Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

New areas

Paul says his task is to go to unreached peoples — to go to new areas — to spread the good news to people who have not heard — to avoid treading on the turf of othes and simply begin new churches.
Paul says he has preached the gospel from Jerusalem (notice his beginning point) to Illyricum. As Wright observes, we don’t know when Paul went there — but that ought to remind us that we don’t know everything about Paul’s journeys.
What he says is that he wants to preach in new areas so he doesn’t build on someone’s foundation — and he summons Isaiah 52:15 (“Those who were not told about him will see…”) for support for his missional vocation.
In fact, Rom 15:23 says this: “with no further place for me in these regions.” Good grief, we have to say, there were lots of communities he hadn’t been to.
Four points from Wright: (1) his work has delayed his coming to Rome; (2) he has fulfilled his aims for the eastern Mediterranean; (3) Rome will be his base for work in Spain; (4) I don’t see that he gave it!
On to Spain! he says.

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J. B. Hood

posted October 19, 2006 at 6:27 am

One of the most powerful texts, in my mind, for getting evangelicals to see the critical importance of ministry to the needy is what Paul says next (a la Galatians 2:10).
Tim Keller has used this as a major plank in his church strategy, inspired by Paul’s method of hitting the biggest cities in a region and then moving on; and something in a J. M. Boyce book, who once suggested that America would change instantly if 10 percent of Xians could move to major urban cities and their outskirts (Chicago, San Fran, NYC, Boston, DC, Miami). Those methods only work, however, if you have missional people and missional churches, planting churches and spreading Kingdom-minded folks all over a region.

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Terry Tiessen

posted October 19, 2006 at 10:23 am

I too have been intrigued by Paul’s sense of his mission in that area being done. It doesn’t fit well with our sense of when an area has been “reached” with the gospel.
In the process of my movement from ecclesiocentrism to accessibilism, I also found it significant that Paul never makes any ecclesiocentric appeals to motivate others to mission nor uses them to explain his own missionary motivation. In this text, for instance, he lets the churches in Rome know that he expects them to fund his mission to Spain but he expresses no urgency that they should get some missionaries off right away because Paul may be delayed in getting there himself. If Paul had been an ecclesiocentrist, I would have expected him to make that sort of appeal. Its absence is telling. Of course, if they had sent missionaries to Spain then Paul wouldn’t have gone himself because he wanted to be a pioneer. Very interesting.

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Matt Kennedy

posted October 19, 2006 at 1:13 pm

Certainly this also speaks of our tendancy in North American churches to assume we are doing successful outreach but in reality we are just shuffling members from one place to another. I’m guessing that 9/10 of the growth experienced in my former church was ex-Lutherans/Baptists/Presbyterians… meanwhile there remain singificant numbers of unchurched who are recieving no exposure to the Church’s outreach.

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bob smietana

posted October 19, 2006 at 5:37 pm

Interesting– Rodney Stark argues in his new book, Cities of God, that Paul took advantage of already existing social networks among Greek speaking Jews in his missionary journeys

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Matt Dabbs

posted October 23, 2006 at 2:41 pm

Just wondering if you have read any of Jervell’s work on Luke-Acts. It is some pretty challenging information that kind of bucks the system of much of what people say about Acts regarding Jewish rejection/acceptance of the Gospel and Gentile rejection/acceptance of the Gospel. I had typically heard people teach that the Jewish rejection of the gospel opened the door to reaching out the Gentiles. Jervell says it was the opposite – the Jewish acceptance of the message was a fulfillment required for offering the gospel to the Gentiles, leading to Gentile acceptance of the message. Just thought I would ask.

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