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Missionaries: A Gift to the Church

Missionaries: A Gift to the Church

In Ephesians 4:11 we read the following words: 11 And He (Christ) Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,{NKJV}. The final marching orders of the Risen Christ found in Acts 1:8 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” {NKJV} clarify the obligation of the church to reach the whole world with the message of the Cross.

The Greek word ἀπόστολος denotes a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. It is primarily used in the NT to refer to the Apostles who had been personally commissioned by Jesus Christ either in HIS earthly ministry or in HIS post resurrection appearance to Saul who would later be called Paul. The apostles were given first of all the task of establishing the foundation of the church. Eph.2: 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” The other use is of men (messengers) sent with a commission or missionaries. {Acts 14:14; 2.Co.8:23; Phil.2:25} These men were listed by name or noted as a group.

It seems though that Paul is suggesting that these messengers would continue to be gifted to the church to facilitate the equipping of the saints. Missionaries today, like the Apostle Paul, have a different perspective on Bible exegesis and especially application because they are in a different culture than the sending church in back home. The missionary is looking on their ministry within the context of a cross-cultural setting. This colors his perspective on the scripture and has a direct impact on his preaching about the text. A perfect example is Paul’s message on Mars Hill (Acts 17). The church needs this perspective if it is to be effective in obeying the command of Acts 1:8 when sending out one of it’s own missionaries.

In another post I will note some passages that a missionary would perhaps look at from a different perspective.