The Essence of the Divine Commission for Evangelical and Missionary Endeavors

“Then he called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.  He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2NKJV)

      Anytime I read a passage as rich as the one above, it always stirs up the fire of revival inside of me.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am all about revival.  Additionally, anyone who knows me knows that I am also about Greek and Hebrew in the context of the scriptures for accurate interpretation and application in the life of the believer.  So, having read this wonderful passage, I set out this week to break down the verse, Greek word by word, to arrive at a fuller understanding of what Messiah commissioned the twelve, and ultimately us, to do.

     Sugkalesamenos de tous dwdeka maqhas auton.  This is the beginning of the verse in the Greek.  It is not a complete sentence it is a phrase that has at its root, a participle.  Participles are verbal stems that have noun endings.  They are modifiers.  This particular participle is identified by the ending “samenos.” This indicates that it is an Aorist middle voice participle.  It agrees in number, case and gender with the 12 disciples and is going to tell us something about what the twelve are doing.  Participles are difficult to translate literally and are most often translated with an English temporal clause.  With the Aorist, it is translated with “after” since the aorist indicates a past action.  Hence, “After calling together His twelve disciples” seems to be an accurate translation of the phrase.  However, simply because it is an accurate English translation doesn’t necessarily imply that it gives it the full meaning intended.  So, let’s go a little deeper.  This particular verbal stem used in the participle carries the idea of creating an assembly.  Thus, he created an assembly of the 12 disciples simply by calling them.  The nature of the calling produced commonality and unity of all members generating more than just a gathering; it became an assembly, body, church, or convocation.  The Hebrew word used for this particular “calling” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word, “arq” which is transliterated “karah.”  It is used to describe Adam’s authority over creation by his “calling” them their names.  God “called” Cyrus by name commissioning him. (Isaiah 45:4)  Gabriel told Mary “to call” the Messiah Immanuel. It is also the Hebrew title of the Old Testament book Leviticus.  The Hebrew takes its title from the first word of the book which happens to be “arq” which signifies the calling on Moses life to receive the law from God.  (Incidentally, the English title Leviticus takes its name from the Septuagint which gave it this title because so much of the book deals with the priests, the Levites)  Lastly, a derivative is used to describe the holy convocations (Hebrew “arqm”) at the sacred feasts of the Lord.  It denotes a gathering that has a divine sanction associated with it.  A commissioning of a called out group of individuals creates an assembly for divine purpose and unity.  This is such an amazing concept for every New Testament believer.  The moment we were “called out” of a sick, dying, and cursed world, a divine commissioning was placed upon all of our lives which united us with an assembly of people, i.e.:  the church, the body of Christ, and the people of God.  We are all united simply because we have been “called” by God.  This calling of every New Testament believer gives their life a divine sanction and commission. We all have purpose.  This concept is so rich in and of itself that we could just camp out here and dissect what this really entails.  However, that is not the purpose of this article and we haven’t even finished the first sentence yet!!!

     Following the participial phrase, is the verb of the sentence.  It is the word “edwken.” This is an irregular verb, in the Greek, and is written in the Aorist tense.  The aorist is a past tense.  Hence, we translate the word, “He gave.”  The “en” ending denotes the third person so the pronoun “He” is implied in the Greek although it is not implicitly stated.  Again, the meaning of the word is much richer than the English “gave.”  When this word is joined with words that describe power, virtue, and authority, it is better translated, “to endue or to furnish.” (1)  This endowment speaks of an impartation.  Mainly, that Jesus was “giving” them an endowment of the spiritual power that was invested in and upon Him.  It was a foretaste of being “clothed with power from on high.”  Again, the Spirit-filled New Testament believer is given the “same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead.”  The endowment that rested on Jesus, He imparted to the twelve, and He also imparted to every New Testament believer through the giving of the Holy Spirit.  What we have so far in this verse is this, “After he created a divinely commissioned and called out assembly of His twelve disciples, he endued and imparted them with the same spiritual power and essence that was upon Him.”  Again, the implications of this are so rich we could camp out here, but we must press on.  The verse will continue on to tell us what the impartation looks like.

