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Founding Missions (1)

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Founding Missions (1) Galatia
Founding Missions (2) Macedonia
Founding Missions (3) Achaia .. Summary Chart #2
Founding Missions (4) 1 Thessalonians

Paul as Church Founder

   • Paul had received a resurrection appearance, had labored in Arabia and Damascus, had visited Cephas (Peter) in Jerusalem, had departed for Syria and Cilicia, and now was about to embark upon the founding missions for which he is best known, those in Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia or Greece, and Ephesus in the province of Asia.
     

   • He had been commissioned an apostle to the gentiles, and the make-up of the congregations he was to establish seems to reflect that job description.

   • He was supported, not by some “Pauline Missionary Society to the Heathen,” but by his own labors. In fact, he would at the end of the day bring funds from his own mission congregations for the relief of the Jerusalem church.

1 Thessalonians 2:9  You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (See also 1 Corinthians 9:1-18 and 2 Corinthians 11:7.) 
     

   • It follows from the foregoing point that Paul was not what we would call an itinerant evangelist but one who preferred to stay for an extended period of time in a city, laboring at his trade and forming a congregation.

 

This period of church founding may well have consumed a decade or more; it would thus be misleading to speak of it as a missionary journey (a notion absent from the letters, and even from Acts).

Founding Churches in Galatia

The first of his major mission foundations was in the central Asia Minor province of Galatia, accessible from Cilicia (mentioned in Galatians 1:21). His initial visit was occasioned by illness. He established several congregations in the province. Their members were gentiles, who had been idol worshipers.

Galatians 1:1-2   1Paul an apostle . . .  2to the churches of Galatia.
Galatians 4:8   Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods.
Galatians 4:13-15   13You know that it was because of a physical infirmity that I first announced the gospel to you; 14though my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
 

      
Galatians 1:21   Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. . . .

     

     

     

     

     

    

     

 

The main outlines of the gospel which Paul proclaimed to them are discernible: the death and resurrection of Jesus and the impending end-of-time.

Galatians 1:1, 4   1Paul an apostle . . . through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead . . . .  4[Jesus Christ] gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age . . . . 
Galatians 3:1   You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 

The Galatians shared with him in the life of the Spirit as they came to faith in response to the Christ whom he was preaching.

Galatians 3:2   The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 
     

     

     Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:9-10; and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, for recollections of gospel proclamation material.

It was probably at the founding visit that Paul also gave these converts from a pagan way of life the solemn warnings about the kind of vices that would exclude them from the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21   19Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, . . . 21and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

When some months or years later Paul departed from the Galatian congregations, he had established such a warm relationship with the Galatians that, when the breech opened between them at a later time, the loss of the affection which they had had for him seemed all the more poignant.

Galatians 4:14-15   14[Though] my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 
Galatians 4:19-20   19My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. 

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Revised January 23, 2003

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