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					                New Testament Theology of Discipleship, an Anthology

                              Edited by Deborah M. Gill and Tae W. Kang

Copyright 2011 Deborah M. Gill and Tae W. Kang

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Jenny Fernanda Vielma Caceres, Stephen W. Casey, Amy Devries,
Tae W. Kang, Laura da Silva, John Ulrick

                                                Cover Image:
“Pantokrator” (The Almighty [Christ])
from the ancient church, Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom),
in Istanbul, Turkey (ancient Constantinople)
taken by Jan R. Gill

Some Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984,
2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Some Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by
Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.
All rights reserved.
Some Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible , Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,
1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (
                                TABLE OF CONTENTS


   Toward a New Testament Theology of Conversation

       Stephen W. Casey

   A Lucan Theology of Giving

       Laura da Silva


   A Matthean Theology of Faith Development Based on the Model of Christ with His

       John Ulrick

   A Theology of Leadership Development Based on the Practice of Paul

       Amy deVries

   A Theology of Discipleship Coaching

       Amy deVries


   A Pauline Theology of Missions Motivations

       Tae W. Kang

   A Pauline Theology on Local Church Participation in Missions

       Jenny Fernanda Vielma Caceres
                Toward a New Testament Theology of Conversation
Stephen W. Casey

                                  TABLE OF CONTENTS
       Table Fellowship
Oral Society

       Equality in Conversation
Character in Conversation
Conversation in the Kingdom of God
Conversation is Connection
Discipleship Focus
       In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In six days, God completed His
labor and all things that He created He deemed good. From the fish and the sea, to the birds and
the air, to man and the garden, all things God created were good. He created all things ex nihilo,
out of nothing, as God alone has the capability of creating from nothing (Hebrews 11:3).
Therefore, since God alone created all things, and brought all things forth from nothing, God
alone holds the capability of giving each piece of creation purpose. The first chapter of Genesis
recounts that God intends the greater and lesser lights to “govern” the day and night, the plants
and trees purpose to be food for humankind, and humans to be fruitful and multiply, filling the

earth and ruling over all living things within it.1 God created all things with purpose. God
created nothing pointlessly; not the stars in the sky, mosquitoes buzzing around us, or even the
words that flow from our lips.
Turning to the Gospel of John, it reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).2 Through the Word, all things came into being, “and
apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). Paul, in
Colossians 1:13-16, echoes John’s claims of Creation through the Divine Word, adding in verse
seventeen that, “in Him3 all things are held together” (Colossians 1:17). As God created all
things through the Divine Word of Jesus Christ, and the Word holds all things together, all things
become best understood through Jesus Christ. Therefore, each and everything’s purpose also has
a unique tint through Jesus Christ and each purpose, including the lights governing the day and
night, becomes better viewed through the Divine Word.
God purposed within Creation that humanity should engage in relationship with one another.
People ought to live out their lives in relationship not only vertically with God, but also
horizontally with each other. Paul teaches that we should not forsake assembling together
(Hebrews 10:25), but that each of us together in relationship form the body of Christ (1
Corinthians 12:12). Paul, teaching about relationship within the church, creates a dynamic of
interpersonal relationship that illustrates the truth that God intends people to live out their lives
together. In order properly to fulfill this God intended purpose of interpersonal relationship, God
opened the mouths of people and gave language so that communication might be achievable. A
relationship between individuals, therefore, becomes attainable through a cross communication
more simply called conversation. However, James in his epistle illustrates how sin has tainted
conversation (James 3:1-12).
According to James, the tongue, by which humans engage in conversation, “is a restless evil and
full of deadly poison” and “with it we curse men” (James 3:8, 9). Therefore, the intended
purpose of conversation also tastes the taint of sin. Since God created all things, and created a
purpose for all things, He therefore created conversation and its relational purpose of cross
communication. Furthermore, as all things came into being through the Divine Word of Jesus
Christ, the purpose of conversation apart from the taint of sin surveys best through Jesus Christ.
A New Testament theology of conversation develops through a look into the community and
culture of which Jesus Christ engaged in conversation whereupon God’s view of conversation
finds extrapolation.

       A New Testament theology of conversation extrapolates best out of the historical context
in which Jesus held conversation. Without first looking at the context from which the theology of
conversation derives, it would be difficult to comprehend fully the theology. Not only do the
words Jesus spoke hold importance, but also why and how He spoke those words retains
meaning. Jesus’ words in teachings and conversations did not merely flow from nothing, but
occur often within a larger context, whether answering a question, or responding to a situation.
The contexts of the conversations of Jesus Christ hold significance as well as the words.

                                         Table Fellowship
       During the New Testament period, conversation occurred most often during ritual social
gatherings. One of the most prominent social gatherings of the time occurred during the social
meals often referred to as table fellowship. These meals gathered social equals into ceremonies
for celebration of social status. The table fellowship acted as a ceremony occurring on a regular
basis wherein the roles and statuses of people in a community find affirmation. As table
fellowship operated as a ceremonial meal, each aspect of the meal’s structure held meaning. The
typical meal, including nine attendees, reclined around a low table where servants would place
the various courses of the meal. Within this setting, three sections enclosed the table (See Fig. 1).
The sections: in summo, in medio, and in imo, each held a different distinction of social
Figure 1. Bruce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh. Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic
Gospels (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), 366.

rank.4 The section of in summo held the highest honor, in medio the mid-honor, and in imo, the
lowest honor, which the meal’s host occupied. Each section contained three seats: summus,
medius, and imus. Again, each held particular distinctions of rank and honor with summus
holding the most, medius the middle honor, and imus the lowest honor. Within this context, the
seat of summus inside the section of in summo was the seat for the most honored guest. Politesse
did not allow an incoming guest to take this seat, lest a person of higher rank should come in
after the person, forcing that person shamefully to relinquish the seat of highest honor.
       The important aspect of the table setting was the recognition of social rank. As such, any
cross-social interaction between high and low classes within a table fellowship became
inconceivable. An individual of higher rank would never eat at the table of a social pariah. Eating
with a person of lower rank would shame the social elite, bringing devastating results to their
social rank. However, individuals of lower rank might try to gain a higher social rank by inviting
people of a higher status to their table fellowship. If those of the next rank accept the invitations
of the lower, this would elevate the lower person’s social standing. More likely, however, a
lower rank person would gain social status through accepting invitations to prestigious social
tables. This never crossed wide degrees of social strata, but only between those of neighboring
social ranks. An elite person who invited non-elite people to a table fellowship has sharply

broken ranks with family members and elite friends.5 If seen eating with those of lower rank, the
family members and social networks would cut the elite person out of elite social circles. This
especially rang true in the cities “where status stratification was sharp and members of the elite

were expected to maintain it.”6 Table fellowship became an important aspect of the culture,
established in ritual, meant to cement social relationships within social ranks, and to divide
people into segregated groups of social bearing.
Jesus often entered into table fellowship situations to engage people in conversation. The Gospel
of Luke describes several of Jesus’ table fellowship interactions.7 These settings of table
fellowship, which Jesus entered into, would cross social ranks. Jesus would eat these meals with
the elite and the non-elite alike. In Luke 14:1, Jesus entered into “the house of one of the leaders
of the Pharisees . . . to eat” at a table fellowship meal, while in Luke 19:1-10 Jesus ate at the
house of Zaccheus, a rich chief tax collector. Within the social context of the religious elite,
Jesus found himself at the table of the leaders of the Pharisees, and within the social context of
the wealthy elite, Jesus found himself at the table of Zaccheus, a very wealthy man. Within these
contexts of elitism alone, Jesus found himself in various social domains. However, Jesus also ate
at the table of unsavory people, such as tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners and other social
outcasts (Luke 5:29-30, 15:2).8
Luke 15:2, understood in the light of table fellowship restrictions, gives a great understanding of
Jesus’ cross-social bearing. In the passage, the scribes and Pharisees grumbled that Jesus
“receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). To the Pharisaic mind, Jesus slapped the
faces of the Pharisees and their social customs. The leaders of the Pharisees considered Jesus on
the social level of the elite leaders of society since they invited Jesus to their table (Luke 14:1).
However, when Jesus ate with sinners, He showed no favoritism, and illustrated that He held the
sinners and the Pharisees on equal social ground, thus insulting the Pharisees’ social pride. In
stark contrast to the social ranks, Jesus illustrated the hospitality of God to the rejected world that
the elite, including the Pharisees, often withheld.9 To Jesus, no social distinction partitions
people. In the mind of Christ, the worst of the sinners in the lowest ranks of society, and the
people of the social and religious elite, found equality. All the regulations of the table fellowship
meals meant nothing, as they only increased pride and created social segregation. When Jesus
entered into conversation within these contexts, He devaluated markedly these human
distinctions of pride.
John chapter thirteen describes a unique table fellowship gathering. In this chapter, John
describes the Passover meal that Jesus ate with His disciples. The Passover meal remains one of
the most important events to the Jews. The meal remembers the salvation that God brought the
Hebrews as He delivered them from the bondage of Egypt. This particular table fellowship holds
several meanings. In John 13:3, Jesus, knowing who He was as the Son of God, did not regard
equality with God a thing to be grasped (Philippians 2:6), but chose to humble Himself in the
likeness of men (Philippians 2:7) and eat with His disciples, and even wash their feet. Jesus did
not hold that the rituals of table fellowship should dictate social importance. As God made flesh,
He held the most honor, and yet He chose to humble Himself in the form of the incarnation and
eat with sinful men. This exceptional divide of rank did not occur important to Jesus as He could
have sought the honor due Him. However, Jesus chose not to require any great honor, choosing
humility instead. Social rank does not exist as an aspect of Jesus’ Kingdom.
Furthermore, the Passover meal was a familial meal.10 Jesus, by eating the Passover meal with
His disciples, entered into a deeper relationship with them. Jesus illustrated a distinction of
family that the disciples would carry into the foundation of the church, where family became
more than blood relatives, as believers become brothers and sisters of the faith. Jesus defined a
counter-culture relationship in this setting to the disciples, while creating a new definition of
social interaction and conversation between people. In the proper context, according to Jesus’
actions, conversation should not segregate people, but bring them together in a familial bond.
                                            Oral Society
       Jesus lived in an oral society. The people of the day interacted together through oral
communication brought out in conversation. The Jews of Jesus’ day understood speech, or

conversation, as the primary ingredient for their lives in society.11 The people in the oral
communities often felt a sacred tie between oneself and one’s words. Within this context, truth
merits solely on the integrity of the individual. “The truth and the truth giver are intimately

connected.”12 Therefore, the reliability of the message depended upon the credibility of the
messenger. To deny the credibility of an individual discredits any message that they might bear,
however truthful it might be. If the message relates truth, but the person’s behavior does not, the
message holds no weight. Therefore, to deliver any form of truth in conversation a person needed
a credible character. When a person of credibility spoke truth, that truth mirrored an aspect of
their nature. While parents today often spout the idiom, “do as I say, not as I do,” this ideal
would not register in an oral community. The truth that an individual declared became the same
truth that the individual speaking upheld in their daily lives.
In Colossians 3:17, Paul declares that “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the
name of the Lord Jesus.” Oral cultures deemed it inconceivable that the two elements of word
and deed could find separation. Paul alludes that both word and deed in unison find their true
essence in a person’s companionship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus displayed just such a manner of unity between word and deed. In Luke 4:36, the Pharisees
comment that Jesus spoke with a level of authority that they had never before encountered. In
this instance, they implied more than that Jesus spoke compellingly. The power generated by the
unison of word and being in Jesus, not simple mastery of the Law or a skilled gift of persuasion,
left the best speakers of the Law speechless when Jesus spoke. Jesus displayed a level of
integrity in His conversations and actions where the complete merging of person, spirit, and
message became visible.13 The Jews of the day held the belief that encountering truth ultimately
became an encounter with the Creator through the presence of the messenger.14 Jesus brought an
encounter of the Creator into people’s lives, not only because of His divinity, but because His
truth, brought out in conversation, became inextricably linked to His very being.
       Society consists of several different elements that comprise the whole. The anti-society
develops as one such element of society. When members of a society remain in society “but are
opposed to and in conflict with it” (in the words of John, they are “in the world but not of it”),

they form an anti-society.15 The members of an anti-society remain in society but their loyalties
do not stay with it. The anti-society is a hollowed out social space within the larger society,

which it stands in opposition, as a conscious alternative to it.16
Anti-societies often consist of people displaced in one way or another by the larger society. The
larger society considers these social outsiders deviant. Since the larger society deems them
deviant, anti-societies often face hostility by the larger social system. In response, the deviant
social outsiders form intense in-group loyalty (John’s term of “love”) that centers on the key
figure in the group (Jesus). Emphasis in such an anti-society remains on relationships in the
in-group and social contrast with the out-group. The larger society consists of ideas, such as
status, distinctions of rank, care for personal appearance, and selfishness, whereas the
anti-society alludes to placement, anti-distinction of rank, care not to shame the in-group, and
other centeredness.17
Jesus and His disciples established an anti-society in opposition to “the world.” In John 8:23,
Jesus reminds the Pharisees that while they remain a part of the larger society, He does not.
While they are of this world, Jesus declares His alienation to this world. The Gospel of John
points to an audience of individuals who emerged from, and stand opposed to, society and its
competing groups. In concrete terms, the larger groups, which John’s collectivity opposes,
include “the (this) world” (seventy-nine times in John; nine times in Matthew and three each in
Mark and Luke), and “the Judeans” (seventy-one times in John; five times in Matthew and Luke;
seven times in Mark).18 These groups refused to believe in Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and,
therefore, the Johannine group stands over against them.
In Gospel terms, the anti-society that Jesus establishes can best be understood as the Kingdom of
God, or even later in Acts and beyond as the church. The entrance of the Kingdom of God into
society creates a new anti-society that remains in opposition to society. While the world and the
Judeans hold tightly to social establishments of rank and distinction, the Kingdom of God creates
equality for all people. The lowest member of society becomes empowered in the Kingdom of
God, able to be an active member in the anti-societal gatherings (church), and even attain to a
leadership role.19 These disenfranchised members of society find a voice in the anti-society of
Jesus that they could never attain in the larger society. Distinctions of race, sex, or nationality no
longer distinguish an individual. According to Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is
neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”
(Galatians 3:28). The main importance entails loyalty to the anti-society (Kingdom of God) and
its central figure (Jesus Christ).
The Kingdom of God, as an anti-society, creates a hollowed out social space where interpersonal
relationships, established in love, find unity and equality in the centrality of Jesus Christ, and
where the disenfranchised find a voice previously unavailable to them.
       Conversation and communication within an anti-society often utilizes a new grasp on
language called anti-language. This anti-language will not be simply a specialized or technical
variety of ordinary language used in a special way (e.g., technical jargon, court language, short
hand). Rather, an anti-language arises among persons in groups espousing alternate perceptions
of reality that have been set up in opposition to some established mode of conception and

perception.20 The new anti-language stands not in opposition to the language of the larger
society, nor becomes a formulation of new words and linguistics, but results in a reinterpretation
of words from the larger society to assist in the interpretation of the anti-society.
John in his Gospel, for instance, redefines several words from the viewpoint of his anti-society of
the presence of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. Terms, such as light and darkness (1:5),
born of water/spirit and born of flesh (1:13), spirit and flesh (3:6), life and death (3:36), truth and
lie (8:44-45), not of this world and of this world(17:1), find reinterpretation in the new
anti-society of the Kingdom of God where the first word in each pairing depicts inherent traits of
the in-group dimensions of the Kingdom of God and the second word describes out-group
elements of “the World.” In the anti-language, that John creates, “light” in John 1:5 becomes a
description of goodness and truth, and “darkness” relates synonymously with evil and
falsehood.21 Rather than “light” defined as a luminary source and “darkness” defined as the
absence of light, the two words gain a new spiritual definition in the anti-society that John
In his first epistle, John writes, “God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
While John’s description can describe God as a luminary source, “light” and “dark” relate the
dualism between good and evil as John asserts that the light without darkness in 1 John 1:5 refers
to the ethical purity of God.22 Within John’s context, “light” and “dark” become anti-language
because the words gain new meaning for interpreting the spiritual anti-society of the Kingdom of
God. In John 3:6, “life” and “death” become more than physical life and death; they become a
spiritual life and death. “The flesh” in John 3:36, as opposed to the spirit, becomes more than the
physical body; “the flesh” becomes a descriptor of the sinful characteristics of humanity. John
redefines words to assist his readers and the adherents of the anti-society to gain a deeper
understanding of the nature of the anti-society of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus himself used a form of anti-language when he told Nicodemus that he must be “born
again” to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). The term “born again,” while common in the
church today, revealed a new religious term to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee.
Jesus reinterpreted the language of the larger society to create the term “born again” so that He
might build a better understanding of how one would enter the anti-society of the Kingdom of
Anti-language, therefore, becomes a vehicle of resocialization into the anti-society.23 Just as
Jesus used the term “born again” to facilitate Nicodemus’s entrance into the Kingdom of God,
anti-language becomes the means by which people begin to understand the nature of the
Kingdom of God and its central figure Jesus Christ. Anti-language becomes crucial for the social
reinterpretation of the alternate reality and the resocialization of the newcomers as it builds a
bridge for them to cross out of “the world” into the Kingdom of God. The anti-language becomes
a fundamental element in the existence of the “second life” phenomenon in the anti-society of
the Kingdom of God.24 Not only does anti-language facilitate entrance into the anti-society, it
also facilitates interpersonal bonding between the members of the anti-society. In the face of
opposition from the larger society, the anti-language of an anti-society assists a person in
maintaining solidarity with fellow adherents so that they will not fall back into the margins of the
society from which they departed as the anti-language creates an alternative ideology and an
emotional anchorage in the new collectivity of the anti-society.25 The anti-language of the
Kingdom of God creates a cementing bond between the followers of Christ, newcomers and old,
so that returning to the world becomes infeasible.

       The historical context of Christ in conversation builds a comprehension for a theology of
conversation. Without understanding the context from which the theology extrapolates, it
becomes difficult to comprehend the theology itself. The theology, therefore, extrapolates the
truths that the historical context of Christ in conversation illuminates. These truths, taken from
the historical context of Christ in conversation, illustrate God’s intended purpose for

                                    Equality in Conversation
       A theology of conversation understands that the Christian community becomes the
surrogate family where conversation occurs. Jesus illustrated in His interactions of table
fellowship this theological principle. Conversation creates a bridge to cross social boundaries,
not limiting people to their perceived social status. Conversation does not limit itself to a
hierarchy of human distinctions, but creates an equality of humanity for interpersonal interaction.
The poor and the wealthy, and the elite and the outcast sit as equals around God’s Table
fellowshipping with Jesus Christ. It becomes a breaking away from the former family of the
world to join the family of God. People choose to break ranks with human statuses of being of
“the world” to become not of this world, leaving behind any debase languages of the world to
accept a more pure and encompassing language of conversation found in Jesus Christ.
While this conversation unites in equality those in the community, it divides severely the
community from the outside society. Conversation in this instance does not build peace, but
divides like a sword between social standards and Christian ideals (Matthew 10:34). The
withdrawal from society’s hierarchies into equality of Christian community will affront the
larger society of “the world.” However, the language of conversation should be an inclusive
language that allows everyone access to God’s Table. God necessitates no social requirements to
gain access to His Table and salvation, as all have free access. Conversation in this Christian
community flows from an equal sense of identity rooted in Christ.
                                    Character in Conversation
       The truths extrapolated from the aspects of an oral society illustrate that, in a theology of
conversation, the person and their words link interminably. The reliability of a person’s words in
conversation connects to their personal credibility. For there to be an acceptance of truth by
others, the truth and the truth giver must be in unison. The message must be visible in the life of
the messenger as an accepted way of life. Character in conversation speaks better and holds more
impact than any form of dialectical and communicational training. A person who speaks truth in
conversation, but does not embody that truth in their daily life, does not truly believe the truth of
the message.
For the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to find root in the lives of unbelievers, the
messengers who deliver the truth must embody the truth of Jesus Christ. Through a merger of
word and deed, the messenger attains an authority, compellingly articulating the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. An encounter with the Creator only realizes through an encounter with a messenger
bearing truth in credibility. A person’s trustworthy character becomes essential for the truth to be
relatable and accepted in conversation. A theology of conversation realizes that truth cannot find
acceptance in conversation apart from our character.
                              Conversation in the Kingdom of God
       The anti-society created by Jesus is the Kingdom of God among people. When Jesus
became incarnate in the earth, He created a hollowed out social space where the Kingdom of
God manifested. The Kingdom of God became a conscious alternative to the society that human
beings created. All who are weary and heavy laden, all who suffer oppression and
marginalization, and all who feel downcast and cast out of society are capable of finding new life
within the Kingdom of God. All who enter into the Kingdom of God become extremely devoted
to the Kingdom, intensely loyal to Jesus Christ, and continually desire the betterment of the
community and its adherents. Devotion to the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ, and the
anti-societal community institutes in love through a conversation that seeks to strengthen, and
expand the Kingdom of God beyond the anti-society into the larger society.
Since there remain no distinctions of sex, race, or nationality between individuals in God’s
Kingdom, all are welcome, and all have equal status and availability for leadership. In this
Kingdom, the marginalized find a voice and can gain leadership previously unavailable to them
within the larger society. The former disenfranchised, empowered with the Holy Spirit in the
anti-society of the Kingdom of God, gain leadership roles that not merely remain within the
in-group. Conversation leaks out of the anti-society, seeking to affect the lives of others and the
status of the dominant society. Through conversation, the anti-society engages the larger society
with the truth of Jesus Christ, seeking the salvation of humanity, and the expansion of the
Kingdom of God. Throughout, the main importance entails loyalty and faith in the Kingdom of
God and devotion in love to Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God becomes the new social stratum
in which conversation takes place and truth speaks out.
                                   Conversation is Connection
       Within the anti-society of the Kingdom of God, an anti-language formulates that cements
and supports the relationships of the in-group. The anti-language enables deeper relationships
between the adherents of the anti-society through love. Love, not as the world defines it, but how
Christ, the central figure of the Kingdom of God, redefines it as a love deep enough that a person
would lay down their lives for a friend just as He did (John 14:12-13).
The anti-language provides the language of the core values of the Kingdom of God. Newcomers
begin to understand the dimensions and aspects of the Kingdom of God through the redefinition
of words, which facilitate entrance into the Kingdom of God. Conversation, therefore, becomes
the vehicle for resocializing newcomers into the Kingdom of God. The anti-language provides
newcomers with a bridge to understand what the Kingdom of God means for their lives,
redefining words, not starkly, but softly (such as light for goodness and darkness for evil), so that
they can feel connected to the anti-society and its fellow members.
Using anti-language in conversation, believers become so deeply socialized into the relationships
of the anti-society of the Kingdom of God; it becomes nearly impossible to fall back into the
margins of the larger society. The anti-language creates a unity between people, anchored
emotionally in the new collectivity of the anti-society. The persecutions of the larger society
cannot bear against the bonds built through the anti-language, and all believers, new and old,
become incapable of returning to the margins of the world’s societies. Conversation provides the
anti-language necessary to facilitate entrance into the Kingdom of God while cementing
relationships in the Kingdom against the persecutions of the world.
                                        Discipleship Focus
       An aspect of discipleship always remains in conversation. People in oral cultures taught
by mentoring and learned through discipleship. Masters, p respected for their skills and