     The impartation looks like, power and authority.”dunamin kai exousian” are the Greek words next in the verse.  These words are written in the dative case which makes them the direct object of the sentence.  In this case, it will tell us what he gave to the twelve disciples.  The words for what is given are very powerful and the English doesn’t fully convey the meaning of the Greek.  “dunamin” is the word for which the English “dynamite” is derived.  Its meaning is basically, “The power residing in a thing by the virtue of its nature.” (2)  Simply, the power that rests upon the New Testament believer simply because the Holy Spirit is present.  The simple presence of God brings about its own unstated power.  This is the essence of the word, the power that is present simply because something exists.  In fact, the King James Version translates the word “virtue.”  An inherent power resides in the impartation simply because it is an impartation of God.  The simple bestowing of the anointing is accompanied with power.  It is the power of God to release healings over the oppressed children of men.  This virtue is present within the body of very New Testament believer; John G. Lake describes it far better than I could.  He writes, “If you will analyze that Greek word you will see it means the life or substance of His being, the quickening, living power of God, the very nature and being of God…Jesus demonstrated these two facts:  The marvelous capacity of the nature of man to receive God into his being, and the marvelous capacity of the nature of man to reveal God…You see people have been so in the habit of putting Jesus in a class by Himself that they have failed to recognize that he has made provision for the same living Spirit of God that dwelt in his own life, and of which he Himself was a living manifestation, to inhabit your being and mine just as it inhabited the being of Jesus and Paul.” (3)

     “exousian” basically means authority.  Now, authority is different from power and, in some respects, much richer in meaning.  Authority is “the power of rule and government.  The power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed.” (4)  God has established an order in the universe.  The order exists simply because God exists.  In this order, God has given humans authority to rule and govern over the earth.  It began with God giving Adam and Eve rule over the earth.  The expression of this authority occurred as Adam was endowed with the power and authority to “name or call” all of creation.  Psalm 8 describes humans as being, “created a little lower than God.” (so, the Hebrew reads, elohim).  John describes the New Testament believer writing, “As He is, so are we in this world.”  This means, that as the image-bearers of God we have been divinely commissioned and appointed to be all in this physical realm that He is in the spiritual realm.  In the spiritual realm, God reigns supreme.  He has thusly created us to govern, to rule, to have authority over all the earth and this includes the demonic powers.  We read in Scripture that Satan and his hordes were cast out of heaven onto the earth, thus, mankind has authority over them on the earth.  They have always desired the power and the authority, thus they have been in constant conflict with the sons of men.  Jesus, giving authority to the disciples, restored the original divine commission given by the Father.  It was lost at the fall trough sin, but Messiah, being sinless, retained the original position of authority which he has imparted to us.  The context of this is alluded to in the next part of the verse.

     epi panta ta daimonia is roughly translated, “over all the demonic/demons.”  epi is a preposition which, with the genitive case, the case present here, it is translated “over”.  (This can be a tough verse for Greek students as the “ia” can also be the dative case.  However, in the plural neuter genitive case, it has this same ending.  The demonic is described in the neuter case as being neither male nor female) It is important here to identify the genitive case because the translation of the preposition will change as the case changes.  “Over” is the accurate translation as daimonia is in the genitive case.  panta, in the plural nomitive neuter case,  carries the general idea of “all” but that isn’t the most accurate description of the word. However, “in the predicate position (as it is here mainly without the article present), it means, all members of the whole.” (5)  Again, the richness of the Greek is impacting here.  Not one single member of the demonic forces can escape the fact the spiritual authority and power imparted by God demands their submission.  They simply must obey because this is the established order by God.

     “daimonia”, in Greek, has the basic meaning of “evil spirits, messengers and ministers of the devil.” (6)  Hell has a ministry and it has ministers.  The ministry and mission of hell is to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10)  It’s ministers are evil spirits, personalities without bodies, who go forth to cause sickness, sin, disease, depression, and any other condition that exists on earth but not in heaven.  Even though hell is organized into a ministry, it must still submit itself to the divinely ordained order.  Of which, Jesus is establishing, and releasing through the twelve contextually and all Christians ultimately, that hell has not the final say in the affairs of mankind.  We do, as Spirit filled Christians.  As Christians, it is our identity to confront hell to produce a different reality, namely, heaven.  This is evident in what Jesus continues through the verse.

