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|The Movement of the Gospel in New Testament Times with Specific Reference to Insider Movements
In this paper I would like to pre-sent a case for the validity and usefulness of the insider move-ment concept by demonstrating its existence in the early church. Therefore I would like to undertake a personal biblical re-flection of the Scriptures with spe-cific reference to the Book of Acts and Paul‘s Epistles.
Furthermore I would like to dem-onstrate that at the heart of the gos-pel from Genesis to Revelation is God‘s desire to reconcile every eth-nic community through insiders in those communities and through mo-bile apostolic leaders and their teams who would go to every ethnic community. This would not occur through organized religious systems but through Jesus‘ introduction of the kingdom of God. Jesus himself was an insider who inspired insider movements. His preaching of the kingdom introduced a mindset into the early apostles and the other dis-ciples that would enable them to not only be insiders in their own com-munities but also to take the gospel to all the ethnic communities of the world, as they lived out a kingdom lifestyle amongst the lost peoples of the nations.
Let me say that I am not a profes-sional theologian but I am a serious student of Scripture in the context of 27 years of living in the Hindu and Muslim worlds. I am not attempting to rebut other viewpoints, but to give my own perspective that will hopefully add some clarity to the current discussion on this most im-portant subject.
Kevin Higgins in his paper The Key to Insider Movements: The “Devoted‟s” of Acts published in the proceedings of the ISFM 2004 Meeting  at-tempted in some detail to come up with a working definition of the term Insider Movement. I quote his definition:
―A growing number of families, individuals, clans, and/or friendship-webs becoming faithful disciples of Jesus within the culture of their peo-ple group, including their religious culture. This faithful discipleship will express itself in cultur-ally appropriate communities of believers who will also continue to live within as much of their culture, including the religious life of the culture, as is biblically faithful. The Holy Spirit, through the Word and through His people will also begin to transform His people and their culture, reli-gious life and worldview‖
Some may take exception to this definition as it includes the phrases ―their religious culture‖ and ―the religious life of the culture.‖ In my own experi-ence it is not possible to distinguish the difference between the cultural and religious life of a Hindu community as it all blends together to make up the physical identity of that community. This physical identity relates to everything that can be seen. It encompasses the culture, the religious system and festivals, the linguistic and ethnic realities, the social and economic system, etc. However, the entrance of the Good News will bring about a spiritual transfor-mation that results in a spiritual identity that com-mences with the second birth and enables the person to become a citizen of the kingdom of God. In due course this spiritual transformation will affect whole families, their communities, their lifestyles, their relationships and the society as a whole. We have seen examples of this both in North and South India. With these clarifying comments I am generally com-fortable to utilize Higgins definition.
As we seek to describe the events that occurred in the first century we recognize that it was a unique point in history when the birth of the Christian movement took place. In that sense such events will never be repeated. Yet there are certain insights that emerge, that appear to be common to hundreds of movements of the gospel over the last 2000 years of Christian history as documented by numerous people including Kenneth Scott Latourette. Hopefully these insights will have application for us in the 21st Century.
ORIGINS OF THE FIRST CENTURY GOSPEL MOVEMENT
The idea of insider communities was already embedded in the gospel from the beginning.
Galatians 3:8 tells us, ―The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‗All nations (ethnic groups) will be blessed through you‘.‖ As we look at Genesis 12:1-3 we no-tice at least three key elements in the gospel announced to Abraham:
1. Abraham would experience personal blessing and that was through faith rather than the law (Romans 4:13)
2. Members of Abraham‘s family/community/natural network who were responsive would also receive God‘s blessing
3. ―And all peoples/communities (families, KJV) on earth will be blessed through you‖
The DNA of the gospel contained:
1. a faith response to the promise of God
2. a blessing to a responsive community
3. a blessing to all the peoples (ethnic communities) on the earth
The remainder of the Old Testament documents God‘s pur-poses for the Jewish nation in particular and yet His concern for the nations of the world. This concern would find its full expression with the entry of Jesus into this world.
A. Jesus the Insider
Jesus, the eternal Son of God became the Son of Man. When Jesus entered human history, he entered as an insider. John 1:14 tells us, ―The Word became flesh and lived for awhile among us.‖
From conception to death, he experienced every detail of human experience and ―has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin‖ (Hebrews 4:15). The author again says, ―He too shared in their humanity‖ and ―he had to be made like his brothers in every way‖ (Hebrews 2:14, 17). Not only did Jesus become a total insider to the human race but also a total insider to the Jewish race as ―a descendant of David‖ (Romans 1:3). Jesus adopted a customary trade, made pilgrimages to the Temple, had dinner with Matthew and his friends, went to Peter‘s house and ministered there, and en-countered hostility from his immediate family.
At the beginning of his public ministry he began to preach the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 4:17) and the good news of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23). Jesus was talking a new lan-guage. He was introducing new concepts, new expressions, new values, new outcomes that had actually always been in the mind of God. David was well acquainted with this kingdom when he expressed in 1 Chronicles 29:11, ―Yours, O LORD is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all‖ and again in Psalm 145:13, ―Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.‖ This great theme of the kingdom runs through the whole Bible. Jim Petersen and Mike Shamy have amplified these thoughts in their book, The Insider. Jesus‘ command was to ―seek first his kingdom and his righteousness‖ (Matthew 6:33) and the theme of the kingdom dominated his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
By Matthew 13, Jesus is giving seven different descriptions of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom is global. There are good seed and there are weeds. The Son of Man and the evil one are strategic influencers. It appears to be without religious structure. It is a mess. Jesus said let the wheat and the weeds grow together.
In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asks about how people under-stood his identity as the Son of Man: His physical identity. The response: a Jewish prophet. Then he asked the disciples. Peter saw him as ―the Christ, the Son of the living God‖: His spiritual identity. The physical identity was seen. The spiri-tual identity was perceived. With this clarity, Jesus declared his role: the church builder. Then Jesus declared our role: us-ing the keys of the kingdom.
From Matthew 18:1 to 20:28 Jesus illustrates the values of the kingdom. In Matthew 21-22, Jesus tells three stories about the kingdom directed against the chief priests and the Pharisees. In Matthew 24, Jesus explains the connection be-tween the gospel of the kingdom and the end of the age. Then Jesus tells three stories about the kingdom in Matthew 25 that are directed to his disciples and in Matthew 26 Jesus relates the last supper to his Father‘s kingdom.
The whole kingdom lifestyle seemed independent of any religious structure. In fact it would enable a Jew to live differ-ently in his Jewish society. It would actually enable any indi-vidual or family or community to live out the gospel in their own society no matter what its religious nature.
The genius of the good news of the kingdom was that it was so simple: change of heart and follow the ways of the king-dom. It could work within any cultural/religious framework since its allegiance was not to a religious structure but to God‘s kingdom.
As a consequence, Jesus the insider was beginning to spawn an insider movement within the Jewish community and beyond.
