Mission in the Early Church: Themes and Reflections

By Edward L. Smither

An examination of the missionary activities of Christians during the Patristic period, their themes and their methods, drawing lessons for mission today.

ISBN: 9780227174852


How did Christian mission happen in the early church from AD 100 to 750? Beginning with a brief look at the social, political, cultural, and religious contexts, Mission in the Early Church tells the story of early Christian missionaries, their methods, and their missiology. Edward L. Smither explores some of the most prominent themes of mission in early Christianity, including suffering, evangelism, Bible translation, contextualization, ministry in word and deed, and the church. Based on this survey, modern readers are invited to a conversation that considers how early Christian mission might inform global mission thought and practice today.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 186

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Edward L. Smither is Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University, South Carolina. He is the author of Brazilian Evangelical Missions in the Arab World (2012) and Rethinking Constantine (also published by James Clarke & Co Ltd).


List of Illustrations


1. Backgrounds
2. Who Were the Missionaries?
3. Suffering
4. Evangelism
5. Bible Translation
6. Contextualization
7. Word and Deed
8. Church




Endorsements and Reviews

Too many Christians suppose evangelism began when modern Westerners decided to bring the gospel to the ignorant masses of the world’s darkest continents. As both a missiologist and ancient church scholar, Edward L. Smither is perfectly positioned to recover the truth that missions began in the New Testament and never stopped expanding during the church’s earliest centuries. Writing with easy-to-read clarity and an expert’s mastery, Smither tells a forgotten story that no Christian should miss!
Bryan Litfin, Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute, Illinois

Mission in the Early Church has filled an important gap in historical mission studies by surveying the vibrant mission practice of the early church. Smither’s insights into the way the whole church was mobilized for mission has profound implications for us today. The sheer variety of how this mighty stream of lay witnesses bore witness to Christ is nothing short of breathtaking! It’s an enjoyable and informative journey – I recommend it.
Timothy C. Tennent, Professor of World Christianity, Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky

The chapter about contextualization is especially interesting.
Jorg Christian Salzmann, in Theologische Literaturzeitung, No 141, Heft 1/2