We come to the end of Chris Wright’s exceptional book, The Mission of God. The mission of God to make his name know to the whole world finds its end in Jesus, in the early Christian preaching to the nations, and in the Church’s task to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
I’d like to hear what pastors are doing with this book in their churches. And what professors are doing. And what evangelists are doing. And what others are doing with this fine study.
Wright’s last chp begins with this question: Was there a missions mandate in the Old Testament? He disagrees with many here when he says “No.” There is the expectation of the nations flocking to Zion, but there was no mission mandate … and there was no evidence that Israel partook in missionary activity. There is a missonary idea but that idea was transformed into praxis only in the early church.
Then he looks at Jesus’ “exceptional” praxis of ministering to Gentiles even though Jesus’ own practice was not one of taking the gospel to the nations. Jesus’ mission was more of a concentration on the particular people of God in order to create the impulse for a later Gentile mission. The impetus was for Israel; the impact was for the nations.
That impact is already felt in how the Evangelists began to bring in a Gentile missions perspective: a good example is the geneaology of Matthew where the Abrahamic promise leads to the magi and then to the Great Commission at the end of the Gospel.
Which leads to Peter and to Philip and James (Acts 15 does not question a Gentile mission; it questions the conditions of conversion) and then of course to Paul.
Big for Paul is Acts 13:46-48 where Paul sees his own mission as extending the Servant of Isaiah, taken up by Jesus, and then picked up as the light for Paul’s own mission:
“46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ?We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ? ?I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.? ? 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
The boldened letters are from one of Isaiah’s servant passages. Paul sees his mission as the Servant’s.
The book comes clean: the mission of God to the nations was through Israel. This is a clear and biblical sketch of the mission of God and I can’t think of a better book for churches to work through.