Paul and the Mission of the Church

Philippians in Ancient Jewish Context

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"This excellent book makes a strong and convincing case that Paul expected his converts to engage in mission. A first-class contribution to scholarship that will delight all researchers in the field."--John M. G. Barclay, Durham University

Did Paul urge Christians to engage in mission? What would that have meant in his setting? What should the church be doing now? This essential study examines Paul's letter to the Philippians in its ancient Jewish context, making a convincing case that Paul expected churches to continue the work of spreading the gospel. Published in hardcover by Brill in Supplements to Novum Testamentum, it is now available as an affordable paperback.
Part One: Conversion of Gentiles in Ancient Judaism
1. The Problem of Jewish Mission
2. Conversion of Gentiles in Isaiah and Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible
3. Conversion of Gentiles and Interpretation of Isaiah in Second Temple Judaism
Part Two: Mission in Philippians
4. The Progress of the Gospel in Philippians 1:12-18a
5. Suffering and Mission in Philippians
6. The Mission of the Church in Philippians 2:12-18


"This excellent book makes a strong and convincing case that Paul expected his converts to engage in mission. Along the way it sheds very important light on Jewish attitudes toward gentile conversion and offers some outstanding exegetical treatments of the Letter to the Philippians. This is a first-class contribution to scholarship that will delight all researchers in the field."--John M. G. Barclay, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, department of theology and religion, Durham University

"In a culture that is increasingly inhospitable to the gospel, our interpretive lenses are sharpening the focus on the centrality of mission in the Bible. It is heartening to see the growing literature on this subject, especially among biblical scholars, and James Ware's book will be another fine addition to this corpus. Against the important background of eschatology and mission in the Old Testament, Ware amply demonstrates the centrality of mission for Paul and the Philippian church in a time when the eschatological future of Isaiah has arrived. This book is fine biblical scholarship in the service of the missional church."--Michael W. Goheen, Geneva Professor of Worldview and Religious Studies, Trinity Western University

The Author

  1. James P. Ware

    James P. Ware

    James P. Ware (PhD, Yale University) is associate professor of religion at the University of Evansville, where he teaches in the area of New Testament and ancient Christianity. He is the editor of Synopsis of the Pauline Letters in Greek and English.

    Continue reading about James P. Ware


"This important study is thorough and insightful. Although Paul's missionary activity is unprecedented in Judaism, his concern for the gentiles is completely in keeping with God's ultimate purposes. The difference is that for Paul the eschatological future has arrived and is arriving. This book will be essential for discussions about the biblical and theological roots of Christian mission."--Kent Brower, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"The author of this well-researched and engaging volume presents here an extensive study of the role of Paul's churches in his mission commitment, asking, What role did Paul envision his churches as having in the advancement of the gospel? This topic has received little attention in recent New Testament research, and while some recent studies argue that Paul expected individuals to be engaged in mission, the remaining question still is: Did he expect his congregations themselves as such to be obligated to spread the gospel? It has been argued that Paul nowhere explicitly commands his congregations to spread the gospel or exhorts his churches to engage in mission activity. Ware, on his part, however, suggests that in his letter to the Philippians Paul reveals an unusual level of interest in the preaching and promotion of the gospel by his communities. . . . Both missiology students . . . and New Testament scholars should find this volume worthy of reading and further discussion."--Torrey Seland, Review of Biblical Literature

"In this fine book, James Ware presents one of the most helpful biblical-theological studies related to mission that has been published in recent decades. The work is clearly written, cogently argued, and helpfully summarized. For persons interested in a biblical theology of mission, the bibliographic material alone makes this book worth consulting. . . . Overall, I found Ware's handling of both Second Temple Jewish literature and the Pauline writings excellent. . . . The book would make a nice supplementary text for an upper-level biblical theology or missiology class."--Robert L. Plummer, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Ware's careful study, including its exploration of Jewish tradition, adds further depth to contemporary missiology."--Donald Senior, CP, The Bible Today

"A worthwhile contribution. . . . This volume presents a substantial case for the centrality of mission in Paul. . . . [Ware's] argument is . . . persuasive. In particular, the idea of mission as a corollary of Christology, particularly Christ's eschatological rule, is likely to prove to be a useful contribution to present-day discussions about the Church's engagement with and in the world."--Michael J. Lakey, Expository Times

"Given that Philippians has not figured prominently in studies of Paul and mission, Ware's study is a welcome contribution to the field and will be of interest not only to Pauline scholars but also to present-day missionaries and missiologists."--Matthew P. O'Reilly, Religious Studies Review

"Undoubtedly, this book is an invaluable contribution to scholarship, particularly in the study of missions. Ware demonstrates command of language [and] fluency in Jewish literature, the Hebrew text as well as the NT. His arguments throughout the book are not only clear and cogent but, through careful exegesis and logic, offer new insight. . . . The book is an asset to Pauline studies as well as missions."--M. Sydney Park, Trinity Journal

"A significant resource for the study of the early church's mission. The exegesis is carried out with care to details, including appropriate engagement with the original languages, and Ware writes in a lucid, straightforward style. The copious detailed footnotes and the extensive bibliography and indexes represent an impressive compilation of pertinent material. . . . This is a fine and engaging work. . . . We may thank Ware for this reading of Paul against such a comprehensive and nicely drawn background of the history of interpretation of texts in Second Temple Judaism."--Erik M. Heen, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"Ware's discovery of the importance of mission in Philippians is helpful. In contrast to those who claim Paul's letters are silent regarding a call to mission, he exposes a deeper degree of justification for mission activity than is often recognized. . . . Ware has done some very detailed exegetical work on Philippians, and has found support for the view that mission for Paul was crucial to the self-identity of his churches. . . . This is a very fine and detailed study. . . . It would be a useful resource for theological libraries."--Scott Klingsmith, Denver Journal

"Baker Academic has performed a vital service by making this book available for a readership wider than allowed by its more expensive earlier publication. . . . The book is so well written and clearly argued that it is not too technical for non-specialists. I heartily recommend it for anyone desiring to study the biblical roots of Christian mission. It is a superbly researched piece of New Testament scholarship in the service of understanding the church's mission."--Dustin W. Ellington, Missiology