What If Paul Had Gone on Deputation?

by Robert Breaker III

copyright 2000


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                I've often thought about what would happen if Paul had lived in our day and time.  What if Paul was sent to the field as a missionary like we send missionaries today?  What if Paul had to do deputation?  Have you ever thought about this?  As I read through the book of Acts, and look at all that Paul did, how he did it, and why he did it, I believe that Paul probably would never had made it to the field if he had to go via deputation, for today many would not have accepted him, nor his methods.  

Can you imagine Paul trying to get a "mission board" to help him on his journeys?  Not a one would touch him with a ten-foot pole.  Many would not accept him because of this crude (2 Cor. 11:6) and contemptible (2 Cor. 10:10) speech.  Others would downgrade and belittle him because he wasn't as "polished" as most other missionaries.  Still others would reject him because he bragged about himself (2 Cor. 11:16), and spoke like a fool at times (2 Cor. 11:3).  Then there was those things he said about Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17) and Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim. 4:14).  I can hear the Mission director now saying, "It's just not nice to name names from the pulpit!"  And, then there is the little matter of "dissention" that Paul caused among the bretheren when he got mad at Barnabas and couldn't work with him any more (Acts 15:36-40).   I'm sure that would not have gone over well with the examining board.  They would make a note on the margin, "Does not work well with others!"

                But, if by some miracle, Paul did get a Mission Board to help him, how would his meetings go as he began traveling from church to church preaching and trying to raise support.  I can see him talking with a Pastor before service who asks him, "So what did you do before you were saved?"  His answer:  "I used to kill Christians."  I'm sure that would go over like a lead balloon.  Then another Pastor would ask the question, "Which Bible school did you go to?"  Paul's response would be, "I went to the most liberal one there is, and learned to be a Pharisee."  That would greatly hinder his support!  And, I can hear another Pastor asking him, "How are things going on the field, Paul?"  "Great!" he would reply.  "I've only been in jail a couple of times this year, and I've been stoned only twice !"  That would gain him an instant rejection.  Then I'm sure another Pastor would ask "So, are you married?  "Nope!" Paul would reply, "I'm single and don't plan on getting hitched at all."  That would really keep the Pastor, as well as the church, from wanting to support him!

                What if by some miracle, Paul actually did get his support and made it to the field?  Can you see him coming back on furlough after a long term on the field?  He comes in with torn rags instead of a nice three-piece suit.  His eyes are running, his back is hunch backed from all the lashings he's taken.  He has no slides to show, so he just gets up and speaks.  When it comes times for the congregation to ask questions, up lifts a hand, and Paul points to them and says, "Yes, go ahead."  The person stands and then says, "What have you been doing on the field?"  Paul responds, "Well, I've spent the last several years in jail in Rome."  "Oh," comes the reply, "I see." 

Then comes the next question as he calls the next person with an uplifted hand.  "Yes, you there."  The questioner raises and asks, "What was this that I heard about you starting a riot?"  Paul would respond: "Ahem, well, yes that is true.  We started a riot in Ephesus... But, it wasn't our fault!"  Another hand would go up, and they would say, "What about all the name calling you do?  I heard you called a guy a 'whited wall' (Acts 23:3).  Is that so?"  Paul would blush a bit and then say, "Um, well yeah!  I sure did, but that was... um... well...  Next question!" 

Finally some little old lady would get up in the back of the church and say, "Didn't God tell you not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4,12)?"    Paul would have to explain that situation, and tell them how he got out of God's will, but it was because he wanted to see his fellow brethren saved.  By this time, just about everyone in the church would be thinking "Why are we supporting this guy again?"  And, Paul would leave in disgrace with just about everyone thinking that he was the sorriest Missionary that ever walked the face of the earth. 

He dressed funny.  He smelled bad.  He was disobedient to God.  He called people of reputation bad names.  And, he was a troublemaker.  What church nowadays would want to support a man like that?

                Then, can you imagine if Paul did continue getting support how much of it would dwindle when he began telling everyone that he had seen a vision from heaven, after being "rocked" to death in Lystra.  Why his supporting churches would have thought he went stark raving mad! And, I'm sure he would have lost even more of what little support he had.  And what little support he had left would have really been cut down the more as he wrote home in his prayerletter that he had some saved who were speaking in tongues! (Acts 19).  Why his churches would have accused him of going Charismatic!

                What if the "supporting churches" that he had left found out that he was working a secular job while on the field, and spent most of his time as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3)?  If he had any support left, it would dwindle the more.

                I guess that just goes to show you that things have changed quit considerably over the last two thousand years.  Paul, the greatest missionary of all time, would have been denied, rejected, and yea even preached against by modern Christianity of our day.  Why?  Because man's idea of a missionary is the opposite of God's.

God uses the weak and base things to confound the wise.  And God looketh not on the outward appearance but on the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7).  Paul was the greatest Missionary of his time, and I believe it was because he loved God (2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Tim. 4:8), had a burden for souls (Rom. 10:1), and was willing to do what ever it took to win them (Rom. 1:16, 2 Cor. 11:23-27).  How very few Missionaries there are of this caliber today!  Paul was a "Radical!"  He was dogmatic and he preached hard, no matter what the cost!  He loved fellowship with God more than the praise of man, and for this reason he turned the known world upside down! 

                Yes Paul might not have done too well on deputation nowadays, as the church today is full of very fleshly people.  We do too much in Missions by sight, and not enough by faith.  And, that was something that Paul was full of, and something that we need as well.  The just shall live by faith (Gal. 3:11), and we need to walk by it also (2 Cor. 5:7).  Let's quite looking at the outside, and only looking for results, and start looking on the inside, and judging a missionary by his heart.  Is he faithful, is he willing, is he trying?  Then let's support him!  Because it's not always the missionary that looks good on the outside that will get the job done.  Sometimes it's that Missionary who doesn't look like much outwardly, but inwardly he has a desire to live for God and see souls saved!