This is a study in the biblical theology of mission, the purpose of which is to
discover the essential motive-force of mission. The thesis is: "Love is the motive for
mission, and the essential nature of mission is found in the biblical concept of love."
Only two sections of the biblical materials are considered. In Part I the mission
of Israel is examined as it is set forth in the prophetic materials of the Old Testament,
specifically in terms of the topic, love as a motive for mission. It is stated here
that mission is central to the message of the prophets and that the concepts, election,
covenant, and service, provide the basic structure for a theology of mission.
In Part II the mission of Jesus is examined as it is revealed by a critical analysis
of the Synoptic materials, specifically in terms of love as a motive for mission. It is
stated here that the central issue of Jesus' ministry, considered from the perspective
of the historical Jesus, is the radical demand of God's Rule. Thus Jesus called all men
to repentance, faith, and obedience, and tnus he gave himself in his mission. It is
also suggested here that the traditional interpretations of Jesus' ministry, which are
based on the uniqueness of the time and/or his person, are incorrect with regard to the
mind of Jesus. His mission was not based on his own uniqueness; it was an expression of
obedience to God's will. Thus he gave himself, even in rejection, suffering, and death,
not in the hope of future vindication and personal glory but in the self-denial and selfgiving
with which he challenged others. Because of the resurrection we know that he
perfectly fulfilled God's will, and with the early church we acclaim him as the ServantMessiah,
the Son of God. In Jesus' life and ministry, considered from the perspective
of the actual ministry but in the light of the resurrectxon, we find the full meaning of
mission, the content for a theology of mission.
In both parts of this study it is evident not only tnat love is the motive for
mission but that the essential nature of mission is found in the concept of love.
"Mission" refers to the purpose or will of God, in which men are called to participate.
"Love" refers to the inner and total response of the person, which is the essential
nature of true obedience to God's will.
The results of this study in the biblical theology of mission are significant for
the church's theology of mission, for the church, as the people of God, has inherited
Israel's mission, and her mission, as the body of Christ, is based on Jesus' mission.
It is evident that the meaning of the church's existence is found in its mission, that
its whole life is bound up with the purpose and love of God, and tnat the essential
nature of its mission is self-denial and self-giving, i.e. love.