knowledge, as living embodiments of wisdom, became mentors to those seeking discipleship.26
Discipleship meant abiding in the presence of the master, forming a relational connection, and
learning by working alongside the master, under his guidance and in conversation.
The master, or discipler, following a theology of conversation, effectively disciples young
believers into Christ-like maturity. A discipler should reach out to a disciple in an effort to
establish familial bonds of love and acceptance. Equality in conversation affords the disciple
equal treatment with fairness and respect in all opportunities with the disciple, never allowing
status or achievements to determine the worth of a disciple. Conversation should always tend
toward acceptance of the disciple in love as a fellow member of the family of God.
The master demonstrates for the disciple the importance of an inseparable integrity of person and
word for the disciple. Only a discipler who merges word and deed has the influence necessary to
affect the spiritual growth of a disciple. Character in conversation creates a spiritual authority
and an encounter with the Creator, which realizes through a discipler who bears truth in
credibility. Conversation exemplifies character and integrity to a disciple.
A master chooses to participate in discipleship through the Kingdom of God (anti-society). The
role of a discipler predisposes toward instilling devotion in the disciple for the Kingdom of God,
Jesus Christ, and the Christian community. A discipler effectively mentors the disciple into
leadership roles previously unattainable to the disciple in the larger world. The discipler enables
the disciple to gain a bold voice capable of extending the Kingdom of God into the larger society.
Conversation in the Kingdom of God, therefore, inclines the disciple to devotion in Jesus Christ
and inculcates leadership potential, which can affect the outside world.
The master incorporates the disciple into the Christian community. Through a conversation of
connection, the discipler facilitates an understanding of the Kingdom of God, effectively uniting
the disciple with a fellowship of believers. Using anti-language, the mentor effectively socializes
the disciple into the body of Christ. A disciple, through the aid of the discipler, unites in deep
relationships within the community. These established bonds protect the disciple from the harsh
persecution of the larger society, while keeping the disciple from returning to the margins of the
world. Conversation builds and maintains relationships cementing new believers in the Kingdom
of God.

       Conversation remains the lifeblood of interpersonal interactions in any given society.
God created conversation so that people could live harmoniously with one another. However,
pride, blasphemy, and a multitude of other sins have poisoned God’s intended purposes for
conversation. Too many times conversation becomes gossip that can destroy the interpersonal
relationships that conversation establishes. People and their words do not coincide, hypocrisy
infects humanity, and nobody can trust another’s word. Talk has become cheap, and the idea that
people “do not care how much you know until they know how much you care” becomes a reality
because conversation does not always reflect truth. Sin has tainted the God intended purpose of
A New Testament theology of conversation becomes the reality that talk is not cheap, but that
conversation flows from personal integrity, humility, and identity in Christ, through relationships,
to usher newcomers into the Kingdom of God in love. Conversation remains a gift from God to
deepen interpersonal relationships. Although sin has tainted conversation, conversation becomes
the gateway through which individuals find relationship with God and His followers. It remains a
primary means of discipleship in the Kingdom of God providing deeper revelations of Jesus
Christ in the midst of the community of believers. Conversation becomes the cement of this
Christian community, spoken through humility and acceptance of others in love. Within the
Christian community conversation should always flow from love, never be selfishly abused, and
should fortify hearts together, wherein this true form of conversation can be a light of the
Kingdom of God to the unsaved world.

    1 Genesis 1:18, 26, and 29.

2 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
3 “Him” refers to God’s beloved Son (1:13), the firstborn of all creation (1:15), and John’s
“Word” (John 1:1).
4Bruce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh. Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic
Gospels (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), 366.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid., 365.
7 Luke 5:27-38; 7:18-35; 9:10-17; 14:1-24; 15:1-2, 11-32; 19:1-10.
8Eugene H. Peterson, Tell it Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and
Prayers. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 78.
9 Arthur A. Just Jr., The Ongoing Feast: Table Fellowship and Eschatology at Emmaus
(Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1993), 78.
10 F. F. Bruce, The Gospel and Epistles of John (Grand Rapids. MI: Eerdman’s Publishing
Company, 1983), 278.
11Sheldon A. Tostengard, The Spoken Word (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1989), 33.
12M. Rex. Miller, The Millennium Matrix (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004), 27.
13 Ibid., 34.
14 Ibid.
15Bruce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh. Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of
John (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), 59.
16M. A. K. Halliday, Learning How to Mean (London, UK: Edward Arnold, 1975), 581.
17Malina and Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John, .16
18 Ibid., 10.
19 Onesimus, the slave of Philemon, is a prime example of this, where he, as a slave, becomes
released from slavery and later becomes the bishop of Ephesus following the Apostle Timothy.
20Malina and Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John,.61
21 Bruce, 14.
22 Robert James Utley, vol. 4, The Beloved Disciple's Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John,
I, II, and III John (Study Guide Commentary Series. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons
International, 1999), 197.
23Malina and Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John,.61
24 Halliday, 570.
25Malina and Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John,.66
26 Miller, 24.

 Bruce, F. F. The Gospel and Epistles of John. Grand Rapids. MI: Eerdman’s Publishing
      Company, 1983.
 Halliday, M. A. K. Learning How to Mean. London, UK: Edward Arnold, 1975.
 Just, Arthur A., Jr. The Ongoing Feast: Table Fellowship and Eschatology at Emmaus.
Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1993.
 Malina, Bruce J. and Richard L. Rohrbaugh. Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John.
Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998.
________. Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels. Minneapolis, MN:
FortressPress, 1992.
 Miller, M. Rex. The Millennium Matrix. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
 Peterson, Eugene H. Tell it Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories
andPrayers. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.
 Tostengard, Sheldon A. The Spoken Word. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1989.
 Utley, Robert James Dr. Vol. 4, The Beloved Disciple's Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of
John, I, II, and III John. Study Guide Commentary Series. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons
International, 1999.
                                A Lucan Theology of Giving

                                       Laura da Silva

                                   TABLE OF CONTENTS


        Research Interest
Research Method
        The Dangers of Wealth
The Issues of the Heart
The Insufficiency of Worldly Possessions
The Promise for Provision
The Eternal Rewards


How Much


                         Sow your seed gift here!1 Your seed is the key!2

       Charities, churches, people, neighbors, youth groups, missionaries, TV programs, radio
ministries, and numerous others constantly vie for their share of material support from local
congregations and individuals. People can become immune and even resentful towards requests
for financial and material help due to the sheer number of pleas. In light of this scenario, how
should the faithful Christian approach giving? Is giving still a valid command for today, and if so,
in what ways should people give? Who should be helped and with how much? Every person who
accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior needs to address questions regarding giving.

                                          Research Interest
   Any proper faith must involve a social concern for the poor and unfortunate, and, of all the

                    Evangelists, Luke particularly sought to stress this point.3

       From beginning to end, the Gospel of Luke contains many passages with themes of

wealth, prosperity, and giving. He uses financial and business terms that other Gospels do not.4

Furthermore, he has a “sensitive compassionate theology of the poor.”5 In the book of Acts,
Luke portrays the early church community, the way in which it dealt with need, and how the first
Christians gave. For these reasons, of all the gospel-writers, Luke is the appropriate writer upon
whom to build a theology of giving.

                                          Research Method
       In order to discuss a Lucan theology of giving, I considered parts of the Gospel of Luke
and the book of Acts with references to material goods, riches, money, helping, and the needy.
Following that, I researched the rest of the New Testament to find corroborative ideas from other
New Testament authors regarding giving. Upon completion of this primary research, I looked at
secondary authors and commentaries to confirm preliminary conclusions about Luke’s theology
of giving. What Luke wrote can be categorized into three parts: foundational attitudes,
motivations, and guidelines for giving.

       A structure built for long-term use must have a proper foundation. Jesus uses this analogy
when he likens hearing His words and doing them to a house built on a foundation of rock (Matt.
7:24). A theology of giving does not differ. A disciple of Jesus Christ must base acts of giving on
proper attitudes towards material possessions and God. Luke wrote about the dangers of wealth
as well as rewards for proper stewardship. Together, the lessons learned from both build a secure
foundation upon which to carry out the act of giving.

                                     The Dangers of Wealth
       The Gospel of Luke has many warnings against riches, wealth, greed, and those who seek
after such things. The first warning in Luke’s Gospel comes from the mouth of Mary in the
Magnificat. She says in 1:53, “He [Jesus] has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the

rich away empty.”6 Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6: 20-26 contains His first direct
reference to the issue. One of the four woes is addressed to those who are rich, “for you have
already received your comfort” (v. 24). In the parable of the sower, some of the seed fell among
thorns which choked it (8:7). Jesus later defines the thorns as life’s worries, riches, and pleasures
(8:14). In Luke 12, a man asks Jesus to arbitrate over an inheritance. Instead of heeding the
man’s request, Jesus says, “Watch Out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not
consist in an abundance of possessions” (v. 15). He then proceeds to tell a parable about a rich
man who has such an abundant harvest that he does not know what to do with it all. The rich
man builds bigger barns and thinks to himself that he will take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry.
However, in verse 20, God calls the rich man a fool. Jesus extends God’s judgment to all those
who are not rich toward God.
Other examples of warnings include the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14 which warns
against missing entrance to the feast in the kingdom of God due to the distraction of caring for
material possessions (vv. 18-19). The last warning in Luke’s gospel comes in an interaction
between Jesus and a wealthy ruler (18:18-27). The ruler seeks out Jesus to ask how he might
inherit eternal life. After a discussion of the Ten Commandments, Jesus challenges the ruler to
sell everything and follow him. Because of his vast wealth, the man becomes sad. Jesus says,
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (vv. 24-25).
                                     The Issues of the Heart
       The numerous warnings in Luke’s writings may lead to believing that Jesus views
owning material possessions as wrong. Further study will show that the problem lies not in the
possessions themselves but rather in the attitude towards the possessions. A second look at Jesus’
interaction with the rich ruler in Luke 18 demonstrates the point. Jesus leads the man into a
discussion of the Ten Commandments to bring out the ruler’s self-righteousness. Self-merit does
not suffice, however, for Jesus shows that the man still needs something. The rich ruler lacks
generosity as well as a willingness to follow Jesus. The problem lies much deeper than following
a commandment. An obstacle stands between the ruler and God—great wealth. For the rich ruler,
his wealth is more important than God. Despite great sadness (v. 23), the man is not willing to

follow after Jesus.7
A second story will clarify the issue further. Zacchaeus, in Luke 19:1-10, was a wealthy tax
collector. After his interaction with Jesus, he repents and says, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give
half of my possessions to the poor” (v. 8). Zacchaeus demonstrates a wholly different attitude
than that of the rich ruler, and he is not required to give away everything. In fact, he retains half
of his wealth. The inner attitude of the heart makes the critical difference. Zacchaeus did not
allow material possessions to stand between himself and God.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 exemplifies the importance of correct attitude
in giving. Luke pairs their story with that of Barnabas, who sold his land and brought it to the
apostles’ feet (Acts 4:36-37). His story delivers a good example of giving and Ananias and
Sapphira, a bad one. Their problem, however, stems not from a lack of giving, as might be
expected,8 but from a deeper motive. They give to the poor, but with deceit in their hearts. Satan
influences Ananias to lie about the price of the land in order to keep some money; Sapphira
follows in his footsteps. Perhaps they want to appear more generous to the community
members,9 or perhaps greed underlies their actions. Whichever is true, their sin results in death.
God sees the heart, not the act.
                            The Insufficiency of Worldly Possessions
       In addition to the warnings against greed, wealth, and material possessions, Luke’s
Gospel repeatedly compares worldly life to eternal spiritual life. Being a follower of Jesus
signifies choosing things which are of eternal, not temporal, value. For example, Luke 9:25 says,
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”
People can gain worldly wealth and power at the expense of losing eternal life. True life cannot
be found in abundance of possessions (12:15); the pagan world seeks after food and clothing, but
Christians should seek the kingdom of God (12:30-31); money and God cannot be served
simultaneously (16:13); and the things that people value are not the same things that God values
(16:14). Jesus instructs His flock to have purses that “will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that
will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (12:33-34; see also Matt.
The challenge here for followers of Jesus is giving up what the rest of the world seeks. Wilkins
calls this theme “counting the cost” of discipleship.10 It means “to recognize that one entered
into a life of discipleship through detachment from competing allegiances and through giving
personal allegiance to Jesus as Master.”11 He goes on to say that possessions easily become a
source of security. Jesus challenges his disciples to find their security solely in Him.12 A
disciple cannot follow Jesus and, at the same time, follow after riches as the pagan world does.
                                    The Promise for Provision
       In addition to his warnings, Luke wrote of promises for provision in the physical world.
Jesus commands the disciples to travel without provisions on two different occasions (Luke 9:3;
10:4-7). These two trips testify to the power of God to provide physical needs. The
multiplication of the loaves and fish in Luke 9:12-17 (also Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; John
6:1-15) also portrays the ability of God to provide supernaturally. Jesus is the one who breaks the
bread and gives it to the disciples to distribute. They learn that “is the source of provision for
their own ministry.”13
In a lengthier passage about provision in Luke 12, Jesus commands his disciples not to worry
about what they will eat or wear (vv. 22 and 29). He then gives them a conditional promise. If
they seek the kingdom of God first, they will be given all these things (v. 31; also Matt. 6:33).
Note that this promise is not one of abundant material possessions but one of sufficiently
supplying all needs.14
                                       The Eternal Rewards
       The Gospel of Luke includes other promises about eternal rewards for those who choose
not to succumb to worldly gain. According to Luke 6:35, the reward for giving is great and those
who give will be children of the Most High God. In the parable of the sower, those who resist the
temptation of the world and persevere will produce a crop (8:15). Salvation is for those who give
up their lives (9:24) as is the kingdom (12:32). Inviting for dinner those who cannot repay reaps
repayment at the resurrection of the righteous (14:14), and people trustworthy in the handling of
worldly riches will be trusted with true riches (16:11). Those who sacrifice by giving up earthly
things in order to follow Jesus will reap much in this age and in the age to come (18:30).
It is clear from this short analysis of Scriptures addressing riches and possessions that Luke was
convinced of two things. First, wealth was a serious issue for the people in his community,15 and
second, “the seductive power of possessions is so strong that it can enslave their owners and turn
possessions into idols.”16 The warnings against those who are greedy and who trust in riches are
many; the promises and eternal rewards are just as plentiful for those who have a right heart in
relation to material possessions.

                                  MOTIVATIONS FOR GIVING
        The right motivation in giving is crucial to its continued success, and as seen above,
giving has eternal consequences. Giving without the right motivation breeds hypocrisy, a trap
that the Pharisees fell into. In Luke 11, Jesus criticizes them for practicing a detailed list of acts
from the wrong attitude (v. 42). On the outside they looked good and clean, but they were
wicked and greedy on the inside (v. 39). Jesus even implies that the Pharisees “deprived the poor

of the very food and drink that were ‘inside’ (v. 40) their own carefully washed dishes.”17 Three
basic motivations for giving can be found in Luke’s writings.

        The first motivation for giving found in the Gospel of Luke is repentance, or the turning
of one’s heart toward God. John the Baptist, after preaching a scathing message and issuing a
call for repentance, warns people of God’s wrath for those who are unfruitful. When questioned
by the crowd about how to bear fruit, John tells them that “the man with two tunics should share
with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same” (3:11). Thus, the first
fruit of true repentance brings forth kindness to others, especially in the sharing of material
goods. It is a call to action, to do something. Nolland calls it the “need for practical personal

response” due to a change of heart.18
A second example of giving as a fruit of repentance is Zacchaeus in Luke 19. After encountering
Jesus, he decides to gives half his possessions to the poor. Luke includes the story of Zacchaeus
to provide a concrete example of the fruit of repentance mentioned by John the Baptist at the
beginning of the book.19

        The second motivation for giving to others is an experience of grace.20 When Jesus heals
Peter’s mother-in-law, she immediately gets up and serves Jesus and those with him (Luke 4:39).

This response can be characterized as a “positive response to salvific ministry.”21 Instead of

reacting with wonder like others, she responds with gratitude and hospitality.22
Other examples of the same type of response in Luke are the women who follow after Jesus
(8:1-3). Some of these women were set free from demons and diseases, and their reaction is to
serve Jesus by supporting Him out of their own income. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas’s jailer reacts
similarly. After receiving salvation, he washes the wounds of Paul and Silas, gets baptized, and
then gives of his material possessions by serving them a meal (vv. 33-34).
        The most important motivation for giving is love. Luke 10:27 says, “‘Love the Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’;
and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” This love of God and of neighbor is to Luke “an

adequate summary of Jewish law and a valid statement of what God requires.”23 These two
commands are both in the Old Testament, although in separate places (Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:8).
In the Gospels, they appear together (Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27), giving new
emphasis that disciples of Christ should understand them in light of each other. What is
particularly interesting about Luke’s account of these commands is that they are more closely

fused together than in the other Gospels.24 Matthew and Mark include comments about
numerical order and which is greatest. Luke simply separates them with one connector: “and.”
For Luke, love of God is the foundational relationship from which everything else flows. It is

this relationship that gives life, and, consequently, those in it will give to others.25
Luke’s treatment of what it means to be a neighbor in the parable of the Good Samaritan
(10:29-37) in connection with the great love command further demonstrates the importance of
love as a motivation for him. Without love, giving stems from empty religiosity. For Luke, this
matter is one of eternal life (v. 28).26

                                    GUIDELINES FOR GIVING
       Once the attitudes towards material possessions and the motivation for giving have been
considered, the actual act of giving must be looked at. Questions about who to help and how to
do so are relevant in the practical application of giving. This part seeks to answer these practical
questions by delineating examples of helping from Luke’s writings.

       The first practical part to consider is who to give to. In Luke, there are four general
categories: neighbors, outsiders, fellow believers, and kingdom workers.

