Paul’s Missionary Band

Paul & Barnabas-1

“...is it really so strange that Paul, who was responsible for so much of the New Testament’s formal teaching, would not describe the missionary band? After all, he was demonstrating its function at every step.

And he also demonstrates his relationship to the local nurturing fellowships that he and his teams planted – by the way he wrote to these congregations in certain cities.” – Charles Mellis in Committed Communities, pg. 15


One of the frequent objections to an understanding of missional ecclesiology and the structures necessary for its implementation is that the bible does not specifically address sodalic, apostolic entities as “church.” However, this criticism is spurious for several reasons:

First, just because we don’t find the description overtly in the post-gospel writings does not exclude the description from being legitimately applied to Paul and his apostolic band. There is no textual reason that would prohibit all of the biblical and essential descriptors of “church” being equally applied to such mobile, apostolic structures in the same way they are applied to a geographically local, modalic entity.

Secondly, much of the post-gospel writings in the New Testament are actually missionary (apostolic) types instructing local church types how to live, minister and function.

Lastly, as Mellis states, against the backdrop of the 1st century and the common understanding of Jewish proselytizing bands, there was little reason to write about it. Paul and the 40+ people who made up his missionary operation simply lived it out. What they demonstrated by their actions was a ministry dynamic that was a common, well-understood practice of the day.

(Painting “Paul and Barnabas at Lystra” by Flemish master Jacob Jordaens, (1593-1678) hangs in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia)

2 Responses to “Paul’s Missionary Band”

  1. paul Says:

    If there’s no implementation written in the Bible by Paul, and no overstatements at all about its reality, then why do you believe in it?

  2. Sam Says:

    Paul:

    Same reason I believe in many other things that are not explicit in the bible but implied …such as the Trinity.

    SM

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