     kai uosois qerapeuein which is roughly translated literally “and diseases heal.”  The ministry of hell is uosois which is diseases.  Jesus commissions us to confront he effects of hell’s ministry to reverse it by qerapeuein.  Notice the ein ending a the end of the word. This tells us that the word is an infinitive.  “An infinitive is a verbal noun, when the action of a verb becomes a ‘thing’ that functions in a sentence like a noun, this is an infinitive.” (7)  Generally, we add the English “to” in front of it.  So, the common translation is “to heal diseases.”  The word  qerapew is the word from which our English word “therapy” is derived.  The idea here is to heal, to restore to health, mankind’s soul, body, and spirit.  This confronts and reverses the ministry of hell.  This is further evident as the verse continues along.

     kai apesteilen autos khrusein thn basileian tou qeou, which is roughly “and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God.”  The word for sent here is the word from which “apostle” is derived.  It is the word that describes the action of the assembly when they are released into the world. The English word sent doesn’t quite covey the same meaning.  In Greek, it carries the idea of setting out to complete a divinely ordained commission.  What is interesting about this word is that the object of the mission is usually defined by the infinitive that follows the word.  This is Greek.  When reading this passage in Greek, the reader knows exactly what the divine commission is going to look like by the infinitives that follow.  The infinitive that follows is khrussein.  Again, notice the ending as it will tell us that this word is an infinitive.  Most translation use the word “preach” but over the centuries the word has lost its biblical meaning.  The essence of the word is “to be a herald, to officiate s a herald, to proclaim after the manner of a herald.” (8)  The real problem for modern readers is the nonexistence of a herald.  Thus, we must define what a herald is.  Noah Webster defines a herald as, “An officer whose business was to denounce or proclaim war, to challenge to battle, to proclaim peace, and to bear messages from the commander of an army.” (9)  Let that definition sink in for a moment, because this is the essence of Christian preaching.  There is another interesting aspect of this word.  It is also a synonym for a Hebrew word that we have seen already.  That word is “arq”.  Here is where things get deeper.  Jesus has commissioned them on a divinely ordained mission as officers to proclaim war against the enemy, and pronounce peace to the captives and the method they will use will be to invite them into the “call” from which they were “called.”  In essence, “to call” them into the “calling” that the preacher was originally called themselves.  The preacher does this by engaging the demonic in battle; speaking peace over people’s lives, releasing the power and authority of heaven to change the circumstances in someone’s life.  Then, invite them into the calling to become a part of the sacred Assembly of God’s people.  This is further evidenced by the last two words of the verse.

     isqai asqenountas to cure the sick.  Again, notice the “qai” ending of the first word.  This is an infinitive which again, links us back to the essence of what the divinely commissioned sent ones will be doing.    The word isqai means to make whole, to free from errors and sins, and to bring about one’s salvation of soul; body; and spirit.  This is what preaching the Kingdom of God incorporates.  Freeing the soul from the effects of sin, healing the body of all disease and sickness, and delivering the spirit from demonic torment is kingdom preaching.  The final word   asqenountas drives home the point even further.  The point being that salvation is about the soul, the body, and the spirit.  As John Lake called it, “triune salvation.”  This last word means literally, weak, feeble, or to be without strength or ultimately powerless. People can become powerless over sin, demons, addiction, depression, sickness, the flesh, and the world, but an invasion of heavenly power and authority can change that dynamic.  An invasion of pwer form the Kingdom preacher imparts virtue to the powerless, realizing them from torment and empowering them to live a life of freedom.  Then the Kingdom preacher invites them into the very calling by which he was called. This is the essence of all Christian missionary and evangelical endeavors and those who lack these components have not fully grasped all that Messiah gave us with our calling.

 

Endnotes

  1.  Thayer, Joseph, Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Mass. 2005, page 146.
  2. Ibid, page 159.
  3. Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake;The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings, Albury Publishing, Tulsa OK, 1999, page 226-225.
  4. Thayer, page 225.
  5. Machen, Gresham, J., McCartney, Dan, New Testament Greek for Beginners, second edition, Pearson Prentice Hall publishers, Upper Saddle River, NJ, page 215.
  6. Thayer, page 124
  7. Machen and McCartney, page 184.
  8. Thayer, page 346.
  9. Webster, Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, Foundation of the American Christian Education, Chesapeake, VA, 1995.
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