       The most general group that Luke describes for Christians to help is neighbors (10:27 and
37). Most would define a neighbor as a person who lives next door, but a passage in Luke

defines neighbor far beyond every traditionally accepted limit.27 In Luke 10:29, an expert of the
law asks Jesus the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers the question with the parable
of the Good Samaritan. Instead of giving a clear answer about what type of person should be
treated as a neighbor, He gives instruction about how to be a neighbor.
In fact, the man helped in the parable is an indistinguishable person (anthropos). He could be
Jewish, Gentile, black, white, old, young, foreign, or native. The only clear characteristic about
him is that he needs help (Luke 10:30). As Ellis puts it, “‘Neighbour’ is not an object that one
defines but a relationship into which one enters.”28 The Samaritan sees a need and immediately
stops and takes time, energy, and resources out of his own life to help (10:33-35) and becomes a
       Another group of people Christians are challenged to help is those who can be classified
as outsiders. By far the most common group of outsiders found in Luke and the New Testament
is the poor, or economically disadvantaged (Luke 6:35, 14:13; cf. Matt. 19:21; 26:11; Mark
10:21; 14:5; 14:7; John 12:5-6; 12:8; 13:29; Rom. 15:26; Gal. 2:10; James 2:2-3; 5-6; Rev.
3:17).In the early Christian community, money was brought to the apostles to be distributed to
the poor and needy (Acts 4:35; 4:37; 5:2; 11:30).
Besides the poor, Jesus commands a large crowd of disciples in Luke 6:27 to “lyour enemies, do
good to those who hate you.” Further instruction in the same chapter includes giving to everyone
who asks and not demanding back what is taken (v. 30), loving more than just the people who
love you (v. 32), doing good to people who do not do good to you (v. 33), lending to those who
cannot repay (v. 34), and loving your enemies (v. 35). This same theme is also found in Jesus’
rebuke of his dinner host, a prominent Pharisee, with instructions to invite people to dinner who
cannot repay such as the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind (14:12-13). Other outsiders
include the weak (Acts 20:35), those with need (2:45), widows (6:1), and the lame (3:2). The
golden rule to “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31) aptly summarizes
the idea of these verses. Bock classifies these commandments as “actions of love regardless of
how the other responds.”29Perhaps Jesus’ message in Luke seeks community “boundary
redefinition and ideal benefaction,”30but ultimately Luke grounds the call for radical treatment
of outsiders in the character of God, including the ungrateful and wicked (v. 36).31
                                       Brothers and Sisters
       The third group of people Luke addresses helping are brothers and sisters in need within
the faith community. Jesus defines true family not as blood relations, but as those who hear the
word of God and do it (Luke 8:21). Acts 2:44-45 testifiesto the practical application of Jesus’
definition. Modern day Christians might understand these verses to mean the early Church
fellowshipped and “hung out” together. Careful study of the text, though, reveals that they were
“a brotherhood and sisterhood of Christ-followers who took to heart the need of the greater

Other passages in Acts also show this type of care for fellow believers. Acts 4:32-34 speaksof
believers sharing everything they had and having no needy among them. Several members sold
possessions to help with the needs of fellow brothers and sisters (4:37; 5:1). They also provided
food for needy widows within the community (6:1). Paul’s concern for his brothers and sisters
stimulates him to take up an offering to help the needy disciples in Judea (Acts 11:29-30; cf.
Rom. 12:13; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:2-4).
                                         Kingdom Workers
       The final group of people to help is workers in the kingdom of God. Luke portrays people
helping kingdom workers and records Jesus speaking about it. When Jesus sends out the Twelve
(Luke 9:1-6) and the seventy-two (10:1-7), both times they are to rely on the hospitality of
people they taught. The people were to give them food to eat and a place to stay, and if necessary,
clothing or money.
Luke records Jesus stating that the worker of the kingdom deserves to get his wages (Luke 10:7,
see also Matt. 10:9-10). A group of female disciples following Jesus helped Him out of their own
means (Luke 8:1-3). Mary and Martha opened their home to Him and his disciples and offered
him a meal (10:40) as did Simon and his mother-in-law (4:38-39). In Acts, people helped the
apostles with places to stay and food to eat (16:15; 16:34; 21:4, 8, and 16).
       The way in which people help each other in the New Testament varies greatly. John the
Baptist commands people to share clothing and food (Luke 3:11). Some people helped by
serving food (4:39; 6:31; 10:40; 14:12-13; Acts 6:1; 16:34) or providing a place to sleep (Luke
4:38; 9:4; 10: 5-7; 10:40; Acts 16:15; 21:8). Other helps include money (Luke 9:3; 10:35), as
well as lending (6:34-35), a night at an inn (10:35), transportation (10:34, 19:30), physical injury
care (10:34), sharing of possessions (Acts 2:44; 4:32), the selling of property and possession
(Acts 2:45; 4:34; 4:37; 5:1), and the most general command which is to do whatever it is that you
would like someone to do for you (Luke 6:31).
Just like the variety of people that Christians can help, there is great variety in the way material
possessions and personal service can be used to help. As Gillman puts it, “The instruction Jesus
offers to those with possessions cannot be reduced to one concrete mode of action for
                                            How Much
       Luke mentions various possibilities concerning the extent of giving. The most extreme
are those who give up everything. Luke specifically states that James, John, and Simon Peter left
everything they had to follow Jesus while other Gospels only mention that they left their father
and their boat (Luke 5:11; 18:28; cf. Matt. 4:22; Mark 1:20). Jesus challenges the rich man to sell
everything he has in order to follow Him, although the man chooses otherwise (Luke 18:22). In
addition, Jesus holds up the poor widow in Luke 21:4 as an example of sacrificial giving, for she
gave “all she had to live on.”
Historically, Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32 have been used as an argument for selling everything and
giving to the poor, perhaps because Luke’s Greek language in this text is reminiscent of other
ancient groups that argued for ideal, utopian communities.34 However, Marshall argues that the
individual members of the community kept their possessions as their personal property until a
reason arose to sell them for the common good.35 In other words, they had possessions, but they
had an attitude and action of sharing with those in need. Other examples in Luke show that
followers of Jesus maintained possessions but made them available for use (Luke 8:1-3;
23:50-56). Luke also includes examples of people who gave less than everything. Zacchaeus
gave half of his possessions to the poor (9:12-17), and the disciples gave according to their
ability (Acts 11:29). In Acts 5, Peter says to Ananias, “Didn’t it [the piece of land] belong to you
before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” (v. 4a). Peter’s
words demonstrate that Ananias not only owned land, but he was not required to sell it and give
it all to the community. Giving was voluntary,36 and the giver decided what amount to give.
The variety seen reveals every amount of gift is acceptable. In some situations for some people,
giving up everything may be the right thing to do. For others, a gift out of a sacrifice of poverty
may be the best option. Others might give half or some other proportion to what they have. The
amount is not what matters. What matters is the heart.


       Numerous times Luke portrays wealth as something to be wary of. Seeking what the
world seeks instead of God reaps eternal consequences. On the other hand, the right attitude in
the heart towards possessions leads to eternal rewards. This correct attitude must be paired with
the right motivation for giving—repentance, an experience of grace, or love. A disciple will give
to those who need help, whether it be a neighbor, an outsider, a fellow believer, or a kingdom
worker. The form of help varies greatly, from money to transportation to anything. Some
disciples will be led to give all they have and others according to their ability. Most importantly,
the giving must come from the heart.

       Many Christians today, particularly in the United States, live in an extremely materialistic
society. The Church can easily be influenced by the materialistic society in which it lives. For
this reason, Luke’s theology of giving guides Christians to examine three points in their lives.
First, believers must examine whether they trust in God or in money. The Bible is clear that no
middle ground exists. It must be one or the other. Christians can discover what they trust in by
imagining how they might feel if everything they had were lost—car, house, bank account,
furniture, and everything else. Would this bring about a sense of anxiety? Worry about
tomorrow? If so, then the diagnosis is that trust lies with their material possessions.
Second, Christians should examine their motivations for giving. Are they giving out of
obligation? Do they put something in the offering plate because the people sitting around them
are watching? Do they give because they want something back from God? Or is their motivation
correct—out of sincere repentance, love for God, or an experience of His grace? Giving from the
wrong motivation will soon make it a wearisome burden, leading to bitterness and indifference.
Last, Christians should examine the people around them and look for opportunities to enter into
the kind of radical neighbor relationship that Jesus talked about. So often believers become busy
and fail to see the needy people around them. Whether it is a person in the church community,
someone outside, or a minister called to work in God’s kingdom with a vision, Christians should
be challenged to do more. Out of sacrifice or out of abundance, the command to give is blatant.
Christians must determine in their heart what they will give and give it.


   1 Mike Murdoch, “Seed-Giving,” The Wisdom Center,
nDonations.cfm?&VISIBLE=false&CFID=31400466&CFTOKEN=99231432 (accessed
November 3, 2011).
2 Benny Hinn, “3 Keys to Your Supernatural Harvest,” Benny Hinn Ministries,
711(accessed November 3, 2011)
3 Robert Stein, Luke, The New American Commentary 24 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press,
1992), 133.
4 John Gillman, Possessions and the Life of Faith (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991),
5 Darrell Bock, Luke, IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity
Press, 1994), 71.
6 All Biblical references are from the NIV unless otherwise stated.
7 Bock, Luke, 300.
8 C. K. Barrett, Acts: A Shorter Commentary (New York: T&T Clark, 2002), 69.
9 Bock, Acts, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
Academic, 2007), 222-23.
10 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan, 1992), 210.
11 Ibid., 211.
12 Ibid., 216.
13 Bock, Luke, 165.
14 Bock, Luke, 229.
15 Walter E. Pilgrim, Good News to the Poor: Wealth and Poverty in Luke-Acts (Minneapolis:
Augsburg Publishing House, 1981), 103.
16 Gillman, 93.
17 Tremper Longman, III, and David E. Garland, eds., Luke - Acts, vol. 10 of The Expositor’s
Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 215.
18 John Nolland, Luke 1-9:20, Word Biblical Commentary 35A (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1989),
19 Stein, 467.
20 Longman and Garland, 112.
21 Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New
Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997), 226.
22 Ibid., 225.
23 John Nolland, Luke 9:21-18:34. Word Biblical Commentary 35B (Dallas, TX: Word Books,
1993), 578.
24 Luke T. Johnson, Sharing Possessions: Mandate and Symbol of Faith (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1981), 103.
25 Bock, Luke, 196.
26 Luke T. Johnson, The Literary Function of Possessions in Luke’s Theology (Missoula, MT:
Scholars Press, 1977), 141-43.
27 Nolland, Luke 9:21-18:34, 578.
28 Earle E. Ellis, The Gospel of Luke, The New Century Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Academic, 2007), 160.
29 Bock, Luke, 125.
30 Bock, Luke, 271.
31 bid.
32 Deborah M. Gill, “Commentary on the Scriptural Text: Acts 2:42-47: Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity 2011,” Ecumenical Trends 40, no. 2 (February 2011): 5.
33 Gillman, 93.
34 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove,
IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 330.
35 I. Howard Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles: And Introduction and Commentary (Grand
Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1980), 108.
36 Barrett, 71.


Arnold, Clinton, ed. Matthew, Mark, Luke. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background
       Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
Barrett, C. K. Acts: A Shorter Commentary. New York: T&T Clark, 2002.
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Academic, 2007.
———. Luke. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity
Press, 1994.
Ellis, E. Earle. The Gospel of Luke. The New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI:
Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1991.
Gill, Deborah. “Commentary on the Scriptural Text: Acts 2:42-47: Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity 2011.” Ecumenical Trends 40, no. 2 (February 2011): 1-9, 14-15.
Gillman, John. Possessions and the Life of Faith: A Reading of Luke-Acts. Collegeville, MN:
The Liturgical Press, 1991.
Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament.
Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997.
Hinn, Benny. “3 Keys to Your Supernatural Harvest.” Benny Hinn Ministries. http://www.
uralHarvest102711(accessed November 3, 2011).
Johnson, Luke T. The Literary Function of Possessions in Luke-Acts. Missoula, MT: Scholars
Press, 1977.
———. Sharing Possessions: Mandate and Symbol of Faith. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981.
Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press, 1993.
Longman, Tremper, III, and David E. Garland, eds. Luke - Acts. Vol 10 of The Expositor’s Bible
Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007.
Marshall, I. Howard. The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary. Grand Rapids,
MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1980.
Murdoch, Mike. “Seed-Giving.” The Wisdom Center.
(accessed November 3, 2011).
Nolland, John. Luke 1-9:20. Word Biblical Commentary 35A. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1989.
———. Luke 9:21-18:34. Word Biblical Commentary 35B. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1993.
Pilgrim, Walter E. Good News to the Poor: Wealth and Poverty in Luke-Acts. Minneapolis:
Augsburg Publishing House, 1981.
Stein, Robert H. Luke. The New American Commentary . Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992.
Wilkins, Michael J. Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan, 1992.
  A Matthean Theology of Faith Development Based on the Model of Christ
                                  with His Disciples

                                       John Ulrick

                                TABLE OF CONTENTS

      Various Theories of Faith Development
Method and Scope
What is Faith?

      How Jesus Helped His Disciples Grow in Faith
What Jesus Taught About Faith

      How Leaders Can Apply the Faith Development Methods of Jesus
A Paradigm Change Resulting From Understanding the Methods of Jesus
        Pastors want the members and attendees of their churches to have a strong faith in God,
specifically in His Son, Jesus Christ. They long to develop people who confidently believe that
Jesus is the Savior, sent by God, who died and rose again to save and forgive them of their sins.
One of the goals of pastoral ministry is to help people trust God for provision and guidance in
their lives, without worry or fear of current life circumstances or the future. Pastors want people
within their congregations to stand firm during turbulent times in their lives. Although pastors
have the goal or instilling faith, the question remains, “How do people develop great faith?”
        This chapter will discuss the natural development of faith and how one can foster faith
from a psychological perspective. However, this chapter assumes the existence of timeless
theological truths found in the Scriptures regarding how pastors and other leaders can help
strengthen the faith of those to whom they minister. Specifically, this chapter seeks to describe
how Jesus strengthened and developed the faith of His disciples. Based on these findings, this
chapter will draw appropriate conclusions as to how contemporary pastors and leaders can apply
Jesus’ methods to their own ministries in order to strengthen the faith of people under their
spiritual care.

                               BACKGROUND INFORMATION
        Before discussing Jesus’ methods of developing faith within His own disciples, this
section will discuss various theories of faith development as taught by experts in the field of
developmental psychology. In addition, this section will describe the method and scope used to
determine Jesus’ methods of developing the faith of His disciples. Finally, this section will
briefly introduce the reader to the major faith related vocabulary used in the Gospel of Matthew,
helping the reader understand the nuances between various Greek words relating to faith.

                            Various Theories of Faith Development
        Several psychological and theological theories of faith development exist. Each one seeks
to explain how faith naturally develops in people. Erik Erickson and James Fowler, two
renowned psychologists, discuss faith development from a psychological perspective. Erickson is
most well known for his Eight Stages of Psycho-Social Human Development. According to
Erickson’s theory, people go through eight predictable life stages, from birth to death. During
these stages, they face unique tasks. According to Thomas Droege, one of Erickson’s students,
faith plays an important part in each stage; how a person handles each stage affects his or her

faith development.6 According to Erickson’s theory, Trust versus Mistrust is the first stage a
person goes through. During the first year of a child’s life, an infant may face times when he or
she feels abandoned, mistreated, or unprotected. In such cases, the child can develop a sense of
mistrust for his or her caregiver. This initial lack of trust can later lead to a lack of faith in God.
To the contrary, an infant who experiences nurturing care learns that he or she is loved and cared
for by a loving caregiver. Infants who learn to trust during this stage, due to receiving proper
nurture from a loving caregiver, develop a basis for trusting relationships in life. This, in turn,

can establish a foundation for trusting God more easily.2
Fowler developed a theory of faith which includes seven stages. According to Fowler, these
seven stages are: (0) primal faith, (1) intuitive-projective faith, (2) mythic-literal faith,
(3) synthetic-conventional faith, (4) individuative-reflective faith, (5) conjunctive faith, and
(6) universalizing faith.3 Fowler’s assessment of the primal stage is similar to Erikson’s first
stage of psychosocial development; however, this primal stage lasts until age four rather than age
one, as in Erickson’s description. In the intuitive-projective stage, between ages three to eight, a
child’s religious faith is very impressionable. In this stage, iconic religious symbols and liturgy
can contribute in strong and lasting ways to the faith of children. In the mythical-literal stage,
between ages six to twelve, children begin to think more logically and concretely, which effects
how they order their life and religious experiences.6 During the individuative-reflective stage of
faith (age seventeen and older), a young person begins to evaluate his or her own beliefs and
decides what to believe. The young adult begins to choose what he or she will believe rather than
simply believing something because his or her parents handed it down to them.5
Concerning Christian theories of faith development, James Engle developed the Engle Scale that
describes fourteen stages of spiritual growth. According to Engle, people begin at -7, having no
knowledge or understanding of Christianity. After becoming aware of Christianity          (-6);
understanding the gospel (-4); recognizing a personal need (-2); and repenting of one’s sins (-1);
a person becomes a Christian (0). After this, the person may continue to grow by being
incorporated into a Christian fellowship (+2); communing with God (+4); fulfilling the Great
Commission; and by making other disciples (+6).1
                                         Method and Scope
        In some ways, developmental psychology can help a person understand how faith
naturally develops in people by studying the human mind, peoples’ emotions, and how these
relate to faith throughout the various stages of life. It can also identify the various ways in which
one can either foster or hinder faith by studying human reactions to various positive and negative
experiences. These could include interactions with the physical world, people, or major life
events. However, this chapter will focus on developing a theology of faith development based on
the model Jesus used with His disciples as seen in the Gospel of Matthew. In other words, this
chapter seeks to find timeless truths regarding how God, through his Son Jesus, fostered faith in
the first disciples so that Christians can apply the same principles in their own disciple-making
This study focuses on Jesus’ teaching regarding faith, as illustrated in the Gospel of Matthew,
with particular attention on three areas: (1) Jesus’ interaction with His disciples,
(2) narratives which include elements of faith or belief, and (3) Jesus’ direct teachings regarding
faith. While Jesus taught widely regarding faith, this chapter will focus specifically on how Jesus
developed the faith of His disciples. In order to establish a theology of faith development, the
discussion of what Jesus actually taught about faith will be limited to narratives which focus
expressly on His method of building faith in His disciples.
                                             What is Faith?
           Matthew uses several different words for faith, such as “faith” (pistis), “believe” (pisteuo),
and “faithful” (pistos). This section will briefly define and discuss each of these words. First, the
Greek word for “faith” is pistis and is found in Matthew’s Gospel eight times (8:10; 9:2, 22, 29;
15:28; 17:20; 21:21; and 23:23). Pistis is a noun used to describe a conviction or trust held in
Jesus’ ability and willingness to meet one’s physical and spiritual needs. It also applies to one’s

confidence in His ability to fulfill the promises given by the prophets.7
The actual root word for “faith” comes from the Greek verb pisteuo, which means “believe.”
This word is used in the Gospel of Matthew eleven times (8:13; 9:28; 18:6; 21:22, 25; 24:23, 26;
27:42, and three times in 21:32). In Matthew’s Gospel, to believe is to express active confidence
in something, specifically to be confident in Jesus.8 In Matthew 21:22, Jesus states, “If you
believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”9 Therefore, according to Jesus, one’s
faith must be active through believing as a necessary condition for effective prayer.
Pistos, the third word for faith, is often translated as “faithful.” This adjective describes a person
as trustworthy, faithful, reliable, credible, and trusting. Matthew uses this word five times (24:45;
twice in 25:21; twice in 25:23). All of these references are found in the context of Jesus’ final
discourse. He taught the people to be faithful stewards in His absence and to be found faithful
when He returns. Essentially, Jesus used the word pistos to describe the character of people who
do their master’s will, even in His absence.61
In summary, faith can be one of the following: (1) a noun, something one has (pistis, e.g. to have
“faith”), (2) a verb, something one does through the act of believing (pisteuo, .g. to “believe”), or
(3) an adjective, describing someone’s character (pistos, e.g. to be “faithful”).

           A careful study of the Gospel of Matthew shows several distinct actions Jesus took in
order to develop the faith of His disciples. This section will discuss each of Jesus’ different
methods, providing scriptural support for each method, as well as briefly address some of Jesus’
specific teachings about faith.

                        How Jesus Helped His Disciples Grow in Faith

                        Jesus Called His Disciples to Follow Him in Faith
       The first thing Jesus did in order to build His disciples’ faith was to call them to follow
Him in faith. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus called Peter and his brother, Andrew, saying, “Come,
follow me ... and I will make you fishers of men.” Verse 20 shows their first step of faith in
obediently leaving their nets and following Jesus. According to R. T. France, students
customarily sought out and volunteered to follow a rabbi. However, in the calling of Peter and
Andrew, Jesus goes beyond offering an unsolicited invitation and summons them to follow

Him—almost with the force of a command.66 The accounts of the calling of James and John,
the sons of Zebedee (Matt. 4:21-22; 9:9) are almost identical. Jesus called them; they
immediately left what they were doing to follow Him.
What is also of interest in these occurrences is the “call” and “follow” language Jesus used. In
the account of James and John’s call (Matt. 4:21), “Jesus called [kaleo] them.” Furthermore, in
Matthew 9:9, Jesus called Matthew by saying “Follow [akoloutheo] me.” In doing so, He used
the imperative tense; thus, Jesus commanded Matthew to follow Him. John Nolland, in his
commentary on Matthew 9:9-13, rightly emphasizes that Jesus’ purpose was “not to call the
righteous, but sinners,” beginning with people like Matthew, a tax collector.62 Therefore, Jesus’
first step in building His disciples faith was to call them from their sin to follow Him.
                              Jesus Taught His Disciples about Faith
       Jesus taught His disciples about faith in several ways. First, in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus
taught directly about faith through preaching. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus
taught about having faith and not worrying. He illustrated His point by using the flowers of the
field and birds of the air as reasons to have faith in God. In another incident (Matt. 21:18-22),
Jesus caused a fig tree to wither in order to teach His disciples about having faith and not
Second, Jesus often commented on the faith or lack of faith of others in order to teach His
disciples about faith. Matthew 8:5-13, one of the earliest examples of this principle, tells of
Jesus’ strong and emotional appraisal of the Centurion’s faith. It was as if Jesus was saying,
“Look at the great faith of this man and follow suit.”63 When Jesus healed the woman with the
issue of blood, He explicitly states that the woman’s faith healed her (9:18-26). Two additional
examples include the healing of two blind men (9:27-31) and Jesus’ comments on the faith of the
Canaanite woman (15:21-28).
Third, Jesus used parables to teach His disciples about faith. In Matthew 24, Jesus taught that no
one would know the day or hour of His return. In chapter 25, He told the Parable of the Ten
Virgins and the Parable of the Talents to teach His disciples what faithfulness was and how to be
found faithful when He returned.
        Jesus Proved His Divinity by Performing Miracles in order to Build Their Faith
       Jesus performed miracles in order to build His disciples’ faith. Matthew 4:23-25
describes the first occurrences of His healing ministry. David Hill notes that Jesus’ ministry of

healing was to be a sign of the inauguration of the Kingdom.66 Certainly, the faith of the
disciples would grow through each experience of healing they witnessed.
In Matthew 9:1-8, Jesus healed a paralytic in order to convince him that He had the authority to
forgive sins. Through this experience, the disciples’ faith in Jesus as the Son of God, who had the
authority to forgive men of their sins, grew. According to Mounce, a widespread thought in the
ancient world existed that purported sickness was a result of sin; therefore, people could only be
healed if their sins were forgiven. In healing the paralytic, Jesus actually built up His disciples’
faith in His ability to forgive sins.65
            Jesus Tested His Disciples’ Faith and Called Them to Exercise Their Faith
       In addition, Jesus tested His disciples’ faith by calling them to exercise their faith in
service and unusual circumstances. For example, Jesus sent His disciples out to “drive out evil
spirits and heal every disease and sickness” (10:1), a task which certainly would have required
the exercise of faith (cf. 17:19-20). Successful completion of this task would certainly help build
the disciples’ faith in the authority Jesus had given them to proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom

of God.61
Furthermore, Jesus tested His disciple’s faith in unusual circumstances. After a short discussion
on the appropriateness of the temple tax (Matt. 17:24-26), Jesus asked Peter to obey an
outrageously unusual request: “Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you
catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my
tax and yours” (v. 27).
R. T. France believes the miraculous catch of the fish never actually occurred. He supports his
claim by citing that Matthew omits Peter’s response and the result. Furthermore, he points to
folklore stories, as told by Polycrates, regarding people finding treasures in fish.67 Other
scholars, such as John Nolland and Robert Smith, believe the miraculous catch actually occurred
and that Matthew’s omission only means that the realization of the miracle is to be assumed or
inferred.68 Smith asserts that this event implies that “God will empower the disciple’s every act
of submitting.”69 Clearly, Jesus used unusual circumstances to build the faith of His disciples
and their trust in Him.
                  Jesus Encouraged and Exhorted His Disciples to Have Faith
       Another of Jesus’ methods was simply to encourage His disciples to have faith. While the
words “encourage” and “exhort” are not found in Matthew’s Gospel, this is clearly what Jesus
was doing in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus encouraged people not to worry about life
(Matt. 6:25-34). Furthermore, much of Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve in Matthew 10 include
exhortations for the disciples to “not worry” (v. 19) and “not be afraid” (vs. 26, 28, and 31), but
rather to trust Him for provision and guidance.

