Missions in the Bible

What does the word “missionary” mean? Is it in the Bible?

The word “mission” comes from the Latin word “mitto”, which was derived from the Greek word apostello. This latter word means “to send” and from it we get the English word “apostle.”

Though the actual word “mission” is not used widely in the Bible though the fact that God is on a mission is the main theme of all of scripture.

The last words of Jesus to his disciples, what many call “The Great Commission” is found in Matt 28:18-20. This passage of scriptures is the most common text for going and making disciples of the nations.

However it is not the only text that gives the biblical basis for missions. In fact, from the book of Genesis to Revelation, we see God on a mission and calling others to join Him.

Take out the theme of mission from the Bible you have nothing left. Mission is what makes the Bible make sense.

This Mission shown forth in scripture is sometimes called the “Missio Dei” in Latin or the Mission of God. The idea is that God is the initiator and sustainer of mission, not men.

God calls us, His church, to participate in what He is doing in the world. We, as the Church, are the instrument that He has chosen to get the message out to the nations.

This calling was originally given to Israel as a nation (see Isa 42) and still stands although it has been expanded to include us as non-Jews, also referred to in the Bible as “Gentiles”. (see Romans 11).

Where is missions in the Bible? The Question should be, “Where is missions not in the Bible”? Below you will find references from both the Old and New Testaments texts:

Genesis 12:1-3 (repeated in Gen. 18:18, 22:17-18, 26:24 and 28:12-14)

Exodus 9:14-16 — purpose of the plagues

Exodus 19:6 — Israel was to be a “kingdom of priests”

Numbers 14:21 — glory of Lord fills the whole earth

Deuteronomy 4:6-8 — show your understanding to the nations

Deuteronomy 10:19 — “You are to love those who are aliens”

Deuteronomy 28:10 — “all the peoples on the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord”

Deuteronomy 32:1 – “Hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.”

Joshua 4:24 — “so that all the peoples of the earth might know”

1 Samuel 2:10 — “The LORD will judge the ends of the earth.”

1 Samuel 17:46 — “the whole world will know there is a God in Israel”

1 Kings 8:41-43, 59-60 (also in 2 Chronicles 6:32-33) — “so that all peoples of the earth may know your name” (Solomon’s prayer at dedication of Temple)

2 Kings 19:15 — “Hezekiah prayed . . . : O LORD, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.’”

1 Chronicles 16:31 “Let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, The Lord reigns!’”

1 Chronicles 16:24 — “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples”

2 Chronicles 6:33 — “so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you”

Psalm 2:7-10 — “You are my Son . . . I will make the nations your inheritance”

Psalm 7:7-8 — “Let the Lord judge the peoples”

Psalm 8:9 — “How majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Psalm 18:49 — “I will praise you among the nations”

Psalm 22:26-28 — “all the families of the nations will bow down”

Psalm 19:1-4 — “their words to the ends of the world”

Psalm 22:27 — “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord”

Psalm 24 — “The earth is the Lord’s”

Psalm 33 — “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”

Psalm 45:17 — “The nations will praise you for ever and ever”

Psalm 46:10 — “I will be exalted among the nations”

Psalm 47 — “God reigns over the nations”

Psalm 48:10 — “Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth”

Psalm 49:1 — “Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world”

Psalm 50 — “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets”

Psalm 57 — “I will sing of you among the peoples”

Psalm 59:13 — “It will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob.”

Psalm 65:5-8 — “the hope of all the ends of the earth . . . where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy”

Psalm 66 — “All the earth bows down to you . . . Praise our God, O peoples”

Psalm 67 — “your salvation among all peoples”

Psalm 68:32 — “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth”

Psalm 72 — “all nations will serve him”

Psalm 72:9 — “the desert tribes will bow before him”

Psalm 72:17, 19 — “All nations will be blessed through him . . . May the whole earth be filled with his glory”

Psalm 77:14 — “you display your power among the peoples”

Psalm 82 — “all the nations are your inheritance”

Psalm 83:18 — “You alone are the Most High over all the earth.”

