Chapter 21

After Jesus was raised from the dead, he told his disciples this: “Teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20). The word that stuck out to me in this passage was observe. I believed that Jesus was not only talking about remembering the commandments. However, after I looked at other translations, which said observe meant “obey,” I was still a little disatisfied with this definition.

I then looked at what the word meant in Greek. Observe is translated to téreó, which actually means to keep, guard, observe, watch over, keep intact, properly maintain, and spiritually guard. I believe this loaded description of observe from the Greek language gives us a more in-depth understanding of what Jesus was saying here. Jesus could have been saying teach people not to only obey what he has commanded, but also to do active things to “protect” his commandments.

But then I think, “How can we guard or protect Jesus’ commandments?” There is a passage in Deuteronomy that talks about the same thing—”observing” the commandments of God. It says, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you must not add to it, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32). This passage may help us to better understand what it means to protect God’s commandments. Here, we are told not to add or take anything away from God’s commandments. In a sense, we have a command of how to treat God’s commandments. Nonetheless, it seems that if we think of God’s commandments like in a force field, not letting anything in or anything out, we get a better picture of what protecting God’s commandments may look like.

We can look elsewhere in Scripture where we are instructed to not add anything to God’s words (Proverbs 30:6). One of the most serious warnings for us not to add anything to God’s words can be found in the book of Revelation. It says, “For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If any man will add unto these things, God will add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man will take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)

So, keeping intact and protecting God’s commandments involves making sure we don’t add to them or take away from them. If we think about it, it seems that much “adding” and “taking” is the practice of many today. Many interpretations of Scripture take theological leaps to cover a range of topics. However, when it comes down to it (and if I am truly honest with myself), the whole of Scripture really seems to be pointing to Jesus. The Old Testament, the prophets, and the New Testament seem to have a united purpose—pointing people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For this reason, I think it’s important to play close attention to what Jesus commanded us to do and “observe” such commandments to the fullest, keeping them safe.