Bibliotheca Sacra 155 (April-June 1998) 189-200.
Copyright © 1998 by
IN THE BOOK OF ACTS
George W. Murray
In 1971 my wife and I went to the largely unevangelized
that time had six church-planting couples in the country. Each
couple was located in a separate city. Because so many Italian
cities and towns were (and are) totally unevangelized, our mis-
sion leadership reasoned that its personnel should be spread out to
cover more unreached territory. We, however, resisted this strat-
egy, because we felt inadequate to do the work of evangelism and
church planting by ourselves. After much discussion we per-
suaded our mission leadership to let us recruit a team of eight
other missionaries to work with us in the unreached province of
perience with that team, evangelizing together in a way that none
of us was capable of doing alone, and planting a church in the
capital city of the province.
During that time articles about teamwork in pioneer evange-
lism began appearing in missionary publications. Some articles
questioned its validity,l while others strongly supported the con-
cept.2 Reading other missionary literature, I discovered that
Jonathan Goforth, at the turn of the century, was convinced of the
importance of doing evangelism corporately. "Now we have
George W. Murray is General Director, The Evangelical Alliance Mission,
1 Dan Bacon, "Should
Evangelical Missions Quarterly 14 (April 1978): 95-99.
2 Edward F. Murphy, "The Missionary Society as an Apostolic Team," Missiology:
An International Review 4 (January 1976): 103-18; and Paul Thompson, "Synergism:
A New Word and a New Way for Missions," Harvest Today 31 (July-September
190 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April–June 1998
proved it so often that we have the conviction that we could go into
any unevangelized center in
of male and female workers and within a month have the begin-
ning of a church for Jesus Christ."3
But most of all, my own experience
the importance of engaging in evangelism and church planting
corporately. During that time, however, I kept asking myself if
we had a strong biblical basis for how we were working. I was
sure teamwork was good, because it worked! But does the Bible
say anything about corporate evangelism? I decided to take a
Besides looking at data concerning corporate spiritual activ-
ity in the Old Testament and at Jesus' practice of having disciples
and sending them out two by two, I examined the practice and
teaching of Paul, the prominent New Testament missionary
apostle. I concentrated my biblical research on Paul's practice of
corporate evangelism in the Book of Acts and on his teaching
about corporate witness in his Epistle to the Philippians. This ar-
ticle discusses the relevant data about Paul's practice in the Book
An examination of Acts reveals that Paul was certainly not a
"loner," but had extensive association with others during his life
and ministry. There are a number of reasons why Paul lived,
traveled, and worked together with other believers, one of which
was to engage in the ministry of evangelism (Acts 9:28-30; 13:1-
5, 13–16, 44–46; 14:1, 7, 20–21, 25; 17:1–15; 18:5–8). A close look at
Acts reveals that other believers were often present when Paul en-
gaged in evangelism, and in quite a few cases he and other be-
lievers actually evangelized corporately.
PAUL'S ASSOCIATION WITH OTHERS IN ACTS
Although the Bible never states that Paul had disciples, clearly he
had many close friends and associates with whom he lived and
worked. Ellis points out that in the Book of Acts and Paul's epis-
tles approximately one hundred individuals were associated with
the apostle.4 "In summary, the picture that emerges is that of a
3 Jonathan Goforth, Foreign Missions Conference Report (
China Inland Mission, 1925), 77, quoted by Alexander Rattray Hay, The New Testa-
ment Order for Church and Missionary (Buenos Aires: SEMCA, 1947), 90. Also B.
Broomhall wrote about a famous missionary team called "The Cambridge Seven"
(The Evangelization of the World: A
Missionary Band [
4 E. Earle Ellis, "Paul and His Co-Workers," New Testament Studies 17
(October–July 1970–71): 437. Also see D. Edmond Hiebert, Personalities around
Paul's Corporate Evangelism in the Book of Acts 191
missionary with a large number of associates. Indeed, Paul is
scarcely ever found without companions."5 In the concluding re-
flections of his overall treatment of Paul's life, Bruce says,
Paul has no place for the solitary life as an ideal; for all his apos-
tolic energy he would have scouted the suggestion that "he trav-
els the fastest who travels alone." He emphasizes the fellowship,
the togetherness, of Christians in worship and action; they are
members one of another, and all together members of Christ.6
A chronological survey of the Book of Acts makes Paul's empha-
sis on togetherness clear.
