About the Author(s)

Jonas S. Thinane Email symbol
Department of Hebrew, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Thinane, J.S., 2022, ‘Missio hominum as commissioned by missio Dei’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 78(1), a7699. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7699

Original Research

Missio hominum as commissioned by missio Dei

Jonas S. Thinane

Received: 30 Apr. 2022; Accepted: 26 June 2022; Published: 13 Sept. 2022

Copyright: © 2022. The Author Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Christian image of God rightly goes back to the Bible as the only source of revelation. According to the creation account in the book of Genesis, God is primarily seen as the creator of heaven, Earth and humankind. Following this understanding, the International Mission Conference (IMC) in Willingen in 1952 expanded the scope of mission beyond the ecclesiastical sphere and anchored it in the doctrine of the Triadic God. In other words, the Willingen Conference correctly classified the Triadic God as the only source of mission in the world. However, the question remains as to what a person’s mandate is in relation to the missio Dei. Based on a literature review, this article introduces missio hominum as a framework that encompasses human participation in missio Dei. Selectively, the extraordinary personalities of Noah, Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul in the Bible are examined in order to validate the framework of the missio hominum as derived from the missio Dei. By its very nature, this article warrants further exploration of human involvement in the work of the missio Dei, in order to consolidate the missio hominum as an important framework for aligning human efforts with the work and ultimate goal of the missio Dei.

Contribution: The contribution of this article is to deepen the reflection on the relationship between the Triadic God and human beings on the one hand and human temporal participation in the eternal economy of the missio Dei on the other. In doing so, it provides missio scholars and theologians with new insights that encompass the human mission in relation to the missio Dei.

Keywords: Missio Dei; imago Dei; Jesus Christ; Noah; Apostle Paul; missio hominum.


According to the creation story as recorded in the book of Genesis, the Triadic God created human beings in his own image. This means that the idea of human nature cannot be separated from who the Triadic God is. In other words, the essence of humanity derives from the divine essence. This means that human nature in its entirety is built upon the nature of the Triadic God. In short, the human mission springs from the mission of God, which implies that missio hominum is inherently mandated by missio Dei. Much of the early work on missio hominum is contained in the 2002 excellent article by Professor Smith entitled: ‘From missio Dei to missio hominum: En route in Christian mission and missiology’, wherein he sought to outline the inherent and active human involvement in the economy of missio Dei. The reader is referred to recent articles by Thinane (2021a, b, c, d), who builds on Smith (2002) for other topics in relation to missio hominum (Thinane 2021a, 2021b, 2021c, 2021d).

The purpose of this article is to use the extraordinary personalities of biblical figures such as Noah in the Old Testament, the human nature of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and the personal account of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament to support the claim that the mission of humanity (missio hominum) is anchored in and commissioned by the missio Dei. Their individual stories bear witness to how perhaps every human being should share in the work of the missio Dei when it comes to achieving salvation as the ultimate goal. This is done by first presenting the broader background of the missio Dei from the perspective of the Willingen Conference. Secondly, the idea of the image of God (imago Dei) will be discussed in relation to the work of the missio Dei. And finally, the article explores the distinct but corresponding personalities of Noah, Jesus Christ, and Apostle Paul as essential epitomes of the missio hominum, that is, commissioned by the missio Dei.

Missio Dei

Within the missiological literature there has been much research on the concept of missio Dei, such as the research works carried out by scholars (missiologists) like Bosch (1991, 2011), Engelsviken (2003), Daugherty (2007) and many others. Even though the Willingen Conference is often credited with introducing the concept of missio Dei, the obscure expression of this term goes back to Augustine of Hippo, also known as Saint Augustine (354–430 CE), Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), Martin Luther (1483–1546), Karl Barth (1886–1968) and possibly many others who came before and after them (Buys 2020:5; Engelsviken 2003:481–482; Thinane 2021d:4–5). In other words, it can be asserted that the Willingen Conference merely reinforced what was already the subject of history. In fact, most scholars categorically state that people like Karl Hartenstein commented on the conference by affirming the missio Dei as the historical concept encompassing the centrality of the Triadic God in mission (Bosch 2011:399; Franklin 2017:283–284; Schwarz 1984:125–130).

