Why Tentmaking was Necessary for First Century Missions

The world is changing, so must be our approach. However, the Mandate of making disciples is still the same. Methods may change, but the Message is still the same.

Rationale of Tentmaking

As you are going. Christ did not say, “Stop fishing.” He said, “as you are going, make disciples.” Yes, he said, “Follow me” and they “left their nets” but this did not mean that they left their jobs- because we see that the Apostles encouraged the first century believers to “obey your masters” and continue on with their jobs, and that even missionaries used their jobs as vehicle for the Gospel.

The Gospel ministry is a team effort, so no one goes alone and becomes full-time by himself. He needs the body.

Lydia. The first convert of Paul in Europe was a businesswoman. He won her to the Lord and became a supporter for the Gospel. A tentmaker is the only worker who lives with a true purpose. No other purpose is greater that to advance the greater joys of the nations.

The Context of Paul’s Tentmaking

It began in Acts 17, where we can see that Paul’s message to the Gentiles in Athens is very different that when he was speaking to the Jews. The principle here is: You have to adjust your message to your audience. “To the gentile, I become a gentile.”

After his lofty speech in Athens, we see that people turned their backs to him accusing him as a babbler. Some went with him but he came to the South, to Corinth, not with lofty speech. He said that he came with “fear and trembling.”

He had no money, no food, no supporters. Then Paul used tentmaking. He built tents to raise support for himself while spreading the Gospel through the regions.

As he went along, there he met Aquila and Priscilla.


Aquilla and Priscilla: 7 Reasons Why They’re Good Examples for Us as Tentmakers

  1. They were expats.
    • They’re an expat couple, travelling to and fro Corinth, Rome, Ephesus. In other words, they are mobile. They create movement as they carry with them a message.
    • They were committed to discipleship. They used their enterprise as leverage for the Gospel.
    • All of us have a profession that we can leverage wherever we are.
  2. They were marketplace ministers.
    • You can be a marketplace minister or tentmaker either through your profession or passion.
    • You work is not just your source of income/ livelihood, it’s your ministry.
  3. They were known for their generous hospitality.
    • They love having people in their home. It’s actually a qualification of an elder.
    • Hospitality is an attitude that shows that one does not hold tightly to material possessions. The one is free from its bondage and free for the Lord.
  4. They were church planters.
  5. They were lovers of truth.
    • They have no formal Bible-school training like Paul who went formal training under Gamaliel, but their love for truth was evident through their life and works.
    • They even taught the mighty speaker Apollos by setting him aside and sharing to him the deeper truths of Christ (Acts 18:24-25). Sometimes you can be on the background, without the lime light, and still serve a great purpose for the Kingdom.
  6. They were Paul’s fellow workers (Romans 16)
  7. They were willing to die for Paul in the faith.

As a Tentmaker myself, it is my passion to link other tentmakers and professionals towards the greater joy of advancing the glorious work of the Gospel and seeking for the welfare of the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

I am spearheading a fund-raising initiative called 5Solas Foundation and if you would like to take part, feel free to let me know.

3 Ways How Tentmaking Helped Paul

1. Attract. People with same profession understand each other, so he was able to attract and connect with people with the same wavelength as him.

2. Establish. Through tentmaking, he was able to establish presence of Christ through the work of his hands. Business/ skills sustain the world. Without business, there are no jobs and without jobs there are exchanges of resources necessary to sustain life. Without flourishing of businesses, we will have no tax to support the government which in turn protect the society.

3. Platform. Paul’s work served as a platform for his message. Jobs build commonalities among peoples, and they serve as bridges to connect and establish relationships.

Tentmaking Concept in the Old Testmanent

Although the term tentmaking was not used explicitly in the Old Testmant, its concepts are very evident. Tents symbolize source of livelihood for Paul, but they also represent temporariness of our existence. It signifies movement, travel and passion for expansion and outreach.

Given this case, the Israelites also lived in tents in the wilderness- and together with them were other nations that came with them to worship the Creator and Punisher of Egypt. They were also figuratively living in tents in Babylon, as they were only sent there temporarily, but were called to settle down and seek the welfare of the city.

5Solas Foundation is the modern day expression of this tentmaking movement. It’s a network of professionals and workers who has the heart for the Message of Salvation of humanity. It’s a group working behind the scenes to make a difference in other people’s lives, especially the youth, and influence them to the Creator and His Word. To support 5 Solas Foundation, visit or contact our links. 

Some of the contents were taken from my notes in Rob Provost’s lecture

0 0 votes
Article Rating
by Bryan Villarosa

by Bryan Villarosa

Bacolod City-based Marketing Services Provider | Licensed Financial Advisor

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print