                               Jesus Inquired of His Disciples’ Faith
       Jesus inquired of His disciple’s faith in order to obtain confessions of faith. This can be
seen in Matthew 16:13-20. In verse 15, Jesus asked Peter a direct question, “Who do you say I
am?” After Peter positively affirmed Jesus’ messiahship and divinity, Jesus affirmed Peter for his
newly revealed understanding. Nolland brings attention to the fact that the chapters preceding
this incident (specifically from 13:54 to 16:13) are filled with miracles, which point to the

messiahship of Jesus.21 Therefore, by asking for a confession of their belief, Jesus was helping
His disciples’ faith grow by forcing them to reach conclusions regarding Him.
One cannot underestimate the importance of the correlation between one’s confession of who
Jesus is and one’s faith. According to Wilkins, as Jesus traveled, “the sign of faith was when one
came out of the crowd and called Jesus ‘Lord.’”26 This can be seen in the faith of the Centurion
(Matt. 8:5-13), the healing of two blind men (9:27-34), and the faith of the Canaanite woman
(15:21-28). Furthermore, quoting Ralph Martin, Wilkins points out that one should not be
surprised that Judas was the disciple who betrayed Jesus by bringing attention to the fact that
“rabbi” was the highest title Judas ever ascribed to Jesus (26:25 and 49).22 In the same way, it
can be seen that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the rich young man also only referred to Jesus as a
teacher (12:38; 19:16; 22:16, 24, 36).
                  Jesus Confronted and Corrected His Disciples’ Lack of Faith
       Jesus directly confronted and corrected His disciples’ lack of faith. Although Jesus
preached the Sermon on the Mount to a crowd, His disciples were also present and would have
received His words in Matthew 6:30-34 for themselves. In the account of Jesus calming the
storm (8:23-27), Jesus corrected their lack of faith by saying, “You of little faith, why are you so
afraid” (v. 26)? Jesus used similar language in the account of Peter’s attempt to walk on water
when He said, “You of little faith …. Why did you doubt” (14:31)? Finally, when the disciples
questioned why they were unable to drive out a demon, Jesus rebuked them saying it was
because that they had “so little faith” (Matt. 17:14-23). Jesus then used this opportunity to coach
His disciples regarding their faith.
            Jesus Worked Tirelessly to Remove His Disciples’ Cognitive Dissonance
       In addition, Jesus understood how hard it would be to convince His disciples that He
must suffer, be crucified, and be raised from the dead three days later. Therefore, He worked
tirelessly to remove their cognitive dissonance. According to Merriam-Webster, cognitive
dissonance can be defined as a “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and

attitudes held simultaneously.”23 In other words, the disciples had a hard time coming to grips
with the fact that Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God, came not to advance His Kingdom by force,
but rather to die for the sins of the world. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus predicts His death in
the presence of His disciples no less than twelve times (12:40; 16:4, 21; 17:9, 12, 23; 20:18-19,
28; 26:2, 12, 24, and 26-29).

                Jesus Understood that His Disciples Would Waiver in Their Faith
       After His death and resurrection, Jesus took His disciples up a mountain in Galilee. In his
account of this experience, Matthew says, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some
doubted” (28:17). Some scholars believe the English translation is an attempt to reconcile the

apparent incongruity in the Greek, meaning “some worshiped, while some doubted.”26 Other
scholars argue that the Greek is inclusive. In other words, “they all worshiped, but some of those

who worshiped also doubted.”25 Distazo, the Greek word most commonly translated as
“doubt,” comes from two Greek words, dis, meaning “double” and stasis, meaning “standing.”
Therefore, a more complete definition of this type of doubt would be: to stand in two ways, to be

double-minded, to be uncertain, to waiver in opinion, to think twice, to hesitate, and to pause.21
This particular word for doubt is only used twice in the New Testament (Matt. 14:31; 28:17). In
the account of Peter walking on water (14:31), Jesus said, “You of little faith … why did you
doubt (distazo)?” This is not the doubt which says, “I do not believe.” Rather, this is the kind of
doubt which takes courage and faith and says, “I am not fully confident and have reasons both to
believe and not to believe.” Jesus understood this type of doubt as a natural response to
circumstances, which required great faith.
While the story of the healing of a boy with an evil spirit is found in Matthew 17:14-23, Mark
provides additional information in Mark 9:14-27, providing a clear example of a father who was
cognizant of his own double-mindedness. After interviewing the father regarding the condition
of his son, Jesus stated, “Everything is possible for him who believes,” to which the father
replied, “I do believe [pisteuo]; help me overcome my unbelief [apistia]” (Mark 9:23-24)!
                                 What Jesus Taught About Faith
       Jesus taught that people express varying degrees of faith. One Greek word Jesus used to

describe the faith of some people was oligopistia, a compound word meaning “little faith,”27
from oligos [meaning little or few]. This word is used only once in Matthew 17:20, where Jesus
used it to describe the minute size of His disciples’ faith in connection with their inability to
drive out the evil spirit in the story above. Another word Jesus used was oligopistos, an adjective
which described someone as “one of little faith” or one who lacks trust, namely in Jesus. He used

this word to describe people four times in Matthew’s Gospel (6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8).28 Jesus
also taught His disciples to be faithful in His physical absence, and to be found faithful when He
returns (24:36-25:30).
Jesus also used several words to describe the size of people’s faith. For example, commenting on
the faith of the Centurion, Jesus said “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with
such great [tosoutos] faith” (Matt. 8:10, emphasis added). In His encounter with the Canaanite
woman, Jesus said “Woman, you have great [megas] faith” (15:28, emphasis added). When
healing two blind men, Jesus said, “According to [kata] your faith it will be done to you” (9:29,
emphasis added). Finally, Jesus taught His disciples that they could move mountains if they only
had faith “[as small] as [hos] a mustard seed” (17:20).
Finally, Jesus taught His disciples not to doubt. In Matthew 21:18-22, Jesus paired the noun,
pistis, with the verb, diakrino, which is often translated in English as “doubt.” However, as a
verb, diakrino more fully means to decide or judge.29 In other words, while Jesus understood the
inevitable wavering of one’s certainty, which naturally accompanied stepping out in faith, Jesus
taught His disciples not to decide not to trust him. This is reinforced by Jesus’ use of the verb
“believe” (v. 22), saying, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Therefore, while Jesus allowed people to waver in their faith, He taught them to step out in faith
by believing.

       After having surveyed the methods Jesus used to build faith in His own disciples, this
chapter now concludes with a discussion on how leaders can apply Jesus’ methods of faith
development in their own disciple-making efforts.

              How Leaders Can Apply the Faith Development Methods of Jesus
       First, as Jesus called His original disciples to follow Him in faith, believers need to call
other people who do not know Jesus to follow Him as well. Second, just as Jesus taught His
disciples about faith, leaders should also plan time within their preaching and teaching schedules
to teach about faith. Since the Gospel of Matthew alone provides several passages where Jesus
taught His disciples principles about faith, one can turn to these passages in order to teach the
same principles. Third, since Jesus used miracles to build the faith of His disciples, leaders ought
to walk in the power of the Spirit, exercising the same faith the disciples exercised when Jesus
sent them out to preach and heal the sick (Matt. 10). Furthermore, spiritual leaders ought to pray
for miracles in their churches in order to build the faith of people within their churches.
Fourth, just as Jesus called His disciples to exercise their faith in service and unusual
circumstances, leaders ought to encourage Christians to exercise faith in the ministries to which
God is calling them. Often feeling inadequate for ministry, this will teach believers to trust God
for provision and guidance as they step out in faith to serve God in ministry. Furthermore,
pastoral leaders ought to teach people how to hear and discern the voice of God. In doing so,
when believers hear God ask them to do what may seem ridiculous, they can learn to trust Him
and obey Him in all things.
Fifth, just as Jesus continued to encourage and exhort His disciples to have faith and not doubt,
leaders ought to also encourage people to have faith and remain faithful. This can be done by
giving them reasons to trust God, just as Jesus did in Matthew 6:25-34. This could include
providing periodic reminders that they should not worry, but trust God.
Sixth, just as Jesus sought confessions of faith from His disciples, leaders also ought to ask
people what they believe about Jesus. If one is applying Jesus’ methods, over time, the
confessions people make should resound of Jesus’ lordship. Seventh, spiritual leaders ought to be
bold enough to confront and correct a lack of faith. However, this must always be done in love
and with tact, using every opportunity to teach and encourage people about their faith.
           A Paradigm Change Resulting From Understanding the Method of Jesus
         In addition to applying some of the more tangible methods, as described above, ministry
leaders need to experience a paradigm shift in their thinking regarding how faith develops. Just
as Jesus recognized how strong the cognitive dissonance was in the minds of His own disciples,
spiritual leaders must also recognize the cognitive dissonance in the people to whom they
minister. Therefore, leaders must not grow weary in sharing the same gospel truths over and over,
becoming frustrated because the people “aren’t getting it.” Rather, leaders need to understand
that if Jesus’ own disciples had a difficult time trusting that Jesus was resurrected, having seen
Him themselves, it is only natural for people living 2000 years later in another land to experience
doubt and need reassurance. Therefore, leaders must be patient and acknowledge that faith is

dynamic and, at times, even good and faithful servants will be “of little faith.”31


      1 Thomas A. Droege, Faith Passages and Patterns (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1983),
2 Ibid., 33-34.
3 Jeff Astley and Leslie Francis, eds., Christian Perspectives of Faith Development (Grand
Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), xxi-xxii.
4 Ibid., xxi.
5 Ibid., xxii.
6 Calvin Ratz, Frank Tillapaugh, and Myron Augsburger, Mastering Outreach and Evangelism
(Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1990), 104.
7 Ralph W. Harris, Stanley Horton, and Gayle Seaver, eds. The Complete Biblical Library: The
New Testament Greek-English Dictionary (Springfield, MO: The Complete Biblical Library,
1990), 15:192-195.
8 Ibid., 188-191.
9 All Scripture references, unless otherwise stated, are from the New International Version.
10 Harris, Horton, and Seavers, 15:195-197.
11 R. T. France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of
Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 147.
12John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew, A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New
International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 385-388.
13 Ibid., 356.
14 David Hill, The New Century Bible Commentary: The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1981), 107.
15 Robert H. Mounce, Matthew: A Good News Commentary (San Francisco: Harper & Row,
1985), 80-81.
16 France, 377.
17 Ibid., 670-671.
18Nolland, 728; Robert H. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew
(Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1989), 214.
19 Smith, 215.
20Nolland, 661.
21 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: Discipleship in the Steps of Jesus (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1992), 109.
22 Ibid., 166.
23 Merriam-Webster, I. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, MA:
Merriam-Webster, 2003).
24 Jennifer Gale, Sermon, “They Worshiped Him, But Some Doubted,” Evangel Temple
Christian Center, Springfield, MO, May, 3, 2009.
25 France, 1110-1112.
26 Harris, Horton, Seaver, 12:151-152.
27 Ibid., 14:335.
28 Ibid.
29 Ibid., 12:82-83.
30Nolland, 1263.


Astley, Jeff, and Leslie Francis, eds. Christian Perspectives of Faith Development. Grand
        Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
Droege, Thomas A. Faith Passages and Patterns. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1983.
France, R. T., The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of
Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.
__________. The Gospel According to Matthew, An Introduction and Commentary. The Tyndale
New Testament Commentaries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985.
Harris, Ralph W., Stanley Horton, and Gayle Seaver, eds. The Complete Biblical Library: The
New Testament Greek-English Dictionary. Vols. 1-16. Springfield, MO: The Complete Biblical
Library, 1990.
Hill, David. The New Century Bible Commentary: The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1981.
Mounce, Robert H. Matthew: A Good News Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.
Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New
International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.
Ratz, Calvin, Frank Tillapaugh, and Myron Augsburger. Mastering Outreach and Evangelism.
Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1990.
Smith, Robert H. Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. Minneapolis, MN:
Augsburg Publishing House, 1989.
Wilkins, Michael J. Following the Master: Discipleship in the Steps of Jesus. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1992.
    A Theology of Leadership Development Based on the Practice of Paul

                               Amy Devries

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

       The Apostle Paul demonstrated a unique leadership style. Although he walked in a
special anointing that made him a gifted communicator and even healer, he did not see himself as
the most important member of his team. He did not make himself into a “one-man show.” Today,
a person like Paul might be tempted to set up a personal empire with his or her name splashed
across buildings and buses and backpacks. Paul, however, chose a path of humility.
Following his conversion on the road to the Damascus (Acts 9), Paul begins a personal journey
toward greater weakness. In his book entitled The Emotionally Healthy Church, Peter Scazzero
describes Paul’s humility as steadily growing. Beginning in approximately AD 49, after Paul had
been a Christian for about fourteen years, he writes to the Galatian church and says this about the
other apostles, “As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no
difference to me; God does not show favoritism — they added nothing to my message” (Gal.
2:6).1 Scazzero points this out as appearing a bit “proud and headstrong.”2 Then in AD 55, Paul
tells the Corinthian church that he is “the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9). In AD 60, after
being a Christian for about twenty-five years, Paul says he is “less than the least of all the Lord’s
people” (Eph. 3:8). At last, in 1 Timothy 1:15, just a few years before his death, Paul declares
that of all sinners, he is “the worst.”3
Paul’s personal leadership journey appears to be the opposite of what many would call
“successful.” Throughout his writings, instead of growing more self-confident and self-reliant,
Paul grows more transparent and talkative about his weaknesses. Paul encourages his readers to
grow in their confidence in Christ and rely on His strength and mercy. In the midst of this
weakness and humility, Paul steadily develops leaders around him. In contrast to building a
public empire with himself as the spiritual head, Paul works toward replication. He designs his
ministry in such a way that he not only makes converts, but builds leaders.
Scripture gives repeated examples of what Paul did to develop the people around him into
influential leaders. The pages to follow will build a theology of leadership development, not so
much by looking at Paul’s words, but by looking at his actions. According to Paul’s humble yet
consistent practice, a potential leader must be engaged, equipped, and encouraged.


       In Paul’s practice of building leaders, he engages with the people around him. This means
that he makes it a priority to meet people and build relationships. Whenever he enters a new
town or city, he quickly finds a way to connect with the inhabitants so he can share God’s
message of salvation. In regard to his relationships, Paul may be characterized as being inclusive,
loyal, and willing to confront.
When it comes to building leaders, Paul is extremely inclusive. He engages with all kinds of
people. Paul, a self-proclaimed “Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5) and a Pharisee from Tarsus
who studied in Jerusalem under the Great Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), associates with and
chooses to disciple a wide variety of people, including Greeks, Jews, Roman Aristocracy,
business women, slaves, and Roman Military.
In Paul’s practice of including others, he allows co-authors on some of his letters. He includes
Timothy as a co-author of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. He includes
Timothy and Silas as co-authors’ of the letters to the Thessalonians. Paul frequently mentions
people who are with him and who send their greetings to the original audience of the letter, but
he does not always list them as a “co-author.” He honors Timothy and Silas by placing their
names along with his own at the top of his letters. He could have said to either of them, “Hey
guys, I’ve got this one!”–but he didn’t. He includes them.
In Paul’s practice of engaging his disciples, he demonstrates tremendous loyalty. Paul shows no
fear in standing for what he believes is right. When the Christians in Corinth are fighting over
who they are following, Apollos or Paul, Paul essentially says, “Knock it off!” Then he humbly
says, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to
believe …” (1 Cor. 3:5). He could have said nothing–or worse, hinted that maybe he is just a
little bit better than Apollos. Paul demonstrates humility and loyalty in a situation where he could
have felt threatened or envious. He does not seem concerned about Apollos having more or less
influence. Paul shows more concern with humbly pointing to Christ than securing position and
power at Apollos’ expense. He realizes that the Corinthians’ idolatrous practice of elevating one
teacher above another is a way not only of flattering another person, but of flattering themselves
as well.4
Paul writes in Galatians chapter two, that when he, Barnabas, and Titus went up to Jerusalem,
“neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.” The
powers that be in Jerusalem wanted Titus circumcised. It appears that Paul stands his ground for
his young co-worker in the face of enormous pressure. Once again, Paul demonstrates loyalty by
not allowing his young friend Titus to be essentially brutalized in the name of religious tradition.
Perhaps the greatest loyalty in this particular story is Paul’s loyalty toward Christ and the truth of
the gospel. Paul would rather demonstrate loyalty to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to
his “leaders in training” than please people who seem to be religiously important.
In Paul’s practice of engaging his disciples, he confronts religious inconsistency. He is
thoroughly engaged in the mission of Christ and commitment to this mission governs all that he
does. With this in mind, he has little patience for people who say one thing and do another. This
is especially true of spiritual leaders. Shortly following the Jerusalem Council, when Peter came
to Antioch, Paul “withstood him to his face because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11).
Previously, at the Jerusalem Council, all of the apostles (including Peter) agreed to lift the heavy
Jewish requirements from the Gentile converts (Acts 15:19-21).5 Galatians chapter two describes
an incident where Paul confronts Peter: “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him
to his face because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat
with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself fearing them
which were of the circumcision” (Gal. 2:11-12, KJV). According to J. Gresham Machen, this
confrontation has more to do with Paul rebuking Peter’s conduct than Peter’s principles.6 Paul
and Peter agree in principle; however, Peter’s actions at this point in the text do not line up with
his principles, “and when principle was at stake [Paul] never kept silent.”
By taking this issue head on, Paul demonstrates to his young friend, Titus, and everyone else in
the room, that it is important to display loyalty toward the principles of God–even among your
closest friends.
       In Paul’s practice of building leaders, he equips them for service in God’s mission. As
Paul equips leaders for God’s kingdom, he makes it a personal investment. He brings his
converts into his own world and spends real time with them. Upon leading someone to the Lord,
often Paul begins a special friendship with them that sometimes leads them to join him in his
travels. When someone comes with him on a missionary journey, he makes them equal partners
and they would indeed sometimes suffer equally with him. Some of the early converts or young
believers who travel with Paul include Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:18), Titus (Gal. 2:1),
Timothy (Acts 16:1-4), and John Mark (Acts 12:25).
Paul took these missionary journeys very seriously. Immediately following Paul’s conversion
experience on the road to Damascus, Ananias is commissioned by Christ to pray for Paul’s
blindness. At this time, Christ reveals to Paul all that he will suffer (Acts 9). Paul also deeply
believes in the immanence of Christ’s return and thus knows that his time is short. Paul knows in
advance the stakes of what he is doing and it is no game to him.
With this in mind, consider Paul’s relationship with John Mark where Paul demonstrates “tough
love.” John Mark is a young believer who accompanies Paul and Barnabas on one of their early
missionary journeys. Partway through it, however, he leaves them and returns to Jerusalem (Acts
13:13). For some reason, the Bible does not say exactly why he leaves them. Regardless, it
disturbs Paul a great deal. At a later time, when Barnabas wants to bring John Mark along for a
different journey, Paul says, “No way!” The text here indicates that Paul may feel John Mark is
unworthy to accompany them because he is a deserter. Paul has a limit of what he is willing to
endure and John Mark crossed it. If one of Paul’s disciples is going to start “playing games” with
him or the mission, he draws the line.
The other way that Paul might leave a disciple behind is on a much more positive note. In Paul’s
practice of equipping leaders, he includes them in God’s world mission by releasing them into
ministry when the time is right. For example, in Acts 18 it is written that Paul meets Aquila and
Priscilla in Corinth. Aquila and Priscilla are tentmakers like Paul, and the three of them strike up
a friendship as they work together. After a period of “some time” (Acts 18:18), they accompany
Paul when he leaves Corinth. When Paul and his traveling companions arrive in Ephesus, he
leaves Priscilla and Aquila there and they continue ministering as Paul travels on. In fact, they
are credited with playing a great role in straightening out Apollos’ doctrine when he comes into
town and preaches (Acts 18:26).
Timothy is another believer who comes alongside Paul and benefits from his teaching and
example. Timothy travels with Paul and Silas and is regularly sent on ahead to such places, as
Macedonia (Acts 19:22) and Troas (20:5), to assist Paul in his ministry. Perhaps the greatest
training for young Timothy is when Paul sends him in his place to Corinth, the location of some
serious church issues where he is to speak in defense of Paul’s apostolic authority (1 Cor. 4:17).7
Timothy’s impact on this church is evident in that Paul includes him as a co-author in his second
letter to the Corinthian church (2 Cor. 1:1).
Paul understood that one of the most effective ways to build strength in a leader is by giving
them opportunity to build leadership muscles. In doing this, he showed an impressive ability to
“let go.” Each church he established was special to him and he referred to them in his letters with
great affection; yet he handed these young churches over to essentially inexperienced leaders.
Paul was not concerned, however. He knew that “[God’s] power is made perfect in weakness” (2
Cor. 12:9). There comes a point when a person who is building leaders has to let go and allow
his or her charges the opportunity to succeed or fail.
       In Paul’s practice of building leaders, he deliberately and publicly encourages them. Paul
inspires others and, somehow, leads them into passionate and extended service to the Lord Jesus
Christ. Even though he candidly explains to the group of believers in Timothy’s home town what
the cost will be to follow him into ministry, he still manages to inspire this young man to travel

