Darrow Miller and Friends

What Did Jesus Send Us to Do?

Jesus assigned us to “make disciples of all nations.” Not individuals from all nations, but all nations.

“Nation” in Matthew 28:19 is the Greek word ethnos. According to the Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains, “ethnos” means “a people, a large group based on various cultural, physical or geographic ties.” (We must not confuse “people group” with the modern concept of a geo-political state. For instance, Ethiopia, a geo-political state, is home to over 100 people groups.)

We are to disciple people groups, not simply individuals. That clearly suggests that the task will be complete, not when there is an evangelistic witness in each nation, but when the world’s people groups are discipled.

The word ethnos (race, nation, people group) is derived from ethos, “the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people” (Collins English Dictionary ). A culture’s ethos includes its worldview, sacred belief system, value system, first principles and habits of the hearts of the people.

It is ethne (the plural form of ethnos) or people groups that we are to disciple. Given the nature of discipling (life on life) and nations (a people group), we must disciple ethne at the level of culture. We are to bring biblical values – truth, beauty, and goodness – into the consciousness of the people group.

photo by dan at freeditigalphotos.net

Too often we think of discipleship as teaching new Christians to be spiritual: to pray, to read the bible, to worship and fellowship together and to witness about Christ. These are all essential but not sufficient to completing the task.

We must build on this foundation to disciple nations at the level of culture. While we are teaching people to pray and read the Bible, we must also teach them  … to honor Christ as Lord of all of life, … to engage all the domains–family, government, education, commerce, the arts and media–with His Lordship in view, … to  bring biblical truth, beauty and goodness to their culture. While the process of discipling begins with individuals, it is nations, or people groups, that are to be discipled!

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) was an English Puritan perhaps best known for his commentaries on the whole Bible, works bound not by modern sensibilities of individualism but by the more biblical frame of community. In his commentary on Matthew 28:16, he wrote:

Do your utmost to make the nations Christian nations; not, “Go to the nations, and denounce the judgments of God against them, as Jonah against Nineveh, and as the other Old-Testament prophets’’ (though they had reason enough to expect it for their wickedness), but “go, and disciple them.’’ Christ the Mediator is setting up a kingdom in the world, bring the nations to be his subjects; setting up a school, bring the nations to be his scholars; raising an army for the carrying on of the war against the powers of darkness, enlist the nations of the earth under his banner. (Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume)

– excerpted from a forthcoming book by Darrow Miller

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).