After conversion Paul spent several days with believers in
to join the disciples (v. 26). There he stayed with some apostles (v.
28)—namely, Barnabas, Peter, and James (v. 27; Gal. 1:18-19)—
until they were constrained to send him off to
protection (Acts 9:29-30).8 He ministered together with Barnabas
for a year among the believers in
went out on his first missionary journey with Barnabas and John
Mark (13:2-5). Then he traveled with Barnabas and other believ-
ers to the Jerusalem Council (15:2).
On his second missionary journey Paul set out with Silas
(15:40) and recruited Timothy in Lystra to join their team (16:3).
tested by the abrupt change in the Lucan narrative from "they" (v.
to "we" (v. 10)—and all four of them went to
gether to Thessalonica, leaving Luke in
the return to the use of "they" in the narrative (17:1-15). The three
Paul (Chicago: Moody, 1973), 5-6, for a list of Paul's most prominent friends and
coworkers. Also see Roy B. Zuck, Teaching as Paul Taught (
5 Ellis, "Paul and His Co-Workers," 439.
Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set
7 Of interest is the observation that even before his conversion and call, Saul of
8 It is not known exactly
how long Paul was in
he did during that time, nor whether he was alone or with others. This period may
have included trials mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, the experience recorded
in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, and most certainly a ministry to Gentiles in that region (cf.
Acts 22:17-21). See Richard N. Longenecker, "Paul the Apostle," in Zondervan Pic-
torial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill Tenney (
9 For a discussion on the authenticity of the "we" sections of the Book of Acts, see
Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (
192 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1998
men ministered together in Thessalonica and
lievers were compelled to send Paul to
danger (vv. 13-15). Arriving in
who accompanied him, asking "for Silas and Timothy to come to
him as soon as possible" (v. 15). Though Paul ministered alone
him (v. 16). Paul went on to
and Priscilla, perhaps for reasons of ministry as well as mate-
rial reasons (18:1-3).10 Silas and Timothy eventually joined
when Silas and Timothy arrived in
good report of the situation in Thessalonica, occasioning Paul's
first letter to the church there. Paul's second letter to Thessalonica
was probably also written from
letter.12 Both of these letters were sent by Paul, Silas, and Timo-
thy, as seen from the opening verse of each letter, and from the
fact that both letters were completely written in the plural (with the
exception of 1 Thessalonians 2:18 and 2 Thessalonians 2:5; 3:17).
In fact in all but two of his letters to churches (Romans and Eph-
esians), Paul included others with him in the opening saluta-
tions. Even in his letter to Philemon, Paul included Timothy in
the salutation (Phile. 1).
sarea (Acts 18:18-22).
On Paul's third missionary journey
he went through
he moved from the synagogue to the lecture hall of Tyrannus, tak-
ing the disciples with him (19:9). Timothy and Erastus were with
10 See Ronald F. Hock, "The Workshop as a Social Setting for Paul's Missionary
Preaching," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41 (July-September 1979): 438-50, on how
Paul's tentmaking activity may have been not only for meeting his material needs
but also a natural setting in which to share the gospel.
11 First Thessalonians 3:1-8 seems to indicate that Silas and Timothy joined Paul
on the New Testament [
12 See F. F. Bruce, "II Thessalonians," in The New Bible Commentary Revised, ed.
Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs, and D. J. Wiseman (
Eerdmans, 1970), 1161; and Longenecker, "Paul the Apostle," 4:644.
13 Longenecker conjectures
that "the missionary party came to
the Apostle," 4:645), probably basing his assumption on the fact of Paul's previous
practice of traveling with others. W. J. Coneybeare and J. S. Howson make a plausi-
ble case for the inclusion of Timothy on this trip, and perhaps even Titus (The Life
and Epistles of
tion is made of Timothy in Acts and Paul's letters in connection with Paul's stay at
Ephesus (cf. Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:1; Rom. 16:21; Acts 20:4). And Paul
often mentioned Titus in 2 Corinthians (2:13; 7:6, 13-14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18 [twice]).
Paul's Corporate Evangelism in the Book of Acts 193
and Aristarchus were also with Paul in
his "traveling companions" (v. 29). When Paul went from
(Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus, and
20:4). Joining Paul again at
stayed with Paul on his trip back to
ders Paul referred to "my companions" (20:34, NIV), for whom he
provided by working with his own hands.