Beyond reinforcement of the rich historical concept of missio Dei, the Willingen Conference attributed the missionary enterprise in its entirety to the Triadic God as the source and ultimate custodian of his own mission (missio Dei). This means that before the Willingen Conference, missionary theology had drifted more into the ecclesiastical realm, practically to the exclusion of the Triadic God as the source of mission (Laing 2009:89–90; Thinane 2021d:6). However, this character began to shift at the International Missionary Conference (IMC), held in Germany at Willingen in July 1952. Essentially, this conference emphasised that the Trinitarian God remains the basis of the missionary enterprise and that he alone is responsible for missionary activities and not the church, as was assumed before the conference (Engelsviken 2003:482). Franklin (2017) puts it:

[A]t Willingen, Hartestein popularized the term Missio Dei for the first time and positioned mission as the cause of the Trinitarian God, rather than as the obligation of the church. (p. 283)

In other words, this conference was successful in the task of redefining the theology of mission, primarily by freeing the church from the assumption that it is at the centre of mission and correcting this assumption by including the Triadic God as the initiator and core theme of mission.

Beyond the Willingen Conference, the corresponding but individual works of two missiologists, Karl Hartenstein (1894–1952) and George Vicedom (1903–1974), are said to have given the concept of missio Dei its rightful popularity. McPhee (2003) states about the contribution of Karl Hartenstein that:

[F]ollowing Barth’s lead, missiologist Karl Hartenstein not only taught that mission is rightly grounded in the Trinity – that its locus is the redemptive and sending activity that took place within the Godhead. (p. 6)

On the other hand, George Vicedom argued that the redemptive and sending history in its entirety reflects the inherent work of the missio Dei (Flett 2009:5–6). Consequently, their preferred interpretation or understanding of the missio Dei from the Willingen interpretation showed that the scope of the missio Dei included profane and spiritual persons without distinction. In other words, both believers and nonbelievers alike could participate in the work of the missio Dei. For that reason, this article underscores or introduces the framework of human involvement in the work of the missio Dei by reflecting on the extraordinary personalities of Noah in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. While the three might perhaps be characterised as deeply spiritual, their extraordinary personalities can be used to form the fundamental basis for human involvement in the ever-expanding work of the missio Dei.

Imago Dei in missio Dei

According to the two-story creation account in the Old Testament book of Genesis, after creating heaven and earth, the Triadic God created human beings in his own image and likeness (Gn 1:1–2:3; 2:4–2:25). There exists a very extensive literature on the topic of creation narratives (Morgenstern 1920; Tosato 1990:389–409; Wolde 1994). Similarly, within the literature there has been much research surrounding humanity in relation to the image of God (imago Dei) (Berkouwer 1984; Horowitz 1979:175–206; Karaiannis 2018:13–20). This section focuses on a more difficult problem of implanting existing understandings or interpretations of imago Dei into the missio Dei, to ultimately formulate the understanding of human mission as a reflection of God’s mission, or missio hominum, as the expression of the missio Dei. In other words, this section will expand the interpretations of the imago Dei to generate new knowledge about missio hominum as the expression of the missio Dei. Although there are several scholars who have examined multiple interpretations of imago Dei, this article will rely restrictively on the excellent work of Simango (2016), who carefully embraced the imago Dei interpretation first of Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE – 50 CE), along with the interpretations from early Church Fathers like Irenaeus (c. 130 CE – c. 202 CE), Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, to the early theologians like Martin Luther, John Calvin and also a few modern theologians (Simango 2016:172–188).

