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Featured What Were the Apostles Commissioned to Do in Evangelism?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Scripture More Accurately, Oct 8, 2023.

  1. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Determining correctly what Scripture reveals about what the apostles were commissioned to do in evangelism is essential for our knowing correctly what we are to do in evangelism.

    What were the apostles commissioned to do in evangelism?
     
  2. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    The purpose of this thread is not to discuss what people say we are to do in evangelism. It is also not the purpose of this thread to discuss what I or anyone else has or has not done in evangelism.

    The purpose of this thread is to discuss fully what Scripture itself reveals about what the apostles were commissioned to do in evangelism.
     
    #2 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 8, 2023
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2023
  3. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Acts is the premier book for us to learn what the apostles were commissioned to do in evangelism. Luke begins Acts by telling us that they were commissioned to be witnesses unto Christ:

    Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

    4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

    7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

    As witnesses unto Christ, they were commissioned to tell people what they themselves had seen and had heard concerning Christ. Luke plainly tells us that Christ Himself showed Himself alive to them repeatedly over a 40-day period in many appearances to them. Acts 1:1-8, therefore, indisputably teaches us that Christ commissioned the apostles to witness to people that they had seen Him alive in those appearances and heard Him speak to them.
     
    #3 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 9, 2023
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2023
  4. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Later in Acts 1, Luke informs us that the apostolic company fully understood that what was central in their evangelism was that they were to be witnesses of His resurrection:

    Acts 1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

    No human being was an eyewitness of the actual Resurrection of Christ (the exact moment when Christ rose from the dead).

    For the apostles to be witnesses (people who tell others what they themselves have seen and heard), they had to tell people not just that Christ rose (something that none of them actually saw or heard in person), but also and especially, that they themselves in person saw and heard Him alive in the Resurrection appearances in which He repeatedly showed Himself to them in the 40-day period between the Resurrection and the Ascension.

    The actual Resurrection was not what changed the apostles from their meeting in private to bold, continual witnesses of Christ. What transformed them was that they themselves saw and heard the risen Christ in His appearances to them.

    Acts 1:1-8 and 1:21-22 plainly teach us that testifying to the Resurrection appearances of Christ was central and essential for the apostles to be faithful witnesses to what Christ had commissioned them to do in their evangelism.
     
    #4 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 9, 2023
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  5. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    In Acts 4, Luke provides further confirmation about what the apostles held they had to do in fulfilling the commission that they had been given:

    Acts 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

    This passage shows that the apostles had as their premier goal to speak what they themselves had seen and heard. We can be certain that their testifying to their eyewitness encounters with Christ was the very center of their apostolic evangelism.

    Whenever they possibly could, the apostolic company never just stated that Christ rose--they unendingly testified in addition that they had seen and heard Him in His resurrection appearances to them.
     
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  6. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Mark 16:15 tells us that our Lord instructed the apostles to 'preach the gospel to every creature.' Verse 20 tells us that they obeyed His instruction.
    Matthew 28:19-20 tells us that He instructed them to 'make disciples of all the nations ....... teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.' Making disciples is somewhat more than simply preaching the gospel, though it certainly includes that.
    Luke 24:47-48 adds that 'repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, and you are eye-witnesses of these things .'
    In Acts of the Apostles 1:8, as you have rightly said, our Lord tells His apostles that they are to be witnesses to Him.

    An apostle was certainly one who had seen the risen Lord (Acts of the Apostles 1:22; 2 Peter 1:16-18; 1 John 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:1), but the apostolic work included the gospel, of which faith, repentance and the forgiveness of sins are surely the major part. There is also the training of disciples with the aim of raising up the next generation of preachers and church planters (2 Timothy 2:2).
     
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  7. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the other passages that you list are all relevant for this discussion. I plan to get to them later. I disagree, however, with your seeming suggestion that the apostles being witnesses of Christ, especially of the Resurrection, was somehow a minor part of what they were commissioned to do in evangelism.
     
    #7 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 11, 2023
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  8. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Paul was not one of the original apostles. He only became an apostle after Christ Himself appeared to him on the Damascus Road.

    Paul did not get saved and go from persecutor of the Church to a preacher of the gospel because someone merely said to him, "Christ rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." He was saved when Christ appeared to him long after the actual Resurrection of Christ had taken place.

