Before reading this chapter, read the New Testament letters and note every exhortation about witnessing.
Earlier we observed how Paul limited his sphere of ministry to establishing beachheads of believers, usually in key centers. But his vision did not stop there.... He depended upon the ongoing growth of those little bodies of Christians for the preservation of his labors and the continued expansion of the gospel in the world....
This being the case - with so much resting on the performance of those little churches - one would expect Paul's letters to them to abound with exhortations to witness, to get out and continue what he had begun, proclaiming the gospel to every person. But no such exhortations are there! Why not? Perhaps it's because Paul realized that merely more of the same would be counter-productive. He had come in and reaped. Winning the remainder of those pagan societies required more than words. Before there could be a new harvest, more planting and cultivating needed to occur.
This is supported by what Paul did say in his letters about winning the lost. For example, he told Titus to "teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live ... they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:3-5, emphasis added).
He urged him to "encourage the young men to be self-controlled.... In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech ... so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:6-8, emphasis added).
These cause-and-effect statements reveal Paul's clear recognition of the importance of the people of God modeling the character of God before sharing the gospel. Almost without fail, when he discussed the problem of the lost world, he focused on our "being" as the fundamental solution (pp. 83-84).
Peterson then ends the section with this challenge: "In the light of this, I hope you will take the time to review the New Testament epistles again and note all that they do say about our witness to the world."