According to Philo of Alexandria, human beings are not themselves the images of God, but are all created in accordance with the image of God. In other words, a human being is not so much an image but is created in line with or according to the image of God (Simango 2016:173). Irenaeus, on the other hand, described humankind as something of a combination of soul and flesh, formed in the image of God. This likeness relates to the holiness and righteousness of God bestowed by the Holy Spirit on Adam as the cradle of humankind. It is this holiness or righteousness of God that will be corrupted by humankind at the fall (Simango 2016:174). Similarly, Augustine seems to suggest that the image of God is reflected by humankind whenever they do what is good, perfect and acceptable in the eyes of God. In other words, the righteousness of God is mirrored by those who do what is good and acceptable to God (Simango 2016:174–175). In agreement with Irenaeus, Thomas Aquinas speaks of humans’ good morals as the perfect reflection of the image or likeness of God (Simango 2016:175). In agreement with these views, both Martin Luther and John Calvin accept that the righteousness or true holiness of God, which should consequently be reflected by good human ethics, is corrupted when people accept what is bad in the sight of God, as was the case with Adam and Eve who accepted the devil instead of God’s righteousness (Simango 2016:176–178). Accordingly, on the basis of the above interpretations, it can be concluded that the human being is not him or herself an image of God but reflects the virtuous image of God when he or she does what is good and pleasing to God. Therefore, every righteous or virtuous person reflects God’s image, while the unrighteous one contradicts God’s image.

Charisma of Noah in missio Dei

The creation account as contained in Genesis 1:27–28 seems to have reached its climax in verse 31, but abruptly reverses in Genesis 6, where God observes humans as wicked with a continuing tendency toward evil, or as Lee (2016) puts it so well, the situation is an ‘outburst of evil and disorder’ prompting total destruction (Lee 2016:301). In fact, violence and corruption were the order of the day, and such a reality grieved God so much that he regretted that he had created humans in the first place (Gn 6:6). Because there are doubts that this story ever happened (Collins 2018:52–57; Rappaport 1978:4–6), most scholars (reasonably) believe it to be a mere metaphor that can be used to relate human efforts with God and his creation (Kempe 2003:157; Kotze 2005:149–164; Spero 1999:13–17), wherein God considers wiping people off the face of the Earth with floods in order to uproot or eliminate such wickedness from his sight (Gn 6:5–14).

Describing this stage, Wiesel (1984) says: ‘God has invented all things and created all men – and now He is about to destroy them all, in one fell swoop’, and even compares God to the author who is dissatisfied with his draft, rejects it and starts again (Wiesel 1984:3–4). It can then be argued that the flood metaphor correctly signifies a drastic turning point in the history of humankind (Clines 1972:129), the end of history before history begins (Spero 1999:13) or even a creative renewal and starting point after the retribution (Dynes 2003:171). On the other hand, before doing so, God first institutes Noah (then 600 years old) as the righteous man who qualified for God’s special and chosen grace among his sinful contemporaries (Helberg & Krüger 2011:33) or as an exception among his own kind, just as Abraham would be in the case of Sodom (Wiesel 1984:4). Noah’s righteousness is here depicted as the predicate that God is seeking in order to select a suitable participant in missio Dei. This means his righteousness is not only utilised for participation but is used as an attribute that is required in achieving the ultimate purpose of missio Dei. In the words of Clark (1971), the qualifier for Noah’s righteousness is ‘not primarily (on the basis of) the past merit of Noah but rather (it is due to his obedience to) the purpose of Yahweh’ as it relates to the salvation of humankind (Clark 1971:274). In other words, the focus of Noah’s episode is not on his righteousness but on God’s salvific purpose, in which Noah is to participate through obedience, and this obedient participation makes him righteous among men and women of his generation.

God issues his missional instruction directly to Noah, leaving the responsibility to order members of his family into the ‘salvation ark’ squarely upon his shoulders. Piehl (1982) writes: ‘The animals need to be fed and watered, and Noah’s sons must speak softly to them, urging patience’ (Piehl 1982:82–83). In order for Noah and his family to be saved, he first needs to participate in missio Dei by building an ark exactly according to God’s specifications. Excluded from this are those who must perish according to divine eschatological judgment, because this judgment is just as central in the triadic plan of salvation (Moskala 2011:31). Actually, the Talmud records that during those 40 days and nights, Noah together with members of his family have to selflessly devote their energies to all the ark’s occupants by ensuring that they are kept alive and can eat sustainably until the predetermined day of salvation. Wiesel (1984) opines that Noah as the leader of that vessel had to know who, how and when to feed at all material times, stating:

[N]oah is at his best … He knows whom to feed when; some eat standing, others lying down, some have to be fed in the morning, others in the evening. Noah forgets no one. (p. 17)

In other words, Noah understands that it is his personal responsibility (missio hominum), as mandated by the missio Dei (Gn 6:21). As the correct understanding of missio Dei indicates, this mission and its ultimate goal (salvation) do not belong to Noah as a mere human participant, but both belong to the Triadic God as its source. Noah’s taking on the task of building the ark signifies nothing other than his righteousness and obedience to the expressed will of the Triadic God (Gn 6–7), which is also the reason why the Triadic God bestowed salvation on him and his family (Clark 1971:261).

Consequently, in relation to the flood story, the missio hominum as epitomised by Noah, as he becomes the very first participating human entity entirely obedient to the will of God, draws others (be it individuals or group) into accomplishing salvation as the ultimate goal of missio Dei. This is stated by Warfield (1914), who argues that God’s primary plan in his own mission is to save through process, whether it be the individual or the whole world (Warfield 1914:85). In other words, Noah merely represents the very first human being to actively participate in missio Dei with the express purpose of achieving salvation. As a result, Noah becomes the first distinct person to demonstrate or exemplify the extent to which missio hominum is built within the substance of missio Dei. Thus, human engagement in mission (missio hominum) is firmly anchored in the context of God’s engagement in his own mission (missio Dei).

Charisma of Jesus Christ in missio Dei

Christian theology as a whole is built on the person and work of Jesus Christ. In other words, Christian thought is rooted in the inseparable nature of Jesus Christ as the Lord who brings salvation to the world. The hypostatic nature of Jesus Christ as both fully God and fully human has been a contentious issue, much debated in the history of Christian theology, and remains a complex task even for modern scholarship to strike a balance between these two distinct yet inseparable natures (Lamont 2006:16–25; Newton 1971:1–16). The complexity of this theology is attributed to the heresy of Arianism, which encompassed the views of Arius (c. 256–336 CE), who proposed that God the Son was a slightly lesser god than God the Father (Williams 1983:56–81). This early heresy was ultimately followed by what has come to be known as the Nestorian heresy, which was named after the Archbishop of Constantinople, Nestorius (c. 350–435 CE), who stressed the independence of the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ (Adams 2020:366–375). In response, the Fourth Ecumenical Council was convened by Emperor Marcian (c. 392–457 CE) at Chalcedon in 451 CE to discuss Christological doctrine in the light of these heresies. This council reaffirmed the teachings of the first and second councils along with the decision of the Council of Ephesus emphasising that Jesus Christ is perfect in both divinity and humanity, inseparably true God and true man (Popa 2019:15–35; Sellers 1961). In other words, the life of Jesus Christ encompassed or represented the culmination of both the acts of God and perfect humanity. Although the above might appear to be lengthy and unnecessary, it was extremely important to firstly demonstrate the caution with which this section approaches Christology while presenting Jesus Christ as the perfect demonstration of human involvement in the work of the missio Dei. Secondly, it was important to assuage any conceivable theological prejudices, as this would make the main idea of this section inaccessible to scholarship.

The humanity of Jesus Christ refers to the fact that while he did not entirely renounce his divinity, in his incarnation he embodied a complete human nature to represent or illustrate the perfect example of human participation in the missio Dei. Like any human, Jesus Christ could have experienced human challenges first as a child and in his adult life, but despite all of those challenges, he always made sure that his life was lived in total obedience to God. In other words, from the first to the last record of his mortal ministry, trust and confidence in his heavenly Father was maintained as his distinctive mark. One other thing that is certain about the character of Jesus Christ is that from the beginning of his public ministry he identified himself as the Son of God, sent to bring salvation to the world and institute a new order that would constitute the kingdom God. In other words, Jesus Christ came forth and professed himself as the Saviour sent by God.