James, and the elders (21:17-18). Later in
guard to "permit [Paul's] friends to take care of his needs" as a
prisoner (24:23, NIV).14 Besides Luke, Aristarchus accompanied
on his trip to
allowed Paul to go ashore so that "his friends . . . might provide
for his needs" (27:3, NIV). In Italy Paul was met and cared for by
the brethren in Puteoli (28:14), and on his trip to
by brethren who came down from the capital city to accompany
him (v. 15). At the sight of these companions Paul thanked God
and was encouraged (v. 15). Although the Acts narrative ends
with Paul in
were closely associated with Paul in his first Roman imprison-
ment. They were Epaphras (Col. 1:7; Phile. 24), Onesimus
(Phile. 10, 16), and Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25-30; 4:18).16
From this brief survey of Paul's ministry the picture emerges
of a man who spent much of his Christian life and work in the
company of other Christians. Paul's love and need for the com-
pany of others are evident in his own words in 2 Timothy 4:9-11,
written during his second Roman imprisonment: "Do your best to
come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has
deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to
and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my min-
14 There was a church in
there and had previously entertained Paul in his house (21:8).
15 Longenecker suggests that Timothy was also present, probably because of the
inclusion of Timothy's name at the opening of Paul's epistles to the Philippians,
the Colossians, and Philemon ("Paul the Apostle," 4:651).
16 Nine people continued in rather close association with Paul, though not with-
out interruptions, to the end of his life. They were Mark, Titus, Timothy, Priscilla,
ers," 439). With the exception of Erastus, Trophimus, and Tychicus, all of these
were called "co-workers."
194 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April-June 1998
REASONS PAUL JOINED WITH OTHERS
From the Acts narrative a number of reasons for Paul's corporate
relationships can be observed. He lived and worked with others
for these reasons: (a) to have fellowship (Acts 9:19, 26-28); (b) to
have companionship (18:18; 19:29; 20:34; 27:1-2; 28:15; (3) to have
protection (9:30; 17:15; 20:2-4);17 (d) to have encouragement
(e) to form an official delegation to attend the
Council (15:2) and to deliver famine relief (11:30; 20:4);18 (f) to
provide for material needs (18:1-3;19 24:23; 27:3; 28:14); (g) to en-
gage in the ministry of edification (11:25-26; 14:21-23; 15:35;
15:40-41; 16:4-5; 19:9; 20:6-38); and (h) to engage in the ministry
of evangelism (9:28-30; 13:1-5, 13-16, 44-46; 14:1, 7, 20-21, 25;
PAUL AND CORPORATE WITNESS IN ACTS21
Paul's practice of corporate witness as seen in Acts22 includes
instances in which he evangelized when others were present, and
instances in which he and others evangelized together (though it
is sometimes difficult to distinguish these two).
17 James Stalker mentioned "castles of robbers, who watched for passing travelers
to pounce upon" in
18 Bruce believes the seven men who accompanied Paul (20:4) were representa-
tives of the churches in
19 Adolf Deissmann discusses Paul's tentmaking activities (Paul: A Study in So-
cial and Religious History [
20 Some of the same references have been included under both the ministry of edi-
fication and the ministry of evangelism. As Gene A. Getz says, "In some instances
evangelistic activity and edification activity are so interrelated in Luke's records
they are indistinguishable" (Sharpening the Focus of the Church [
1974], 23 [italics his]).
21 This study is not seeking to show that Paul never worked or evangelized alone,
but rather that he often evangelized together with others. Passages that report
Paul's working alone are these: 9:19-25: Paul apparently preached alone in the
[NIV], helped him escape); 17:16-34: Paul was preaching alone in
he was "waiting for" Silas and Timothy (17:15-16); 18:19: he preached in the syna-
the disciples; and 20:2-3: he traveled in
22 Not only did Paul evangelize corporately, but he also engaged in a team min-
istry of edification: with Barnabas in
and with Luke and seven others in Troas and
Paul's Corporate Evangelism in the Book of Acts 195
PAUL EVANGELIZING WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS PRESENT
Acts 9:27-28. When Paul went from
been proclaiming in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God,
ing about freely in
the Lord" (v. 28). The words "moving about freely" are literally
"going in and going out." This may suggest that he ministered in
the presence of the apostles.