Mark 1-4 records the beginnings of a Galilean Jewish in-sider movement commencing in Capernaum. There Jesus recruited the early disciples and cast out evil spirits. As a con-sequence ―news about him spread quickly over the whole re-gion of Galilee‖ (Mark 1:28). By Mark 6:30-44, we find Jesus feeding at least 5,000 such followers. The scripture indicate that these were men and so the actual number would no doubt have been more.
John‘s gospel (chapters 2-3; 7-10; 11ff) records the details of the beginnings of a Judean Jewish insider movement. In John 2:23, John 7:31 and John 8:30 we are told that in each of these situations many people believed in Jesus. Even over to the east of the river Jordan in the district of Perea, we are told in John 10:42 that ―in that place many believed in Jesus.‖
Jesus encouraged others to be insiders. When he sent out the apostles, he sent them into the area where they were from (where they were insiders). Jesus sent the Gerasene demoniac back to his own people. This was the beginning of a huge ministry of Jesus in the Decapolis, where the demoniac went and shared everywhere. Jesus then went north to Tyre and Sidon, met the Syroenician woman, and then came back on the eastern side of the Jordan, which was predominantly Gentile. Not long after this, Jesus is feeding 4,000 such followers (Mark 5-8). And so a Gentile insider movement had begun in this district. The Decapolis was a district containing ten cities on the far side of the Sea of Galilee (4). The cities were originally built by followers of Alexander the Great, and re-built by the Romans in B.C. 65 (5).
By the time of Jesus‘ resurrection, there were at least 120 believers (Acts 1:15) with thousands of followers. An insider movement within the Jewish nation at large was underway, including Judean as well as Galilean believers. Also Samari-tan and Gentile movements had begun.
B. Jesus the Apostle
Jesus was not only an insider, but he was also our apostle (Hebrews 3:1). He trained 12 apostles. The good news of the kingdom would enable these men not only to experi-ence the new birth and become citi-zens of the kingdom but also be carri-ers of the good news to the nations. This new kingdom mindset would in due course enable these men to think beyond their Jewish community and religious structures.
Jesus‘ interaction with the Samari-tan woman in John 4 was quite a shock to the disciples. However it started an insider movement in that place as many Samaritans believed the woman‘s (insider) testimony. Jesus stayed with this in-sider community for two days and ―many more became believ-ers‖. Thus the disciples were witnessing an insider movement outside of their own community. The disciples at this stage were probably not aware of the implications of Jesus‘ actions.
But this kingdom mindset would lead Jesus down a danger-ous path with the Jewish establishment of that time. As Jesus entered his public ministry, within the first week, he was in conflict with the Jewish leadership. We are told that Jesus went down to Jerusalem from Capernaum to attend the Jewish Passover. For a religious Jew, at least three factors were es-sential:
1. Keeping the laws of Moses, especially circumcision and the Sabbath
2. Temple worship (Romans (9:4)
3. Attending the annual Jewish Passover in Jerusalem
For the Jew, these things were holy. The law was holy and they were to keep the Sabbath day holy (Jeremiah 17:22, 24).
The temple contained the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The city of Zion, the city of David, was the holy city and has become ―The Holy City‖ for three great world religions: Chris-tianity, Judaism and Islam.
When Jesus entered the temple complex which was among the largest in the Roman world to celebrate the Jewish Pass-over in the first week of his public ministry (John 2:13-22), he found the temple courts were being used for the sale of sacrifi-cial animals. Jesus stopped the sale of all these sacrificial ani-mals and cleared out the whole temple area. Such behaviour was totally unacceptable as God‘s house had been turned into a ―den of robbers‖. The kingdom mindset impacts every soci-ety and culture and brings into question every structure reli-gious or otherwise in that society or culture. Naturally this action of Jesus greatly upset the Jews. The Jews demanded from Jesus, ―What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?‖ Jesus answered them, ―Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days‖. The Jews thought he was referring to Herod‘s temple but John explains, ―But the temple he had spoken of was his body‖ and this in-sight didn‘t make sense until after Jesus‘ resurrection.
From this point onwards, Jesus‘ fo-cus was not on the physical Jewish Temple, but on the good news of the kingdom. The offering of His body would enable our bodies to become temples of the living God in which He would dwell.
My own reflection on the gospels would suggest the possibility that the good news of the kingdom was providing a spiritual message (good news) and a spiritual expres-sion (kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God) that would take it beyond the confines of the Jewish religious traditions and culture. Luke 16:16 tells us that ―The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John‖. The Old Testament covenant/message was ―obedience to the LORD through the Law‖ (old wine) in the context/framework of ―the Law and the Prophets‖ (old wineskin). But Luke 16:16 continues, ―Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it‖.
The New Testament covenant/message was to be ―obedient to the LORD through faith‖ (new wine) in the context/framework of the kingdom (new wineskin).
The Old Covenant focused on the physical, whereas the New Covenant focused on the spiritual within the person, but not on physical structures. Spiritual wine must be poured into a spiritual wineskin: the kingdom of God and not into physi-cal wineskins (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or any man-made religious system). But in the course of time, this king-dom lifestyle will impact the physical structures where it is present. The kingdom is not controlled or confined by relig-ions or nations or world leaders. But it does work through
them like yeast, imparting vigor and relevance and at times judging and running counter culture to these physical struc-tures. For indeed our spiritual life becomes natural and our natural life becomes spiritual.
Jesus explained to the woman at the well, ―Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” rather than in Jerusa-lem at Herod‘s temple or the temple that the Samaritans had constructed on Mt. Gerazim around 400 BC but was then burnt down by the Jews around 128 BC. Jesus declared in John 4:21, ―Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem‖. Paul explained in Romans 9:4 that ―temple worship‖ was one of the privileges of being a Jew (Old Testament) but that Ro-mans 12:1 tells us ―to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is our spiritual worship‖ which is to be worked out in the real physical world and this is one of the privileges of being a citizen of the kingdom of God (New Testament).
The author of Hebrews explained it this way in Hebrews 10:1, ―The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves.‖ Again, he states, ―They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremo-nial washings – external regulations applying until the time of the new order‖ (Hebrews 9:10).
C. What do we learn from Jesus?
Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom. This good news of the kingdom would enable a movement of the gospel to take place within the Jewish nation. But even more significantly it would enable His work on the cross to impact the nations of the world. He was not only an insider but also functioned as an apostle to enable the good news of the king-dom to go beyond the Jewish world into the vast Gentile world that consisted of all the ethnic communities of the world
Paul described Jesus‘ ministry in Romans 15:8-9 in these terms, ―Christ has become a servant of the Jews ….. so that the Gentiles may glorify God‖. And Paul quotes from Deuter-onomy 32:43, ―Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people (Jews)‖ and Psalm 117:1, ―Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles … all you peoples‖ Romans 15:10,11.
Entering this kingdom was not based on one‘s religion or one‟s own righteous performance within that religious sys-tem but on a vulnerable humble heart that trusted the King. Jesus illustrated this stark difference in Luke 18:9-14 when he told the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector and how these two men prayed in the temple. The Pharisee prayed (to/about himself) regarding his religious righteousness, but the tax collector asked for God‘s mercy and he was the one whom God justified. Since entry into the kingdom was through a second birth and not through the first birth, it is open to all mankind.