The revelation of Jesus Christ as the true righteous human who has come to be known as the redeemer of the fallen humankind was intended to leave humanity with a clear vision of how to participate in the missio Dei. In other words, all attributes that he possessed and every action that he performed was in total obedience to the missio Dei. Literature on the humanity of Jesus Christ abounds and is easy to find; what is important here is merely to outline some of the qualities that characterise his humanity. The character traits that marked the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ include but are not limited to being loving (Eph 5:1–2; Jn 13:1–5), forgiving (Col 3:13; Lk 22:47–52), having compassion (Eph 4:32; Lk 8:40–48), peace-making (Eph 2:11–18; Lk 2:14), kindness (Mt 8:1–4; Lk 6:35), obedience (Jn 6:38; Phlp 2:5–8), righteousness (1 Jn 3:3, 7; Mt 6:33) and humility (Jn 13:1–5; Mt 3:13–15). It remains to be noted at this point that the character traits of Jesus Christ are taken up or culminate in the expression of his missio hominum in accordance with missio Dei, which is precisely the reason that at the end of the encounter between him, Zacchaeus and the crowd, he categorically states: ‘the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost’ (Lk 19:10).

In summary, the above-stated are character traits that must be embodied by any person wishing to participate in the missio Dei. This is why it is stated: ‘For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow his steps’ (Pt 1 2:21). Therefore, it becomes increasingly important for anyone who wishes to participate in the work of the missio Dei to embody the human character of Jesus Christ by living a life of total obedience and authentic participation in the mission and ultimate goal of the missio Dei. In conclusion, it can be said that the person and ministry of Jesus Christ are at the heart of what constitutes the perfect and righteous human participation in the missio Dei. The incarnation of Jesus Christ in its entirety was not intended to demonstrate his moral difference of degree from all other human beings but was meant to provide a perfect example of human purpose and participation in the missio Dei. The authentic humanity of Jesus Christ as a whole is what every human being must emulate in order to enable full participation in the missio Dei. In other words, the charisma of Jesus Christ is to be the perfect model of missio hominum in missio Dei. At this point it may be concluded that perhaps the main reason for Christ’s incarnation was so that he could demonstrate the missio hominum with due regard to the missio Dei. Consequently, the missio hominum is about embodying utmost humility and combining it with robust commitment for the enterprise of the missio Dei.

Charisma of the apostle Paul in missio Dei

The life, teachings and character of the apostle Paul, as recorded in the New Testament scriptures, is perhaps an example of the unsurpassed human being, actively demonstrating the missio hominum in the discipleship of Jesus Christ. In fact, it can be said that the apostle Paul, compelled by his unsurpassed love for God and his mission, was the first among Jesus Christ’s disciples (although not one of the 12 Apostles) to demonstrate an active human participation in the missio Dei, even going beyond his limits to truly convince men, women and churches to actively participate in the missio Dei. His active participation in the missio Dei, or in other words his demonstration of the missio hominum, made him flexible enough to embrace the task of reconciling gentiles and Jews with one another, creating the entire non-Jewish Christian community. In a way, this parallels what Smith (2002) said, as correctly recounted in Thinane (2021a), when he argued that missio hominum is about a true believer going out into the world, selflessly identifying with others, and demonstrating to them the true love of God. In fact, one can further argue that the incarnation of God involves a transition from one being to another for the sake of the latter. In other words, God not only embodied humanity for himself but partially surrendered his holiness to assimilate human nature. Paul himself declared unequivocally to the Galatians: ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Gl 3:28).

Because the apostle understood that God is a missionary God, for him life in fellowship had to take the form of active participation in his mission, which means that anyone interested in following him must lead a missionary life (Burke 2012; eds. Plummer & Mark 2013). In fact, it has been said that it was his missionary life that inspired countless missionaries throughout history to demonstrate their active participation in the missio Dei (Schnabel 2010:47–57) or as Wagner (2009) puts it: ‘conforming their lives to the pattern of Christ’s own self-giving as in the Spirit’s power they become active participants in God’s own on-going mission to the world (Wagner 2009:21). From the day of his sudden conversion, which miraculously led to the transformation of his entire human person (Lilly 1944:180–204), to the last day of his life, his lifestyle was marked by nothing but mission, and he awoke each morning expecting to actively participate in the missio Dei. For the apostle, missionary life was not external but internal, that is, missio hominum, as inspired by the missio Dei, on the one hand, and human life committed to the correct expression of the imago Dei, on the other. Consistent with this, Wagner (2009) cites Webster (2003), who states:

The act of reading partakes of the basic structure of human existence, namely its active passivity or passive activity. Like other acts of Christian existence, it is a human activity whose substance lies in its reference to and self-renunciation before the presence and action of God. (p. 72)

The core purpose of humanity, as correctly demonstrated through the teachings and life of the apostle Paul, then, is none other than missio hominum in service to the missio Dei. Although not in so many words, he himself says of the incarnate Jesus Christ: ‘He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake’ (2 Cor 5:15). From this it can be concluded beyond any doubt that the account of the apostle Paul, as recorded in the Bible, shows that the vocation of humanity is to live a life that expresses and aspires to the missio hominum in the sense of the missio Dei. In other words, Paul lived his life in a way that encourages every human being to live a life inspired by missio hominum, in an abiding service to the missio Dei. In line with this, Thinane (2021a) stresses that while missio Dei signifies the Triadic God sending himself, the Son and the Holy Spirit in a mission to the world, missio hominum is about people (believers and unbelievers) who dedicate their lives to the mission and goal of the missio Dei (Thinane 2021a:3). Precisely for this reason, Paul could not speak of his own life without integrating it into the scheme of the missio Dei. With impeccable precision, he aspired to the highest moral standard of Jesus Christ, living a missio hominum-oriented life and dedicating his daily life to the goal of missio Dei. He strove to make it clear to the Romans that he was not undertaking a self-centred or self-sustaining mission but rather that his entire human mission was centred or ordered in accordance with the missio Dei. He explained: ‘I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed’ (Rm 15:18). Thus, he never knows himself as living out anything other than the missio hominum, his sacrificial mission in life being deeply and faithfully inspired by nothing other than the missio Dei.

Missio hominum

As shown above, beginning with the account of Noah, followed by the discussion of the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ, which describes missio hominum quite vividly, and which the apostle Paul sought and taught to emulate, missio hominum refers to the central human qualities which define what constitutes the mission of each living person as they seek to participate in the missio Dei’s activity. As a missiological framework, missio hominum not only focuses on the faithful or religious groups, but it also broadly addresses the mission of all people in the work and context of the missio Dei. In other words, while frameworks such as missio ecclesiae refer to a group of Christian believers, missio hominum refers to humanity beyond any particular group affiliation. Missio hominum, then, virtually refers to each individual’s mission (believers and nonbelievers equally) as informed or commissioned by missio Dei.

Missio hominum essentially consists exclusively of the mission of missio Dei. No human being can ever understand the temporal purpose of their life without first connecting it to the eternal purpose of the missio Dei. In other words, the missio Dei was and remains the umbilical cord that gives life to the missio hominum, or better still, the missio Dei is the eternal placenta that gives the lifeline to the temporal missio hominum. In the event that the umbilical cord is pinched or severed, the temporal missio hominum not only remains disoriented but ceases to exist altogether, as it is deprived of the eternal substance that can only be obtained from the missio Dei. Therefore, the temporal existence of the missio hominum can only exist in connection with the eternal existence of the missio Dei. The exemplary lives of Noah in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul in the New Testament set the standards by which all people should ensure a continuous connection between the substance of the temporal missio hominum and the eternal missio Dei.


The article examined selected human figures such as Noah, Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul as models or epitomes of missio hominum in missio Dei. Therefore, this article warrants further study of both biblical and postbiblical individual figures representing human participation in the missio Dei in order to solidify the missio hominum as an important framework for directing human efforts toward the work and ultimate goal of the missio Dei. In accordance with the above analysis, it can be concluded that the human mission is inseparable from the mission of the Triadic God. Humanity has no unique or independent mission in the absence of God’s mission. In other words, each individual has a unique missional role embedded in the larger scheme of the missio Dei. It is this human participation in the missio Dei that essentially expresses the image of God in the world. Put differently, human participation in missio Dei is in itself a reflection of God’s missional work in the world. This means that each human being is built with the purpose of reflecting something of the nature of the missio Dei. Embracing the fact that every human being is born with specific desires and choices to achieve specific goals, these goals must permanently be reconciled with the ultimate goal of the missio Dei.


Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Author’s contributions

J.S.T. is the sole author of this research article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.


Adams, R.M., 2020, ‘Nestorius and nestorianism’, The Monist 104(3), 366–375. https://doi.org/10.1093/monist/onab005

Berkouwer, G.C., 1984, Man: The image of God, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.

Bosch, D.J., 1991, Transforming mission, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, NY.

Bosch, D.J., 2011, Transforming mission: Paradigm shifts in theology of mission, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, NY.

Burke, T.J., 2012, Paul as missionary: Identity, activity, theology, and practice, Bloomsbury, London.

Buys, P.J., 2020, ‘The roots of missio Dei in the Reformation, and its implications for theological education’, In die Skriflig 54(2), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i2.2585

Clark, W.M., 1971, ‘The righteousness of Noah’, Vetus Testamentum 21(3), 261–280. https://doi.org/10.1163/156853371X00407

Clines, D., 1972, Noah’s flood I: The theology of the flood narrative, viewed 17 January 2022, from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Noah%27s-Flood-I%3A-The-Theology-of-the-Flood-Narrative-Clines/4836c829ab68f37d744a70642bb6f6b45968693e.

Collins, L.G., 2018, ‘Biological reasons young-earth creationists’ worldwide flood never happened’, Skeptical Inquirer 42(5), 52–57.

Daugherty, K., 2007, ‘Missio Dei: The trinity and Christian missions’, Evangelical Review of Theology 31(2), 151–168.

Dynes, R.R., 2003, ‘Noah and disaster planning: The cultural significance of the flood story’, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 11(4), 170–177. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0966-0879.2003.01104003.x

Engelsviken, T., 2003, ‘Missio Dei: The understanding and misunderstanding of a theological concept in European churches and missiology’, International Review of Missions 92(367), 481–497. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758-6631.2003.tb00424.x

Flett, J.G., 2009, ‘Missio Dei: A trinitarian envisioning of a non-trinitarian theme’, Missiology: An International Review 37(1), 5–18. https://doi.org/10.1177/009182960903700102

Franklin, K., 2017, ‘Leading in global-glocal missional contexts: Learning from the journey of the Wycliffe global alliance’, Transformation 34(4), 282–300. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265378817724343

Helberg, J.L., 2011, The Lord reigns: Revelation history of the Old Testament, transl. J.J.F. Krüger, PU for CHE, Potchefstroom.

Horowitz, M.C., 1979, ‘The image of God in man: Is woman included?’, The Harvard Theological Review 72(3/4), 175–206. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816000020010

Karaiannis, H.G., 2018, ‘The image of God in the Old Testament’, Icoana Credintei 4(8), 13–20. https://doi.org/10.26520/icoana.2018.8.4.13-20

Kempe, M., 2003, ‘Noah’s flood: The Genesis story and natural disasters in early modern times’, Environment and History 9(2), 151–171. https://doi.org/10.3197/096734003129342809

Kotzé, Z., 2005, ‘Conceptual metaphors for anger in the Biblical Hebrew story of the flood’, Journal for Semitics 14(1), 149–164.

Laing, M., 2009, ‘Missio Dei: Some implications for the church’, Missiology an International Review 37(1), 89–99. https://doi.org/10.1177/009182960903700110

Lamont, J., 2006, ‘The nature of the hypostatic union’, The Heythrop Journal 47(1), 16–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2265.2006.00276.x

Lee, L., 2016, ‘The flood narratives in Gen 6–9 and Darren Aronofsky’s film “Noah”’, Old Testament Essays 29(2), 297–317. https://doi.org/10.17159/23123621/2016/v29n2a7

Lilly, J.L., 1944, ‘The conversion of Saint Paul: The validity of his testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ’, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 6(2), 180–204.

