5-11 May 2008

Issue No. 18          

Biblical GRADUATE school of theology

BGST This Week

The apostle Paul can be described as a man of letters, in every sense of the expression. He was not only very learned, but fourteen of his letters have been published and are still in print today. His are the most published letters in history.


Paul wrote to churches to teach them how to live as Christians, to teach them theology, and much more.  He wrote to individuals like Timothy his co-worker and Titus his convert and co-worker, to guide them on how to carry out their pastoral duties. There is a special letter to Philemon to persuade him to accept the return of Philemon’s escaped slave, Onesimus. Paul used letters, or epistles, as a great way of communicating his ideas, thoughts, and, above all, his theology to many people spread over a large area.


However, the letters also tell us indirectly more than Paul perhaps intended. For instance, do they not tell us that missionaries should not be sent out to work alone?  Where do the letters say that, you might ask.  Well, 1 Corinthians was sent by Paul and Sosthenes, and 2 Corinthians, Colossians and Philemon by Paul and Timothy. 1 and 2 Thessalonians came from Paul, Silas and Timothy. From these letters we know that Paul did not work alone in the mission field.  Is it not amazing how we can learn something useful from the first lines of the Pauline letters, the lines that we usually skip?


These introductory lines confirm what Acts tells us about the early missionaries being sent out in pairs (for example Barnabas and Paul, Acts 13:1-3), and in small groups (“Paul and his companions”, Acts 13:13).  And a very wise practice it was too. We see this when we review the many failed missions of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in which missionaries were sent out alone to towns and places in Africa, India, China and elsewhere.


Yet it is undeniably true that a good number of solitary missionaries have been successful in bringing the gospel to many people. God can achieve great things through solitary missionaries faithfully serving him without co-workers. However, the pattern Paul left for us to follow was different, and probably more successful. 


Let us take the case of Epaphroditus who was sent by the church at Philippi to take care of Paul’s needs.  Paul called him a brother, co-worker and fellow soldier (Phil 2:25). “Brother” suggests emotional support that a brother would provide; “co-worker” implies someone sharing the workload; and “fellow soldier” speaks of physical support and mutual protection, not only from physical danger but more so from the attacks of the Devil.


We should also remember Tychicus. In Ephesians 6:21, Paul said that this “dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord will tell you everything so that you may know how I am and what I am doing”.  Tychicus was not only Paul’s co-worker, his brother in the work, but was serving as a trusted messenger delivering a mission report verbally, perhaps because the details were too sensitive to be put down in writing. Today, a missionary in the field can send a report back almost instantaneously by e-mail, but can a computer be a brother to that missionary and provide emotional and other support, and encouragement, and a sympathetic pat on the shoulder when needed? Humans need human contact, a human touch.


So we see that Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus alias Justus provided comfort to Paul (Colossians 4:10-11). Paul led such a tough Spartan life with so little material comfort that he once had to ask for his cloak to be sent to him (2 Timothy 4:13). How much more did he need comfort from the friends around him in hard or discouraging times. True, God is our ultimate Comforter, but God also works through people. As Solomon said, “Pity those who fall and have no one to help them up!.....A cord of three strands is notquickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10, 12) That being so, how quickly can a cord of only one strand be broken?


In the Pauline Epistles we also meet Epaphras, a “prayer warrior” (Col 4:12-13). What an important role Epaphras played, for prayer support is absolutely vital to a missionary team. No missionary project will succeed without prayer support, for praying means reliance upon God.


Co-workers, brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow soldiers for God, messengers, comforters, prayer warriors, care-givers, logistics people, and other support personnel, each have their important role in the mission field.

Mickey Chiang: A Man of Letters

Exciting Course Coming Up …

Call us at 6227 6815 or Email bgst@pacific.net.sg


The Genesis of All Things


What do the first 11 chapters of the Bible mean to you—the origins of the universe? Pre-scientific and primitive vision of reality? Or is it just Jewish myths?


The Hebrew theologians, being fully aware of the stories of origins in the ancient Near East, dis­cerned that the questions of origins and meaning of life are subject to the fundamental question of the relation of the Creator to the creatures. This is the basic mystery of life on which human authority and power, order and freedom and social well-being exist. Thus the statement made about creation here is neither mythological, which understands that all real action is with the gods and creation has no significant value in itself, nor scientific which understands that the world contains its own myster­ies and can be understood in terms of itself with no reference to a transcendent Creator. On the other hand the Hebrews understood the ultimate meaning of creation is to be found in the purpose of the Creator, who positively valued the world and provisionally entrusted to the creatures, who must remain accountable to Him.


STARTING FRIDAY 9 MAY 2008 (8 Sessions)

TIME: 7.30-9.45PM



Dr. Augustine Pagolu studied at Union Biblical Seminary, Yavatmal (B.D.), United Theological College, Bangalore (M.Th), and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (Ph.D). He was staff worker and later State General Secretary with the Union of Evangelical Students of India, where he served for 10 years. He lectured for one year at South India Bible Seminary, Bangarapet, and for 8 years at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Bangalore, where he became Academic Dean and Professor in Biblical Studies. Most recently, he has been a Research Fellow at Tyndale House, Cambridge, and Visiting Scholar, St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge.

Text Box: Announcements

New Admission

Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies

Mr Loo King Keong is a member and Cell Group leader at Mt Carmel B-P Church.  He is an Alumnus of NUS and Principal of  ATI Architects.



Our speaker this week is Ng Boon Thian, MCS student.


Alumni News

Our alumnus (MDiv 1998) and New Testament tutor, David Leong, has recently been elected as an Elder at Zion B-P Church. We rejoice with him and look forward to his greater service to the Kingdom work.


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