the world with him and, indeed, suffer for the name of Jesus (Acts 14:22, Acts 16:3-4).8 How
does he do this? Perhaps one of his methods is by being a sincere and loving friend who is quick
to share encouragement through public praise, restoring broken relationships, and remaining in
contact even after he moves on to another phase of ministry or imprisonment.
In his practice of building leaders, Paul encourages his disciples through public praise. Paul
publicly says kind things to and about the people he works with. He is quick to list other people
as “fellow laborers” or “co-workers” and he is not afraid to share the spotlight. In fact, he is often
the one shining the spotlight on everyone else! Frequently in his letters, he commends men and
women to the readers.
Here is how Paul describes Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a
deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his
people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many
people, including me.” In a time when women were not considered worthy of being taught the
scriptures, let alone being leaders, this was a significant statement for Paul to make. In regard to
Phoebe, he not only describes her as a deacon and praises her for her generosity, but puts his
words into action by sending her on an important emissary mission to the Romans. Romans
16:1-2 indicates that she was the person selected by Paul to hand deliver his letter to the Roman
Paul calls Timothy “my co-worker” (Rom. 16:21) and “my son whom I love, who is faithful in
the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:17). He further says, “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine
concern for your welfare” (Phil. 2:20).
He tells the Corinthian church that Titus is “my partner and co-worker among you” (2 Cor. 8:23)
and later in 2 Corinthians 12:18 he says, “Titus did not exploit you did he? Did we not walk in
the same footsteps by the same Spirit?” Here, once again, we see an example of Paul showing
loyalty by defending his partner in ministry.
Regarding Priscilla and Aquila he says that they are “my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked
their lives for me, not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them” (Rom.
Of Epaphras, Paul says in Colossians 4:12, “OhphpapE, who is one of you and a servant of Christ
Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all
the will of God, mature and fully assured.”
        Finally, he calls his friend, the former slave named Onesimus, “our faithful and dear
brother” (Col. 4:9) who “became my son while I was in chains” (Phm 1:10).
       Paul values relationships a great deal. These are only a handful of examples
demonstrating Paul’s consistent method of publicly praising the leaders he develops. Just look at
how many times he mentions people by name in his letters–especially in Romans chapter 16
where he names thirty-five different individuals.
In Paul’s practice of encouraging his disciples, he restores relationships. Paul cares enough about
relationships to practice and teach forgiveness. For example, even though John Mark “deserted”
Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey, Paul later refers to him as a “co-worker”
(Col. 4:10) and “fellow worker” (Phil 1:23). In his letter to the Colossians, Paul asks them to
receive Mark warmly on Paul’s behalf, (Col 4:10) and in his letter to Timothy he asks Timothy
to please bring John Mark to him while he is incarcerated in Rome because John Mark is
“helpful to him” (Tim 4:11).
In the letter Paul wrote to his friend Philemon, we learn about a man named Onesimus.
Onesimus is a slave whom Paul befriends and leads to the Lord. Paul sends Onesimus back to his
master, Philemon, but with a plea for him to accept Onesimus and “heal the relationship, not as a
slave, but as a dear brother, a fellow man and brother in the Lord” (Phm 1:16).
Paul inspires his disciples by staying in touch with them. When Paul enters into a discipleship
relationship with someone, he does not just “drop” them when their time together is over. He
keeps in contact with them by letters over the years. This does not mean that he carries the
relationship to the same extent that he starts with, but it means that he checks in on them
occasionally, either with their own personal letter (like to Timothy or Titus) or a short hello to
someone to like Priscilla and Aquila (2 Tim. 4:19).

       Paul not only led countless numbers of people to the Lord, but took the time to build
leaders. For him, discipleship was not a sterile program where participants learned certain ways
to act and not to act, it was a way of life. Paul’s form of discipleship training involved growing

more like Jesus “in the real world.”9 In Paul’s “school of discipleship,” he humbled himself and

demonstrated what it meant to live, as Christ did, with a “V- shaped career.”10 The “V” shape
illustrates the timeless truth in Scripture where God’s people humble themselves, and He lifts
them up (Phil. 2:6-11, James 4:6). Paul humbled himself by intentionally positioning other
leaders to equal and surpass him in influence and scope of ministry.
Paul engaged potential leaders by discipling sincere seekers regardless of their race, intellect,
social status, or gender. In a word, he was inclusive by not allowing social or cultural norms to
influence who he did and did not associate with. He was loyal and readily confronted actions
inconsistent with scriptural principles.
Paul equipped his leaders at a high cost–his personal investment of time. He poured himself into
those he was training and demonstrated tough love when needed. When the time was right, he
released his charges into ministry and continued to provide “equipping” through ongoing
friendship and attention.
Paul encouraged his disciples and his fellow workers by praising them publicly throughout his
letters which were read by many churches. He taught and modeled what it means to value
relationships by seeking restoration and he further demonstrated the value of people by staying in
touch after his charges were released into their own areas of ministries.
In 1 Corinthians 9:22, when Paul said that he would “be all things to all people” for the sake of
the gospel, he lived it. When he said in Galatians 3:27, “In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek,
male nor female, slave nor free,” he applied it to his ministry practice. 1 Corinthians 4:17 rightly
says that Paul’s way of life agreed with what he taught. As ministers, missionaries, chaplains,
and mentors, may God help us live in such a way that we can say the same.


   1 All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from New International Version
2 Peter Scazzero and Warren Bird, The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship
that Actually Changes Lives (Zondervan ePub Edition, 2009), 111.
3 Ibid., 112.
4 I. Howard Marshall, A Concise New Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity
Press Academic, 2008), 99.
5 Matthew McGee, “Chronology of Apostle Paul’s Journeys and Epistles,” Wielding the Sword
of the Spirit. (accessed February 23, 2011).
6 J. Gresham Machen, The Origin of Paul’s Religion (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company, 1925), 102.
7 J. Oswald Sanders, Dynamic Spiritual Leadership: Leading Like Paul (Grand Rapids, MI:
Discovery House Publishers, 1999), 211.
8 William J. Petersen, The Discipling of Timothy (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1980), 32.
9 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 123.
10 Marshall, 137.


Machen, J. Gresham. The Origin of Paul’s Religion. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans
      Publishing Company, 1925.
Marshall, I. Howard. A Concise New Testament Theology. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity
Press Academic, 2008.
McGee, Matthew. “Chronology of Apostle Paul’s Journeys and Epistles.” Wielding the Sword of
the Spirit. (accessed February 23, 2011).
Petersen, William J. The Discipling of Timothy. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1980.
Sanders, J. Oswald. Dynamic Spiritual Leadership: Leading Like Paul. Grand Rapids, MI:
Discovery House Publishers, 1999.
Scazzero, Peter and Warren Bird. The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship
that Actually Changes Lives. Zondervan: ePub Edition, 2009.
Wilkins, Michael J. Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.
                         A Theology of Discipleship Coaching

                                        Amy Devries

                                    TABLE OF CONTENTS

       Setting the Foundation
Co-Creating the Relationship
Communicating Effectively
Facilitating Learning and Results

           Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.
       Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and
       the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given
       you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19).1
       In the final moments with His followers, Jesus Christ gives a parting commission which
summarizes His plan for them: make disciples. Between “Therefore, go and make disciples” and
“the end of the age,” there exists an awkward period of God’s promises being fully given, but not
fully realized. Thomas R. Schreiner, quoting George Eldon Ladd who coined the term, refers to

this period with the memorable phrase “the already but not yet.”2 Schreiner goes so far as to
describe this as a “Twilight Zone” because Christians have “experienced the saving power of the

age to come, and yet they still reside in the present evil age.”3
It is in the middle of this “Twilight Zone” that today’s Christians find themselves. As the church
hangs between the promise and the realization, the commission from Christ to change the world
through discipleship must be taken seriously by modern followers of Christ and must be acted
upon with intentionality and focus. With this in mind, the following pages will explore what
discipleship actually is with a special look at how the emerging field of Life Coaching (or
“Coaching”) reflects a biblical discipleship process.

       If one takes a cursory glance at the discipleship programs in evangelical churches, more
often than not, these models resemble a neatly packaged program that certain Christians might
eventually graduate from. Is this what Jesus had in mind, a system for producing mature
disciples like an assembling line in a manufacturing plant? Does He ever actually stamp a “Final
Approval” on our growth process? Thank God He has sealed all believers with His Holy Spirit so
there is never any doubt of one’s full acceptance in His kingdom (Eph. 1:13), but can a believer
reach a point of final discipleship achievement as long as he or she is still living?
Michael J. Wilkins, in his book Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship,
asserts that “Discipleship is not simply a program. Discipleship is becoming like Jesus as we
walk with him in the real world.”4 Ted Haggard, in Dog Training, Fly Fishing, and Sharing
Christ in the 21st Century, suggests that we carry out discipleship by “knowing people and
walking them through life with God’s wisdom and understanding.”5 He goes on to say that
successful discipleship does not always need to give people a program to follow, but rather
should help people “live every day according to God’s plan.”6
Throughout His teachings, Jesus taught the concept of “following” Him, which means simply
walking with Him (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; John 12:26). In fact, He taught that a
disciple must take up his or her cross and follow Him. Luke 9:23 indicates that this action is to
happen daily. This daily act of taking up a cross and following Christ reveals to us that the
disciple’s journey should be an ongoing process of affirming Jesus not only as our Savior, but as
our Lord.7 Ronald Sider, in The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, states that if someone
reduces the good news of Christ down to simply the forgiveness of sins, then that person is
missing a huge part of following Christ.8 In fact, Sider points out that in the New Testament, the
word “Savior” is used to describe Jesus only 16 times, while the term “Lord” is used 420 times.9
This daily affirmation of Christ as Savior and Lord is the essential distinguishing element of the
mature Christian life and thus is the goal of a successful discipleship path.
Every path has a beginning point and James Engel famously illustrated this in what is known as
“The Decision Making Model” or more commonly, “The Engel Scale.” The scale categorizes a
person’s journey toward greater knowledge and surrender to Christ. To gain entrance onto the
lowest level of the scale, which is a -8, one has become aware of a Supreme Being, but he or she
has no basic understanding of the gospel. This scale advances all the way up to +5 and beyond
where the disciple has committed to a lifestyle of Christian spiritual growth as evidenced by a
life of communion with God and stewardship. Please note the table below.10
If this model is adopted, then the person who is interested in making disciples helps the people in
his or her sphere of influence to first of all make it onto the scale by exposing them to the gospel
of Christ, and then move them ahead one step at a time toward spiritual maturity. This means
that nearly everyone we come into contact with may be included on this scale and seen as a
potential disciple of Christ.
       The field of Coaching, specifically Christian Coaching, is rapidly emerging as a helpful
tool for moving people ahead in their relationship to Christ as Savior and Lord. This model of
using Coaching in discipleship may be called “Discipleship Coaching” and is simply defined as

“getting from where you are to where God wants you to be.”11
Christian Coaching differs from “secular” Coaching in that it is grounded in Scripture, constantly
correcting every practice back to the “actions and spirit of Jesus Christ.”12 According to
well-known author and professor Dr. Gary Collins, secular Coaching has its roots in ancient
Buddhist teachings and practices – leading individuals to seek the answers from within
themselves which is essentially humanism.13 While the element of helping clients search for
their own answers and thereby take ownership of their decisions is based on truth, Christian
Coaches add in the importance of seeking Christ and His teachings above self. The goal of the
Christian Coach is to help clients imagine what God’s plan might be, with the help of Scripture
and prayer, and then empower and encourage them to take steps toward that plan. With this in
mind, the following pages will look at the eleven Core Competencies published by the
International Coach Federation and hold them up to Scripture in order to discover how Coaching
can be used as an effective discipleship model.

                      Setting the FoundationHYPERLINK \l "ref_2r14" 66

Core Competency #1: Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards15
      The first Core Competency listed by the International Coach Federation (ICF) is defined
as “Understanding of coaching ethics and standards and ability to apply them appropriately in all

coaching situations.”16 The ICF Code of Ethics outlines how an ICF Certified Coach will
conduct themselves at large professionally, in cases of conflicts of interest, in client relations,

and in issues of confidentiality and privacy.17
This Code of Ethics is well represented in Scripture. 2 Corinthians 6:3 says, “We live in such a
way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.”
Christian Coaches must first strive to honor God by living and working in such a way that draws
people closer to His kingdom. They take personal responsibility for demonstrating truth and
integrity, something Ephesians 5:9 calls a fruit, or result, of walking in the Spirit.
Another aspect of “Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards” a Christian Coach
must consider is that of being prepared. It is the responsibility of Coaches to be aware of what
these Ethics and Standards are so that they can effectively abide by them. This means they take
the time to familiarize themselves with these Ethics and Standards so that their Coaching
ministry will accurately reflect “integrity” – something ICF and Scripture both place high value
                   Core Competency #2: Establishing the Coaching Agreement
        The second Core Competency reflects an understanding by the Coach of what a coaching
relationship should look like and how to communicate this understanding to prospective and new

clients.18 The essence of “Establishing the Coaching Agreement” is to be honest and clear up
front of what the Coaching relationship may and may not entail. Jesus taught through His
example the importance of presenting a clear picture of what it means to be a disciple. He clearly
laid out His expectation that those who wished to be counted as His followers needed to count
the cost and be willing to walk with Him and suffer with Him (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke
9:23; John 12:26). This is not to suggest that Coaches lay out an expectation for their client to
encounter suffering, however, it is appropriate to remind clients that forward motion, specifically
in the area of discipleship, takes time. It is not always fast and it certainly is not always easy.
Jesus gave a wonderful example of this when He called Saul of Tarsus to be His disciple. Acts
9:15 records God telling a believer named Ananias that when He calls Saul (or Paul), He will
show him the cost of being His disciple. God gave Paul an idea of the hardships he would face;
but that’s not all God showed Paul. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us that God revealed to him
certain things through a vision that were “so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words,
things no human is allowed to tell” (1 Cor. 12:4). This is a wonderful example of establishing up
front what healthy boundaries and expectations might be in a Discipleship Coaching relationship.
A great closing verse for this section is from 2 Corinthians 4:2 which says, “We reject all
shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of
God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.”
                                   Co-Creating the Relationship

                 Core Competency #3: Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client
       The third Core Competency is all about creating a safe space for the person being
coached. M. Scott Boren writes about creating safe relationships in his book, Missional Small
Groups: Becoming a Community That Makes a Difference in the World. He first describes an
“Unsafe Place” and then goes on to describe what makes a person feel “safe” within
According to Boren, an “Unsafe Place” is an environment where a person is always being fixed,
forced, and given all the right answers by someone who appears to be a know-it-all.19 This is
certainly true! Many people, it seems, like the idea of other people avoiding these unsafe
practices, but they secretly give themselves permission to fix or force the people around them. A
Coach must avoid this temptation. “Safe Places” are formed when people are given the freedom
to be themselves, can listen to what is happening inside of themselves, and learn to give and
receive forgiveness.20 The bottom line of making a client feel safe is giving them space to
“allow their soul to come out.”21
Paul demonstrates an understanding of this principle in 2 Corinthians 1:24 where he says, “But
that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice.
We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you
stand firm.” Surely the Apostle Paul had the knowledge and understanding to tell people how to
practice their faith, but he wanted them to stand firm in their decision to follow Christ. He knew
that if he simply told them how to do every little thing, the people he led would never learn for
themselves how to be strong and firm in their faith. Christian Coaches can apply this principle as
well. The New Testament author James summarizes it well when he exhorts his readers to be
“quick to listen” and “slow to speak” (James 1:19).
                              Core Competency #4: Coaching Presence
       The fourth Core Competency, “Coaching Presence” indicates that the Coach will have a
strong yet relaxed manner of being fully present with the client by adjusting to the clients needs,
listening to intuition, and creating a “light and energetic” atmosphere where the client feels the
freedom to discover new options. Another way of saying this is that the Coach demonstrates the
ability to “[dance] in the moment.”22
Boren describes four things as “Harmful Patterns” that can injure a relationship, or in a Coaching
setting, can hinder forward progress. These patterns include flattery, swapping experiences,
giving advice, and quoting Scripture.23 Unfortunately, for many people, these four patterns are
learned habits of conversation–especially for pastors. Each pattern can bring harm to a Coaching
relationship, but if avoided, they serve as good reminders of how to breathe life into the same
Flattery, as a practice in conversation, is frowned upon in Scripture. In Psalm 12:1-3, David says,
“Help, O LORD, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts. May the LORD cut
off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues.” Flattery is basically telling someone
what they want to hear. It is making a smooth speech that falsely inflates someone’s ego. The
last half of 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that
strengthens the church.” Giving people false knowledge about themselves does not help them
grow or move forward. As Coaches, we may be tempted to engage in this practice under the
guise of “encouraging.” However, it is not encouraging to spin deceit. It is, in fact, the opposite.
The practice of “swapping stories” is a common element in today’s conversations. In a Coaching
relationship, however, where the focus is supposed to be on the client, it is simply not always
appropriate. Circumstances certainly exist where the Coach can share information, even stories,
but it must be in the context of serving the client and the client’s goals. According to the Fourth
Competency, the attention is on the client and the Coach must move with him or her in a manner
that is relaxed, flexible, and utterly selfless.
When someone is quick to give advice, he or she is assuming that the other person’s
circumstance is easy to quantify and understand. If a Coach jumps in with advice before
thoroughly listening, he or she very likely will miss a big opportunity for the client to find
resolution on his or her own. As Peter Scazzero says in his book, The Emotionally Healthy
Church: A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually Changes Lives, “Our wrong counsel keeps
people spiritually immature.”24 As we saw above in 2 Corinthians 1:24, even Paul the Apostle
was hesitant to tell the Corinthian believers how to practically work out their faith because he
wanted them to experience the joy of teamwork–working things out together.
The final practice that can actually be harmful is quoting Scripture without thinking it through
carefully. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the
sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes
our innermost thoughts and desires.” Scripture is the only weapon included in the list of spiritual
armor in Ephesians 6. Before a Coach pulls this tool out, careful consideration must be given
first. Scripture can be as dangerous and deadly as a dagger, or it can be as safe and beneficial as a
surgical blade. Both are incredibly sharp and powerful, but one brings death and the other life.
If the Christian Coach is truly “dancing in the moment” with his or her client, then smooth,
deceptive words meant to bring flattery will be avoided. Sharing personal stories or anecdotes,
giving unsolicited advice, and quoting Scripture will be measured and administered with great
prayer and care. In this way, the Coach will be truly “present” with the client.
                                   Communicating Effectively

                              Core Competency #5: Active Listening
        The fifth Core Competency centers on hearing what the client is and is not saying – both
verbally and non-verbally. When Christian Coaches demonstrate excellent listening skills, they
are “other directed” and non-defensive. They try to listen through the ears of the person speaking

and they listen as a receiver instead of as a critic.25
When the Coach listens in a manner that is “other directed,” he or she is utterly focused on the
person talking, not on what the Coach is thinking or feeling. Sometimes it is easy to forget that
someone else’s experience might be completely different from your own even if it is a similar
circumstance. When the Coach assumes that his or her experience is the same as the client’s then
the Coach is not engaging in Active Listening.
A good listener is seeking to hear completely what is being said, rather than seeking to defend
and protect oneself. As Boren says, “When the self is being protected, it is difficult to focus on
the other person.”26 The goal of a good listener is not to change the other person or get the other
person to think or feel a certain thing. The goal of a good listener is simply to receive and learn.
Proverbs 10:8 says, “The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their
faces.” Proverbs 12:15 also speaks about the importance of listening, “Fools think their own way
is right, but the wise listen to others.”
Active Listening involves more than just “listening,” however. A good active listener responds
appropriately with questions that ask for clarification, gives encouragement and reinforcement to
the goals the client has expressed, and offers periodic summary statements to make sure
everything is being heard correctly.27 The bottom line of Active Listening can be summarized
by the Fifth Habit in Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” It states,
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”28
                            Core Competency #6: Powerful Questioning
        The sixth Core Competency is demonstrated by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions
that lead the client toward greater awareness and clarity. Unlike typical counseling questions that
tend to look backward and explore the root causes of a particular situation or circumstance,

Coaching questions tend to look ahead at how and where the client wants to move forward.29
Paul supported this way of looking at things when he wrote, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I
have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to
what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which
God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil. 3:13-14). Is it always appropriate to look forward
and never backward to contemplate the past? No. Both have their respective places. If a client
needs to explore issues rooted in the past, then he or she should be referred to a professional
Powerful questions were perhaps the hallmark of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He frequently asked
powerful questions such as, “What good is salt if it has lost its flavor” (Matt. 5:13)? “What kind
of man did you go into the wilderness to see” (Matt. 11:7)? And “Who do people say that the
Son of Man is” (Matt. 16:13)? Jesus asked questions to which his listeners did not always have a
ready answer. His questions required thoughtful contemplation, created new ways of looking at
an issue, and sometimes brought conviction on the hearers as their true motives were brought to
                           Core Competency #7: Direct Communication
         The seventh Core Competency focuses on the Coach using communication that is
effective in moving the client to where they want to be. A Coach who is successful in Direct
Communication might reframe a circumstance to give the client another point of view, or might
engage in the use of metaphors or word pictures to paint a new perspective. The objective here is
to use language the client can relate to in order to bring greater clarity or understanding in the

achievement of his or her goals.30
Jesus used Direct Communication repeatedly. He pointed to birds, flowers, and stones to
illustrate a point in his teaching. He referred to commonly known locations and even made use of
humor and figures of speech to further explain a hidden truth. Proverbs 20:5 says, “Though good
advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.” As Christian
Coaches, if we believe that our clients have the ability to frame their own responses and
essentially “advise themselves,” we will use creative measures to help draw out their own good
advice, though it may be buried deep inside. Sometimes, this good advice is buried in their
knowledge of Scripture. By encouraging them to search God’s word for verses relating to their
circumstance and prayerfully consider their next steps, we might just find that clients discover
exactly what is needed on their own. That is an exciting aspect of coaching.
                                Facilitating Learning and Results