    After he was saved, Paul was discipled by Ananias. Ananias informed Paul about what had happened to Paul and what Paul was commissioned to do:

    Acts 22:12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, 13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. 14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

    Paul was commissioned to be Christ's witness to all men to testify to them that he had seen and heard the risen Christ. For Paul, faithfulness in evangelism meant witnessing to everybody that he had seen and heard the risen Christ.

    Given any opportunity, Paul always told people about Christ's resurrection appearance to him.

    For both the original apostles and for Paul, witnessing to all people that they themselves had seen and heard the risen Christ was central to all their evangelism. Neither the apostles nor Paul ever would have witnessed to people by merely telling them that Christ rose from the dead--whenever it was at all possible for them to do so, they told people that they themselves had seen and heard the risen Christ in one or more of His resurrection appearances to them.
     
    #8 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 11, 2023
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  9. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    In order to refute a deeply flawed and false method that some espouse about interpreting evangelistic accounts in Scripture, we must carefully consider various evangelistic accounts in Scripture by probing biblically what we are to believe about them. Right after Paul was saved and initially discipled, he engaged (in Damascus) in his first evangelistic activities:

    Acts 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

    According to some, the lack of mention in this account of Paul's testifying to his seeing and hearing the risen Christ in His resurrection appearance to Paul proves that Paul did not testify to his being an eyewitness of the risen Christ when he preached Christ in these synagogues. If that approach were correct, we would have to believe that Paul began his evangelistic ministry by disobeying and disregarding what he had been plainly and very recently informed he was commissioned to do as Christ's witness "unto all men" (Acts 22:14-15; see my post #8 above).

    This is a seriously faulty claim that no one should accept as true. The very brief record of his initial evangelistic activity provides zero biblical basis to hold that Paul did not witness for Christ in these synagogues in obedience to what he had just been instructed was his commission to do as Christ's witness "unto all men." Rather, we have full biblical warrant from Acts 22:14-15 to hold that Paul certainly testified in his preaching in these synagogues that he himself had seen and heard the risen Christ.
     
    #9 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 12, 2023
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  10. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    What does this mean? Can you give an example of this?
     
  11. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Acts 9:20 records what Paul did in his first recorded instances of evangelism after he was saved:

    Acts 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

    Because this verse does not say anything about Paul's witnessing to the people in these synagogues that he saw the risen Christ, some argue that Paul did not bear any testimony in his preaching in these synagogues to his having seen Christ after He rose again from the dead.

    In the same way, some would argue that Paul did not say anything (in any of these messages in these synagogues) about Christ's being buried because Acts 9:20 does not say that Paul told the people that Christ was buried.

    In the same way, some argue that Paul did not tell people to repent when he preached in these synagogues because Acts 9:20 does not say that he told them to repent.

    As I showed above, Acts 26:20 refutes such a claim and shows that God does not intend for us to hold that lack of mention in an account proves that no testimony was given to a certain truth in that evangelistic message.

    Similarly, some have argued that Paul did not testify to the Philippian jailor that Christ rose from the dead because Acts 16:30-31 does not say that he did so.

    Some say that Paul failed in his evangelism in Athens on Mars Hill because the account in Acts 17 does not explicitly say that in that message he named the name of Jesus or told them about the crucifixion.

    This is a very seriously faulty and false approach to interpreting evangelistic accounts that claims that if the account does not say anything about a certain truth being preached or testified to in that evangelistic counter, we know that no testimony to that truth was given on that occasion.

    This wrong method says that we know that so-and-so did not preach or witness to such-and-such a truth on a given occasion because the passage does not say that he preached or witnessed to such-and-such a truth.
     
    #11 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 13, 2023
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  12. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    The preaching of all the Apostles was of Christ. Acts of the Apostles 5:42; 8:5, 35; 9:20; 10:36; 11:20; 17:3; 18:5, and probably a few more if I could think of them.
    So what does it mean to preach Christ, or that Jesus is the Christ? It means preaching Him prophesied, descended, crucified, raised, ascended and reigning in heaven; all according to the Scriptures; that He is the one of whom the prophets speak (John 1:45).
    All of these things are tied up in the apostolic preaching, but the chief thing is Christ crucified, '....... But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God' (1 Corinthians 1:23-24; cf. also 1 Corinthians 2:2)..
     