Finally, the entrance of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost now en-abled all that Jesus had done and said to be translated into ac-tion in the lives of people. The focus was no longer a magnifi-
cent temple in Jerusalem although as insiders the Jewish be-lievers still continued to worship there, or any other building such as the great mosques of Medina and Mecca or the lofty cathedrals of Europe or the huge mega-churches of America or the ancient temples and shrines of Hinduism, Buddhism and Shintoism, etc. The focus was now on the Holy Spirit living in us. We have become the temple of the living God (1 Corin-thians 3:16) and as living stones we are becoming a holy tem-ple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God lives by His Spirit, Ephesians 2:21-22.
No longer was there an association with holy cities such as Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome, Medina, Mecca, Ayodhya, etc. No longer was there a bondage to the laws of Moses as the means of salvation or of any dogma of any religious sys-tem, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Com-munism and even Christianity. Neither the laws or dogmas or even traditions, customs, sacraments of any system were the issue but faith, enabled by the grace of God, in Jesus Christ.
Now the message was very simple: ―Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel‖ 2 Timothy 2:8.
Now the expression was very simple: the kingdom of God, a spiritual community not associated with any religion or na-tion or ideology, but in fact the reign of God not only in the lives of people on this earth but also over all beings in the heavenly realms.
Now the transformation was very simple: the Holy Spirit living in us transforming our lives and enabling us to live in harmony with one another and with all the ethnic groups of this world.
The focus had shifted from temples to people indwelt by the Holy Spirit. As Revelation 21:22 wonderfully states, ―I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.‖ The focus had shifted from the laws of Moses to faith in Christ. The focus had shifted from holy cities and religions to a kingdom community that em-braced all the nations, yet which knew itself as a physical, identifiable body of believers in the various cities and towns and villages where the gospel had come.
The birth of the movement of the gospel in the first century was now about to be unleashed. It was free of the boundaries of Judaism and of any religious or non-religious system. It could go beyond national borders and cross over into and penetrate any religious or cultural entity. The Old Testament had wonderfully played its role in preparing for the New Covenant. The shadow had pointed to and opened up the way for this New Testament reality.
NATURAL EXPANSION OF THE GOS-PEL AMONGST THE JEWS
Jesus was an insider in the Jewish world of Judea and Galilee and Acts 1–12 records the insider movement that took place in this context.
After his resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples discussing the kingdom of God. This must have been an ex-traordinary occasion as Jesus spent extended time to explore the nature of the kingdom of God and how this would enable movements of the good news to occur in every nation of the world. Then he promised them that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit. This took place on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem when ―God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven‖ (Acts 2:5) were present. Also converts to Judaism as well as Cretans and Arabs were there. These Jews came from Mesopotamia in the East; Galatia and Asia Minor in the North; Rome, Crete and Cyrene in the West and Egypt in the South.
From my own reading of the account in Acts there appears to have been at least three streams of Jews present on that day. Firstly there were emigrant Mediterranean and Mesopota-mian Jews who were Jews (first, second, third or more gen-eration) living in the Roman Empire and generally somewhat lax in their Jewish practices. Secondly there were the Galilean and Judean Jews (Acts 2:7, 9) who were living in their own country. Finally there were the Grecian Jews who were Greek speaking Jews that had lived in the Roman world but had now returned to Jerusalem especially to practice their Jew-ish faith and were on the whole quite strict in their Jewish practices. They are mentioned in Acts 6:1 and 9:29 as well as Acts 6:9.
Acts 2:9-10 tells us there were Jews from ―Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia (modern Tur-key), Egypt and the parts of Lybia near Cyrene‖ representing the eastern region of the Mediterranean world. Then there were Jews who were called ―Parthians (modern Iran), Medes (east of Mesopotamia) and Elamites (north of the Persian Gulf); residents of Mesopotamia‖ (Modern Iraq). They represented the Mesopo-tamian Jews.
Significant response would have taken place on the Day of Pentecost from all three streams of Jews present on that day. Let us now follow the expansion of the gospel among the sec-ond stream, namely the Galilean and Judean Jews, as well as the Grecian Jews, i.e. the third stream. We will look at the first stream in more detail in Section 4.
After Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost, about 3000 peo-ple responded. The new believers met every day in their homes and in the temple courts. Every day new people were responding, Acts 2:46-47. By Acts 4:4, the number of men that had responded was about 5000 which meant that possibly 15,000-20,000 people were involved. A remarkable movement of the gospel indeed, and accomplished exclusively by insid-ers. At this time, Barnabas, a Mediterranean Jew from Cyprus appeared in Jerusalem and donated money to the apostles. He was a Levite and probably quite a dedicated Jew.
By Acts 5:12, the believers were still meeting in Solomon‘s Colonnade, a porch that ran along the inner side of the wall of
the Temple that enclosed the outer court. Men and women were continuing to respond. These new believers were meet-ing in the Temple area to pray. In doing this, they were merely following their cultural and religious norms. And their homes also became a natural place for spiritual fellow-ship and worship. Every day they continued to meet ―in the temple courts and from house to house‖ (Acts 5:42). With many people responding, a dispute arose between ―the Gre-cian Jews and the Aramaic-speaking community‖ (Acts 6:1) over the daily distribution of food. This appears to have been a dispute between the second and third stream of Jews. The seven men chosen to oversee this problem all had Greek names, including Stephen and Philip which meant they could relate to both communities. Also a convert to Judaism, Nico-las from Antioch was included. At this time there was rapid growth of new believers with even ―a large number of priests‖ responding, Acts 6:7.
Then a further conflict arose between Stephen and ―Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia‖ who were members of the synagogue of the Freedmen. Freedmen were Jews who had been freed from slavery in Cyrene (chief city in Libya) and Alexandria (capital of Egypt and second only to Rome in the em-pire) and Cilicia (Tarsus was the capital of this province) and Asia (Ephesus was the capital). Since Paul (Saul at this time) was from Tarsus, it is very possible that he attended this synagogue and may have been one of those among these conservative Grecian Jews who were arguing with Stephen. Finally Stephen was brought before the San-hedrin with charges of, ―We have heard Stephen speak words of blas-phemy against Moses and against God‖ and ―This fellow never stops speaking against the holy place and against the law‖. Again they said, ―For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us‖ (Acts 6:12-14).
Stephen, who clearly grasped the implications of the good news of the kingdom, was obviously free of the laws and cus-toms of Moses and the magnificent temple of Herod in Jerusa-lem. He recognized that true worship was no longer tied to a building but was demonstrated by a changed life (Romans 12:1). However, by the time these false witnesses had been persuaded to twist his words, he now appeared to be speaking ―words of blasphemy against Moses and against God‖. When the high priest challenged Stephen regarding these charges (Acts 7:1), Stephen began to present an overview of their Jew-ish history, up to the time when Solomon built his magnificent temple. Then he made the explosive statement, ―However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men‖. It was clear that he had Herod‘s magnificent temple in Jerusalem in mind when he made this statement. Stephen went on to state, ―You always resist the Holy Spirit! … you have betrayed and mur-
dered the Righteous One‖. The Sanhedrin went into pandemo-nium at these statements and Stephen was dragged out of the city and stoned with Saul standing there giving his approval of Stephen‘s death.
