>Discipleship

>I think that it is interesting that the church will allow any person who ‘wants’ to “disciple”…

First of all it isn’t like the way that we currently ‘do’ discipleship is anything like what was meant in the Great Commission…

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

The Great Commission
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

First Century discipleship was done with a rabbi (teacher) and a handful of disciples – similar to Jesus…so that leaves me wrestling with the following questions:

  1. Are we all called to be ‘Disciplers’? (in this passage Jesus only told the 11 not all 122 disciples that followed him)
  2. Are there even any who are qualified – afterall few (if any) have been discipled in the manner of which Jesus is speaking!?!?!!?
  3. Is a ‘class’ in church enough?
  4. If we aren’t capable of discipling like 1st century rabbis – what should we do?
  5. Where does this leave us?

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2 thoughts on “>Discipleship

  1. >We disciple out of a desire to make disciples for Jesus, but we are not all qualified to disciple. If my mother needs a heart surgery, I would not desire to do it myself! On the contrary, I would desire someone that studied, prepared, and made heart-surgery their entire life – to do the surgery. How much more so should we desire someone that has studied, prepared, and made discipleship their entire life – disciple for the God of the universe!We may think we are doing the “right” think by discipling others, but Matt. 5:19 comes to mind: “Whosoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Adds a little pressure to the unprepared “discipler.” We will be held accountable for what we teach and instruct others.Don, very interesting thoughts – I have never considered this until you brought it up!

  2. >It seems to me that Matthew likely saw himself as accomplishing what Jesus was asking in sending out his gospel. [This presumes the Great Commission we read today bears a decent likeness to what Matthew originally wrote…the words at the end of Matthew are the ones most in debate as a hellenized rewrite when/if a putative original version of Matthew written in Hebrew was translated into Greek. Such a possibility would at least explain the discrepancy between Christ’s demand to disciple all with the apostles actual evangelism of only disciplining other Jews for the first 9 years after Christ’s death. If Matthew wrote originally before Peter defended his baptizing of Gentiles to the Jerusalem Convention in, and that original version was “enhanced” later after Gentiles came into the church, it would clear up that mystery.]But I do not think Jesus is calling us to disciple as a 1st century Rabbi would. First of all, He appears interested less in interpreting the commandments and more interested in teaching others to obey them.Secondly, Matthew 23:8 is a strong indication that Matthew sees the advent of the Holy Spirit as more or less ending the proto-rabbinical system of instruction.Thirdly, we must note the strong undercurrent of teaching people to do the commandments that occurs throughout Matthew [and we might also want to keep in mind that the Greek word for “disciple” is very nearly the same Greek as the word for “Matthew,” leading some to speculate that Matthew’s use of it, in particular in Matthew 13:52, is a sly way of signing his name to his gospel.]In addition to the intro to the sermon on the mount and the great commission, it is useful to look at the seven woes presented by Matthew and the focus on the Pharisees not only having warped/abused the Law but having harmed others by failing to teach it properly.[I discuss the above in chapter 1 of the excerpt at my book’s promo site.

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