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How Didn’t I See That Parallel Before?

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Have you ever watched two movies at separate times, only to discover that—wait a second! It’s basically the same movie?! For example, there’s Judy Garland’s In the Good Old Summertime (1949), followed by Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’s You’ve Got Mail (1998). Basically the same movie. A little less obviously, there’s Disney-Pixar’s A Bug’s Life (1998), following the same basic plot as 3 Amigos (1986).

Sometimes, overlap seems coincidental—like when you accidentally wear the same color as your spouse and unintentionally look like a couple stuck in the 1970s. Other times, the overlap seems intentional.

Matthew Bates, in Gospel Allegiance, highlights a fascinating overlap between 2 key scriptures: Matthew 28:18-20 (the Great Commission) and Romans 1:5 (Paul’s definition of the Gospel). Check out the excerpt from Gospel Allegiance below, and my guess is that you’ll come away thinking, Wait a second! How didn’t I see that parallel before?

Considering the divine Author behind the Bible, it’s very likely that the overlap was intentional.

Here’s Bates:

In this book we have emphasized the importance of the apostle Paul’s description of the purpose of the gospel for understanding its allegiance demands. Jesus’s Great Commission parallels Paul’s description in interesting ways. In the Great Commission, in light of Jesus’s kingship, we are

  1. to make disciples
  2. of all nations, baptizing them and
  3. teaching them to observe all of Jesus’s commandments.

Consider how this corresponds to Paul’s description of the purpose of the gospel: “the obedience of pistis among the nations” (Rom. 1:5; cf. Rom. 16:26). If pistis (allegiance) is coordinated with discipleship, we have the same three elements in each:

  1. discipleship / allegiance;
  2. all the nations;
  3. obedience / observing Jesus’s commands (Bates 223-224).
The point? Discipleship isn’t an optional tack-on to the Gospel. The overlap is too obvious. We have got to stop making discipleship an optional P.S. to our evangelism.