Now Those Who Were Scattered Went about Preaching the Word (Acts 8:4): The Migrant Church and Its Mission According to the Book of Acts

Christoph Stenschke


After a brief survey of migration in the Bible, this article examines migration be it voluntary or enforced in the Book of Acts. Acts describes in Stephen's speech in surprising detail experiences of migration in Israel's past and its theological implications. Acts also describes that many early Christian missionaries served in places that were not their places of origin, voluntarily or by force: the disciples ended up in Jerusalem and eventually at the ends of the earth rather than returning to Galilee. Others had come to Jerusalem from elsewhere even before encountering the Gospel and ministered throughout the Eastern Mediterranean world as they became involved in mission. Early Christian mission is closely related to migration and dislocation, voluntary or by force, led by the Spirit and for the sake of the Gospel. Repeatedly other missionaries had to flee in order to avoid persecution. Despite the tragedy and suffering involved, there were also great opportunities which were readily seized: the Gospel moved forward. Much of early Christian mission was accomplished by refugees. A final section reflects on the significance of this portrayal of early Christian mission for the church and its mission in the 21st century.

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