THE DISPERSION – the great commission

THE DISPERSION – the great commission

Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me : and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” John 7:33-35 KJV

Dispersion is a title applied to those Jews who remained settled in foreign countries after the return from the Babylonian exile and during the period of the second temple.

To give little background, at the beginning of the Christian era the dispersion was divided into three great sections, the Babylonian, the Syrian, the Egyptian. From Babylon the Jews spread throughout Persia, Media and Parthia. Large settlements of Jews were also established in Cyprus, in the islands of the AEgean, and on the western coast of Asia Minor, then Alexandria and Rome.

The course of the apostolic preaching followed the line of these Jewish settlements and the mixed assembly from which the first converts were gathered on the day of Pentecost represented each division of the Dispersion. “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:9-11

“…The wonderful works of God.” because these converts naturally prepared the way for the apostles in the interval which preceded the beginning of the preaching of the kingdom of God and the name of Christ. James and Peter wrote to the Jews of the Dispersion. ( James 1:1 ; 1 Peter 1:1 ). So the influence of the Dispersion on the rapid promulgation of Christianity can scarcely be overrated.

What caused this dispersion?

This was due to operation of divers causes that the Jews were separated and scattered into foreign countries “to the outmost parts of heaven” and this also happened at various times, (Deuteronomy 30:4). The main reason, was slavery but mainly it was for economic reasons, the purposes of commerce and some because they enjoyed considerable freedom. Thus were the Jews everywhere scattered abroad. This also is in the aspect of God’s overruling providence, ultimately this contributed in a great degree toward opening the way for the spread of the gospel to us also or into all lands.

…Will He go unto the dispersion among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?”

That wasn’t very nice of the Pharisees, wasn’t it? What an attitude? The same attitude also people can harbour towards those in the diaspora, and even in our churches, some believers also may hold grudges toward those that start their own ministries. But Christians, who were scattered in the diaspora, didn’t they “preach the word wherever they went” and there was such an increase to the body of Christ. Particularly, when Philip preached about Christ in Samaria (Acts 8:5). As a result of his preaching and miraculous signs, people listened. Many were healed and were rejoicing (Acts 8:6-7). Many people also believed Philip’s message and were baptized (Acts 8:12). In fact, we witness God’s sovereignty through those in the diaspora who establish the framework for missionary work.

Where would us Gentiles be if these disciples had stayed in Jerusalem along with Peter, James and John? If all Christians knew how special is the purpose of our calling, it’ll all be “…go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” and be “…dispersed among the people in all kingdoms of the earth…” Est 3:8.

Church is not only for believers to find comfort with each other, (apostle, prophet, bishop, overseer, deacon under the same roof) but is also to be like seed that is dispersed about from the parent plant. If the disciples were dispersed throughout the world why can’t we?