On that same day when godly men were burying Stephen ―a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria‖. We are told in Acts 8:3 that ―Saul began to destroy the church‖. It is very likely that most of the believ-ing Jews in Jerusalem including some emigrant Jews were sympathizers of Stephen. As such, they recognized that the good news was not just for the Jews but for all nations and that the temple in Jerusalem and the Law of Moses were no longer part of God‘s purposes. But now their lives were in danger.
However, ―those who had been scattered (by the persecu-tion) preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there‖ (Acts 8:4-5). As a result, many Samaritans responded and Peter and John were sent down to check out this phenome-non. This most likely seemed contrary to their current under-standing of the good news being only for the Jews. But the Holy Spirit enlarged Peter‘s understanding and after Peter saw Gentiles (Cornelius and his relatives and close friends) re-spond to the good news, he realized that God ―accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right‖ (Acts 10:35).
Then, Acts 11:19-20 records, ―Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen trav-eled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the mes-sage only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene (Capital of Libya), went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.‖
These Greek speaking Jews from Cyprus and Cyrene, who were very likely strong sympathizers of Stephen, had already begun to realize that even Greeks could respond to this good news of the kingdom which was not defined by Jewish law or tradition or customs but could be accepted by anybody of any background.
Again, this phenomenon would have seemed strange to the apostles in Jerusalem and they sent a Mediterranean Greek speaking Jew to investigate the situation. When Barnabas ―saw the evidence of the grace of God,‖ in Antioch he was very excited and immediately thought of another Mediterra-nean Greek speaking Jew who was familiar with this area and had gone through an amazing encounter with Jesus himself. So Barnabas went to Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, to search for Saul who was a Roman citizen by birth and yet had been trained by Gamaliel in Jerusalem to be a leading Pharisee of his day. Acts 9 tells the events of the amazing encounter that Saul had with Jesus and the ensuing conflict Saul faced with Grecian Jews in Jerusalem who saw him as a traitor and were determined to kill him (Acts 9:29).
Saul and Barnabas had considerable influence in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26) and this multicultural, multi-religious city was to become the great sending base for the apostolic movement
(Acts 13:1-3) that would touch the rest of the Roman Empire and beyond.
As we reflect on this Jewish insider movement, we see it starting in Jerusalem and spreading throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Acts 9:31). It initially met in the temple courts and then seems to have moved more and more into homes. We notice in Acts 12:12, that many people were gathered in the home of Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark and they were praying for the apostle Peter. Persecution forced many believers to scatter and pass on the good news wherever they went. In this scattering process, Philip talked to Samari-tans. Also Greek speaking Jews in Jerusalem talked to Greeks in Antioch.
It would appear that over this period from Jesus‘ ascension until the time when Barnabas and Saul ministered in Antioch (about 18-20 years later), possibly between 30,000 – 50,000 Jews had responded to the good news. Also other movements in Samaria and Antioch were spawned in the process. An ―Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians‖ responded to the good news through Philip. He was very likely the beginning point of the gospel back in the country of Ethiopia, although we have no record of this happening.
Key leaders were essential for this movement to take place. Peter was pivotal to the response in Jerusalem. Stephen was the key to the movement going beyond Jerusalem. Philip was a link for the gospel touching the Samaritans and the Ethiopian world. Barnabas and also Saul were strategic for the move-ment in Antioch. Peter later influenced Jews in Lydia and Joppa (Acts 9). These men had steadily grasped the implica-tions of the good news of the kingdom and its expression in their own nation and beyond.
EMIGRANT EXPANSION OF THE GOSPEL TO THE NATIONS
Pentecost represented an amazing number of emigrant Jews such that Acts 2:5 stated ―Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven‖. These first, second, third or more generation Jews would have begun to influence their context wherever they lived in the Roman Empire. And of course their context would have also influ-enced them.
As Barnabas and Saul started their missionary journey, this was the first stream of people they sought to impact. Acts 13:5 tells us that after arriving in Salamis, ―They proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.‖ These Mediterra-nean Jews were in practice generally quite nominal Jews and were more culturally akin to the Greek-speaking Roman world in which they lived. Being Jews, Barnabas and Saul had a natural bridge to them, and they in turn had a natural bridge to the Roman world.
In fact we get the impression in Acts 21:21 that Paul was actually teaching ―all the Jews who lived among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs‖. This would have enabled these Mediterranean Jews to relate even more closely with their Roman and Greek counterparts. They were emi-grant Jews who were becoming contextualized culturally and religiously for the sake of introducing the good news to their Greek and Roman friends. It appears that on his first journey Paul focused on these lost emigrant Jews first as they were his own people and secondly they would have had natu-ral access to the Gentile mainstreams of the Roman Empire. There was some response from this group but the primary re-sponse was from the Gentile world which became Paul‘s fo-cus.
It is interesting to note why this discussion in Acts 21:17-25 was occurring. A large insider movement was taking place in Judea and beyond. The elders in Jerusalem said to Paul, ―many thousands of Jews have believed and all of them are zealous for the law.‖ Was this movement syncretistic? No. Was the leadership in Jerusalem unable to think beyond the Jewish religious system? Perhaps. Was this movement actu-ally valid since these insiders were expressing their new faith within their own cultural/religious system? Yes! Absolutely! Were they right to impose their thinking on other Jews who lived amongst the Gentiles and would not have held to the same religious traditions? No! That was pressing syncretism upon other be-lievers. However this whole issue exploded when Jews from the prov-ince of Asia shouted regarding Paul, ―this is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place (holy temple)‖. The city of Jerusa-lem was thrown into uproar (Acts 21:31). This led to Paul‘s arrest and subsequent trials before Felix and Festus. Finally he was sent to Rome to appear before Caesar.
We also note that Paul had continued with the same strategy of focusing on the lost emigrant Jews as well as the Gentiles on both his second and third journeys. In the process he came across responsive Jews as well as God-fearing Greeks and worshipers of God such as Lydia who responded. For example in Corinth, ―Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corin-thians who heard him believed,‖ (Acts 18:8). And the Jews in Ephesus wanted to spend more time with him (Acts 18:20).
An amazing emigrant Jewish couple from Pontus (Northern Turkey) was Aquila and Priscilla. They had settled in Rome but had been forced to leave and settled in Corinth where Paul recruited them. Later he asked them to shift to Ephesus to help commence the ministry there. Later they again returned to Rome. In Romans 16:4, Paul says of them, ―They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.‖ This emigrant Jewish couple had impacted Gentiles all over the Roman Em-pire, and had moved at least four times.
