curse you μαθητευσατε!

I hate Christian cliches. With a passion. I really do. Few people have seen me more frustrated than when I talk about “pop Christianity”. I mean, potpourri at a Christian book store? “Testa-mints?” Really? Ugh.

Anyway, one of my big soapboxes is the misappropriation of the language Evangelicals use in relation to how the Bible describes things. The Bible never says “accept Jesus into your heart”, Jesus never gives an altar call, and Jesus never “knocks on the door of your heart” (that passage in Revelation is referring to Jesus knocking on the door of a church, not a heart).

One of my biggest frustrations was pounded into me by a good friend and minster. It was the use of “disciple” as a verb. As in “I am discipling him” or “I am being discipled by her”. I and my friends have often responded in an outcry of the Bible never uses disciple as a verb! You don’t ‘disciple’ anyone, you make disciples of Jesus!

Enter, Greek. In Greek class a couple of days ago we were studying the imperative mood of verbs. Well, sure enough, as is often the case, God took this moment to show me my pride and assumptions. In the famous Matthew 28:19 phrase “make disciples of all nations” that verb for “make disciples” is the 2 plural aorist imperative verb μαθητευσατε (matheteusate). This is the verb form of the noun μαθητης (mathetes) meaning “disciple”. The “make” is added by translators to stress the imperative/command sense. It literally means “to disciple”. It’s not two separate words for “make” and “disciple”.

So, I need to repent to all those I’ve been frustrated with for using the phrase. I also need to repent for talking bad about Jesus’ Bride and not trusting the Spirit of God to sanctify God’s Church, even in their pop culture and language.

until God’s next Sovereign moment of humbling,

One thought on “curse you μαθητευσατε!

  1. Hello! I’m so glad to have found this and your blog. I have not had Greek, but the translation “make disciples” has troubled me for years. Until the 20th century RSV translation, all translations used this word as a verb, either as to instruct, to disciple, or to teach. When I looked at the Greek Interlinear Bible, to me this word was clearly a verb (even though I couldn’t read it!) John Wesley says “disciple the nations”. His discipleship method comes out of an understanding of ongoing formation, not just making something on which to affix the label and you’re done. The 20th century take has led to much misunderstanding and division, and causes one to quote Ephesians 2:8-9 and leave off 10. The translation “to disciple” is also in keeping with Jesus prayer for disciples from John 17:17, “Sanctify them thro’ the truth, thy word is truth.” (Wesley’s) I am not the one who makes disciples. How freeing is this changed view! I disciple as Jesus instructed, and leave the rest to him. I do like NASV, ESV, but they kept what I believe was a huge mistake made in the RSV. Thanks for your explanation on what I believed was true. More people need to understand.


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