“He Sent them Out Two by Two”


In a workshop held in rural South Asia, participants reported that fanatics sometimes insulted and assaulted them. When asked how they approached local communities, they reported that they normally go out alone. This was not Jesus’ practice. He sent out the Twelve and the seventy-two[1] in pairs.

Reasons for Sending out Workers in Pairs

1. Travelling in groups of two or more was the regular practice of Jesus and His apostles.

To avoid working alone remains patently biblical. Many gifted, willing workers feel lonely or even despised, so they need the love that a partner can provide.

2. There is more power from God when two agree together in prayer.

Jesus promised, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matt. 18:19). Since evangelistic outreach into non-Christian regions faces continual opposition from the devil and from evil persons, workers benefit from concerted prayer. Two or more who go together can pray together.

3. Two workers can bring more spiritual gifts into play than can one.

Workers are better equipped to evangelize families and plant churches in homes when they combine the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given each of them. God promises to give to churches apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, to equip those churches (Eph. 4:11-12).

4. One worker may have a teaching gift and another, a service gift.

Dual workers can use both speaking gifts and serving gifts (one Pet 4:11) to fulfil both the Great commandment to love God and neighbour, and Jesus’ supreme command to make disciples. The ‘Great Commandment’ and ‘Great Commission’ are like the two wings of a bird; working together, the bird flies with confidence. Clip either wing and the bird only goes in circles, as do church bodies that fail to balance the two ‘Great’ commands. Ministries that serve both the spiritual and physical dimensions of local communities normally prove more effective at both than does a ministry that specializes in one or the other.

5. Two workers can experience the Presence of Jesus in their midst.

Two workers can be more certain of the “voice” of the Holy Spirit leading their activities and granting them insight. As soon as the two have led a third to faith in Jesus, they already qualify as a nuclear church in which Jesus dwells (Matt. 18:20). This promise of Jesus makes worship and Body life a reality from the earliest days of a church plant and provides a model for the reproduction of new cells and congregations.

6. Dual workers serve as reliable witnesses to the outcomes of their work.

When the Apostle Peter went to the home of Cornelius in Caesarea, he took along with him six brothers from Joppa who served as witness to the unexpected outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon non-Jewish believers (Acts 10:45; ll:12). Reliable testimonials can encourage others and confirm outcomes. In some cases, workers can better defend each other in cases of false accusation as well as in courts of law, discouraging wanton attacks against a worker who goes out alone.

7. A pair of workers can encourage each other keep each other accountable.

Lonely and frightened gospel workers can easily fall prey to their fears and to various kinds of temptations, whereas a pair of workers can more easily resist incitement to sin and can reason together about obstacles to their work (2 Cor. 7:6). While it can happen that co-workers come to a glad parting

of ways, it is more usual that they remain encouraged by each other’s companionship. Many serious failures, both moral and strategic, occur while workers are travelling alone or during the fatigue that follows ‘mountain top’ ministry, such as Elijah’s suicidal depression after his triumph on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18-19).

8. When one worker trains another, they will often go out together for a time.

Neither Jesus nor his apostles made it a practice to work alone; they chose co-workers who were less experienced than themselves, because they saw in their apprentices a potential to become effective (Acts 16:1-3). Acts 13 reports that the Holy Spirit sent out Barnabas, the more experienced, and Saul. Later, Saul, called Paul, became the more prominent. Travelling with less experienced workers is a key component of coaching apprentices.

9. When one worker is detained at a place, the other can go or return where needed.

Because Paul had taken co-workers with him to most localities, he was later able to leave one at a place or send another where they were recognized (one Tim. 1:3; Tit. 1:5; Col. 1:7). An independent worker can die, become disabled or be detained, leaving the sheep without a shepherd.

10. A pair of workers appears more serious and important to sceptical communities.

An individual can be taken as a marginal babbler (Acts 17:18), where two may gain a hearing. Local communities will look upon a pair of workers as representatives of a community or an organization, while a single worker may be mistaken for a fool.

[1] Some translations say 70


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