Acts 13:16-41. In Pisidian Antioch (v. 14) Paul stood up in the
synagogue (v. 16) and preached an evangelistic message. He told
the Jews that "through [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to
you" (v. 38). Though Paul was the only one who spoke, it is clear
that Barnabas was with him (v. 42).
Acts 14:8-20. In Lystra Paul was the one who spoke (v. 12).
That Paul was preaching the gospel can be seen by the immediate
context ("they continued to preach the gospel," v. 7) and from the
apostles' words to the crowd: "We are bringing you good news,
telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God"
(v. 15, NIV). Although Barnabas was present (vv. 1, 12, 14, 20),
Paul did the speaking. In fact the people called him "Hermes" be-
cause "he was the chief speaker" (v. 12).
Acts 17:1-5. In Thessalonica Paul went into the synagogue,
as was his custom, and reasoned from the Scriptures regarding
Christ's death and resurrection (vv. 2-3). That his intent was
evangelistic can be seen from his statement, "This Jesus whom I
am proclaiming [katagge<llw] to you is the Christ" (v. 3). That
Silas was present is clear from 16:40 and from the fact that those
who were persuaded by Paul's preaching joined Paul and Silas
(17:4).23 Although the text does not say that Silas verbally evange-
lized, it is significant that the people identified the gospel mes-
sage with both Paul and Silas.
Acts 17:10-12. In Berea Paul again spoke in the synagogue
(vv. 10-11). That his intent was evangelistic can be seen by the
result that many believed (v. 12). Both Silas and Timothy were
present (vv. 10, 14).24
Acts 18:1-18. In Corinth Paul again engaged in evangelistic
activity. Every Sabbath he was in the synagogue "trying to per-
suade Jews and Greeks" (v. 4). He devoted himself to preaching,
"testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ" (v. 5). Many of
the Corinthians believed and were baptized (v. 8). Only Paul is
23 Timothy was probably present as well (17:10, 14).
their presence, for he urged them "to come to him as soon as possible."
196 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April-June 1998
mentioned as being involved in direct evangelistic activity.
he was not alone.
working with Paul in his trade of tentmaking (vv. 2-3).
Acts 19:8-10. In Ephesus Paul again engaged in evangelism
in the synagogue, "arguing persuasively about the kingdom of
God" (v. 8, NIV). When opposition arose, he took the disciples with
him to Tyrannus's lecture hall where he ministered for two years
(vv. 9-10). Although "disciples" were with him, nothing is said
about whether they too did evangelistic work. At any rate, they
were present with Paul.
All these passages reveal that the apostle Paul often evange-
lized in the presence of other believers and in most cases in the
presence of other Christian workers.
PAUL EVANGELIZING TOGETHER WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
Acts 13:1-5. The calling of Barnabas and Saul and their first
missionary activity in
witness. Their call came from God, for the Holy Spirit said, "I
have called them" (v. 2).25 The fact that God called them to joint
participation in a common activity is clear, for He called them
(au]toi<j, plural) to the work (to> e@rgon, singular). The work to
which they were called was evangelism. This can be seen not
only from their actual involvement in evangelism during the
trip, but also from their report when they returned. Arriving in
He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles" (14:27). And later
Recognizing this call of God to evangelistic work, the spiri-
tual leaders in
missionary journey (13:3). At
(kath<ggellon) the Word of God together (13:5). John Mark was
with them as their helper (u[phre<thn).26 Paul expected John Mark to
be involved with them in evangelism, as seen from his later ac-
25 The verb proske<klhmai is in the perfect tense, indicating that this call from God
had already come to them before this word came from the Holy Spirit.
26 Bruce suggests that Mark's role as "helper" may had been in imparting to Paul
and Barnabas his special knowledge of certain important phases of the story of Je-
sus, in particular the passion narrative (Commentary on the Book of Acts, 263).
This word for "helper" (u[phre<thn) is the same word used in Luke 1:2 ("servants of
the word"). Luke may have had Mark in mind as one of his sources. B. T. Holmes
confirms this by explaining that u[phre<thn signified, in the language of the time, a
person whose function involved looking after documents ("Luke's Description of
John Mark," Journal of Biblical Literature 54 : 63-72). Later Paul said of
John Mark, "He is helpful to me in my ministry" (2 Tim. 4:11, NIV).