                            Core Competency #8: Creating Awareness
         Creating Awareness is similar to Core Competency #7, Direct Communication, but it
takes things several steps further. Rather than simply communicate, Creating Awareness
indicates that “connection” has been made. By using excellent Coaching techniques, the
Christian Coach is able to help the client “see” and “connect” with new insights and truth that
will enable him or her to move forward. The Coach utilizes discerning questions that help the

client to differentiate between perception and fact.31
Jesus made it a practice to create awareness in His listeners. Luke 7:24 says, “After John’s
disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. ‘What kind of man did you go into
the wilderness to see? Was he a weak , swayed by every breath of wind?’” This was a pointed
question that caused the listeners to evaluate their expectations and responses toward John the
Baptist and ultimately toward Christ Himself.
                             Core Competency #9: Designing Actions
         The ninth Core Competency brings the Coach and client together to decide on a path of
action. This is the step that leads the client to recognize what steps are needed in order to grow
closer to his or her goal. Is further research needed? Does the client need to talk to someone to
gain greater clarity on the issue in question? Are there resources, such as books or seminars, that
will move the client forward? Is there another way of looking at this situation that has not been
considered before? The Coach will actively encourage the client to consider all possibilities

surrounding the subject at hand.32
In helping the client successfully design action steps, the Christian Coach might encourage the
person being coached to seek out a Christian mentor, or someone who can bring additional
insight. Since the Core Competencies are not listed in order of importance, this one might be
implemented at the start of the relationship by encouraging the client to think of one or two
people to include on his or her journey as prayer partners. Helping the client to consider other
sources of input and encouragement can be an effective tool in moving them closer to their goal.
                        Core Competency #10: Planning and Goal Setting
       The tenth Core Competency brings the client to a point of decision. After carefully
evaluating the client’s goals and creatively removing or skirting obstacles, a plan is reached and

agreed upon by both parties.33 This plan is not something that the Coach hatches and then
presents to the client, rather it is something that is conceived through a collaborative effort of
brainstorming and experimentation with new ideas.
 Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 1:24 that his desire was to work with the Corinthian Church and
together design a way for them to practically work out their faith. When the person being
coached is doing most of the work in creating their action steps, he or she is much more likely to
follow through on his or her decision. Paul understood this very well. He had no desire to
dominate the relationship by being bossy, his goal was for the Corinthian Church to stand firm in
Christ and he realized this would only happen if they created their own plan for implementing
their faith.
                 Core Competency #11: Managing Progress and Accountability
       The final Core Competency centers on the Coach staying focused on what is best for the
client while holding him or her ultimately responsible for the final result. This might mean
sometimes gently asking hard questions that spotlight a failure to act, or it might mean
celebrating the client’s achievements thus far and encouraging them on to the finish (or both!).

Either way the Coach is always working to stay tuned in to the needs of the client.34
The Apostle Paul demonstrated this in his second letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 8:10,
he wrote, “Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago.
Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it.” Paul
reminded the Corinthians of what their original goal was. He held them accountable to their own
action plan. Rather than giving advice rooted in his own ideas of what they should do, he
encouraged them to continue doing what they began doing on their own. This is an effective
coaching technique that Paul once again demonstrated for us.
       Utilizing coaching skills in a discipleship relationship is an exciting notion. The previous
pages have revealed how similar the two disciplines actually are. Using the ICF Core
Competencies as a guide to educate and challenge the minister who wishes to disciple another
appears to be an effective method substantiated by Scripture. As the minister, or Coach, seeks to
lead someone one step ahead in their relationship to Jesus as Savior and Lord, there are several
important reminders to keep in mind.
First, like the Apostle Paul, an attitude of humility must permeate everything a Coach says and
does. Over the years, as Paul ministered throughout Asia Minor and beyond, his influence and
authority within the local churches grew. In contrast to all this recognition, Paul’s humility grew.
He consistently shared the spotlight with others and made it a practice to hand over leadership to
trusted colleagues like Timothy, Titus, and Priscilla and Aquila. Paul never acted like he was the
most important member of the team. He chose to operate out of humility.
Second, one should have realistic expectations for the Discipleship Coaching relationship. The
process of becoming a disciple of Christ is a lifelong journey and cannot be completed in “4
Easy Steps.” 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some
people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but
wants everyone to repent.” The Lord is patient, and therefore, we should be too. Wayne Cordeiro
in The Divine Mentor says, “Here’s a new definition for ‘slowness’: God’s optimum speed in
bringing about His likeness in you.”35
Third, remember that every Discipleship Coaching conversation does not necessarily have to
ring with angelic harmonies and sparkle with heavenly light shows. Dr. Gary Collins points out
that sometimes the most important thing that a Coach can do is simply show up.36 Not every
conversation has to be perfectly “focused and intellectual” to be effective.37 In order to achieve
the ICF standard of excellent coaching, we must make it our goal to be as focused as possible,
but the most important element of a Discipleship Coaching relationship is and always should be
the person being discipled through coaching.
Finally, the successful Discipleship Coach should think of failure as being a good teacher.38 Not
every session will proceed as a casework study of perfect coaching. The important thing is to
learn from any mistakes and move on. In this way, Coaches give themselves the freedom to learn
as they go. They “fail forward” and move ahead in their skills rather than become discouraged.
When Jesus gave His followers the charge to make disciples, He gave them an exciting
opportunity to join Him on a journey. This journey is not only a personal pursuit of knowing God,
but a “co-laboring” relationship with Christ where He uses His disciples to make more disciples.
It is a divine sort of mentorship that He offers, an opportunity to play on His team while we wait
for the grand fulfillment of all His promises. As Discipleship Coaches minister through this
“Twilight Zone” of the “already-but-not-yet,” may they remember to operate from a heart of
humility, be patient, show up, and fail forward.

    1 All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Living Translation.

2 Thomas R. Schreiner. Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 19.
3 Ibid., 29.
4 Michael J. Wilkins. Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan, 1992), 123.
5 Ted Haggard. Dog Training, Fly Fishing, and Sharing Christ in the 21st Century (Nashville,
TN: Thomas Nelson E-book Edition, 2002), 28.
6 Ibid., 74.
7 Ronald J. Sider. The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just
Like the Rest of the World? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker E-book Edition, 2005), 47.
8 Ibid., 44.
9 Ibid., 47.
10 Mark McCloskey and Bill Bright. Tell It Often, Tell It Well (San Bernadine, CA: Here’s Life
Publishers, 1985), under “Chapter 17: An Interpersonal Communication Model,”
urces/tell_it_often_tell_it_well/default.htm&referer=/engel-scale.php&des=Tell It Often, Tell It
Well, by Bright and McCluskey (accessed April 22, 2011).
11 Deborah Gill, “Discipleship Coaching: Getting From Where You Are to Where God Wants
You to Be.”
(accessed April 7, 2011).
12 Wayne Cordeiro, The Divine Mentor (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House E-book Edition,
2007), 162.
13 Gary Collins, “Contemporary Trends and Advanced Coaching Competencies” (class notes for
Module 2 Course at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO, November 9,
2010), 5.
14 International Coach Federation, “ICF Core Competencies.” (accessed November 8, 2010), 1.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 International Coach Federation, “ICF Code of Ethics.” (accessed November 8, 2010), 1
18 International Coach Federation, “ICF Core Competencies,” 1.
19 M. Scott Boren, Missional Small Groups: Becoming a Community That Makes a Difference in
the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker E-book Edition, 2010), 83-4.
20 Ibid., 84-5.
21 Ibid., 85.
22 International Coach Federation, “ICF Core Competencies,” 1.
23 Boren, 93.
24 Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Heatlhy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually
Changes Lives (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan ePub Edition, 2009), 20.
25 Boren, 87-8.
26 Ibid., 87.
27 International Coach Federation, “ICF Core Competencies,” 1.
28 Stephen Covey, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” (accessed April 22, 2011).
29 International Coach Federation, “ICF Core Competencies,” 1.
30 Ibid., 2.
31 Ibid., 2.
32 Ibid., 2.
33 Ibid., 2.
34 Ibid., 2.
35 Cordiero, 130.
36 Gary Collins, “Contemporary Trends and Advanced Coaching Competencies” (class notes for
Module 2 Course at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO, November 8,
2010), 46.
37 Boren, 98.
38 Ibid., 130.


Boren, M. Scott. Missional Small Groups: Becoming a Community That Makes a Difference in
       the World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker E-book Edition, 2010.
Collins, Gary. “Contemporary Trends and Advanced Coaching Competencies.” Class notes for
Module 2 Course at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO, November 8,
Collins, Gary. “Contemporary Trends and Advanced Coaching Competencies.” Class notes for
Module 2 Course at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO, November 9,
Cordeiro, Wayne. The Divine Mentor. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House E-book Edition, 2007.
Covey, Stephen. “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” (accessed April 22, 2011).
Gill, Deborah. “Discipleship Coaching: Getting From Where You Are to Where God Wants You
to Be.”
(accessed April 7, 2011).
Haggard, Ted. Dog Training, Fly Fishing, and Sharing Christ in the 21st Century. Nashville,
TN: Thomas Nelson E-book Edition, 2002.
International Coach Federation. “ICF Code of Ethics.” (accessed November 8, 2010).
International Coach Federation. “ICF Core Competencies.” (accessed November 8, 2010).
McCloskey, Mark and Bill Bright. Tell It Often, Tell It Well. San Bernadino, CA: Here’s Life
Publishers, 1985, under “Chapter 17: An Interpersonal Communication Model,”
resources/ tell_it_often_tell_it_well/default.htm&referer=/engel-scale.php&des=TellIt Often,
Tell It Well, by Bright and McCluskey (accessed April 22, 2011).
Scazzero, Peter. The Emotionally Heatlhy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually
Changes Lives. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan ePub Edition, 2009.
 .TpsapE T ,NepacrhcaMagnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology aphr .
.2161 ,cpmca ceprcare :IM ,TphrrE
 .Tshpar R ,NrrcaThe Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just
Like the Rest of the World?.2115 ,nssm Orrkrsh-cpmca O :IM , aphr TphrrE
Wilkins, Michael J. Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan, 1992.
                    A Pauline Theology of Missions Motivations

                                   Tae W. Kang

                               TABLE OF CONTENTS


       Research Interest
Research Method
           Why do Christians do missions? The answer is “It depends.” Some people were
motivated to do missions because they saw the poor economic and desperate living conditions of
people, not their spiritual condition, in an undeveloped country. Others do missions to please
their parents, pastor, or someone else. People even do missions to gain God’s favor or love.
However, nothing can make God love us more than He already does. Although their works can
produce some positive results, God may not be pleased with their wrong motivations because,
according to Proverbs 16:2, God sees our hearts whether our motivations behind the actions are
pure or not. That is, God sees primarily why we do His work rather than what we do and its

                                             Research Interest
           In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul says,
               If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding
           gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all
           knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I
           give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain
Paul confesses that without love accompanying such extraordinary gifts, he would be nothing.
Even the willingness to be a martyr (v. 3) has no value if his motivation is not love. In other
words, without the right motivation, which is love in this passage, any special gifts or being a
martyr would be meaningless. These words show that Paul knew the importance of motivation.
So, readers are compelled to think that Paul, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, did carry out God’s
work with the right motivations. Therefore, it is worthy of studying and learning Paul’s
motivations for missions in order that we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, do missions or God’s work
with the right motivations that please God.
           What was Paul’s mission? Galatians 2:7 is one of the clear statements of what Paul thinks
of his mission. It says, “… I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the
Gentiles … .” In other words, Paul understood that his mission was to preach the gospel mainly

to the Gentiles.2 O’Brien summarizes the content of Paul’s preaching, “The gospel which Paul

received on the Damascus road,3 and thus the content of his preaching may be defined
christologically: it is Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Gal 1:12, 16; cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 3:8) who is

the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord.”4

                                         Research Method
       For discussion on a Pauline theology of missions motivations, the author of this chapter
studied the parts of the Book of Acts where Paul gives speeches and Paul’s thirteen epistles, and
collected evidence for Paul’s motivations for missions. The author also went through the rest of
the New Testament, while focusing on Acts, in order to find corroborative data of Paul’s
motivations from other New Testament authors. After this primary research, the author
researched various authors to confirm or refute the primary research. As a result, the author is
convinced that four motivations seemed to drive Paul to do missions.

                           FIRST MOTIVATION: THE DIVINE CALL
       The first motivation, which led Paul to do missions, is the divine call. There are two types

of calls in Scripture; the call to discipleship and the call to apostleship. According to Wilkins,5
the call to discipleship is “a call to salvation” since the term “disciple” designates a believer in
Jesus. On the other hand, the call to apostleship is “a call to be sent out on missions.” The Greek

apostolos literally means “one sent on a mission or with a commission,”6 and this was the title
that Jesus gave to his first twelve disciples (Lk 6:13). After the death of Judas Iscariot, Matthias
was elected to take his place (Acts 1:23-26). Later the term was extended to take in Paul and
Barnabas (Acts 14:14), the first two missionaries (or apostles) to the Gentile world, as well as

several others (Andronicus and Junia in Rom 16:7).7 The focus of this part is that second call:
the divine call Paul received to apostleship or the missionary commission.
There are four accounts of Paul’s conversion and calling in the New Testament: Acts 9:1-19;
22:4-16; 26:9-20; and Gal 1:11-17. The first is a third-person report while the other three are
given in Paul’s own words. Each passage clearly shows Paul’s motivation for missions from the
divine call. However, since Acts 22 focuses more on Paul’s calling rather than on his conversion
(cf. Acts 9),8 it deserves an in-depth study.
In Acts 21, Paul was captured by Jews because he continuously preached and taught the gospel,
which offended the Jews (v. 28). When the Jews were trying to kill Paul, the commander of the
Roman troops came and arrested Paul (v. 33). In that situation, Paul asked the commander that
he could speak to the crowd, who accused Paul without any specific charges (v. 39). When the
commander allowed Paul to speak, in Acts 22, Paul started defending his mission and his gospel
by talking about his experience on the way to Damascus. In verse 15, Paul told that he received
the commission from the risen Christ through Ananias. At the end of his speech (v. 21), Paul
reaffirms his commission from Jesus by quoting what Jesus said: “‘Go, I will send you far away
to the Gentiles.’” In short, when the Jews accused Paul of preaching his gospel, Paul said to the
crowd that he could not help but to preach the gospel due to the commission he received. Indeed,
Paul did seek to persuade his audience that his mission was unquestionably the will of Jesus
Christ. In regard to Paul’s defense in Acts 22, Peterson says, “An account of Paul’s calling is
critical to his defense, both here and in 26:9-18 … Paul seeks to explain his actions by setting
them within the context of God’s calling and the revelation of his will.”9 The call from Jesus
Christ initiated Paul to preach the gospel even though it offended the Jews.
Acts 13:47 and 20:24 show the evidence of this first motivation. In Acts 13:13 and following,
Paul and Barnabas tried to evangelize Jews and Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch. During this
evangelization, the Jews talked against what Paul and Barnabas were saying, and Paul and
Barnabas in verses 46 and 47 responded to Jews by quoting Isaiah 49:6, “… we now turn to the
Gentiles. 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.’” From this verse, one can see that Paul had
clear conscience why he was turning or going to the Gentiles: because the Lord had commanded
him to be a light for the Gentiles. O’Brien points out that “Paul’s allusion to Isaiah suggests that
he was chosen by God to continue the work of the Servant of Yahweh.”10
One may argue that the speech in Acts 13:46-47 was addressed by Barnabas instead of Paul
because the text does not clearly indicate who spoke, but says, “Paul and Barnabas answered
them … .” (13:46). However, further examination of Acts reveals that it is most likely that Paul
would have spoken most of times when Paul and Barnabas went to missionary journeys together.
In Acts 13:16, Luke shows that Paul stood up and began to speak to people. In Acts 14:8 and
following, when Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, Paul healed a man cripple in his feet while
speaking to the man. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they considered their gods have
come down to them in human form. So, they named Barnabas as Zeus and called Paul Hermes.
Luke explains that Paul was called Hermes “because he was the chief speaker” (14:12). From the
above evidence, one can assume that Paul gave speeches most of the time, including the speech
in Acts 13:47. Or it may be interpreted that both Paul and Barnabas were motivated by the divine
call or commission to do missions. Bruce says, “Here both of them read their own appointment
in the Servant’s commission: ‘this is the command the Lord has given us.’”11
In addition to the Book of Acts, Paul’s epistles confirm that one of Paul’s motivations for
missions is the divine call. In his nine epistles out of thirteen, Paul uses phrases, like “an
apostle12 (or a servant) of Christ Jesus” and “by the will (or command) of God (or Christ
Jesus)”13 (Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1; Col 1:1, 1:25; Eph 1:1; 1 Tim 1:1; 2 Tim 1:1;
Titus 1:3). When Paul says he was an apostle of Christ Jesus, he meant that Christ had
commissioned and sent him as a missionary. According to Melick, Paul reminds “the readers of
the divine call on his life” by stating that he became an apostle by the will of God.14 In summary,
by writing these phrases in his epistles, Paul wanted to emphasize his apostolic authority by
pointing to God’s choice of him for missions to Gentiles.15 For instance, in the Epistle of
Galatians, Paul was countering the allegations of his Galatian opponents who had alleged that he
had no divine apostolic appointment at all.16 Thus, Paul says that he had been “sent not from
men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal
1:1). This expression “sent not from men nor by man” indicates that Paul’s apostolic vocation
neither originated nor was mediated by human agency, but by God. Wright also comments that
such expression shows Paul’s “apostolic authority is rooted not in himself but in the one who
called him and sent him, and in his awareness of a vocation to do a specific, unique and
irreplaceable job.”17
From the above evidence, it can be concluded that Paul was very conscious of his divine call to
the apostolic ministry and the divine call initiated Paul to do missions.

       The second motivation is the grace from God. In Scripture, especially in Pauline letters,
the word charis (grace) refers to God’s unmerited or undeserved favor (1) in the provision of
salvation for sinners through Christ’s sacrificial death and (2) in the enabling power for the

believer in performing the tasks that God gives His agent.18 According to John Koenig, quite a

number of passages in Paul’s writings support the former occasion.19 However, the grace in the
second motivation refers to God’s enabling power in performing the tasks that God gives His
agent, Paul. Kim suggests that this grace was given at the time of the Damascus road experience

on the basis of the aorist tense.20 Thus, this grace probably came along with his missionary
commission as the necessary complement, and Paul realized that he had this power in him
sometime in his missionary journey.
For example, when Paul pleaded the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” presumably to make
his missionary efforts more successful,21 he received the unexpected answer: “My grace is
sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). As Bruce puts it,
“His prayer was indeed answered, not by his deliverance from the affliction, but by his receiving
the necessary grace to bear it.”22 This shows that, from this moment on, Paul knew that he had
received the grace, which is a force that sustains and empowers his missions.
Paul seems to show purposely that he had received this grace of God (Rom 1:5; 1 Cor 15:9-10; 2
Cor 12:9; Gal 1:15; Eph 3:7-8) because it motivated him to pursue his missionary commission
boldly whenever he thought he could not. Paul was deeply aware of his own unworthiness
because he had persecuted God’s people and, accordingly, considered himself “less than the least
of all God’s people” (Eph 3:8a). Although he was “less than the least of all God’s people,” Paul
asserts that because of the grace given him, he was able to proclaim the unsearchable riches of
Christ to the Gentiles (Eph 3:8b).23 Hoehner argues that, “certainly in this context (Eph 3:7-8)
grace is referring to God’s enabling power to minister.”24 Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul
confesses that he could continue to do missions because of the grace of God that was with him.
Therefore, this grace, as Harrisville sees it, lays explanation for
            Paul’s racing through a continent, hungering and thirsting, ill-clad, buffeted and homeless,
       laboring with his own hands, blessing when reviled, enduring when persecuted, conciliating when
       slandered, tumbling through the Near East and Europe like the rain-washed filth down their
       cities’ streets, the refuse of the world.25
       One should realize that without the grace, as God’s enabling power, in Paul, he would not
have made it through his missionary journeys. He would dare to preach the gospel because he
had realized that he had this grace of God in him. If God was backing up Paul with His enabling
power, what could stop Paul preaching the gospel?
Like the two sides of the same coin, this grace of God is inseparable from the divine call, and
this grace played a role of motivating Paul to keep pursing his apostolic missions.