Today we have ever increasing Asian American and Asian Australian communities who also have the capacity to influ-ence not only their own communities but also the communities to which they have emigrated. In Asia we have Filipinos working in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. We have Indonesians and Indians working in Malaysia and Singapore. All of these immigrant communities have an unusual opportu-nity to influence their host communities as well as their own communities.
The emigrant Jews were often motivated by trade, business and commerce in their desire to live in other countries. But in the process they influenced the communities where they lived. Others were maids, servants and slaves who worked in another country. K.S. Latourette states in Volume 1 of his series A History of the Expansion of Christianity  on page 116:
―The chief agents in the expansion of Christianity appear not to have been those who made it a profession or a major part of their occupation, but men and women who earned their livelihood in some purely secular manner and spoke of their faith to those whom they met in this natural fash-ion‖.
This would have been particularly true of the emigrant Jews in the first century, who had become insiders in the places where they had settled.
APOSTOLIC EXPANSION OF THE GOSPEL TO THE NATIONS
We have described the natural expansion of the gospel in the Jewish mainstream and how this insider movement impacted the life of the Jewish nation. In this con-text it required leadership to bring about initiatives and also to sustain the move-ment.
Now we will look at the apostolic movement of the gospel recorded from Acts 13-28. An insider movement does not normally flow into other ethnic mainstreams without the pres-ence of apostles, prophets and evangelists. These mobile lead-ers and their teams are the ones who cause the gospel to go beyond its natural borders into other ethnic groupings.
We have already noted the influence of Peter, Stephen, Philip, Barnabas and Saul within the Jewish insider movement and their role in pushing the movement into new ethnic streams.
Acts 13:1-3 is a pivotal turning point in the expansion of the gospel as the Holy Spirit specifically set apart Barnabas and Saul for a work that would take them deep into the Gentile world. This apostolic expansion was essential for the good news to be sown into new ethnic streams.
The first missionary journey consisted of Barnabas and Saul plus John Mark. On the second journey Paul selected Silas to accompany him. On this journey Paul asked Timothy to join them. Luke (a doctor) also joined them in Troas. Paul re-cruited Priscilla and Aquila to leave Corinth and help start a ministry in Ephesus. They in turn influenced Apollos who went on to Achaia to the city of Corinth and influenced the believers in that place.
On Paul‘s third journey he had Timothy and Erastus with him, as well as Gaius and Aristarchus from Macedonia. Also Sopater from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalo-nica, Gaius from Derbe as well Tychius and Trophimus from Asia Minor, accompanied him. Luke was also with him for some of the trip making up to 12 men as part of this mobile team.
Another key associate was Paul‘s close friend, Titus, whom he probably recruited from Antioch and accompanied Paul and Barnabas to the Jerusalem council (Acts 15). Titus played a key role in the Corinthian scene as well as in Crete.
These mobile teams functioning apostolically were essen-tial for initiating new insider movements. We see churches beginning in the Galatian cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Then on Paul‘s second journey, churches began in the Macedonian cities of Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea as well as the Greek cities of Athens and Corinth. Fi-nally on Paul‘s third journey, a church began in the Asian city of Ephesus which in turn most likely led to churches in Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. After these trips, Paul was arrested and taken to Rome where he stimulated the church in that city.
We see the church as the umbrella for both the insiders ac-tively engaged in reaching their own community as well as the mobile teams that were seeking to reach into new ethnic com-munities. In fact the church is more than a umbrella. It is the Body of Christ which in Acts 13, commissioned and sent out the apostles.
It is interesting to note that as the gospel moved further into the Gentile world, the background of the various mobile leaders involved also changed. Jesus was a Galilean Jew. Barnabas was a Greek speaking Jew from Cyprus. Paul was a Roman citizen who was also a Greek speaking Jew. Timothy had a Jewish mother and a Greek father. Paul had him circum-cised. Titus was purely Greek. Paul refused to let him be cir-cumcised. Timothy had considerable influence in Ephesus and Asia Minor and this fitted his background. Titus, who was a pure Greek fitted well into the Greek speaking world of Cor-inth and Crete.
After the 1500s a great expansion of the gospel took place beyond Europe to much of the rest of the world. At that time the Catholic and Protestant societies utilized full time mission-aries (mobile apostolic teams) to advance the gospel as well as traders and other laymen.
INSIDER MOVEMENTS OF THE GOS-PEL WITHIN THE NATIONS
We have already examined the Insider Movement that took
place within the Jewish nation beginning at Jerusalem.
We have also noted the results of the scattering of the believ-ers out of Jerusalem due to the persecution in connection with Stephen. As a result Samaritans began to respond. Also Philip influenced the Ethiopian eunuch who could have taken the good news back to his own country of Ethiopia.
The Jewish insider movement impacted the whole of Judea, Galilee and Samaria. The gospel spread to Antioch. It had also spread to Damascus, an important city in the Roman prov-ince of Syria about 150 miles (about five days travel) north of Jerusalem. Damascus was considered the oldest city in the East and was the hub of a vast commercial network with roads leading to Bagdad, Mecca and cities in the west. It had a huge temple to Jupiter but also had a large Jewish population. There the believers were known as The Way living in Damas-cus and very possibly sympathizers of Stephen. This would account for why Saul wanted to eliminate these believers. The Way spread even to Ephesus (Acts 19:9, 23). Interesting that Paul would later identify with this Jewish insider movement that appears to have started in Jerusalem (Acts 22:4-5). It was also called a sect (Acts 24:14) and was well known to Felix, who had governed Judea and Samaria for six years by this time (Acts 24:22).
In Antioch we see the beginnings of an insider movement amongst the Greeks in that place. This was to spread both to the east and influence the Syriac-speaking world as well as to the West especially through the journeys of Paul.
Through the apostle Peter, we see Cornelius and his relatives and close friends responding and a movement began in Caesarea (about 30 miles north of Joppa), a city named in honor of Augustus Caesar. Caesarea was the headquarters for the Roman forces of occupation. Paul visited this city at least twice (Acts 18:22; 21:8,16) to encourage the small insider Ro-man movement developing through Cornelius‘ natural net-works as well as responsive Jews that Philip had influenced (Acts 21:8).
On Paul‘s first missionary journey that touched Cyprus and the Galatian cities, the scriptures record an extraordinary re-sponse in Pisidian Antioch amongst Jews, devout converts to Judaism and many Gentiles, which spread throughout the whole region (Acts 13:49). These three strands were the beginnings of insider movements in that area. There were also responses in Iconium, Lystra and Derbe despite severe persecution from jealous Jews. After returning to Antioch, Barnabas and Paul recounted to the believers there how God had ―opened the door of faith to the Gentiles”. Gentile in-sider movements were now being launched in the Galatian province.
On Paul‘s second journey we see the beginnings of the church being planted in Macedonia and Greece. The Thessa-lonian believers seemed to have influenced this whole area (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8) and a movement was taking place.
On Paul‘s third journey, the church in Ephesus seems to have influenced the whole region and a movement was un-derway in that place. Acts 19:10 tells us daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus were held by Paul and the disciples and these discussions went on for two years. During this time, ―all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.‖ At that time Epaphras be-came a believer and carried the good news to Colossae. From there the gospel spread to Laodicea and Hierapolis.
