Dr. Couch, many are into a disciple ministry as a work to mature believers. What do you think?
Very often this becomes something that is very intent and time consuming. While one-on-one is an ideal for maturing Christians, the epistles do not mention this as necessary. Also, it can become artificial in that it forces people to commit so many hours each week. And if it's artificial it won't work! People must be reaching forward, led by the Holy Spirit, in seeking to mature as believers. A study of the word is very important.
As a verb "matheetuo" is used only four times in the NT, and there it is translated as "to teach, instruct." Three times it is used in the Gospels and only once in the book of Acts (14:21). I am often asked about Matthew 28:19-20. What is it saying in the Greek text?
"Having gone (Aorist, Active, Participle, Deponent) then, you teach (Aorist, Active, Imperative) all the nations, baptizing (Present, Active, Participle) them in the [one] name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, instructing them to be keeping all things which I command you ..."
"Having gone" assumes the going as having already taken place and is certainly part of the commission. To teach and make learners is not optional but commanded (Walvoord, Couch). This is why at church I don't preach but teach!
The noun for "learner" "matheetees" (or those who are taught) is used 30 times in the book of Acts but never in the church epistles.
"Manthano" is a related word used 25 times in the NT. It means "to learn by practice, or doing." My MA thesis was on this word at Wheaton Graduate School.
The noun "mateetees" is defined as "a learner, a pupil, one who follows the teaching of another." I think this is more descriptive than the word "disciple." As I teach each Sunday and Monday night, people are learning, they are as a group, a bunch of folks who are learning what the Bible is saying. This is now, however, a group of disciples as we often try to claim. The Spirit of God then brings forward those who want more of His Word. This is not an artificial happening but something that is guided by God's Spirit. On Matthew 28:19-20 we have these comments: "A disciple is one committed to the one who is teaching him" (Morris).
Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)