The Book of Acts and the Sending of the Church
A few years ago, I completed my doctoral project by constructing a seminary course on the subject of missional leadership. In the course of my project paper, I did an overview of the motif of sending throughout the Scriptures. In this section, I offer a brief description of how it appears in The Book of Acts.
Upon Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, he commissioned the church as being sent on mission into the world. The commission passages of Matthew 28:18–20, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8 indicate that the followers of Jesus are now tasked to make disciples in the world. Being sent into the world by God is something that occurs both for the individual believer and for the collection of believers as the church. Ananias was sent by God to Saul so that Saul could receive back his sight in Acts 9:17. Later, Paul is sent directly by God to the Gentiles (22:21). That God used the church as an agent of the sending can be observed. The church is directed by God to set apart Paul and Barnabas for special work. Later, in 14:4 and 14, the two men are referred to as apostles. In his comments on the use of the word “apostle,” in Acts 1:1–3, F. F. Bruce observed that the term “apostle” carried a heavy responsibility and was tightly restricted. He wrote, “His [Jesus] charge to them made them the chief heralds of the good news which he had brought.” The term “apostle” is placed appropriately upon them in these instances as the word “means literally one who is sent and is used of official delegates or emissaries. Paul used the term regularly to refer to his own commission as an emissary of Christ.”