John Gill, (23 November 1697 – 14 October 1771) was an English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian. Born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, he attended Kettering Grammar School where he mastered the Latin classics and learned Greek by age 11. He continued self-study in everything from logic to Hebrew, his love for the latter remaining throughout his life.
He wrote a 9 volume “Exposition of the entire bible” which is still widely used. As part of his commentary on Romans 10:15
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent,”
He says that; “There is no proper, rightful, or regular preaching of the word without a mission, which is either extraordinary, or ordinary. He goes on to clarify the distinction by saying; “extraordinary mission was such as the apostles themselves had; who, as they were called to extraordinary service, had extraordinary qualifications, and were sent forth in an extraordinary manner, with a power of doing miracles, and immediately by Christ himself.”
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So far, so good?
He then goes on to say that;
“Ordinary mission is of men to be pastors and teachers, which includes qualifications for the ministerial work; for whom Christ sends forth into such service, he bestows gifts on them, fitting them for it, some more, some less, but all have some; and it also includes a call unto it, which is either internal, and by the Spirit of God, and lies partly in the the equipping he gives, and the inclination of the heart to this good work which he forms; and which arises not from a vanity of mind, and a desire of popular applause, and worldly views, and sinister ends; but from a real concern for the good of souls, and the glory of Christ, being willing to deny themselves, and forsake all for Christ, to bear up reproach for his name’s sake, and to forego all worldly interest, and secular views: or is external, which is given by the churches of Christ, after due trial and examination of gifts, and a serious consideration of the matter, and that in the most solemn manner; and this is what may be properly called a preacher’s mission, and none but such who are in this way sent out ought to preach the Gospel.”
There’s a lot of good here:
1. That Christ is the one who sends, equips, and give gifts in differing degrees.
2. That there is a “call” of the Spirit that accompanies both mission and missionary.
3. That the missionary’s heart is inclined by God to fulfill His purposes.
4. That the missionary’s mission and call does not originate in his or her own mind.
5. That missionaries care for souls, that they seek for the glory of Christ, that they do not seek the applause or approval of men, that they will forsake all for Christ, deny themselves, bear up reproach for Christ’s name sake, and forego worldly interests.
That all sounds pretty extraordinary to me.
Of particular interest, and the reason for this post, is the distinction he makes between ordinary and extraordinary both for the missionary and the mission. Now for the not so good…
1. He limits ‘ordinary’ mission to Pastors and Teachers which advocates hierarchies opposed to Christ’s teachings (Mark 10:42-43) and in effect, negates the the critical role of prophets, evangelists, and apostles for today (Ephesians 4:11-13)
2. He leaves the ideas of being ‘qualified,’ ‘tried,’ ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary,’ and ‘examined’ for mission in a highly subjective state and one which becomes a sort of brokering firm or mediatory agency.
3. His definition of mission is constrained within an ecclesiastical framework instead of vice versa. It’s like the idea that ‘mission happens sometimes when the church has the impulse to do so,’ instead of ‘church happens sometimes when the mission brings them together.’
4. His view of ‘preaching’ is held captive behind pulpits and positions.
5. The very distinction between between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ might be unhealthily introspective.
Just one question;
Are there any biblical distinctions between ordinary and extraordinary missions and missionaries?