Psalm 86:8-13 — all nations will come and worship

Psalm 87 — the register of the peoples

Psalm 96 — “sing to the Lord, all the earth . . . Declare his glory among the nations”

Psalm 97 — “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice”

Psalm 98:3 — “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”

Psalm 98:9 — “He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.”

Psalm 99:1-3 — “He is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name”

Psalm 102:15 — “The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.”

Psalm 102:22 — “when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord”

Psalm 105:1 — “make known among the nations what He has done”

Psalm 106:8 — reason for dividing the Red Sea

Psalm 108:3 — “I will sing of you among the peoples”

Psalm 108:5 — “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.”

Psalm 110:6 — “He will judge the nations,”

Psalm 113:3 — “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised”

Psalm 117 — “Praise the Lord, all you nations”

Psalm 126 — “it was said among the nations”

Psalm 135 — “our Lord is greater than all gods”

Psalm 138:4 — “may all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord”

Isaiah 2:3 — “Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.

Isaiah 6:3 — “They were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’”

Isaiah 11:9 — “fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord”

Isaiah 11:10 — “in that day a Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples, the nations . . .”

Isaiah 12:4 — “Make known among the nations what He has done”

Isaiah 24:16 — “From the ends of the earth we hear singing: Glory to the Righteous One.’”

Isaiah 25:6 — “the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples”

Isaiah 42:4 — “in His law the islands will put their hope”

Isaiah 42:6 — “I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.”

Isaiah 34:1 — “Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples!”

Isaiah 37:16 — “O Lord Almighty . . . , you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.”

Isaiah 42:4 — “He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”

Isaiah 43:6 — “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’”

Isaiah 45:6 — “from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me.”

Isaiah 45:22 — “Turn to me . . . all you ends of the earth”

Isaiah 49:1-6 — “I will make you a light for the Gentiles”

Isaiah 49:22 — “The Sovereign Lord says: “See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples.”

Isaiah 52:10 — “The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”

Isaiah 56:7 — “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”

Isaiah 59:19 — “From the west, men will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere His glory.”

Isaiah 60:3 — “Nations will come to your light”

Isaiah 62:11 — “The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth”

Isaiah 66:19 — “They will proclaim my glory among the nations”

Jeremiah 3:17 — “All nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord”

Jeremiah 16:19 To you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.”

Ezekiel 36:22-23 — “The nations will know I am the Lord”

Daniel 2:47; 4:1-2; 6:25 — “Surely your God is the God of gods”

Daniel 7:13, 14 — “all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him”

Jonah’s story — the missionary book of the Old Testament

Micah 1:2 — “Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth and all who are in it.”

Micah 4:2 — “Many nations will come”

Micah 5:4 — “His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.”

Habbakuk 2:14 — “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the water cover the sea”

Zephaniah 2:11 — “Nations on every shore will worship him”

Zephaniah 3:9 — “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord.”

Haggai 2:7 — “Desire of all nations”

Zechariah 2:11 — “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people”

Zechariah 8:20-23 — “Many peoples and inhabitants of many cities will come”

Zechariah 9:10 — “He will proclaim peace to the nations”

Zechariah 14:9 — “The Lord will be king over the whole earth.”

Malachi 1:10-11 — “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun” New Testament and missions

Matthew 4:8-11 — Temptation of Jesus

Matthew 6:9-10 — The Lord’s prayer (“spiritual” warfare prayer for the Kingdom of God to come to Earth)

Matthew 10:18 — “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles (nations).”

Matthew 13 (Ezekiel 17:23) — parables of sower, weeds, mustard seed, fishing net

Matthew 24:14 — the Gospel will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.

Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15 – The Great Commission (which many say is a re-statement of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12)

Mark 11:17 (Isaiah 56:7) — a house of prayer for all nations

Mark 13:10 — “the gospel must first be preached to all nations”

Mark 16:15 (see Matthew 28:19-20)

Luke 2:32 — “a light for revelation to the Gentiles”

Luke 10:2 — “harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”

Luke 10:27 — “love your neighbor as yourself”

John 3:16 ”For God so loved the world that he gave…”

John 12:32 — “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

John 21:4-14 — some Biblical commentators have said the 153 fish equals the number of all the tribes and nations which the ancients thought existed on earth

Acts 1:8; 2:5-12 13:47 (Isaiah 49:6) — witnesses in all the earth

Acts 3:25 — “He said to Abraham, Through your offspring, all peoples on earth will be blessed.’”

Acts 9:15 “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles (the nations) and their kings.”

Acts 11:18 — “They praised God, saying, So then, God has granted even the Gentiles (the nations) repentance unto life.’”

Acts 13:47 — “I have made you a light for the Gentiles (the nations), that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

Acts 14:27 — “They reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (the nations).”

Acts 28:28 — “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles (the nations), and they will listen!”

Romans 1:5 — “We received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles (the nations) to obedience.”

Romans 3:29 — “Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles (the nations) too? Yes, of Gentiles too.”

Romans 10:12-15 — “How can they hear?”

Romans 15:10 “Rejoice, O Gentiles (nations), with his people.” (Deuteronomy 32:43]

Romans 15:11 “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles (nations), and sing praises to him, all you peoples.” (Psalm 117:1)

Romans 16:26 — So that all nations might believe

2 Corinthians 4:15 — “grace that is reaching more and more people”

2 Corinthians 10:16 — “so that we can preach the gospel to the regions beyond you”

Galatians 3:8 — “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles (the nations) by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: All nations will be blessed through you.’” (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18)

Galatians 3:14 — “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles (the nations).”

Ephesians 1:10 — “To bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

Ephesians 2:11-19 — “you are no longer foreigners and aliens”

Philippians 2:10 — Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…

1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 — “to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles (the nations) so that they may be saved”

Hebrews 6:13-14 — God’s promise to Abraham who blesses the nations with salvation through Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:9, 12 — “not wanting anyone to perish”

1 John 2:2 — “He is the atoning sacrifice . . . for the sins of the whole world”

Revelation 5:9 — “you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation”

Revelation 7:9 — Every tribe, tongue, people and nation

Revelation 14:6 — “The angel had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people.”

Revelation 15:4 — “all nations will come and worship before you”

Revelation 21:23-24 — “The Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light”

So, what do missionaries do?

I believe that in God’s mind, building His Church, or those people called out from among the nations, is the main priority.

Jesus told us that He would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matt 16:18). In order to do that, He has given gifts to redeemed men to prepare His people for “works of service.”

These gifts of service or ministry can be found in the Bible in places like I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. One of these gifts is the gift of the Apostle, or Sent one. This gift is not to be confused with the original 12 Apostles, but has to do with function more than title.

An Apostle is one who is sent by God with a mandate to plant churches. He is specially equipped to lay the foundation for those who have believed in the message of the Gospel that has been preached to them.

He appoints leadership over these groups and nurtures them as a spiritual father providing direction and oversight when needed. He then moves on to build other churches in similar fashion.

In this calling he is like the thumb of the hand that is able to touch all four of the other fingers or gifts when needed; pastor, teacher, evangelist, and prophet. His main burden is to plant where Christ has not been named and many times this ministry is evidenced by signs, miracles, and wonders confirming the word preached.

In addition to the Apostolic gifting, some in the Body of Christ may be called to operate in any of the other Spiritual giftings as a blessing to the Church cross culturally. This may include certain outreaches such as orphan ministry, mercy ministry, education, and support ministry.

The Church of Jesus Christ in its many different “tribes” has always been involved in reaching out to the poor, the weak, the broken, and those who have been brought into spiritual bondage.  This service and desire to go comes from the heart of God Himself and not from a mere humanistic point of view.

If you got to the end of this page, congratulations!

You just took in a load of information!  If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me anytime by leaving a comment and I will do my best to help.  JL

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