Limited and Universal Commissions

Question: 

“A friend tells me that the Bible contradicts itself in Matthew 10:5 and Matthew 24:14. Would please explain these two passages for me?

Answer:

These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the  Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matthew 10:5, 6 (New American Standard Bible)

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:14 (New American Standard Bible)

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In the first passage (Matthew 10), Jesus gave the apostles a commission that was limited in its scope. They were to go only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. But later they were to preach the gospel to “all the nations” (Matthew 24). After His death and resurrection, Jesus met with the apostles and told them, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18 – 20). Notice that this parallels what Jesus said (Matthew 24) would happen: that the gospel would be preached to all nations.

As Mark recorded the “great commission”, Jesus told the apostles, “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16). This is usually called “The Great Commission” because it is not limited to Israel. This commission was to preach the gospel “to all creation”. This was a universal commission – that is, the subjects of the message included everybody in the world.

There is no contradiction in these passages. The two commissions were given at different times for different purposes. Under the limited commission, the apostles were to go only to the Jewish people and preach, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). But after His death and resurrection, Jesus told the apostles to “go into all the world” and preach the gospel of salvation: “he who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:15, 16). The two commissions had different subjects and had different purposes.

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Here are some links about other “contradictions” explained in this blog:

How Can God and Christ and the Holy Spirit Be One Person?

Did God Create Evil?

Night In Heaven?

How Did Christ Preach To The Dead?

Noah’s Instructions: A Contradiction or Two Differing Points of View?

Melchizedek – King or Priest

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