However, these new Gentile insider movements, which were expressions of the gospel in their natural ethnic networks, did not see themselves as converts to Judaism that required keep-ing the laws of Moses and especially circumcision. The Jew-ish insider movement and especially those believers who were Pharisees however felt that circumcision was essential for sal-vation. The integrity of the Gentle insider movements was now at stake.
This led to a very important summit in Jerusalem as re-corded in Acts 15. The conclusion of this critical session, where the apostles and elders met, was that the Gentile believ-ers did not have to follow all of the Jewish customs. The Gen-tiles were free to remain insiders in their own ethnic communi-ties and as a consequence the gospel could freely travel along the natural ethnic lines. There were however four conditions added to this ―freedom‖.
As a consequence of this amazing session, a letter was sent to ―the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia‖. The Gentile insider movements were now authenticated and also encouraged by the leadership of the church at that time. This represented a major break-through for the mobility of the gospel and for the expansion of Gentile insider movements all over the Mediterranean world.
SYNCRETISM AS THE CONSTANT DANGER
Usually one of the arguments brought against the concept of insider movements is that it promotes syncretism. Syncretism is an issue, but it is an issue for all believers.
As people live as insiders in their own communities, there will always the ongoing danger of syncretism. When Jesus prayed in John17:14-18 that his disciples would be ―in the world‖ but ―not of the world‖, he knew this would be a di-lemma all believers would face.
Jesus made it plain in Luke 16:13, ―No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.‖
The Oxford Dictionary defines syncretism as ―the amalga-mation of different religions‖. The World Book Dictionary uses similar phrases such as ―the attempted union or recon-ciliation of diverse or opposite tenets or practices, especially in philosophy or religion‖. The original Greek work, synkre-tismos, was a political term and literally meant the ―union of rival Greek forces of Cretan (kretos) communities in opposi-tion to a common enemy‖. Another definition from the inter-
net is ―the union of two or more opposite beliefs‖. When ap-plied specifically to the gospel, syncretism is then more nar-rowly defined as ―syncretism of the Christian gospel occurs when critical or basic elements of the gospel are replaced by religious elements from the host culture‖. This latter defini-tion is not very consistent with the previous definitions. It may be better to substitute the phrase ―are amalgamated with‖ for the phrase ―are replaced by‖.
Two other examples of syncretism that plague most believ-ers today are found in Galatians 5. The struggle between law and grace is explained in verses 1-12 and the struggle be-tween the flesh and the spirit is highlighted in verses 13-24. Only kingdom lifestyle will resolve these struggles.
It is true that believers are heavily influenced by their sur-rounding community. But Paul had strongly encouraged the Corinthian believers to remain in their own community and remain as insiders in that community, 1 Corinthians 7:17-24.
Yet many Christian leaders and missionaries appear to teach that a new believer must leave their own community (Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc) and join a Christian (physical) community to escape the bad influence of their own community.
It is important to note that contextu-alization is an issue for the mission-ary and 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 is a relevant passage. But syncretism is an issue for the insider movement or local believers as they wrestle with their own context. The rest of the book of 1 Corinthians is relevant to these believers.
For Paul, he became like the Corin-thians for the sake of the gospel (chapter 9) so that they in turn could remain like their lost Corinthians friends (chapter 7), again for the sake of the gospel.
Another interesting example of how much syncretism is part of every community is demonstrated in Acts 15. There the early church sought to give freedom to the Gentiles to remain in their own communities and live out Christ as insiders in their pagan cultures. But four conditions were added. The issue of sexual immorality made sense and was in fact some-thing that would continue to be dealt with along with the com-ing of the good news regardless of community (1 Corinthians 7:1-7). Regarding the issue of drinking blood, this was indeed repulsive to the Jews as they had commands in Leviticus 3, 7, 17 and 19 against this practice. But it is interesting that the Jews wanted to impose this stipulation on the Gentiles which would seem to smack of syncretism. Indeed in Acts 15:21, the Old Testament is invoked as the authority for these conditions.
As far as the stipulation regarding eating food polluted by idols, Paul later releases this stipulation when he is advising the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 8:8 regarding this issue. And the issue of eating the meat of strangled animals was apparently a custom repulsive to the average Jew. But again it did not seem to be part of the gospel but more to enable the Jews to cope with the Gentiles. Yet it was in practice one commu-nity imposing their beliefs and practices on another.
Today the Christian world struggles in another area of syn-cretism. This is where we insist on the Bible plus various creeds, confessions and doctrinal church statements. Jim Pe-tersen deals at length with this issue in his book Church Without Walls. Churches in the west also struggle with areas of syncretism such as the incorporation of marketing methods, business structures, Boards of Directors, temple-like buildings, etc.
At this point, I would like to argue for the validity and use-fulness of the insider movement and demonstrate its theologi-cal credibility through my own personal reflections from the book of 1 Corinthians, and how syncretism is handled in this context. In an earlier letter that Paul had written to the Corin-thians, he had advised them about separating from other peo-ple. The word ―Pharisee‖ literally means ―to separate from‖. But in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10, Paul corrects a misunderstanding that had occurred with the Corinthians. He says, ―I have writ-ten to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.‖
Paul goes on to explain that we separate from or dissociate from believers who are grossly syncretistic but not from the typically messed-up unbeliever, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
However, Paul is very clear that we cannot participate in two spiritual relationships as is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 where this word (participation, partake, participate, participants) is mentioned five times. In this case it had to do with the worship of the Lord and also the worship of demons. We cannot participate in two different belief systems.
A similar situation occurs in 2 Corinthians 6:14 where Paul again advises the Corinthian believers that they cannot main-tain a relationship with Christ and Belial, who was associated with the cult of Aphrodite. In 2 Corinthians 6:16, Paul asks, ―What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God‖. Here Paul is not talking about physical temples but about the syncretism taking place in the hearts of the believers, where again the be-liever cannot participate in two different belief systems.
But it often becomes unclear about the difference between association and participation. Syncretism comes when we participate in two relationships representing two different be-lief systems. Association takes place for the sake of the gospel. We see Paul speaking to the syncretism of flesh and spirit in 1 Corinthians 6-7 in the areas of lawsuits, sexual immorality and breakup of marriages. Yet in the midst of this mess, he urges them to remain as insiders in their community in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24. Paul himself makes it plain that he sought to be an insider himself to every community he related to (1 Corin-thians 9:19-23) in order that the gospel may touch others. And he was very aware of the dangers involved as he pointed out in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He is aware of the temptations in such
a process and states ―No, I beat my body (bring it under com-plete control, NEB) and make it my slave so that after I preach to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize‖ (verse 27)
But the confusion comes as we try to distinguish physical association from spiritual participation. This was a dilemma for the Corinthians and Paul elaborates on this in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 in the contexts of being in the temple, in the meat market and in the unbeliever‘s home. These three contexts are the typical contexts for most believers in the Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist worlds today.
