Paul’s Missionary Strategies and Methods


Justin Taylor posts:

Some summaries and conclusions from Eckhard Schanbel’s Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods (IVP, 2008):

What is “mission”?

Schnabel defines “mission” or “missions” as “the activity of a community of faith” that

  • distinguishes itself from its environment in terms of both religious belief (theology) and social behavior (ethics),
  • is convinced of the truth claims of its faith; and
  • actively works to win other people to the content of faith and the way of life of whose truth and necessity the members of that community are convinced. (p. 22)

Movement and Intentionality

Schnabel sees movement and intentionality as two core components of mission.

  • “Jesus asserts [in Luke 4:18-19] that he has been sent by the Lord God to the Jewish people (movement) in order to bring good news (intention).”
  • “Paul describes his own mission in terms of movement (sent to the Gentiles) and in terms of intentionality (to proclaim Jesus Christ) [cf. Gal. 1:115-15].” (pp. 25, 26-27, my emphasis)

What did apostolic missionaries do? (pp. 28-29)

  1. “Missionaries communicate the news of Jesus the Messiah and Savior to people who have not heard or accepted this news. . . .”
  2. “Missionaries communicate a new way of life that replaces, at least partially, the social norms and the behavioral patterns of the society in which they new believers have been converted. . . .”
  3. “Missionaries integrate the new believers into a new community. The new converts become disciples. . . .”


  • establish contact with non-Christians,
  • proclaim the news of Jesus the Messiah and Savior (proclamation, preaching, teaching, instruction),
  • lead people to faith in Jesus Christ (conversion, baptism), and
  • integrate new believers into the local community of the followers of Jesus (Lord’s Supper, transformation of social and moral behavior, charity).

Paul’s missionary goals (pp. 34-37)

  1. “Paul knew himself to be called to preach the message of Jesus Christ.” [Rom. 1:11 Cor. 2:2]
  2. “Paul knew himself particularly called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to Gentiles, that is, to polytheists who worshiped other gods.” [Rom. 1:141 Cor. 1:23;Rom. 1:16]
  3. “Paul’s goal was to reach as many people as possible.” [Rom. 1:1415:1923-24]
  4. “Paul seeks to lead individual people to believe in the one true God and in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Savior and Lord.” [1 Thess. 1:9-101 Cor. 1:18-2:5]
  5. “Paul established new churches, communities of followers of Jesus Christ—both Jews and Gentiles, men and women, free and salves—and teaches the new believers the Word of God, the teachings of Jesus, the significance of the gospel for everyday living.” [Col. 1:25-29]

Paul’s missionary methods (pp. 34-37)

  1. “The oral proclamation of the gospel was a fundamental element of the missionary work of the early church.”
  2. “Geographical movement from city to city, from region to region, and from province to province was a principal element of missionary work in the first century.”
  3. “Since the goal of missionary work is to reach as many people as possible with the gospel, Paul went to any locale in which people would be willing to listen to the message of Jesus Christ.”
  4. “Since Paul wanted to reach all people in a given location, matters of ethnic identity, class, culture, or gender did not control his missionary focus.”
  5. “As people in antiquity were accustomed to encountering and listening to traveling orators, the expectations and the procedures that are triggered in such encounters had to be considered.”

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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