Matthew 24

Missiological passages of scripture that I’m working through:

Matthew 24

v.14 “…And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

This verse has probably been the greatest scriptural influence on the “Unfinished Task” missiology. In other posts, I’ve explained my opinion that verse 14 (as the rest of the context, and Mark 13:10) is meant to be descriptive as opposed to prescriptive. In other words, while there are many passages in which Jesus’ followers are commanded to go, preach, and make disciples, this isn’t one of them. Does it still have implications for missions? Of course. It describes God’s people obedienty doing what their master told them to do while he was away. But to develop a global missions strategy based on this passage seems like a stretch.

Another problem is this idea that Jesus can’t come back until all of the people groups have heard. What about the people groups who are now extinct and never heard the gospel? And how can “the task” be finished with the birth of new people groups all the time?

v.34 “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

A difficult verse for literal translation. There are better treatments of this passage elsewhere. I include it here as context that further prevents me from using v.14 as missiological motivation. If we’re going to say that, based on v.14, Jesus isn’t coming back until we ‘finish the task, why not use this verse to say “Our generation won’t die until ‘the Task’ is complete?”

v.36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…”

v.42 “…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. “

These verses in this same chapter keep me from playing the guessing game of when the Son will return. They also reminds me that His retunr isn’t up to me, or us, or our missionary success. Obedience should be the motivation for missions; obedience to directive passages of scripture, such as Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18, and to the step-by-step guidance on the Holy Spirit.

About E. Goodman

Ernest Goodman is a missiologist, writer, teacher, and communications strategist.