       Third motivation is the salvation of others. In other words, Paul preached the gospel so
that others could be saved. If the second motivation was related to the grace, as God’s enabling
power, the third motivation is closely related to the grace, as God’s unmerited favor in the
provision of salvation. As O’Brien claims, Paul was converted and called simultaneously on the

way to Damascus.26 So, when Paul experienced God’s undeserved grace in relation to his
salvation, this grace of God caused Paul to think everyone is worthy of God’s salvation because
Paul himself, who was formerly an opponent of God and His people, was saved by this grace.
Bird argues that the encounter with the risen Jesus, which is the grace-event, caused Paul to

pursue the proclamation of the good news.27 This way of thinking is also well-expressed in his
words. Paul says, God “wants all men [and women] to be saved and to come to a knowledge of
the truth” (1 Tm 2:4) and “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). In addition,

Paul considered himself as a debtor of the gospel to the Gentiles (Rom 1:14).28 In other words,

Paul had thought that being saved as a result of receiving the gospel incurs a debt to others29 and
maybe that was why he said, “For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the
gospel” (ESV) (1 Cor 9:16). Hendriksen comments on Romans 1:14, “To all of them Paul
considered himself to be a debtor: first, because of the commission God had given him; secondly,
because he himself had been a persecutor and had been rescued by the Lord in such an

unforgettably gracious manner.”30
Paul’s eagerness to preach the gospel in order to bring people to salvation is well-shown in Acts
9:19-20 (cf. Gal 1:11-24). Paul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus after his
conversion. Verse 20 says, at once or immediately, “Paul began to preach that Jesus is the Son of
God.” According to Peterson, the apostles had a role in validating individuals and missions at
that time (Acts 8:14-17; 9:27-28; 11:1-18; 22-24).31 That is, Paul needed the approval of the
apostles in Jerusalem before he preached the gospel. However, Paul began preaching
immediately without apparently being instructed by the apostles before him. This shows Paul’s
eagerness to preach the gospel for the sake of others’ salvation, which led him to disregard the
tradition or the rule of the apostles. Polhill comments on Paul’s commitment to the gospel, “One
could even say that his (Paul’s) zeal as a Christian was even stronger than his former zeal as
In passages, such as Eph 3:1; Phil 1:12; Col 4:3; and Phlm 1:1 and 9, Paul tells his readers that
he was in chains because of the gospel. For example, Paul says, “Now I want you to know,
brothers (and sisters), that what has happened to me33 has really served to advance the gospel”
(Phil 1:12). Paul’s primary concern was the advancement of the gospel. So, even though he was
going through adverse circumstances, Paul rejoiced as long as the gospel went forward (cf. Phil
1:18). Why? It was because more the gospel spread, more people could be saved by hearing the
gospel. Ellington says, “Paul has surrendered himself to the gospel’s power and advance.” He
adds, “Yet more than that, he bows to the gospel’s force and resigns his life to its advance.”34
One can see clearly that Paul even exchanged his freedom and ultimately his life to advance of
the gospel for the sake of others’ salvation. On the contrary, Jonah, who was sent to the Gentiles
like Paul, did not rejoice even though God spared the people in Nineveh. It was because his
motivation to go to Nineveh was not for the sake of others but for the obligation from God. So,
by comparing Jonah’s reaction to Paul’s, Paul’s eagerness to bring others before Jesus Christ is
1 Corinthians 9:19-22 show the climax of Paul’s zeal to bring others to salvation. In this passage,
Paul shows his purpose or motivation behind his actions. The following chart shows his deeds in
the first half of each statement and the purpose of those deeds in the second half of each
statement.35 From Table 1, one can plainly see that all Paul did was in order to save others.
Mounce points out that “Paul’s desire was to take the gospel to the entire world and see the
nations turn to God in a faith that changes conduct.”36
Therefore, Paul did not do missions simply out of the obligation, but out of love for the salvation
of others and as the appropriate response to God’s grace.
                                             Table 1.


       Paul’s fourth motivation is the Great Commission. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he
gave the Great Commission to his eleven disciples (Matt 28:16). The Great Commission is based
on the passage of Matthew 28:19-20: “… go [literally, when going] and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The main command of Christ’s
commission is “make disciples” while going. In order to make disciples, “baptizing” them and
“teaching” them to obey all of Jesus’ commandments are involved. Hence, the Great
Commission has two parts: the first part is to produce other disciples (Christians or believers) of
all the nations. The second part is to edify those who are already believers, which is called

discipleship.38 Wilkins summarizes,

           As a person responds to the invitation to come out of the nations to start life as a disciple, she
       or he begins the life of discipleship through baptism and through obedience to Jesus’ teaching.
       “Baptizing” describes the activity by which the new disciple identifies with Jesus, and teaching
       introduces the activities by which the new disciple grows in discipleship. We should note that the
       process of growth does not include only instruction. Growth in discipleship is accomplished as
       the new disciple is obedient to what Jesus commanded.39
       It is unknown when Paul learned about the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. However,

it seems that Paul knew it before his first missionary journey (Acts 13:4-14:28; ca. AD 46-48)40
because he was carrying out the two parts of the Great Commission during his first missionary
journey. Therefore, it is probable that the Great Commission played a role of motivating Paul to
preach the gospel to produce disciples and to teach them to grow in discipleship. Indeed, that was
what Paul did during his life time, and fulfilling the Great Commission was evident not only in
his deeds but also in his words.
In Acts 14:21, Luke shows that Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in the city of Derbe and
won a large number of disciples. What is highly significant concerning the ministry in Derbe, as
Detwiler says, is “Luke’s use of the verb matheteuo (“make disciples”) in describing the results
of Paul and Barnabas’s preaching.”41 The only occurrence of this word other than in Matthew
(13:52; 27:57; 28:19) is in Acts 14:21,42 where it is an aorist participle translated in the NIV as
“won … disciples.” Luter suggests that Acts 14:21-23 is “a crucial moment for Luke to comment
on the apostle’s disciple-making ministry in fulfillment of the Great Commission.”43 Wilkins
adds that “Luke’s wording makes a direct, verbal connection with the Great Commission,
because preaching the Gospel to the heathen results in ‘having made disciples.’”44 So, one may
rightly argue that Luke deliberately used the word matheteuo in order to show the fulfillment of
the Great Commission in Paul’s ministry.
Moreover, Acts 14:21b-22a show the discipleship process. Paul’s missionary team “returned to
Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to
the faith.” Wilkins comments on these verses,
          Luke’s wording suggests a connection with the discipleship process outlined by Jesus in the
       Great Commission, because “strengthening the souls of the disciples” and “encouraging them to
       remain the faith” implies the kind of “teaching them to observe all I commanded you” that Jesus
       gave as the ongoing process of growth in discipleship.45
Therefore, Paul’s actions of strengthening and encouraging disciples suggest that something,
probably the Great Commission, motivated him to do such actions to believers.
       Not only Paul’s actions imply that he had in mind to fulfill the Great Commission, but
also his words in his epistles display his consciousness of the Great Commission (Rom 13:8-10;
1 Cor 3:5-7; 11:1; Gal 2:20; 5:16; 18-23; Eph 5:1-2; Phil 1:11; Col 1:9, 10; 1 Thes 4:1; Ti 1:1).
For example, Paul writes in Titus 1:1, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for
the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Titus 1:1 shows
that Paul might help people with the two stages in the Christian life: the moment of conversion

and the growth in godly living.”46 Lea and Griffin interpret this verse and assert that “Paul’s
concern was that as a servant and an apostle he would be used to produce faith (salvation),
knowledge (of God and all his work in Jesus Christ), and godliness (being ‘conformed to the

image of Christ Jesus,’ Rom 8:29).”47 In addition, Marshall defines the role of the missionaries
as planting congregations and encouraging their growth based on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians

3:5-7.48 These two passages clearly show that Paul was well aware of the two parts of the Great
Paul’s words above indicate that he understood his mission was not only to preach the gospel to
make disciples but also to teach them to grow in discipleship. Even though one can argue that
Paul’s task of preaching the gospel might have come from his commission, his practice of
discipleship by the influence of the Great Commission is hard to refute. Harrison says, “One may
conclude that despite Paul’s lack of association with Jesus in the days of his flesh, nevertheless,
by his teaching and by his example he wonderfully possessed the mind of Christ in the matter of
Paul’s pattern of his ministry and his own words in the epistles point to the fact that Paul was
indeed motivated by the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to do missions in addition to the other
three motivations.

       Paul’s four motivations for missions are inter-related. In other words, one cannot think of
each motivation independently. Each motivation played a role in Paul’s mission.

       The call from Jesus Christ initiated Paul to do missions. However, he did not do missions
out of obligation alone, but also out of love for the sake of others, desiring their salvation, and as
an appropriate response to God’s grace in relation to his salvation. Sensing God’s enabling
power in him gave Paul the courage to continue to pursue his commission even when Paul
underwent adverse circumstances. The Great Commission of Jesus Christ motivated Paul not
only to preach the gospel to produce converts but also to teach disciples to grow up into Jesus

          Do Paul’s motivations for missions teach Christians at all? Certainly, they do. First, when
we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, carry out God’s work, we should do it out of love for others,
desiring their eternal salvation. Doing God’s work out of the obligation gives us dry and lifeless
heart. So, when we are tired of doing God’s work, it is time for us to check our motivation. We
need to pause what we are doing and ask, “Why are we doing God’s work?” “Why are we doing
Second, we have to keep in mind when God gives us His task, He provides us what is necessary
to fulfill that task. We often feel that we do not have the skill, knowledge, or finances to fulfill
God’s task. We even feel that we are not strong enough or prepared to fulfill God’s task.
However, we already have God’s enabling power and whatever we need to fulfill the task
entrusted from our Lord. If we are not the right person for that task and God has not given us
necessary equipments, why has God entrusted that task to us? Therefore, we should take heart
and do whatever God wants us to do!
Lastly, we must help others to become more-dedicated followers of Jesus Christ as Paul did. The
Great Commission of Jesus Christ requires of us a kind of evangelism that does not stop after
someone makes a profession of faith. We bring people to church and help them meet Jesus Christ.
However, we often fail to help them to become more-dedicated followers of Jesus Christ. Why?
It is because we ourselves are not more-dedicated followers. We can help others grow spiritually
when we grow first in Jesus Christ. So, we need to become more-dedicated followers first. Then,
others can learn from us and grow in discipleship. Clearly, Paul’s motivations for missions have
many practical applications for us.


   1 Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the New International Version.

2 Paul also preached the gospel to the Jews, but he mainly preached to the Gentiles.
3 According to Gal 1:12, Paul did not receive the gospel from other believers or apostles, rather
Jesus revealed it to Paul. O’Brien claims that “the gospel and the risen Christ were revealed to
Paul in the same moment, for both were inseparable.” See P. T. O’Brien, Gospel and Mission in
the Writings of Paul: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 3.
4 Ibid., 9.
5 Michael J. Wilkins, Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1992), 111-12.
6 Ibid., 78.
7 Thomas R. Schreiner, Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology
(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 122.
8 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998),
9 David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 596.
10 O’Brien, 6.
11 F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 267.
12 Marshall says that apostle is equal to missionary. See I. Howard Marshall, A Concise New
Testament Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008), 94.
13 Barrett argues that Paul attributes that “call” to the Father who revealed his Son to/in him
(Gal 1:15-16; cf. 2 Cor 3:6; 5:18-19; Gal 2:7; Eph 3:2-8). Yet within God’s overarching
interception of him Paul clearly identifies the Son himself as the immediate source of his
commission to gather in the Gentiles. See C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to
the Corinthians, Harper’s New Testament Commentaries (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), 31.
14 Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, The New American Commentary 32
(Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1991), 188, Logos e-book.
15 Richard L. Pratt Jr., I & II Corinthians, Holman New Testament Commentary 7 (Nashville:
Broadman & Holman, 2000), 260, Logos e-book.
16 Timothy George, Galatians, The New American Commentary 30 (Nashville: Broadman &
Holman, 1994), 79-80, Logos e-book.
17 N. T. Wright, Paul in Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 162.
18 Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002),
19 John Koenig, “Occasions of Grace in Paul, Luke and First Century Judaism,” Anglican
Theological Review 64 (October 1982): 565.
20 Seyoon Kim, The Origin of Paul’s Gospel (Tuebingen: Mohr, 1981), 25-26.
21 David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, The New American Commentary 29 (Nashville: Broadman
& Holman, 1994), 524, Logos e-book.
22 F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians, New Century Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1971), 249.
23 O’Brien, 16.
24 Hoehner, 450.
25 Roy A. Harrisville, I Corinthians, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament
(Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1987), 258.
26 O’Brien, 5.
27 Michael F. Bird, Introducing Paul (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008), 37.
28 Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 63.
29 Ibid.
30 William Hendriksen, Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, New Testament
Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 54-55.
31 Peterson, 311.
32 John B. Polhill, Acts, The New American Commentary 26 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman,
1992), 239, Logos e-book.
33 Melick says, “Paul did not specifically mention his imprisonment. The Greek text says simply
“the things to me” (ta kata me). Most likely he included all the events from his imprisonment at
Jerusalem through his imprisonment at Rome.” See Melick, 70.
34 Dustin W. Ellington, “Imitating Paul’s Relationship to the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 8.1-11.1,”
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33 (2011): 308.
35 See Table 1.
36 Robert H. Mounce, Romans, The New American Commentary 27 (Nashville: Broadman &
Holman, 1994), 63, Logos e-book.
37 This table is taken from Ellington, “Imitating Paul’s Relationship to the Gospel,” 309.
38 Wilkins, 189.
39 Ibid., 189-190.
40 Kenneth L. Barker, ed., Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 1704.
41 David F. Detwiler, “Paul’s Approach to the Great Commission in Acts 14:21-23,” Bibliotheca
Sacra 152 (January-March 1995): 34.
42 Wilkins, 268.
43 A. Boyd Luter, “A New Testament Theology of Discipling” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological
Seminary, 1985), 101-102.
44 Wilkins, 268.
45 Ibid.
46 Marshall, 154.
47 Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, The New American Commentary
34 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 267, Logos e-book.
48 Marshall, 104.
49 Everett F. Harrison, The Apostolic Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 143.


Barker, Kenneth L., ed. Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.
Barrett, Charles K. A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Harper’s New
Testament Commentaries. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
Bird, Michael F. Introducing Paul. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008.
Bruce, Frederick F. The Book of the Acts. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
_______________. 1 and 2 Corinthians. New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1971.
Detwiler, David F. “Paul’s Approach to the Great Commission in Acts 14:21-23.” Bibliotheca
Sacra 152 (January-March 1995): 33-41.
Ellington, Dustin W. “Imitating Paul’s Relationship to the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 8.1-11.1.”
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33 (2011): 303-315.
Fernando, Ajith. Acts. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Garland, David E. 2 Corinthians. The New American Commentary 29. Nashville: Broadman &
Holman, 1999. Logos e-book.
George, Timothy. Galatians. The New American Commentary 30. Nashville: Broadman &
Holman, 1994. Logos e-book.
Harrison, Everett F. The Apostolic Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985.
Harrisville, Roy A. I Corinthians. Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament. Minneapolis:
Augsburg, 1987.
Hendriksen, William. Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. New Testament Commentary.
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.
Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.
Kim, Seyoon. The Origin of Paul’s Gospel. Tuebingen: Mohr, 1981.
Koenig, John. “Occasions of Grace in Paul, Luke and First Century Judaism.” Anglican
Theological Review 64 (October 1982): 562-576.
Lea, Thomas D., and Hayne P. Griffin. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary 34.
Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1992. Logos e-book.
Luther, Asa Boyd. “A New Testament Theology of Discipling.” ThD diss., Dallas Theological
Seminary, 1985. In DigitalCommons of Liberty University, (accessed
March 2011).
Marshall, Ian Howard. A Concise New Testament Theology. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008.
Melick, Richard R. Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. The New American Commentary 32.
Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1991. Logos e-book.
Morris, Leon. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
Mounce, Robert H. Romans. The New American Commentary 27. Nashville: Broadman &
Holman, 1994. Logos e-book.
O’Brien, Peter T. Gospel and Mission in the Writings of Paul: An Exegetical and Theological
Analysis. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995.
Peterson, David G. The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.
Polhill, John B. Acts. The New American Commentary 26. Nashville: Broadman & Holman,
1992. Logos e-book.
Pratt Jr., Richard L. I & II Corinthians. Holman New Testament Commentary 7. Nashville:
Broadman & Holman, 2000. Logos e-book.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology. Grand
Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.
Wilkins, Michael J. Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1992.
Wright, Nicholas T. Paul in Fresh Perspective. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.
         A Pauline Theology on Local Church Participation in Missions

                               Jenny Fernanda Vielma Caceres

                                   TABLE OF CONTENTS

Visiting and Helping
Communicating Mutually
Giving Financial Support
Sending Missionaries

       Being the Knees that Intercede
Being the Arms that Embrace the Missionary Family
Being the Lips that Mobilize the Missionary Activity
Being the Hands that Give Financially
Being the Feet of Those Who Go

        The spread of the news of salvation develops as a dynamic and integrative activity. 6
Many believers practice a theology of missions based on a partial understanding of the Great
Commission, which results in an incomplete fulfillment of the missionary task. God not only
calls the missionary, He also calls the local church to participate. The Apostle Paul—the
missionary par excellence—communicated to his converts their responsibility, as the body of
Christ, to participate with him in the work of missions.
This chapter answers the question: in what ways did Paul expect the church to participate? This
chapter integrates the findings gleaned from a careful study of all the passages in the New
Testament where the Apostle Paul addressed, called, or taught the church about their duty as the
body of Christ in the Great Commission. A wide array of scholars’ opinions on those passages is
also considered. After careful study, one can summarize Paul’s instructions in five principles for
the local church to participate in missions.

        The entire New Testament gives insights on the importance of local-church participation
in missions. The Gospel writers refer to Jesus’ teachings on the topic, as do the epistles, the book
of Acts, and the book of Revelation. The individual the New Testament predominantly identifies
as a missionary is the Apostle Paul. Paul’s writings convey his teachings for his converts on the
principles of how to live as the body of Christ. Paul, as a missionary himself, church planter, and
one who discipled the congregations, mentions throughout his letters the benefits of the
cooperation of the local church in his and his companions’ missions. Therefore, it is legitimate to
make a Pauline theology on the local church participation in missions.
Paul’s teachings about the participation of the church in missions are not confined to one single
book; they appear throughout all his writings. The approach to discussing this theology resides in
the references where the Apostle Paul mentions the church’s participation in missions, carefully
studying the context of each reference, then uniting them by theme to create principles, which
will lead to applications.

                                      BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
         pia cahppErocE Ec capa pekrshE pc cshcekE si prE esh cakE pE rrEerhacE si aparEk rh
TpsEc pekrshE isaa ir c kpcsastrepa harherhacE isa kpc .aarEErshacicachec ks kpc acpk as
sa eshkarnikc ks kpc acEhshErnrarko si ,tck rh sa cr rh ,ncarc caE rh kpc asepa epiaep ks hpakrerhpkc

       nik pc paEs ac icEkcr kpc ,a hcaEshpa taspkp pia ihrcaEkssr kpc rahsakphec si hapoca is
 pia hapocr isa nskp kpc “hacEchk cskchErsh si kpc .epiaepcE canapec kpc psaar rh kpcra hapocaE

oca ac pEmcr isa hap2”.nrhtrsa pasht kpc ihesh cakcr phr isa rkE cEeppksastrepa eshEiaapkrsh
 .phr isa prE kcpa si arEErshparcE ,iacEarp asi ”,isa “paa hcshac

                                           For Everyone
        In 1 Timothy 2:1-6, Paul urges “first of all” that “requests, prayers, intercession and

thanksgiving be made for everyone” (v. 1).3 Arthur Glasser says the “thanksgiving” indicates a

joy for the total power of the gospel to save everyone through grace.4 Paul requests prayer “for
kings: and all those in authority” (v. 2). He acknowledges the “lowest realm, that of the sword,
serves the gospel by maintaining peace among men, without which it would be impossible to
preach … and in his [Paul’s] manner participate in the ultimate destruction of the prince of the

world.”5 In verse two, Paul expresses the desire “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all
godliness and holiness.” He reinforces his desire recognizing it is possible only when people
“come to knowledge of the truth” by the sufferings of Christ that are sufficient to redeem
universally (vv. 4-6). To pray as “for everyone” is not only a desire of the apostle Paul, it
“pleases God” who wants “all people to be saved” (v. 3-4).

