Mission Work: The Lutheran Way – Who Are the MESSENGERS?

Lutheran Society for MissiologyThe following thoughts are reproduced from an article by Eugene W. Bunkowske in Missio Apostolica (Vol. III, No. 2, 1995).  Check out the Lutheran Society for Missiology website.  Among many resources, you will find the most recent copy of Missio Apostolica in PDF format.


The Old Testament opens with God actively and directly involved in his mission.  On occasion, the angels were useful messengers, right from the beginning.[1] They served faithfully and well but were made subordinate to Jesus, the primary message carrier.[2] Besides the angels there were the Old Testament prophets like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Yet the angels and the prophets, though important, were not primary messengers like the Son.  As the book of Hebrews says, “God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son.” (1:1-2a) Jesus the Son, because he is both human and divine, is the bridge of communication between God and man. He saw himself as an official representative for the Triune God. As he said, “I have not spoken on my own. Instead, the Father who sent me told me what I should say and how I should say it. … Whatever I say is what the Father told me to say” (John 12:49-50). Therefore Lutheran missiologists confess that Jesus is the primary messenger.

Mission Work: The Lutheran Way also takes into account that faith (worked by the Spirit through the Word of God) draws one into the family of God, the Body of Christ, the Church.[3] Now as a part of that family (body) of God, the Church (community of believers) and the individual Christian become very much involved in this mission of God.  In fact each family member (each believer) is now sent out by God in and through the Son as messengers (sent ones, apostles) to carry on God’s family business (God’s mission) in the world.[4]

The Lutheran missiologist is profoundly aware that God’s business (mission) is family business. It is a whole family business. It is not just the Father’s business with the first Son as a messenger, or only the ordained preachers as messengers, or exclusively the men as messengers, or the exclusive privilege of women or the youth or the children to be messengers in the family business but an every member of the family matter.[5]  All are sent as messengers. Each member of the family has been given a special gift, or several,[6] to use in carrying out his or her part of the Christian family business of witnessing by word, by deed, and by example the love of God in Christ.  This messenger service is done in community and in solidarity as an integral and integrated part of God’s family in both the nuclear and extended family arenas. Each family member has a special function and role that God has planned from all eternity for him or her.[7]

[1] Gen 16:7; 19:15; 22:11-12; 31:11; Exod 3:2; 23:20-23; Jdg 11:11-12; Ps 91:11; Dan 3:28; 6:22; Hosea 12:4; Zech 3:2; 3:6-7; Matt 1:20-21; 26:53; 28:2-7; Luke 1:11; 1:26-27; 2:9-14; 22:43; Acts 5:19-20; Heb 1:6-7; 2:2; 2 Pet 2:4. See Smalcald Article (SA) VII.13.

[2] Heb 1:4-7

[3] Gal 3:27; 4:4-7; Rom 6:3-13; Acts 1:5; 1 Cor 3:16-23; Titus 3:4-8. See also SA IV; FC Epit III.

[4] John 20:21-23; Matt 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-49; Mark 16:15-18; Acts 1:6-8; Rom 12:1-8; 2 Cor 3:2-3; 5:14-21; Gen 12:1-3; Rev 22:16-17. See also Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (TPPP) 9, 30; Augsburg Confession (AC) XII, 30; FC SD XI, 28.

[5] Col 3:11-17; Is 9:2; 43:20-21; Matt 5:16; Ex 19:5-6; 1 Pet 2:9; Titus 2:14-15.

[6] Eph 4:7-16; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Cor 12:12-20; Ps 68:18. See also Ap IV, 126.

[7] Eph 2:10. See also FC SD II, 39, IV, 7.

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