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New Testament and Mission

Historical and Hermeneutical Perspectives

Johannes Nissen

This book brings together insights from two fields of study: biblical scholarship and missiology. The Great Commission in Matthew’s Gospel is often seen as the biblical foundation for mission. The New Testament, however, reflects a variety of models for mission. Each model is examined with regard to historical meaning as well as hermeneutical significance. The final chapter focuses on three issues of great importance for the present situation: unity and diversity in mission, the gospel in relation to cultures, and Bible and dialogue models.

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6. Constrained by the love of God: Paul's foundation and practice ofmission 99

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6. Constrained by the love of God: Paul's foundation and practice of mission Introduction Any understanding of Paul's mission has to deal with a number of questions. One of these is the nature of our sources. Earlier studies tended to "fuse" the Paul of the letters with the Paul of Acts.' In this chapter, however, I shall focus almost exclusively on his own letters. Although Acts contains much material that is unquestionably based on reliable tradition, it remains a secondary source on Paul. The principle source to Paul's mission theology is his own correspondence. The following letters are usually regarded as authentic Pauline material: Romans, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon. Two of the letters attributed to him have a specific character, Colossians and Ephesians. For this reason and because their authorship is disputed the mission theology of these letters will be taken up in a separate chapter. The Pastoral letters will not be considered. They are probably written by a disciple of Paul and deal with internal community problems rather than with mission. Another question relates to the character of Paul's mission understanding. To what extent is it marked by his personal experience? A third question is how to define the term "mission understanding". This term might include both theory and practice. In the first case the focus is on the theological foundation or motivation for Paul's mission. In the second case it is on his mission activity, its content and form. In the past,...

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