In the context of being in the temple (mosque, etc) Paul clarifies that ―an idol is nothing at all in the world‖ and the food offered to the idols has no effect on us, 1 Corinthians 8:4 and 1 Corinthians 8:8. The physical presence of the temple, or the idols in the temple or the food offered to the idols was not the issue. This was the normal religious and social environ-ment of their community and to influence their families and friends in their community they needed to be relaxed (free of it but not bound by it) in that setting. If we are free of the law or any religious law or system (Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism), then we are free to live under that law assuming our con-science is free of that law or system and not controlled by it.
But Paul was also concerned that their freedom from their religious and cultural traditions as well as their belief systems of their old religious world did not become a problem for other weak believers ―who were still so accustomed to idols‖ and therefore would participate in the worship of idols due to their weak conscience, 1 Corinthians 8:9-10.
Therefore it was important for the Corinthians believers to be careful in the exercise of their freedom so that a young believer with a weak conscience was not led astray. Yet Paul wanted them to enjoy their freedom and to bring the good news of the kingdom to their own community. When Paul discusses the other two issues in 1 Corinthians 10 of the meat market and in an unbeliever‘s home, he again urges the Corin-thians to relax and not raise questions of conscience (v25) and ―eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience‖ (v27). The issue is not our conscience, since we have freedom but to be sensitive in this case to the unbe-liever‟s conscience who is concerned for you.
Paul concludes in 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 with this beautiful balance of being free in these matters and yet sensitive to the conscience of both unbelievers and weak believers. He con-cludes that whether you are eating food offered to idols in the temple or in an unbeliever‘s home do it heartily and freely to God‘s glory. At the same time, don‘t be callous in your exer-cise of freedom, thoughtlessly hurting those who aren‘t as free as you are.
Let me express this conclusion in another way. 1 Corin-thians 10:31-33 is the balance between being sensitive to the conscience of weak believers, and even unbelievers, (versus carnal believers whose conscience is often more controlled by law) and yet enjoying the wonderful freedom (conscience of a mature believer) of living out the good news of the kingdom within the religious framework of your own community.
PAUL‟S PERSPECTIVE ON INSIDERS
In the midst of working through the various issues of syncre-tism that the Corinthians were facing, Paul was clarifying for the Corinthians, the essence of the gospel.
He was also concerned that they should remain in this messy context as they worked through all these issues. This would be kingdom living like ―the yeast that has worked all through the dough‖ (Matthew 13:33). Their changing lifestyle would slowly impact their whole community.
The gospel was clarifying for the Corinthians believers and through them it was influencing their families, friends, neighbors, work colleagues and others.
In 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 Paul was very clear in his advice that a new believer should remain in his or her natural context which in this case included marriage/singleness, circumcision/uncircumcision and slavery/freedom. The new believer was not required to change their marital, religious, cultural or so-cial context when they responded to the gospel. But Paul cer-tainly encouraged believers to improve their social status if it was possible.
Verse 17 Paul stressed that a person should retain their place in life. This place in life was assigned to him or her by the Lord (through his or her first birth) and to which God has called him or her (through his or her second birth).
Verse 20 states ―each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him‖. God‘s calling occurs when you are ―called into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ‖ (1 Corinthians 1:9) and when you are ―called out of darkness into His wonderful light‖ (1 Peter 2:9). When that calling takes place the believer should remain in that particular situation. Here Paul is not referring to a person‘s vocation. Rather he is speaking about their religious or social situation.
Finally verse 24 tells us, ―Each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to‖. Paul even makes it clear that by remaining as ―insiders‖ we are ac-tually fulfilling our calling.
Three thoughts about calling emerge from this passage re-garding insiders:
● ―Each one should retain the place in life …. to which God has called him” (v17). They do not need to change their status, whether it is their economic, social or religious station in life (NIV Study Bible).
● ―Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him‖ (v20). God calls the insider. The insider is not called by churches or organizations or societies. And when that calling takes place, the insiders remain in their natural context. ―Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.‖ (v24). Again this is re-ferring to one‘s religious or social context, not to one‘s vocation in life.
● They have a calling to be insiders in their own com-
munity. They are not required to leave Hinduism, Is-lam, Shintoism, etc and join a Christian church or com-munity. They will however be part of a kingdom com-munity in their natural context that will be based strongly on the ―one-another‖ relationships found throughout the epistles. For example, ―But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin‘s deceitfulness‖, Hebrews 3:13. To go beyond their community usually requires a further calling, the calling to be an apostle.
In summary, the insider has a calling to God, to his com-munity and to his place in life. Thus the insider movement with its local leadership appears to be the natural way for the gospel to impact that particular ethnic group. The local leader-ship is usually shepherding in nature.
We have seen the importance of ―seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness‖ in grasping what is the good news and how this good news is expressed through insider movements in every ethnic community. Secondly we have seen that a new believer does not leave his or her cultural/religious context but rather lives differently in that context.
Thirdly, the new believers will be facing ongoing struggles with syncretism but with the help of mobile apostolic leaders, the gospel will continue to be clarified. As the lives of these new believers are slowly transformed, this will in turn impact their entire communities, resulting in insider movements.
The fourth factor that together with insider movements com-pletes our understanding of church is the apostolic movement led by small bands of mobile leaders. These mobile bands take the good news into new ethnic groups and lay the founda-tions in these new ethnic groups. They also coach the local movements and recruit new apostolic leaders who in turn will go to new locations. All of this is church. It is in fact one seamless web, consisting of a dynamic ongoing interaction between the local and mobile movements.
CHARACTERISTICS OF INSIDER MOVEMENTS
There appears to be at least ten characteristics of these in-sider movements.
1. The gospel is very simple. It is Jesus Christ and him crucified. Nothing more. It is not the crucified Jesus plus the Law. It is not the crucified Jesus plus leaving your community and joining an alien community. For a movement to have a pure gospel there is a constant need to clarify what is the gospel in order to counter such things as syncretism and false teaching. Often the apostolic mobile team is key to this process.
2. The outworking of the gospel is through his king-dom. Matthew 6:33. The kingdom functions through the natural networks of family, community and the so-ciety. As such the wheat and tares all grow together (Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43 as well as 47-51). We don‘t sweat the mess.
3. Understanding our spiritual identity as being related to our second birth, when we become citizens of his kingdom. It has little to do with our cultural/religious identity. Jesus‘ spiritual identity was that he was/is the Son of God. We too are sons and daughters of the liv-ing God and that is usually spiritually perceived.
My own thought is that our second birth provides us with a set of keys (of the kingdom) that enable the pu-rity of the gospel. This spiritual dimension results in the transformation of lives through the influence of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and both local and mobile leaders. This in turn guards the gospel and keeps it from the influences of syncretism that are ever present in every context. Our second birth provides us with our spiritual identity as we now become citizens of God‘s kingdom. This in turn provides us with many spiritual keys that enable the purity of the gospel as we seek to touch the nations.
