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§ 304. Christ appears in Galilee for the last Time.—The Commission of the Apostles.

In his final appearance among the disciples in Galilee (Matt., xxviii., 18), Christ reminded them anew of their calling, viz., to preach the Gospel to all nations; and to admit the men of all nations, by baptism, into his communion and discipleship. And he assured them that all power was given to him, in heaven and in earth, to establish the kingdom of God victoriously; and that he would be with his own, even until the consummation of that kingdom.822822   The subsequent scruples of the disciples to go among the heathen do not prove that they had not received this commission. These scruples turned upon the single point of admitting the heathen without a previous conversion to Judaism. Some suppose that the naming of “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” in connexion with baptism (v. 19) is foreign to the passage, and was derived from later ecclesiastical language. But that expression, coming from the lips of Christ, was precisely fitted to betoken the peculiar nature of the new communion and worship, with reference to his earlier teaching, and especially to his last discourses preserved by John; for every thing there refers to the Father, as revealed by the Son; to the Spirit, proceeding from the Father and imparted by the Son; to communion with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit of Divine life imparted by him. It is possible that these words were not at first considered as a formula to be adhered to rigidly in baptism, and that the rite was performed (the essential being made prominent) with reference to Christ’s name alone; and that only at a later period it was thought that the words constituted a literal and necessary form. It is undeniable that this account does not bear so distinct a historical stamp as other narratives of Christ’s reappearance; it is possible that several occurrences, on separate occasions, were taken together and transferred to Galilee. The fact that Matthew represents Christ as reappearing to his disciples only in Galilee, while Luke and Paul testify to the contrary, may help us to decide upon the synoptical accounts of Christ’s ministry up to the time of his last journey to Jerusalem, the theatre of which, also, they place in Galilee. This is another testimony in favour of John’s account.

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