Let the Missionary Be a Missionary -- By: Greg Peters

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 122:488 (Oct 1965)
Article: Let the Missionary Be a Missionary
Author: Greg Peters


Let the Missionary Be a Missionary

George W. Peters

[George W. Peters, Department Chairman and Professor, World Missions, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

Almost thirty years ago a conference was stirred by the words: “Let the Church Be the Church!” The challenge came from Bishop William Temple and was directed to the delegates of the Life and Work Conference convening in Oxford, England, in 1937. The words had their effect. Today another challenge needs to ring out into the mission world: Let the missionary be a missionary! In the midst of all the problems, pressures, perplexities, needs, frustrations, and disappointments, the missionary finds it most difficult to remain a missionary. Life involvements are so complex that it becomes extremely difficult to remain in the proper and assigned course. This is especially so for a missionary in lands of social and cultural revolutions and multiplicities of needs and demands as well as opportunities and challenges. Who, then, is a missionary and what is expected of him? These are weighty questions and deserve careful consideration. No doubt, the answers would vary greatly should we poll popular opinion. In our days of generalizations almost everything is mission and almost every one is a missionary. We need to make a thorough study in this matter and to bring forth a definitive answer.

Traditionally, a missionary was a Christian messenger of the gospel who crossed national borders and/or cultural lines to occupy new frontiers for Christ, in order to preach the gospel and establish functioning Christian churches according to the command of Christ and the example of the apostles.

The Bible does not offer to us a formal definition of missions nor the missionary. We believe, however, we are justified to state that according to the Scriptures a missionary is a

messenger with a message sent forth by divine authority for a definite purpose. There are at least three essential qualities of a missionary: (1) he is a believer sent forth—a messenger, a herald; (2) he is sent forth with a message—he is a message bearer; (3) he is sent forth on a specific mission—he has a definite assignment and a specific purpose. This we desire to establish biblically.

The Missionary Is One Sent Forth

The word missionary is not found in our English Bible. It comes to us from the Latin word mittoI send and this is closely related to the New Testament apostelloto send. Any reader of the Bible quickly realizes that the words sent and send occupy a prominent place in the Bible, especially in the Gospels. T...

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