"Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests," [Acts 26:12]. You have just read the one and only time the term "commission" is found in the entire Bible. It was given to Saul to make havoc of the Church [Acts 8:3].
"...and many of the saints did I shut up in prison,...and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities." [Acts 26:10-11]
As an Army officer, I was given a commission to support and defend the Constitution of the United States [very broad.] The commission gave me no specific guidance at all. Those early ministers were not given a commission, but a command [very specific].
Consider the Apostles.
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received, freely give." [Matthew 10:5-8]
Look at the signs that followed them as Christ sent them into all the world.
"...In my name shall they 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." [Mark 16:17-18]
Paul, an Apostle: "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." [Acts 19:11-12]
Did they fulfill their command? Consider to whom they preached on the day of Pentecost: "And they were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" [Acts 2:5]. "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." [Romans 10:17-18].
Paul, speaking to the Gentiles:
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant" [1 Cor. 12:1]. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
[1 Cor 12:39-31]. "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." [1 Cor 13:10]
The early church did not have the New Testament. They witnessed the miracles personally. We now have a more excellent way. That which is perfect is come. We witness the same miracles and the finished work of Christ through the inspired word of God.
When Christ preached upon the earth, did He do so with a commission or through a commandment?
"For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." [John 12:49-50]
"For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me." [John 17:8]
The tern "reverend" is used only once in the entire Bible and refers only to God: "He sent redemption unto his people; he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name" [Ps 111:9]. We should not think of applying the term "Reverend" to us today. Likewise, the term "commission" is only used once in the entire Bible-in reference to Saul [Acts 26:12]; neither should we think of applying the term to us today.
There is no Great Commission or a Final Commission taught in the Bible. May we use biblical terms as we "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." [2 Tim 2:15].
Elder Don R. Watson