Paul's Corporate Evangelism in the Book of Acts 197
cusation in 15:38 that John Mark had not continued with them in
"the work" (to> e@rgon, cf. 13:2).27
Acts 13:13-52. Corporate witness is evident in this account of
Paul and his companions in Pisidian Antioch.28 That their in-
tent was evangelistic can be seen from Paul's message, particu-
larly the statement, "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren,
that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you" (v.
38). This is also revealed by the Lord's instruction, which they re-
lated to the people: "I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles,
that you should bring salvation to the end of the earth" (v. 47).
That they were corporately involved in witness can be seen
from the fact that they entered the synagogue, and the fact that the
synagogue rulers addressed them in the plural ("brethren"), ask-
ing them to speak a message of exhortation (vv. 14-15). Though
Paul was the one who preached at the end of the synagogue ser-
vice, the people invited them to speak further about these things (v.
42). When the crown was dismissed, many of the people followed
Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to con-
tinue in the grace of God (v. 43).29 On the next Sabbath Paul and
Barnabas boldly told the Jews that since they rejected the gospel,
Paul and Barnabas were "turning to the Gentiles" (v. 46), for that
was what "the Lord has commanded us [plural]" (v. 47). Persecu-
tion was stirred up against both of them, and they were expelled
from the region (v. 50).
Acts 14:1-7. In Iconium Paul and Barnabas went together
into the synagogue (v. 1) and spent considerable time there speak-
ing boldly for the Lord, who enabled them to do miraculous signs
and wonders (v. 3). Discovering a plot to stone them, they went to
Lystra and Derbe (vv. 6-7), where "they continued to preach the
gospel [ka]kei? eu]aggelizo<menoi h#san]," v. 7).
Acts 14:20-28. In Derbe Paul and Barnabas preached the good
27 Albert Barnes comments that "the work" means "preaching the gospel" (Barnes'
Notes on the New
Haenchen says "the work" is "the work of mission" as in 13:2 and 14:26 (The Acts of
the Apostles, trans. Bernard Noble and Gerald Shinn [
28 The phrase "Paul and his companions" is literally, "those with Paul" (oi[ peri>
pau?lon, 13:13). This denotes "persons who are standing, sitting, working, or staying
close to someone" (Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Litera-
ture, 2d ed., rev. F. Wilbur
Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker [
29 John Calvin suggested that the talking and urging were done by the people, not
by Paul and Barnabas (Acts of the Apostles, trans. W. J. G. McDonald, Calvin's
Commentaries, ed. David W. Torrance
and Thomas F. Torrance [
Eerdmans, 1965], 1:387-88).
198 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1998
news (eu]aggelisa<menoi) and won a large number of disciples (v.
Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and
ministry of edification. In Perga, they preached the word
(lalh<santej . . . to>n lo<gon) again (v. 25). These Greek verbs that
describe their activity in Derbe and Perga denote evangelism
and both verbs are in the plural. Back in
Barnabas reported to the church what God had done through them
Acts 15:35. This verse gives a clear picture of Paul and Barn-
abas evangelizing together in
(dida<skontej) and preaching (eu]aggelizo<menoi) the word of the
Lord.30 "Many others" also engaged in this work.31 The fact that
this verse is a summary statement indicates that evangelism and
edification were being carried out regularly.
Acts 15:40-16:12. On his second missionary journey Paul
took Silas with him (15:40) and later he took Timothy along
When this missionary team was in
by God through a vision to go to
is the fact that Luke was also part of this group, for he used "we"
and "us" in 16:10-11, 13, and 15-17. In verse 10, Luke wrote, "And
when [Paul] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into
gospel to them."
16:13-33. Three incidents in
apostle's corporate evangelistic work. On the Sabbath Paul and
his companions went to the riverside, where they assumed some
Jews would be gathered for prayer.33 Luke recounted, "We sat
down and began speaking to the women who had assembled" (v.
13). All of them—Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke—were involved
in witnessing. After she responded to Paul's message (v. 14), Ly-
dia invited the entire group to stay in her home (v. 15). That their
message was evangelistic is seen from the
lieved, and she and her household were baptized.
A slave girl with a spirit of divination shouted, "These men
are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming
30 Alford observes that "dida<skontej [was] to those who had received [the Word,
and] eu]aggelizo<menoi [was] to those who had not" (The Greek Testament, 2:172).
