Teaching All Nationalities with a View to Baptism
As a result of obeying Jesus’ command thousands of Jews became disciples of Jesus and were baptized. As early in the record as Acts 4:4 we read of their number as having increased to five thousand. Later, due to Jehovah’s direction, the discipling work took in Gentiles, beginning with Cornelius and his household.
In modern times obedience to Matthew 28:19, 20 was apparent from the 1870’s and particularly after World War II. As a result there has been such an increase that early in this year some 1,453,000 Christian ministers were actively engaged in making disciples of others, and many thousands, in all parts of the world, have been baptized during the year.
What were the disciples baptized as being?
They were baptized as being, not disciples of the ones that taught them or baptized them, but as disciples of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.
Since it appears from the facts that the ones eligible for the heavenly kingdom were for the time completed in number by about 1935, does that mean that those baptized since then are baptized as being of the “great crowd” of “other sheep”? (Rev. 7:9; John 10:16) No, when disciples are being baptized they do not try to determine for themselves what their destiny will be but leave that up to Jehovah God to decide. As has been noted, it is proper to expect that after one’s baptism God would give a witness to the dedicated and baptized person as to what God’s decision is in that one’s case. But at this time when it is principally to an earthly hope that God is pointing those who become his servants, what if anyone recently baptized should suddenly conclude that he or she was spirit-begotten? It would be well for such a one to do some self-examination as to whether that conclusion was truly based on the witness or the testimony of God’s spirit.
What obligation rests upon those who are made disciples?
Jesus said that those who are made disciples are to be taught all the things that he taught his disciples. Among the many things he taught his disciples were to keep on seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness and to lay up treasures in heaven, not upon earth. In particular, both by precept and example he taught his disciples to go from house to house, village to village, preaching and declaring the good news about God’s kingdom.—Matt. 10:1-42; Luke 8:1.
How long did Jesus indicate that the work of preaching and making disciples was to continue?
As to the preaching work, Jesus stated that this good news of God’s kingdom would be preached in all the world for a witness and then the end would come. So this preaching work is to continue until the end of this system of things. (Matt. 24:14) It therefore follows that until this system of things is concluded by the “great tribulation,” which begins with the destruction of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, Christ’s followers are to continue to make disciples, baptizing them.
For details see The Watchtower, December 15, 1969.