faith. Jesus is saying it is a must for us to take discipleship seriously. Jesus is saying that whichever method we chose to use to disciple, that what is important is the outcome of that person. Will they go on to be a disciple maker also?
If we want to cut to the heart of the matter, then we must remember that at the heart of the Great Commission is always this one-word disciples!