The Earliest Gentile Missionaries (Pre-Peter/Cornelius)

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Peter is often given credit as the first to reach out to the Gentiles but that is not the case. You might find this interesting:

Jesus’ outreach to Gentiles

  • The Syrophoenician woman in Tyre (Mark 7:24-30)
  • The deaf and mute man in Sidon (Mark 7:31-37)
  • Feeding the 4000 (Mark 8:1-13)

The formerly-demon-possessed man (Mark 5:1-20)

  • After Jesus healed him, he spread the news about Jesus in the Decapolis. He was the first Gentile missionary.

Christians from Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11:19-21)

  • This is a tough one to spot because it is like a flashback to the results of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7. It says, “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”

Barnabas and Saul? (Acts 11:22-26)

  • The timeframe is hard to tell here if at this point the events are still prior to the Cornelius event. We know this is still a result of the stoning of Stephen but now more time has passed since the Christians from Cyprus and Cyrene evangelized the Gentiles in Antioch. Time has passed as word had to get to Jerusalem, Barnabas had to get to Antioch and then had to go all the way to Tarsus to get Saul. So it is hard to say if at this point we are before the Peter/Cornelius events, simultaneous with them or after.

Agabus? (Acts 11:27-30)

  • Same question as with Barnabas and Saul

2 Responses

  1. No wonders most people don’t know about it, it’s in the middle of the gospels and Acts, the parts of scripture that aren’t read or discussed very often.

  2. I love the Mark 5:1-20 passage. It portrays the message that our impact in the world reaches far beyond just the direct person whose life is touched by ours. Jesus impacted that man’s life directly, and he went out and extended that message to many other people.

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