                                          For Deliverance
        Paul knows that Satanic powers oppose the evangelistic commission God gave him to
witness the Kingdom of God; therefore, Paul stresses prayer for deliverance “that we may be
delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith” (2 Thess. 3:2). Paul desires for
his witness to result in converts not just a mere speech.
On different occasions, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and Philippi expressing how God
delivered him from death, and he believed God continued delivering him as the saints help by
their prayers (2 Cor. 1:8-11; . 1:19). When Paul asked prayer for deliverance of death, he meant
not for the persecution to stop but that despite of it, he and his companions would be able to
continue preaching the good news. Paul trusted that the action of prayer brings a consequence
that helped advance of the gospel, and, as a result, people thanked God.6
In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul desires for his converts to be ready and take the gospel, but
they must pray for protection and deliverance. After the description of the elements of
protections of the armor of God, Paul tells the believers to have their feet fitted with “readiness”
to announce the gospel of peace (v. 15), and to take up the sword, which is the gospel (v. 17).
The readiness expresses the alertness and willingness, even if the sword is the message, not an
element of protection but of defense.
                                            For Boldness
        Paul is convinced of God’s calling on his life. He shows humility as he calls others to his
assistance, to persevere steadfastly in the defense of the gospel. Paul recognized that if they in
the Spirit, God will empower them in ministry (Col. 4:3). The Apostle asked for a mouth of
wisdom, a door of utterance, and for parresia, a state of boldness, confidence, courage, and
fearlessness, especially in the presence of persons of high rank, to declare the mystery of the

Gospel (Eph. 6:18-20).7

                                            For Strategy
        Paul asks his converts to pray for opportunities, methods, clarity, receptiveness, and for

the progress of the mission (Col. 4:2; 2 Thess. 3:1; Rom. 15:31).8 At the end of the first
missionary journey, Paul reports to the church in Antioch how God opened a door, and there was
faith among the Gentiles (Acts 14:27). In 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, Paul explains his longer stay at

Ephesus was because of an open door that caused receptivity and a fruitful work.9 So, when Paul
pleds with the Colossians, “Pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the Word” (4:2),
he knows when Christians pray, God changes circumstances, attitudes and receptiveness to the

                                       Visiting and Helping
        The New Testament shows that believers visited each other for different reasons.
Churches sent representatives to other churches to defend their activities when they came under
suspicions (Acts 15:11), and to hear reports of what had taken place from those involved in the
work (Acts 14:26; 18:22-23). Paul expresses gratitude for the visits he received from different
church members in his letters. The visits refreshed his spirit and the visitors supplied things he
lacked (1 Cor.16:17). In visits of all these forms, the believers actually “participated” in the
apostolic mission as members of it.10 Paul also visited many of the churches he planted;
strengthening the believers (Acts 18:22-23).
Paul was a team worker. His letters show references to the togetherness he shared with his
coworkers in evangelism and church planting (Acts 14:21-27; 15:1-2). He mentions this in
particular, when referring, to their relief work and deeds of consolation (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor.
8:16-20), especially when they confronted hardship, persecution, and imprisonment (Rom.
16:17; Col. 4:10). Indeed, when Paul refers to the missionary calling, he invariably describes it
as a “joint responsibility” and a “joint effort.”11 pia acicaE ks prE ,Mh kpc ackkca ks kpc prarhhrphE
psamcaE pE-es suzugos they co-yoke with him and share the burden for the furtherance of the
Gospel. Paul requests the church welcome them and uses the verb propempo, meaning to help, to
furnish, to send forward, accompany, or equip them for the journey. Such honor does not draw
glory away from God, it gives honor to one of God’s own, who nearly poured out his life on
behalf of a brother for Christ’s sake.
Several times Paul refers to the Philippians’ commitment to the gospel (Phil. 1:5). Some scholars
suggest Paul was referring to their faith; others suggest it signifies their cooperation in promoting
the gospel.12 Due to the context of the letter, one can see that it does not refer just to their faith,
but to their partnership (koinonia) in helping each other in finances, proclamation of the gospel
message to outsiders, intercessory activities on his behalf, and suffering along with Paul for the
gospel sake.13,14 James Dunn concludes the act of koinonia is not so much “to fellowship” but
“to participate,” “to do things for each other.” Believers recognize grace together, not as a
possession but “a responsibility to share it with others.”15 Paul makes it clear the church must
recognize, welcome, and help God’s servants who helped him (1 Cor. 16:17-18).16 Visiting and
helping was a model of involvement for the local church in the missionary task (Rom. 16:1-2; 1
Cor.16:5; Phil. 4:2-4).
                                    Communicating Mutually
       Paul made contact when he visited and intentionally maintained frequent written
communication with the churches. Throughout Paul’s writings, he requests his letters be read to
all members of the congregations (1Thess. 5:27), and he also expects to receive news from the

churches, to pray for them, to teach them, and to rejoice with them (1 Cor. 1:11).17 Paul did not
want his converts to be uninformed about the troubles he and his coworkers faced, how God
delivered them, the opportunities God gave them to present the gospel, and how people came to
salvation (2 Cor. 1:8-11; Phil. 1:12). The Apostle’s motivation for his communication was that
people know how to pray for him, rejoice, and give thanks to God for the answered prayers. He
used the letters to nurture the churches he planted by teaching them, praying for them, and

sending emissaries to report about his well being (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7; Phil 2:25).18 By writing
on themes like redemption and the eternal purpose of God, Paul motivated and challenged the

body of Christ to participate in missions (Rom. 3:21-5:21; 10).19

                                         Giving Financially
       To the church in Corinth, Paul gives some guidelines on how to give: give as much as
you are able, beyond your ability, entirely on your own, as a privilege, with grace, if possible
exceed in expectations, be constant, and keep the promise because it tests the sincerity of the
love (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:1-15). Paul never asks directly for a church to support him
financially, but says c rceca raispE achEst cpk pepcah spp cEspk kppk rcrhpaase Epp rasL cpk“
,)9:6 .asa 6(kpcra ar rht iasa kpc tsEhca” making reference to Jesus’ words (Matt.10:10; Luke
The Apostle recognized and was thankful to the church in Philippi, which gave out of generosity
and had taken some of his burden upon themselves, but he made it clear that his dependence was
on Christ’s provision. He acknowledged the Philippians gave with sacrifice and showed interest
not only on behalf of the Apostle, but also on behalf of the gospel. It was exactly this sympathy
and companionship that the apostle valued far more than any financial relief that came to him as
a result. Therefore, it was an offering pleasing and acceptable to God, so the credit will increase
toward their account (Phil. 1:5; 4:15-18).20 Through this contribution to the work, they became
“partners;” they came into a koinonia experience, and become sharers in the work.
Dean Gilliland indicates that there is not even the slightest indication that either the Antioch
church, or much less the Jerusalem church, which was not only poor but also was not in
sympathy with Pauline missions, accepted full financial responsibility for Paul’ missions.
Nevertheless, Gilliland concludes that “systematic and sacrificial giving was essential to their
own spiritual life, vital to their early growth in ministry to each other and to the maintenance of
their witness in a hostile world.”21 There is a fundamental lesson of sharing outside the home
church and giving liberally, as new Christians, to those who are culturally different and
geographically distant. Giving is not expected only out of respect for Paul, just because he is an
apostle, but because it is an “enriching blessing-filled experience for the giver” and an
expression of grace.22
                                        Sending Missionaries
         Due to incomplete data, scholars differ in opinions about the relationship between the
apostolic team and the early body of Christ in the New Testament. The text states only that the
Holy Spirit said to the prophets and teachers in Antioch “sent … off” or “released” Barnabas and
Saul on their way (Acts 13:1-4). Some theologians consider the local church has and must have a
saying when sending missionaries. Other theologians pronounce the congregation must be
dissociated in the decision process. The right biblical understanding of the role of the local
church in the sending process of missionaries determines its success.
Theologians, like George Peter and Paul Rees, conclude that “the local assembly becomes the
mediating and authoritative sending body of the New Testament missionary,” which caused Paul
to feel accountable to the local church.23 On the other hand, Harold Cook considers the local
congregation “neither chose them nor sent them, and certainly they had nothing to say about
what they were to do, nor how.”24
Cooks’s suggestion makes of the local church an organization that supports a cause but takes no
initiative, responsibility, and it is not affected by the success or failure of the missionary activity.
George Peter and Paul Rees appear to state that the local church has all the authority on the
sending of missionaries in the New Testament. Both thoughts can lead to extremes, Cook
creating a detachment church, and Peter and Rees and imposing one.
The best way to study the process of sending missionaries is to understand that even when it is
true that Paul and Barnabas did not volunteer, the Holy Spirit drafted them and the church
confirmed their call by testifying of their life (Acts 13:1-3; 15:40; 16:2). The placing of the
hands of local church leaders symbolizes their “joint participation in the common task and
farewell blessing.”25 Later Paul and Barnabas gathered the church and reported how God had
used them and created a path to witness to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).
Missionary activity can never be aloof from the rest of the body of Christ. The Church has a
great involvement in the process; it must develop a partnership with the Holy Spirit. The local
church must create a space for the Holy Spirit to call people into missions, and must stand by the
body of missionaries in the entire process—calling, confirming, and sending.
In the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul helps one to understand the length of the
involvement of the local church in the sending process of missionaries. Arthur Glasser suggests
Paul’s main concern in the book of Romans consists not of a detailed description of Christian
truth, but a desire to awaken the believers to a sense of missionary obligation. The Apostle
explained that Jews and Gentiles are equally guilty in God’s sight; Christ’s redemptive sacrifice
is sufficient for all peoples; the church is under obligation to proclaim this gospel; and the
apostolic ministry ascribes priority to the regions “where Christ was not known.” Paul
highlighted the Jewish missionary zeal in Romans as a strong one.26 He described the
congregation in Rome as a guide, a light, an instructor, a teacher for the blind, the one in
darkness, the foolish, the infants, based on the knowledge and truth they had of the law (Rom.
Paul the Apostle reminded the Church of Rome of the lost state of all people, whether Jews or
Gentiles. Some Jews had rejected the message, and others failed in their calling. Paul exhorted
the church in Rome not to fall in the same indifference to “God’s worldwide redemptive
purpose.”28 Paul wrote of all Christians as the recipients of grace, but he emphasized that all
God’s people have the obligation to go as apostles to the Gentiles. The Apostle aimed topics like
the person of Christ, the Church as the body, and the second coming to make the local church
“world-conscious and missionary minded.”29
In Romans 10, Paul explained that for the Jews and Gentiles to come to the knowledge of
salvation a “of the Word must be .” It was an admitted doctrine among the Jews that a
proclamation of a divine message must be made by one who was commissioned by God.30 God
 could have chosen any means by which the message of salvation might have come (angelic
 messengers), but God’s “normal” way of bringing people to Jesus Christ is through the preaching
 of the gospel. quotation of Isaiah “How beautiful are the feet” recognizes the necessity of the feet
 to go and preach the message. The feet are emblematic of the coming of the herald of the Word.
 Paul expected his converts to have their feet fitter with “readiness” to announce the gospel of
 peace (Eph. 6:15).
ks ts sik phr —shc irhrE kpc epiaepcE nsrhrht ks “pekr c prkhcEE” ,ackkcaE si pia Mh kpacc skpca
 ;61-7:62 ;66:6 ;6:61 .asa 6 ;1:65 .Ohp ;68-6:62 . pra(apmc kpc tsEhca mhsph ks hshncarc caE
c arhmptc nckpcch kpc phsEksare Tsncak aiaaca EpoE kpc rrEkrhekao piarh36.)25-66:23
c phtcarEkre esaarkachk phr kpc snartpkrsh si kpc asepa epiaepcE ks rarkpkc kppk esaarkachk rE
 ,hsa kpc cahspcaachk si kpc Nhrark rh cekE ,hsk kpc acpk asaarEErsh si RcEiE rh kpc sEhcaE
 6 ;6:61Tsa (c” kppk tscE isakp phr peesaharEpcE sr E praa nik kpc tsEhca pE ph “ciicekr c isae
ric ks ,Tpcac pac acapkr cao icp rahcapkr cE ks arEErshpa pekr rko rh pia E ackkcaE32.)25-6:68 .asa
phr kpc ,h piaph pekr rkokpc iseiE sh rr rhc apkpca kpp ,kpc seepErshpa hpkiac si kpc ackkcaE
cahppErE sh hpEEr c prkhcEE ks npem ih kpc paacpro chtptcr pekr c prkhcEE si kpc
 aiaaca EkpkcE “Tpcac eph nc hs rsink kppk pia rhEkaiekE phr phhas cE si prE 33.epiaepcE
rriiiEr c hspca rE pppk rar cE -Ecai , sr E rohpare36”.tsEhca epiaepcE pekr cao haseaprarht kpc
  nskp phsEkacE phr epiaepcE ks arEErshpao sikacpep
 .)66:6 .asa 6(pE pc isaaspcr kpc cspahac si aparEk , pia pEmE prE esh cakE ks isaasp prE cspahac
 In 1 Cor. 11:1, Paul presented himself as a model for believers. Taking into consideration the
 context of chapters 9-11, Paul saw himself as a servant of Christ with the desire to bring the
 message of salvation to men and women. Andreas Köstenberger states that Paul suggested not
 only the believer should engage in the apostolic ministry like him, but, according to their
 personal gifts, the believers must have the same orientation and ambitious as Paul “of seeking by
 all possible means to save some” in some pattern of missionary activity.35 Despite of the lack of
data and the scholar’s different opinions about the length of the local church involvement with
the body of missionaries, the Apostle Paul made it clear that all members of the church must live
in partnership with God’s redemptive purpose for humanity participating in any way, making one
available God, confirming when the Holy Spirit calls one, and partaking in the common task.

                               CONTEMPORARY APPLICATION
       rar cE nskp phsEkac phr epiaep ks ,Ep rht hspca ,pE sr E rohpare ,Tpc tsEhca
 .arEErshpao pekr rkoMissions compares to the metaphor of sending troops of soldiers into war.
Some of the combatants go on the front line fighting, while others stay behind running important
details of administration, strategy, and provision of supplies, to assist the fighting efforts of the
soldiers. local church can participate in missions by: being the knees that intercede, being the
arms that embrace the missionary family, being the lips that mobilize the missionary activity,
being the hands that give financially, and by being the feet of those go.

                                  Being the Knees that Intercede
        A way for believers to participate in missions is to pray as global Christians. The local
church can educate all age groups with basics on world religions and unreached people groups in
order to enrich the knowledge used when praying. The Apostle Paul, in his writings asks the
churches to intercede for the nations, the authorities in government, for the persecuted church,
for unreached people groups, for people to obey God’s calling, and for missionaries. The church
can do spiritual warfare against evil forces that try to stop the advancement of the gospel. When
interceding for missionaries, one can pray for courage, safety, and the guidance of the Holy
Spirit to proclaim the good news.
The local churches could display missionaries’ prayer requests, have five minute windows to the
world during the service, show video clips of the needs in the world, exhibit maps of the world,
and arrange phone calls to missionaries’ family during the service to have the church pray for
them. The local church can develop a spirit of thanksgiving to God when the missionaries report
of God’s deliverance, miracles, and the advance of the gospel.
                     Being the Arms that Embrace the Missionary Family
       Paul received care from local churches during his missionary work. Combined with the
missionary agencies, the local church could give pastoral care to the missionary family while
overseas or on deputation. Churches participate in the missionary task when keeping
communication with the missionaries by sending letters or emails with news of the local
congregation or the nation, with words of encouragement, and, if possible, with gifts during
special occasions. Pastors can motivate women, men, children, youth, and leaders to participate
in the pastoral care delegating some to make phone calls to encourage the missionaries, to plan
short term visits to bring spiritual refreshment to the missionary family, and to offer help for
errands related with properties, children, or elderly parents in the sending country.

                     Being the Lips that Mobilize the Missionary Activity
       The Apostle Paul, as a missionary, not only base his ministry in reaching out to
unbelievers, but also take the time to visit and challenge the establish congregation to participate
in missions. The local church could increase in its understanding of missions if the church
creates programs to teach on missions during the Sunday school classes, in children’s church, in
the new-converts class, or during once a month special services. A missions committee helps
maintain the congregation’s missions information by displaying global needs and missionary
newsletters. It is important for local churches to give orientation for people who feel a call to go
as missionaries, putting them in contact with missionary agencies. It is vital for pastors to
welcome missionaries because their visits create a passion for missions.

                             Being the Hands that Give Financially
       Paul did not specifically ask for money. He showed an immense gratitude to those who
supported him and explained that it was a blessing not only to the recipient but to the giver.
When missionaries visit churches and the leaders mobilize missions, the members start to
understand their commitment to take the gospel to the nations, and the Holy Spirit initiates a
desire in people’s life—adults, children, and youth— to support missions financially, even if it is
though faith promises. One can show the realities of the unreached people groups, the great need
of labors in the harvest, and God’s desire for His people to partner with Him to create sensitivity
in peoples’ heart to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

                                 Being the Feet of Those Who Go
        Many times churches do not desire their members to serve in other places, preferring only
to send money to support nationals. In many places, there are no Christian nationals, and if they
exist, it is the local church’s responsibility to be self-supporting. The Holy Spirit calls the
missionaries. The church must create an environment in church supporting those who God calls,
being willing to release them with their blessings. Local churches can develop programs to train
and equip parishioners on personal evangelism. Believers can be the witness of the gospel of
Jesus Christ to workmates, unsaved friends or family members. The local church can create
outreaches where the congregation practice and grow in confidence when doing personal
evangelism. There are many local ministries, like feeding the poor, helping in an orphanage,
volunteering in a nursing home, or witnessing in universities campus, that the church can
promote for its members to serve locally or nationally, as part of home missions programs.

        The best way to prepare globally missionaries is to first mobilize the local congregations
to understand and to participate in evangelism and discipleship ministries locally. One cannot
limit the “feet of those who go” to cross-cultural missionaries; this is a call from God to His
entire body, the Church.
        Tpc chsEkac pia Ewritings show the importance and the actions all believers can take to
partner with missionaries. pia cshcekcr kpc asepa epiaep ks rarkpkc kpc phsEksare hpkkcah si
hapoca isa kpc ;arEErshpao pekr rko no rr rhc eshiraapkrsh si kpc tsEhca kpasitp arapeacE
cshcekpkrsh kppk kpc epiaepcE nirar shc phskpca ih ;sa prE arEErshac icEkE isa hapoca i ,epiaepcE
phr Eiiicarht isa kpc tsEhca pE p Eppacr cshcarchec si kpc phsEkac phr kpc ;kpasitp kcpeprht
Although Paul often chooses not to stress the human agents through whom the Word progresses,
it is noteworthy that for Paul such progression inevitably entails the process and progress of the
proclamation and hearing of the gospel and the holistic participation of the body of Christ (Rom.
10:14-15).36 The discovery and study of the different passages where Paul addressed and taught
about local church participation in missions results in a well-defined list of actions that not only
show “how” the church participates but demonstrate “why” it is important for the church to join
with the missionaries in the task.
 Paul was no “loner;” he understood the church, as the body of Christ, with different dynamic and
 spiritual strategies becomes a great support during missionary service. He believed in the
 strategy of teamwork through prayer, visits, help, communication, financial support, and the
 sending of workers.Due of the nature of the Gospel, Paul passed on to his initial converts; he
 desired that the unchained Word would continue its triumphant and powerful advance. One way
 for the congregation to participate in God’s commission to go and make disciples is when the
 local church becomes a yoke-fellow with the missionary. pia pEmcr prE esh cakE ks isaasp prE
ks kpc pr phec si kpc p hcaEsh iiaao tr ch ,pE pc isaaspcr kpc cspahac si aparEk ,cspahac
 .)66:6 .asa 6(mrhtrsa si sr
 The DNA of a church, as the body of Christ, is actively as with the missionaries in the task of
 missions. The Apostle Paul told to the believers to see the participation as a responsibility and a
 privilege. A life of discipleship is to grow in relationship toward God and others. The local
 church on this earth exalts the Savior, not only by the unity and fellowship as the body of Christ,
 but by the participation (koninonia) in sharing the gospel locally and globally. Paul’s words to
 the Philippians could be a reflection of God’s joy and desire to pour out blessings over His
 obedient and participatory church in His desire and passion that no one will perish, but that all
 will hear and come to salvation: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers
 for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day
 until now ( … ). Not that I desire your gifts; what M rcErac rE kppk asac nc eacrrkcr ks osia
 sihkpee” (Phil. 1:3-4; 4:17).


    1 Robert L. Plummer, “A Theological Basis for the Church’s Mission in Paul,” Westminster
Theological Journal 64, no. 2 (September 1, 2002): 253-27, ATLA Religion Database with
ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed March 16, 2011).
2 Arthur F. Glasser, Announcing the Kingdom: The Story of God’s Mission in the Bible (Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 294.
3 All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from New International Version.
4 Glasser, 294.
5 George W. Forell, Faith Active in Love (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1954), 114.
6 John Piper uses a graph with an arrow to describe the stages of a prayer, see Appendix 1.
7John Calvin, David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, eds., Galatians, Ephesians,
Philippians and Colossians, . 11, Calvin’s Commentaries (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965),
8 Howard, Marshall I, A Concise New Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic,
2008), 93.
9 See also 2 Cor. 2:12.
10Robert Banks, Paul’s Idea of Community, Rev. ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994),
11 Glasser, 296.
12 Andreas J. Köstenberger and Peter T. O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical
Theology of Mission (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 200), 194.
13 Marshall, 138.
14 Köstenberger, 194
15James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998),
16 Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans: 1987),
17Banks. 163
18 Ibid.
19 Glasser, 325.
20 Gerald Hawthorne,Philippians, Biblical Commentary 43 (Waco, TX. , 1983), 211.
21Dean S. Gilliland, Pauline Theology and Mission Practice (Rapids, MI: Baker, 1983), 248.
22Ibid., 252.(See Appendix 2)
23 Harold R. Cook, “Who Really Sent the First Missionaries?” Evangelical Missions Quarterly
11, no. 4: (1975): 234-36.
24 Ibid., 236-37.
25 Ibid., 236.
26 Glasser, 214.
27 Ibid., 175.
28 Ibid., 323.
29 Ibid., 321.
30 Albert Barnes, Commentary on Romans 10, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 2001,
[online], available from, 11
October 2011.
31 Robert L. Plummer, Paul’s Understanding of the Church’s Mission: Did the Apostle Paul
Expect Early Christian Communities to Evangelize? (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2006):64, [ATLA
Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost], (accessed March 16, 2011).
32 Ibid., 66.
33phr ,pkkrkircE ,Tsncak aiaaca EpoE kpc kcskE si “hpEEr c prkhcEE” “acica ks kpc Ehccep
.TpcEE 6 ;7-1:3 .asa 2(ncpp rsa si ncarc caE kppk praa apmc kpc tsEhca pkkapekr c ks sikErrcaE”
.91 ,)61-2:6TrkiE ;62-2:5
34 aiaaca, .
35 Köstenberger, 196.
36Plummer, 267.
37John Piper, The Line of Prayer, 1981, [online], available from, (Accessed February 15, 2011).
38,Narkp .Lcc a The Fivefold Unity of Koinonia, 2009, [online], available from, (Accessed February 14, 2011).


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Stott, John R.W. Epistles of John. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,
Wilkins, Michael J. Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1992.
Wright, N. T. Colossians and Philemon. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI:
Eerdmans, 1974.

                       APPENDIX No. 1HYPERLINK \l "ref_3n37" 37

                                       APPENDIX No. 2

                                    Giving Financial)9 .h(

Koinonia is the “enriching blessing-filled experience for the giver and an expression of grace”38
       Thank you for taking the time to read through this book. If you have any questions or
feedback (positive or negative), please contact me (Tae Kang) through I
would like to hear from you. May God bless you richly.

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