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Why Foreign Missions? 20l. The Gospel and Paul’s Self-Understanding

Why Foreign Missions?  20l. The Gospel and Paul’s Self-Understanding

Understanding the Gospel also involves understanding Paul's calling and life, which are a performance of the Gospel.[1]  As Morna Hooker points out, this is why suffering is part of Paul's ministry of the Gospel.[2]  Paul's hardship catalogues elaborate this point (1 Cor. 4.9-13; 2 Cor. 4.8-12; 6.3-10; 11.23-32; 12.10; 8.35; 4.11-13; 2 Tim. 3.10-11).  The terms that Paul uses to designate himself include: apostle, servant and slave, ambassador, witness, priest, father and mother, herald, and teacher—all terms having to do with his role with respect to the Gospel.

1.  Apostle
                        a.  Paul uses the term of others:  Rom. 16.7; 2 Cor. 8.23; Phl. 2.25
b.  Paul uses the term of special group, those who have seen the Lord (1 Cor. 9.1) and have been commissioned to proclaim the Gospel and so establish Churches ("apostello"=I send; 1 Cor. 1.17; 9.1f; 2 Cor. 3.2f; Ga. 1.1), and those who have miracles, signs, wonders attending their proclamation (2 Cor. 12.12).  This is the designation by which he addresses his churches:  Rom. 1.1; 1 Cor. 1.1; 2 Cor. 1.1; Ga. 1.1; Eph. 1.1; Col. 1.1; 1 Tim. 1.1; 2 Tim. 1.1; Titus 1.1 (cf. Titus 1.11).
c.  Certain authority goes with apostleship: 2 Cor. 10.8; 1 Cor. 9.1ff; Eph. 3.5; 1 Th. 2.6f) but one derived from Christ (Gal. 11‑17), not the Church, and from conformity to the Gospel (Gal. 1.8f), not from an office per se.  The foundation of the Church is the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2.20)
d.  Especially, Paul is apostle of the Gentiles: Rom. 11.13; Gal. 2.8
e.  Paul sees the apostles as most giving of selves (1 Cor. 4.9) and himself as very self‑denying among other apostles (1 Cor. 9.5) and more hard‑working (1 Cor. 15.10)
                        f.  Paul sees himself as the least of the apostles: 1 Cor. 15.9; cf. 1 Tim. 1.15f.
                2.  Servant and slave:
a.  Of Christ:  Rom. 1.1; Gal. 1.10; Phl. 1.1; 2.22; Tit. 1.1 (Epaphras, Col. 4.12; a church  leader, 2 Tim. 2.24)
                        b.  Of the churches: 2 Cor. 4.5
c.  Believers are to consider themselves as servants as well.  Servants of obedience/righteousness (Rom. 6.16, 17, 20), of Christ (1 Cor. 7.21‑24; Eph. 6.6; Rom. 12.11; 14.18), one another (Ga. 5.13), slaves serve the Lord (Col. 3.24), of God (1 Th. 1.9)
               3.  Ambassador: 2 Cor. 5.20
               4.  Witness (marturia:  1 C. 15.15)
               5.  Priest:  Rom. 15.16.
a.  The saints are sacrifices being prepared  for God (Rom. 12.1f; Phl. 2.15 [amoma]),  their faith is a sacrificial service to God (Phl. 2.17; cf. 2.30; 4.18)
                        b.  Paul is working to present these saints to God (Phl. 2.16; Rom. 15.16
                        c.  Paul's life‑work is sacrificial.
                            1.  2 Cor. 4.10‑12: Paul carries about the death of Jesus in his body
                            2. Phl. 2.17: spendomai (pour out as a drink offering; cf. 2 Kgs. 16.3; Jer. 7.18;
                Hos. 9.3) refers to Paul’s suffering. 
This is the 3rd of 3 metaphors Paul uses of his apostolic activities here: running, working, pouring out as a libation.
                3.  Phl. 3.10f: Paul wishes to share in Christ’s sufferings and attain to the
                              resurrection
                4.  Col. 1.24:  filling up what still remains of Christ's sufferings on behalf of
                              his body, the Church
                5.  Rom. 9.1‑3 (notion of sacrifice)
                6.  2 Tim. 4.6:  sacrifice of death
    7.  2 Cor. 2.14‑17 (incense)
                8. Rom. 12.1; 1 Co. 10.18; Eph. 5.2; Phl. 2.17; 4.18: thusia, sacrifice
d. 2 Cor. 9.12; Phl. 2.17; 2.30 (leitougia: Paul is a minister performing a religious service,            as Aaron in the tabernacle)
 6.  Father:  1 Th. 2.11f (not authority image)
                 Mother:  Gal. 4.19
 7. Herald (or proclaimer) and Teacher:  2 Tim. 1.11

Conclusion

The various terms of self‑designation all reflect P's activity for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He is an apostle, one sent by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel.  He has an authority in this role, but it is derived from the Gospel and does not exist apart from the Gospel.  In this light he also is a servant, ambassador, witness, priest, teacher, and preacher of Christ.  To the churches his role is one of planting and nurturing, and so he is seen as a father and mother to them.  Again, several of these roles imply authority, but always in relation to the Gospel and not as an authority existing in a status or office alone.


[1] Cf. Rollin G. Grams, Gospel and Mission in Paul’s Ethics (unpublished PhD dissertation, Duke University, 1989).
[2] Morna Hooker, Not Ashamed of the Gospel: New Testament Interpretations of the Death of Christ, Didsbury Lectures (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1994), pp. 27ff).