A few years ago, I completed my doctoral project by constructing a seminary course on the subject of missional leadership. In the course of my project paper, I did an overview of the motif of sending throughout the Scriptures. In this section, I offer a brief description of how it appears in the New Testament Epistles and Revelation.

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In the New Testament epistles and the Revelation of John is seen the arrival of the Messiah in the world as a part of the sent motif in Scripture. Noted from John’s first epistle, insight is given into the motivation for God’s sending activity. He wrote, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10). The motivating force in God’s mission and subsequent commission of the church is shown to be his love and desire to have people reconciled to him. In Galatians 4:4–6, Paul wrote that God had sent the Son for the work of redemption and “sent the Spirit of His Son, into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’”

Consequently, the church is now a commissioned group in the world, having been sent so people can hear the witness of the Gospel (Rom 10:15). The mission of God and the commission of the church would appear to have love as one of the motivating factors. In 2 Cor 5:14–15, Paul wrote of the reason for ministry and mission, “For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

Additionally, the final book of the Bible includes some the language of sending as well. John wrote that the revelation had been sent to him and verified by an angel (Rev 1:1). The messages John received in the first three chapters were to be sent to the seven churches named in them (1:11). In the closing chapter of the book, John records that “These words are faithful and true,” because the Lord “has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place” (22:6). The epistles and Revelation continue the teaching that God sends both the message of salvation and the power by which believers may live out their redemptive calling of mission and ministry.

From the banishment (sending out) of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to the revelation of insight about the end of days, God is a sender. Throughout the canon, God has presented himself as on mission for his glory and his redemptive purposes. In Missional Church, it was written,

We have come to see that mission is not merely an activity of the church. Rather, mission is the result of God’s initiative, rooted in God’s purposes to restore and heal creation.... God’s mission unfolded in the history of God’s people across the centuries recorded in Scripture, and it reached its revelatory climax in the incarnation of God’s work of salvation in Jesus ministering, crucified, and resurrected. God’s mission continued then in the sending of the Spirit to call forth and empower the church as the witness to God’s good news in Jesus Christ.... and it moves toward the promised consummation of God’s salvation in the eschaton (“last” or “final day”).[1]

The Scriptures are quite clear that God is on mission, and that he is sending his people out into the world to participate in that mission as well.


[1] Guder, Missional Church, 4.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.