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  13. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    Your statements about the preaching of Christ are biblically incomplete. There is no justification for leaving out that the preaching of Christ included preaching that Christ was buried and seen of many credible witnesses after He rose again from the dead.

    I also disagree with you that chief thing in apostolic preaching was Christ crucified, if what you mean by that is the crucifixion in distinction from the Resurrection. The resurrection of Christ was the very center of apostolic preaching.

    Consider that Peter did not say that one from among them had to be chosen (as a replacement in the apostolic company for Judas) as a witness of the crucifixion--he said that one had to be ordained to be a witness with them of Christ's resurrection:

    Acts 1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

    Furthermore, near the end of Paul's life, when he was the most spiritually mature and when he was the most experienced in his apostolic ministry, Paul said the following to Timothy:

    2 Timothy 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

    This was Paul's last inspired statement about the gospel. Paul did not say to Timothy, "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David died [or was crucified] for our sins according to my gospel." The Spirit directed Paul to put the resurrection of Christ as the very center of the content of his gospel in this last Pauline inspired statement of the gospel.

    The chief thing in the apostolic preaching of the gospel was the resurrection of Christ from the dead!
     
    #13 Scripture More Accurately, Oct 14, 2023
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  14. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    In one of His resurrection appearances to them, Christ commissioned the original apostles to do the following:

    Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

    According to the hermeneutical approach of some, any account of apostolic evangelism that does not explicitly say in the account itself that the ones doing the evangelizing preached repentance and remission of sins in Christ's name is a record of evangelism where those truths were not preached. By what this approach to interpreting Scripture teaches, we have to judge that the apostles were frequently unfaithful and disobedient to Christ in their evangelism.

    For example, the inspired, lengthy record of Peter's message in Caesarea in Acts 10 does not say anything about Peter's telling the people to repent. Similarly, the inspired record of Paul's evangelism in Athens in Acts 17:3 neither says anything about Paul's telling any of the Thessalonians to repent nor does it say anything about Paul's telling them about the remission of sins.

    Are we, therefore, supposed to hold that both Peter and Paul were unfaithful and disobedient to Christ in these evangelistic encounters because of their supposedly not saying anything about these essential truths to these people?
     
  15. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    In one of His other resurrection appearances to them, Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach specific content to every person in all the world:

    Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
    Comparing this account of His commissioning them with Luke's account is instructive:

    Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.​

    Based on these two passages, we know that Christ commissioned His disciples to preach the gospel (Mk. 16:15) and preach repentance and remission of sins in His name (Lk. 24:47).

    Faithfulness in evangelism required that the apostolic company preach all the content stated in both passages. Scripture thus teaches us that it is essential in evangelism to preach or testify the gospel and to preach or testify repentance and remission of sins.

    Examining carefully and thoroughly the various records of apostolic evangelism that are recorded in Scripture reveals that numerous passages do not mention the preaching of all the content specified in Mark 16:15 and Luke 24:27.

    A proper hermeneutic does not take the lack of mention of the preaching of specific content in a given account as definitive proof that the content was in fact not preached or testified to in that evangelistic encounter.

    Put differently, a faulty hermeneutic takes the lack of mention of specific content as definitive proof to the lack of preaching or testifying to that content in that evangelistic encounter.
     
    #15 Scripture More Accurately, Nov 8, 2023
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  16. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    You will notice that I included 'raised' in my list of what it means to preach Christ. But we have to preach the 'whole Christ.' If He was not crucified, He was not raised. If He is not the one prophesied, He is not the Christ. If He is not reigning in heaven, He will not be the one returning. By all means preach the resurrection, but not at the expense of the other aspects of Christ.
     
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  17. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    Nope.
     
  18. Scripture More Accurately

    Scripture More Accurately Well-Known Member

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    I have never advocated preaching the resurrection "at the expense of the other aspects of Christ."

    My aim in this thread is to show that the apostles were commissioned to do more than what many say they were commissioned to do. A proper handling of Scripture shows that they were commissioned, among other things, to proclaim the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of Christ, and not just the death and resurrection of Christ.
     
  19. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    We are in agreement then. :)
     
  20. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    Two separate sets of people.

    Jesus knew how to commission His churches.

    The Apostles were all First-hand personal witnesses of the Lord' appearances after His resurrection. We are not.

    The Apostles were told include an account of their being First-hand personal witnesses of the Lord' appearances after His resurrection. We are not.
     
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