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Showing posts from March, 2013

Why Foreign Missions? 11. Luke and the Isaianic New Exodus

Why Foreign Missions?  11. Luke and the Isaianic New Exodus
The previous section argued that Luke uses Psalms 104-108 to frame the salvation historical narrative of Israel that comes to include the Gentiles.  He also uses Isaiah 40ff for the same purpose.  This point has been argued in detail by +David Pao, and the following points present his argument.  +Pao’s thesis is that ‘the scriptural story which provides the hermeneutical framework for Acts is none other than the foundation story of Exodus as developed and transformed through the Isaianic corpus.’[1]  This is an important matter for a biblical theology of missions, for Is. 40ff is the key section of the Old Testament for the mission of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the early Church.
+Pao brings to attention the fact that Luke apparently frames his two volume work—Luke and Acts—with quotations from Isaiah:
                Lk. 3.4-6 (John the Baptist) from Is. 40.3-5 (the passage also explains calling Christianity ‘the Way’ in Ac…

Why Foreign Missions? 10. Luke’s Salvation History in the Infancy Songs and Pss. 104-107 or 108.

Why Foreign Missions? 10.  Luke’s Salvation History in the Infancy Songs and Pss. 104-108.
Luke offers two Biblical perspectives on God’s salvation history.  Both have to do with God’s work with and for Israel, but that work has the greater objective of God’s salvation for the world.  The first perspective comes from several psalms, the second from Isaiah.  We will here examine Luke’s salvation history from his use of Psalms 104-107 and possibly also Ps. 108. This study rests on more detailed work of mine presented in an article entitled, ‘God’s Mercy from Generation to Generation: Luke’s use of Psalms 105-108 in his Infancy Narrative Songs to Provide a Salvation Historical Understanding for his two-volume History.’[1]  Scholars have not, to my knowledge, noted Luke’s intentional use of Psalms 104-108 in his infancy songs.  In my article, I lay out the evidence that Luke draws particularly from these psalms in his infancy songs (‘The Magnificat,’ or ‘Mary’s Song,’ Lk. 1.46-55; ‘The Be…

Why Foreign Missions? 9. Matthew 25.31-46: The Nations’ Reception of the Missionary Disciples of Jesus

Why Foreign Missions?  9. Matthew 25.31-46: The Nations’ Reception of the Missionary Disciples of Jesus
What is the meaning of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats in Mt. 25.31-46?  I will argue that this parable is about the nations (or peoples) of the world being challenged to receive the missionary disciples of Jesus.  To accept them is to accept Jesus.
Such an interpretation goes against commonly held views.  One common interpretation is that the parable is about caring for the poor.[1]  If so, it is stating what we find elsewhere in Scripture and other Jewish writings, such as: - Proverbs 25:21-22   21 If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;  22 for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the LORD will reward you. (also quoted in Rom. 12.20). - Isaiah 58:6-7   6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every…

Why Foreign Missions? 8. Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom Throughout the World (Mt. 24.14)

Why Foreign Missions?  8. Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom Throughout the World (Mt. 24.14)

In Matthew 24.14 (cf. Mk. 13.10) Jesus says, ‘And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.’  This passage has been interpreted in several ways.
Some have understood these words to mean that only once the Gospel is proclaimed throughout the world will Jesus return.  In the early twentieth century the following saying was coined: ‘Evangelize to a finish to bring back the King.’  This notion reappeared at the end of the twentieth century with the AD 2000 movement.  Ralph Winter sought to identify unevangelised people groups so that the task of Mt. 24.14 could be completed.
Richard France offered a different interpretation of Mt. 24.14.[1]  First, ‘all nations’ does not mean every people group but simply those outside Jerusalem.  Second, evangelism is simply stated to be preliminary to the end of th…

Why Foreign Missions? 7. The meaning of ‘ethnoi’ in Matthew 28.19

Why Foreign Missions? 7. The meaning of ‘ethnoi’ in Matthew 28.19
The previous discussion examined the relationship between Mt. 28.16-20 and Is. 66.18-23.  One specific issue in this comparison deserves attention: who are the ‘nations’ (Greek ethnoi)to whom the disciples are to go (Isaiah 66.19 says 'from those being saved' for the remnant who are 'sent out to the nations')?  The Greek word can be translated as ‘peoples,’ ‘nations,’ or ‘Gentiles.’  
Are the disciples to go to each people group in the world?  Are they to go to the nations in the sense of each country in the world?  Or are they to go to the Gentiles in general, without the more particular idea of each distinct people group with its own language and customs being reached?
‘Gentiles’: If we are to look internally in Matthew’s Gospel, we might say that ethnoi typically means ‘Gentiles.’[1]  Mt. 4.15 speaks of ‘Galilee of the Gentiles,’ that is, where many non-Jews live.  The word ethnoi is further used in th…

Why Foreign Missions? 6. Matthew 28.16-20 and Isaiah 66.18-23

Why Foreign Missions?  6. Matthew 28.16-20 and Isaiah 66.18-23
Is the mission of the disciples also the mission of the Church today?  Is this mission to both Jews and Gentiles?  Matthew’s Gospel concludes with the ‘Great Commission’ (Mt. 28.16-20): because all authority in heaven and earth has been given to the risen Jesus Christ, the disciples are to make disciples of all nations.  This conclusion in Matthew’s Gospel  alludes to the conclusion in Isaiah (66.18-23).  I will demonstrate this relationship by quoting a section from my article, ‘Narrative Dynamics in Isaiah’s and Matthew’s Mission Theology.’[1]  The importance of this allusion to Isaiah is that it shows that Matthew is stating that the time for restoring the nations—the dispersion of Israel and the other nations—has come.  If so, then the Great Commission is not only for the original disciples but for the Church as well.  We live in the time of gathering in the nations by making disciples.
Isaiah 66:18-23 (NRSV): 18 For I k…