McPhee, A., 2003, ‘The missio Dei and the transformation of the church’, Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology 4(1), 6–12.

Morgenstern, J., 1920, ‘The sources of the creation story – Genesis 1:1–2:4’, The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 36(3), 169–212. https://doi.org/10.1086/369903

Moskala, J., 2011, ‘The Gospel according to God’s judgment: Judgment as salvation’, Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 22(1), 28–49.

Newton, J.T., 1971, ‘The importance of Augustine’s use of the neoplatonic doctrine of hypostatic union for the development of Christology’, Augustinian Studies 2(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.5840/augstudies197128

Piehl, K., 1982, ‘Noah as survivor: A study of picture books’, Children’s Literature in Education 13(2), 80–86. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01142502

Plummer, R.L. & Mark, J. (eds.), 2013, Paul’s missionary methods: In his time and in ours, InterVarsity Press, Nottingham.

Popa, I.I., 2019, ‘Christology of Chalcedon, after the council of Chalcedon’, Studia Teologiczno-Historyczne Śląska Opolskiego 36(1), 15–35. https://doi.org/10.25167/sth.906

Rappaport, R., 1978, ‘Geology and orthodoxy: The case of Noah’s flood in eighteenth-century thought’, The British Journal for the History of Science 11(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007087400015910

Schnabel, E.J., 2010, Paul the missionary: Realities, strategies and methods, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Schwarz, G., 1984, ‘The legacy of Karl Hartenstein’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research 8(3), 125–131. https://doi.org/10.1177/239693938400800307

Sellers, R.V., 1961, The council of Chalcedon: A historical and doctrinal survey, SPCK, London.

Simango, D., 2016, ‘The imago Dei (Gen 1:26–27): A history of interpretation from Philo to the present’, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 42(1), 172–190. https://doi.org/10.25159/2412-4265/1065

Smith, N., 2002, ‘From missio Dei to missio hominum: En route in Christian mission and missiology’, Missionalia 30(1), 4–21.

Spero, S., 1999, ‘The biblical stories of creation, garden of Eden and the flood: History or metaphor?’, Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought 33(2), 5–18.

Thinane, J.S., 2021a, ‘Missio hominum as the compassionate response to socio-economic and vaccine challenges during COVID-19 in South Africa’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 77(3), a6544. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i3.6544

Thinane, J.S., 2021b, ‘Missio hominum guided by an understanding of Ubuntu for missio Dei: Nico Smith’s discovery’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 77(4), a7075. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.7075

Thinane, J.S., 2021c, ‘Missio hominum for social justice in South Africa: From missio Dei to missio hominum’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 77(4), a7109. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.7109

Thinane, J.S., 2021d, ‘Missio Dei as the main project: Project management model for mission of god’, Pharos Journal of Theology 102(2), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.46222/pharosjot.102.221

Tosato, A., 1990, ‘On Genesis 2:24’, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 52(3), 389–409.

Wagner, J.R., 2009, ‘Missio Dei: Envisioning an apostolic reading of scripture’, Missiology An International Review 37(1), 19–32. https://doi.org/10.1177/009182960903700103

Warfield, B., 1914, The plan of salvation: Five lectures delivered at the Princeton Summer School of Theology June 1914, viewed 23 January 2022, from https://www.grace-ebooks.com/library/Benjamin%20B%20Warfield/The%20Plan%20of%20Salvation.pdf.

Webster, J., 2003, Holy Scripture: A dogmatic sketch, vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Wiesel, E., 1984, ‘Noah’s warning’, Religion & Literature 16(1), 3–20.

Williams, R.D., 1983, ‘The logic of Arianism’, The Journal of Theological Studies 34(1), 56–81. https://doi.org/10.1093/jts/34.1.56

Wolde, V., 1994, Words become worlds: Semantic studies of Genesis 1–11, E.J. Brill, Leiden.


Crossref Citations

1. Missio Dei through complexity theory: Complexity to total salvation
Jonas S. Thinane
In die Skriflig / In Luce Verbi  vol: 56  issue: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/ids.v56i1.2871