Ver. 18-20. Mark saith, Mar_16:15-18, And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Our blessed Lord in these three last verses:
1. Asserts his power and authority.
2. He delegates a power.
3. He subjoins a promise.
The power and authority which he asserts to himself is, All power both in heaven and earth, Act_10:36,42 Eph 1:20-22; power of remission of sins, Luk_24:47, of congregating, teaching, and governing his church; a power to give eternal life to whomsoever he pleased. This was inherent in him as God blessed for ever, given to him as our Mediator and Redeemer, given him when he came into the world, but more especially confirmed to him and manifested to be given him at his resurrection and ascension, Phi_2:9,10. Having declared his power, he delegates it:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; the Greek is mayhteusate, make disciples all nations; but that must be first by preaching and instructing them in the principles of the Christian faith, and Mark expounds it, telling us our Saviour said, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, that is, to every reasonable creature capable of hearing and receiving it. I cannot be of their mind, who think that persons may be baptized before they are taught; we want precedents of any such baptism in Scripture, though indeed we find precedents of persons baptized who had but a small degree of the knowledge of the gospel; but it should seem that they were all first taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and were not baptized till they professed such belief, Act_8:37, and John baptized them in Jordan, confessing their sins, Mat_3:6. But it doth not therefore follow, that children of such professors are not to be baptized, for the apostles were commanded to baptize all nations: children are a great part of any nation, if not the greatest part, and although amongst the Jews those that were converted to the Jewish religion were first instructed in the law of God before they were circumcised, yet the fathers being once admitted, the children were circumcised at eight days old; nor were they under any covenant different from us, though we be under a more clear manifestation of the same covenant of grace, of which circumcision was a sign and seal to them, as baptism is to us. Infants are capable of the obligations of baptism, for the obligation ariseth from the equity of the thing, not from the understanding and capacity of the person; they are also capable of the same privileges, for of such is the kingdom of God, as our Saviour hath taught us.
All nations: the apostles were by this precept obliged to go up and down the world preaching the gospel, but not presently. So it is plain that the apostles understood their commission, from Act_1:8Act_3:26 13:46 18:6,7 Ga 2:7. They were first to preach and to baptize amongst the Jews, and then thus to disciple all nations. Pastors and teachers who succeeded the apostles were not under this obligation, but were to be fixed in churches gathered, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of the apostles. They by this commission have authority in any place to preach and to baptize, but are not under an obligation to fix no where, but to go up and down preaching in all nations.
Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Baptizing them is no more than washing them with water. We read of the baptism of pots and cups, Mar_7:8, (we translate it washing, ) which we know may be by dipping them in water, or by pouring or sprinkling of water upon them. It is true, the first baptisms of which we read in holy writ were by dippings of the persons baptized. It was in a hot country, where it might be at any time without the danger of persons’ lives. Where it may be, we judge it reasonable, and most resembling our burial with Christ by baptism into death; but we cannot think it necessary, for God loveth mercy rather than sacrifice, and the thing signified by baptism, viz. the washing away of the soul’s sins with the blood of Christ, is in Scripture expressed to us by pouring and sprinkling, Eze_36:25Heb_12:241Pe_1:2.
In the name of the Father, &c.; in the Greek it is, eis to onoma, into the name. In the name doth not only import the naming of the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost upon them, but, in the authority, or (which is indeed the chief) into the profession of the trinity of the persons in the one Divine Being: dedicating the persons baptized to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and thereby obliging them to worship and serve God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for in baptism there is both a solemn dedication of the person to God, and a solemn stipulation: the person baptized either covenanting for himself that he will be the Lord’s, or his parents covenanting for him that he shall be the Lord’s; which covenant doth both oblige the parents to do what in them lieth in order to that end, and also the child, the parents covenanting for no more than the child was under a natural and religious obligation to perform, if such covenant had never been made by its parents on its behalf.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. There is a teaching must go before baptism of persons grown up; and this was the constant practice of the apostles. It is fit men should act as rational creatures, understanding what they do. And there is a teaching which must follow baptism; for baptism without obedience, and a living up to that covenant in which we are engaged, will save no soul, but lay it under a greater condemnation. The apostles might teach nothing but what Christ had commanded them, and they were bound to teach whatsoever Christ had commanded them. Here now is the rule of the baptized person’s obedience. We are bound to no obedience but of the commands of Christ, and to a perfect obedience of them, under the penalty of eternal condemnation. When Mark saith, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, it doth not imply that baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, or in the same order with faith in Christ; but that the contempt of it is damnable, as being a piece of presumptuous disobedience; and such a faith is to be understood there, under the notion of believing, as worketh by love.
And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world: I am and I will be with you, and those who succeed you in the work of the ministry, being called of me thereunto. I will be with you, protecting you, and upholding that ordinance, and blessing you, and all others of my faithful ministers that labour for making me and my gospel known, with success.
Unto the end of the world; not of this age only, but of the world: my ministry begun in you shall not fail, nor shall the adding of souls to the number of them who shall be saved (as a token of my gracious presence with you) fail, till the world shall be determined, and the new heavens and the new earth shall appear. What Mark addeth concerning the signs that should follow those that believed, had a particular reference to the times immediately following Christ’s ascension into heaven, and is to be understood of those miraculous operations which were to be wrought by the apostles, and others, for a further confirmation of the doctrine of the gospel by them preached. Matthew says nothing of them here. There is no promise of Christ’s presence with his ministers to enable to such operations to the end of the world; but with his ministers preaching, baptizing, and teaching men to observe and to do whatsoever he hath commanded them, he hath promised to be, till time shall be no more.