Missiological Implications of the Intertestamental Period

This summer my wife and I are going through Foundations of the World Christian Movement, a 3 hour all of history overview course.  It follows similar path of the program we run called INSIGHT.  It is a lot of Dr. Winter’s missiology.

This week we’ve been reading about the time before Jesus comes to the scene called the Intertestamental Period.  Here are two major missiological implications of this time period:

  • Diaspora: The diaspora set up the possibility for God’s chosen people to be spread out all around the region.  It is said that God’s word was taught in all the cities.  Had the Northern and Southern Kingdoms not been taken over, the people of God would have been geographically isolated.   These spread out believers is who the 1st century missionaries like Paul and Peter went to first.  In these synagogues across the region people’s hearts were more ready to receive the truth that the Messiah had arrived.  The diaspora (along with the Septuagint {in detail below} ) made it possible for Gentiles to engage with truth before the ultimate truth (Jesus) came.  These “God fears” were the start of the Gentile church – greatly aided by the diaspora Jews.  A current missiological strategy could gather the local Christ-followers and make them catalysts for the spread of the gospel.  Most missions tend to neglect the local Christians and toss their nominal faith aside, rather than re-light a fire within them.  Another strategy could be proposed out of this example is saturation.  This is where we infuse an area with a large number of Christ followers and hope they share their faith with their neighbors.
  • Septuagint: The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Old Testament, put together during this time of Hellenization (see Alexander the Great).  The meaning of the ancient role of the Septuagint for modern missionary strategy concerns the language and culture of the people being served. The Septuagint was seen as attractive to the Romans because they could go and hear Greek being read and learn the language. It was a felt need that the early church and synagogues used. Usually the Jews made these “God fearers” sit in the back because of their ethnocentrism (a practice we should not repeat), but nevertheless Roman citizens were exposed to the truth. I think there is a missiological correlation with using the Bible to teach English.  This strategy has been widely used in China and other such closed countries where “English teachers” will come into to Universities, schools, or just neighborhoods and teach English using the truth. While I have not participated myself, from reports it seems like this strategy helps open people to receive the truth and use one on one mentor relationships to challenge individuals/families to faith and further disciple them (in both English and God’s word).

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