At the end of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus Christ gives this final charge to the Apostles before His Ascension into heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV)
This final charge is commonly called “The Great Commission.” From the beginning, the Church’s essential character has been to be a missionary church. This means being sent throughout the world, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. The first account of Church history, the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, tells of this missionary character. Acts tells progressively of Christ’s message being spread from the backwaters of Jerusalem all the way to the capital of the Roman empire itself: Rome.
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