31 The Greek word order is of interest: dida<skontej kai> eu]aggelizo<menoi meta> kai>
e[te<rwn pollw?n to>n lo<gon tou? kuri<ou ("teaching and preaching with many others
the word of the Lord").
32 The verb "called" (proskale<w) is also used in 13:2 in reference to God's call to
Barnabas and Saul. In both instances the verb is in the perfect tense.
33 Bruce suggests the women met there because there were not enough male Jews
Paul's Corporate Evangelism in the Book of Acts 199
[katagge<llousin] to you the way of salvation" (v. 17). She (or the
demonic spirit in her) acknowledged the witness of the men as a
group. It was Paul, however, who commanded the demon to come
out of her (v. 18). Then Paul and Silas were arrested, having been
accused of advocating unlawful customs (v. 21).34 At midnight
Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God, as the other pris-
oners listened (v. 25).
After an earthquake the jailer rushed in and addressed Paul
and Silas. "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (v. 30). Luke
recorded that they replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you
shall be saved, you and your household" (v. 31). Then they spoke
"the word of the Lord" to the jailer and his family, and immedi-
ately they were baptized (vv. 32-33).
From this brief survey of Paul's activities recorded in the
Book of Acts, several things stand out. First, Paul lived and
worked closely with others. He seldom ministered alone. On
numerous occasions he engaged in team evangelism. He was
burdened to share the good news of salvation through Christ with
as many people as he could possibly reach. Third, divine initia-
tive was behind the apostle's corporate witness activities. Twice
Luke wrote that God called Paul and his companions to evange-
lize together (13:2; 16:10). On their first missionary journey Paul
and Barnabas told the people God was the one who commanded
them to "bring salvation to the end of the earth" (13:47). Twice
Paul and his fellow workers reported back to the church every-
thing God had done through them (14:27; 15:4).
REASONS FOR TEAM EVANGELISM
Why did Paul engage in corporate evangelism? What scriptural
and practical reasons suggest this kind of evangelistic activity
should be carried out in missions today? One answer some give is
that corporate witness models the end product being sought,
namely, the corporate community and fellowship of believers in
local churches.35 The increased credibility that stems from mul-
34 Their reference to Paul and Silas's proclaiming unlawful customs probably re-
ferred to their gospel preaching, since there were laws prohibiting foreign reli-
gious propaganda among Roman citizens (ibid., 335-36). Pliny the Younger, writing
about Christians in
10.96.2; cited in A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New
35 Dominic Grassi notes that Paul believed in corporate evangelism because "he
felt it necessary to present a visible picture of the Church in action" (A World to
Win, 74). Hay states that "a single believer cannot function as the Church" (The
New Testament Order for Church and Missionary, 132).
200 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / April—June 1998
tiple witnesses is another reason for corporate evangelism.36
Other reasons for carrying out evangelism by teams include the
sharing of spiritual gifts,37 mutual support among the evangeliz-
ers,38 accountability to each other,39 and increased results be-
cause of additional workers.40
IS THE EVIDENCE IN ACTS ENOUGH?
It is clear from the Book of Acts that Paul engaged in corporate
evangelism as part of his missionary strategy. But is that reason
enough for missionaries now to do it? Some would question the
wisdom of using the historical account of the early church in Acts
as a guide for normative experience in the church today. While a
case can be made for recognizing that Luke wrote the Book of Acts
with didactic intent as well as to give an accurate account of his-
tory,41 it is always helpful if the rationale for ministry practice
can be buttressed by teaching given in the New Testament epis-
A subsequent article will examine Paul's clear teaching
about the importance of corporate ministry in the Book of Philip-
pians, as well as sharing some reasons for such a practice and
how it is being implemented in missionary work today.
36 Darrell Fledderjohann, "North American Missions in Italy Today" (M.A. thesis,
38 "Missionary Loneliness . . . It's Only Human," Team Horizons 54 (July-August
39 Paul Thompson, The Challenge of the City (Coral Gables, FL: Worldteam, 1978),
40 Waldron Scott, "Teams and Teamwork," Evangelical Missions Quarterly 7
(Winter 1971): 112—13.
41 See I. Howard Marshall,
Luke: Historian and Theologian (
This material is cited with gracious permission from: x
Please report any errors to Ted