Once I was involved in a discussion with fellow Christians and I was told that the Gospel went out to the whole “known” world in the 1st century. I had to ponder this statement geographically so when anybody looks at the maps in their Bible, it shows Paul’s missionary travels and his “church planting” involved lands and people that surround the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. Then if you do a little reading about Church history, the “church” kept growing and moving kind of in a Northwestern direction. So if Jerusalem was the starting point, the Great Commission went north and west.
So if in God’s providence the Gospel went north and west, to make the claim that it went to the whole “known” world is a misleading statement. The Gospel essentially stayed within the Greek/Roman Empire which surrounded the Mediterranean Sea but why don’t we ever hear about the Gospel going east? Where are the great Churches and bodies of Christ established in Arabia and the Parthian Empire? During the 1st century, these were “known” people of the world and some of these "eastern" people actually showed up for Pentecost in Acts 2 but Paul did not have any missionary journeys to this “known” world.
What is interesting is that the Bible is not silent about these historic “eastern” people. The Assyrian Empire, the Median Empire, the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, and the Parthian Empire were all involved with judging Old Covenant Israel. I find it more interesting how God used the Roman Empire to push eastward these declared “enemies” of God’s people which brought stability to the region of Palestine for Jesus’ 1st coming. Then in God’s providence, the Great Commission moved throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, but primarily north and west.
And here is what is most interesting of all. The Roman Empire came and went, it is gone. The Gospel and Church continued to flourish and move north and west of Jerusalem, all the way across the ocean to the America’s, so what happened to what we now call the Middle East? The Parthian Empire fell to the Sassanid Empire, and the Sassanid Empire fell to the Muslim Conquest, and the Muslim Conquest has produced the Islamic nations that currently occupy essentially the same land these historic Biblical empires occupied. These historic “eastern” people to this very day are still the enemies of God’s people. They have not been conquered or converted. Their borders and rulers have moved around over the centuries but as a people, they are as committed to their ideology today, or shall I say idolatry, as they were thousands of years ago as revealed in the Old Testament.
Don’t you find it interesting that these people and their nations are not “Christian”? Why haven’t they become like the United States or England? They were such close neighbors to Palestine (Jerusalem). Aren’t these people that are declared as enemies of the one true God in the Old Testament still the same enemies to the one true God in the New Testament? Yes, there is a remnant being saved in some churches dispersed among these nations but the ruling people in these nations are actively trying to exterminate these “infidels”. We hear it all the time about the severe persecution these “eastern” churches are undergoing.
In closing, let’s ponder this. Do the Scriptures reveal a purpose for these Biblical enemies who have essentially remained the same throughout their history? And not only are they occupying the land of their forefathers, but they are currently expanding their footprint throughout the entire world? Scripture reveals that God had purpose for these enemies in the Old Covenant so does the Bible reveal God’s purpose for these enemies in the New Covenant?
To God be the glory,
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Ga 3:26-29 AV)
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph 2:11-22 AV)