4. Understanding our physical identity as being related to our first birth, when we were assigned (1 Corinthians 7:17) a place and time in history (Acts 17:26) that de-termines our cultural, social and religious identity. Je-sus‘ physical identity was that he was/is the Son of Man and as such was seen as a Jewish prophet. We too are sons and daughters of men and our identity is usually very obvious to all.
Again my own thought is that our first birth provides us with a set of keys (of the kingdom) that enable the mo-bility of the gospel through the natural bridges of our first birth and causes the birth of insider movements. Our first birth is our physical identity and provides us with our human identity. This includes our religious, cultural, national, linguistic, ethnic and social identities. As such we have many keys that enable us to identify as insiders and hence provide mobility for the gospel. These thoughts on the keys of the kingdom, though somewhat different from the usual interpretation, are offered as, hopefully, useful insights.
5. The transformation of lives comes about by the in-dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit causing us to be-come holy. Also spirit filled teachers giving instruction and even discipline to the believers. This transforma-tion takes place in the context of everyday relation-ships such as family and work (Ephesians 5-6, Colos-sians 3 and 1 Peter 2-3). The ―one anothers‖ dominate the epistles and these changing relationships reflect the growth of the church, Ephesians 4:15, 16.
6. The outworking of this transformation is in the context of the lost mainstreams where the person has re-sponded to the good news. As 1 Peter 2:11 states, ―Live such good lives among the pagans‖ (Greek is simply the ethne or nations). This outworking of the gospel is normally through the natural networks of relationships found in families and relatives, in the workplace, amongst close friends, with neighbours and occasionally with those in need (Luke 10:25-37). Rod-
ney Stark in his book, The Rise of Christianity  argues that as movements in history have grown, their ―social surface‖ has expanded exponentially. He states, ―Each new member opens up new networks of relation-ships between the movement and potential members. The forms of social networks will differ from culture to culture, but these interpersonal relationships will de-fine the lines through which conversion will most read-ily proceed.‖
7. The concept of church being household (oikos) fits naturally into this insider flow of the gospel. Indeed this understanding of church is found throughout the Book of Acts and the Epistles. Paul especially utilizes it in 1 Timothy 3 when he thinks about the heads of households being the leadership of the insider move-ment. In 1 Timothy 3:15 he specifically refers to God‟s household as the church of the living God. When re-ferring to the believers in Rome, Paul lists many house-holds in Chapter 16. We note that oikos is just one of the expressions of the church. In fact in Romans 16 we have four different usages of the word ekklesia.
8. The local leadership that is needed for insider move-ments is also part of the natural fabric (1 Timothy 3) and it is the deacons who lead their own households (1 Timothy 3:12) as well as elders, overseers and bishops (1 Timothy 3:1-7) who desire to care for other house-holds as well. Mostly these local leaders are laymen, who are already respected in their pagan communities. They provide an organic structure based on relation-ships in contrast to an institutional structure based on positions and programs. Often when resolving issues of justices such organic structures are necessary. An ex-ample is Acts 6:1-6 when certain widows were over-looked in the daily distribution of food.
9. Within these insider movements, there is the cultiva-tion of young apostles, prophets and evangelists and other mobile leaders who will be released to go and plant the good news into new ethnic groups where the gospel is not known. The church is the umbrella that embraces these mobile teams as well as the local ex-pressions.
10. A very helpful characteristic of an insider movement is the availability of an indigenous, simple local Bible translation which the common man can easily read and understand. In this way the priesthood of all believers is nourished as every believer can learn from the Scrip-tures directly and in turn can influence others with the good news. This characteristic is not deduced from scripture, but is evident by the way Paul wrote to these insider movements.
We have seen that the good news of the kingdom of God is the basis for insider movements and that these insider move-ments occur in every ethnic community of the world through
―sent out‖ mobile gifted people who both understand and live out this kingdom lifestyle. In Genesis 12:1-3 we saw that eth-nic communities are embedded in the gospel. Matthew 28:18-20 tells us that we are to make disciples of every ethnic com-munity and nation.
And finally both Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 7:9 suggest that our first birth as well as our second birth will be part of our unique eternal identity. Revelation 7:9 states, ―After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.‖ The nature of this unique eternal identity is hard to grasp. Yet if we major only on the second birth and extract people out of their natural ―insider‖ ethnic networks and in a sense cause people to deny their first birth, this would seem inconsistent with scripture.
We have seen how the good news of the kingdom was pro-claimed by Jesus and as a result insider movements began to take place in both the Jewish and Gentile worlds. We are aware of the ultimate scene in Revelation 7:9. But how the Holy Spirit leads the people of God throughout history and today and in the future will have great variation depending on the context (e.g. fundamentalist Hindus, mainstream Hin-dus, nominal Hindus, secular Hindus, etc) the location (proximity to Mecca) and many other factors. Even today there are many different kinds of insider movements in the non-Christian religious mainstreams of the world as well as in the secular West.
But we are strongly aware of Jesus‘ words, ―As the Father has sent me, I am sending you‖ (John 20:21). And Jesus was truly an insider, yet his focus was the world (Matthew 13:38 and Matthew 28:18-20). We too need to be concentrating locally as insiders and yet committed globally as citizens of the kingdom of God.
In summary, we have seen the importance of:
● a simple gospel
● a clear understanding of the kingdom of God and how it is expressed in the nations
● transformation of lives lived in community through vital interpersonal relationships
● lives lived out in the context of the lost nations with an understanding of their physical and spiri-tual identities in this context
● the church being both the local expressions (insider movements) as well as mobile
● teams (apostolic movements) in dynamic interac-tion
● the church being transformed relationships in the body of Christ, especially in the household (oikos) and the workplace in the context of the lost world
● godly leadership ranging over all the gifts in both the local and mobile expressions of the gospel of the kingdom.(AFMI/ASFM)
 The Key to Insider Movements: The “Devoted‟s” of Acts by Kevin Higgins, IJFM 21:4 Winter 2004.155
 A History of the Expansion of Christianity by Kenneth Scott Latourette, 7 volumes, Harper and Row, NY, 1937-1945.
 The Insider by Jim Petersen and Mike Shamy, NavPress, CSC, 2003.
 Holman Bible Atlas, Holman Reference, Nashville, 1998, Page 220.
 Unger‟s Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1982, Page 257.
 Syncretism, Advanced Information, www.mb-soft.com/believe/txc/syncreti.htm
 Church Without Walls by Jim Petersen NavPress, CSC, 1992.
 The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark, Harper Collins, NY, 1997.
I would like to acknowledge invaluable interactions with numerous leaders in the Navigator movement including Wal-dron Scott (author of Bring Forth Justice), Jim Petersen (author or Living Proof, Church Without Walls, Lifestyle Discipleship, etc), Jerry White (author of many books, in-cluding Dangers Men Face), Mike Shamy (author of The Insider along with Jim Petersen), Donald McGilchrist, Mike Treneer, Alan Andrews, Vijayan, Don Bartel, Jeff Hayes, Gary Bradley, Dick Fischer and others who contributed various comments.