Daniel L. Akin, Benjamin J. Merkle, and George G. Robinson. 40 Questions about the Great Commission. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2020. 368 pages. $24.99 (paperback).
What is the Great Commission? How has it been interpreted throughout history? How does the Old Testament relate to the Great Commission? What is the responsibility of the local church to the Great Commission? In 40 Questions about the Great Commission, Daniel L. Akin (President), Benjamin L. Merkle (Professor of New Testament and Greek), and George G. Robinson (Associate Professor of Missions and Evangelism, all at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) set out to answer each of these and many other questions as they seek to equip every Christian to understand and obey the Great Commission.
The book is broken up into five sections, dividing the questions into particular categories. These include general, historical, exegetical, biblical-theological, and practical-missiological questions. The first two sections include questions regarding the audience and implications of the Great Commission, the progress of the Great Commission, and how others have understood it throughout history, as well as highlighting inspiring missionary figures from church history. The third and fourth sections include questions as to how various aspects of the Great Commission should be interpreted, the implications for various interpretations, and how the Great Commission fits with the meta-narrative of Scripture. The final section includes questions regarding the practical outworking of the Great Commission in the life of both individual Christians and the church as a whole.
The great strength of this book is its comprehensive nature. It is not a stretch to say along with Bruce Ashford that this book answers “every question you’ve ever asked—or never asked—about our Lord’s parting commission to his disciples” (back cover endorsement). From the question of why certain Church Fathers believed that the commission only applied to the apostles (chap. 7) to why we translate “go” as a command if it is not an imperative in the Greek (chap. 16), the book addresses every pressing question about the subject with an abundance of excellent scholarship. At the same time, the broad scope of the book inevitably carries with it an inability to develop thorough argumentation for each specific question it addresses. However, each chapter provides scholarly citations in the footnotes if one wants to dig deeper into a particular question or argument.
With regard to the intended audience, the authors note in the introduction that this book is intended to help the reader “embrace the mission of Jesus and continue to grow in [their] effectiveness wherever God sends [them]” (p. 10). With that in mind, this book targets all Christians—from layperson to scholar—who are serious about making disciples of all nations. It is easy to read, comprehensive in nature, academically astute, and applicable for all believers.
CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. CBS book notices are not full academic book reviews. The present book notice was written by Noah Long (M.Div., Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), co-director of the Acts 1:8 Ministry at Faith Community Church in Kansas City, MO.