Missionary Service in the Life of Paul -- By: Kenneth C. Fleming
EmJ 1:3 (Win 92) p. 262
Missionary Service in the Life of Paul
Part 2: Paul the Teacher
Paul as a missionary was a great teacher as well as a great evangelist. Like his Master he was a maker of disciples, a trainer of men. His remarkable missionary success had as much to do with his teaching as with his evangelism. The pioneer of Christian missions fulfilled the commission of the Lord Jesus to “make disciples of all nations.” To him the salvation of men was the beginning point of Christian life, not the climax. We do well to study his example in order to improve the efficiency of our service for the Lord. There is a solid biblical base in Paul’s teaching ministry from which we can learn. We will look at some of the important aspects of this ministry in the following pages, especially those that touch principles applicable to missions today.
The Place of Teaching in the Missionary Strategy of Paul
The general strategy of Paul’s missionary activity is clearly stated in Acts 14:21–23:
And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strength-
EmJ 1:3 (Win 92) p. 263
ening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
This took place near the end of his first missionary journey with Barnabas. For about two years they had been in the vicinity of four cities in the Roman province of Galatia. We know them as Lystra, Iconium, Derbe and Pisidian Antioch located in what is today South Central Turkey. What Paul and Barnabas did there is typical of their missionary work. In terms of missionary strategy three things stand out clearly. First, there was an evangelistic thrust. “They preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples.” Initially they communicated the good news of salvation as widely as possible. Those that responded were called disciples. That is evangelism.
Secondly, there was the teaching process. Note the words, “They returned strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith.” Paul and Barnabas worked at teaching the new believers the great truths of the Word of God so that they would be strong in the faith. That is training, and it is the emphasis of this study.
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