Studying the Bible, Making a Tremendous Discovery. Romans 16:3

Here is what I discovered about “all the Churches of the Gentiles.”

  1. All the New Testament churches of Gentiles—established in Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, Ephesus, Rome, Galatia, Corinth, Philippi, Colossae, and all the others—were planted by church planting missionary teams of men and women. If not for Paul and Barnabas, Prisca and Aquila and other members of their missionary teams, there would be no churches of the Gentiles in the New Testament. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Greet Prisca and Aquila; they risked their necks for me. All the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them” (Romans 16:3).
  2. Prior to churches there were church planting missionary bands. This is why William H. Marnell wrote: “In a missionary country the monastery and not the parish is the obvious pattern of organization.”[1] Are there missionary countries? For “monastery” we Protestants would say “missionary agency”, and for “the parish” we would say “the church.” So Marnell was saying, “In missionary countries, the missionary agency and not the church is the obvious pattern of organization.” Before there are lighthouses (churches) there are simple missionary teams carrying their flint into the regions beyond.
  3. Eugene Teselle, Professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt, said, “Mission has an original authority in the Christian church, because before there was a “local” ministry in the churches, there was an “itinerant” ministry by which churches were founded and by which they were edified in an ongoing way.[2]
  4. Churches do not establish churches among unreached peoples. Churches start daughter churches among their own kind of people. That is different. For example: “Believing Jews from Jerusalem were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen. They traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word only to Jews” (Acts 11:19). Dear reader, the Jews from Jerusalem arrived in Phoenicia (Lebanon), Cyprus and Antioch, and found Jews and talked to them. That is natural. That is the problem. Fortunately, bands of missionaries pledged to one another to do the thing that is not natural—talk about Jesus to the foreigners and establish Gentile churches.
  5. Church administrators wisely partner with mission agencies in order to establish churches among unreached peoples.

[1] William H. Marnell, Light from the West: The Irish Mission and the Emergence of Modern Europe (New York: Seabury Press, 1978). 27

[2] Eugene TeSelle, “Church and Parachurch: Christian Freedom, Ecclesiastical Order, and the Problem of Voluntary Organizations (Unpublished),” (Nashville: Vanderbilt University, 1994).