Writing Church History (Acts 29:5


I. Clear and Unmistakable Commission


1.   Commission of an Evangelist of Jesus Christ: Mk 1.17; Mt 4.19; 10.5-78; 9.28,37; Lk 9.2; 10.2.

2.   Clear and Distinct sphere in which it was to be carried out - to the whole world: Ht 13.47; 28.19; Mk 16.15; Phil 2.11; Col 1.28; I Tim 2.4,5; Church - Eph 1.23; Col 1.24,

3.    Fulness - Pleroma:

a. Ship's Crew - Xenophon (Hellenica 1.6 - "the best oarsmen had been picked out of a great many crews (pleronata)." -

b. Aristotle - Politics 4.3. 12.129 I a - basic elements for a life of the city "Constitute the full complement (plerona) of his first city,." Mt 9.16 - Pleroaa - patch which fills in the rent in old torn garment. The Church is pleroaa or a complement without which Christ is not complete and cannot act.

c. Completing Christ - Col 1.24, "I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (most startling statement in the New Testament).

4.   Redemption/Reconciliation - accomplished and taking it to the world. Great Transactions finished - results must be taken to the world (Romans 10.13,14).


The Servant's last words to His servants were - Make Disciples' But who and how? Jesus' calling, shaping and sending of His disciples biblically falls between His Follow Me and Make Disciples! Biblically, the promise is the bridge between eschatology and history,


II.  Follow Me: Mt 4.l8ff; Lk 5.27ff


a.   Discipleship in the Old Testament and Judaism. In classical Greek akoloutheo means following, or going beyond in an intellectual, moral, or religious sense. One follows an orator, wise man, friend, lover; a servant or slave follows. The word used to express following God is hepeatnai and does not occur in the New Testament. The reason for this is easily obtained as the term suggests that we become like God by acting as He does (see Acts 20.4 for aunepoaal).


b.    akolouthein - LXX; Hebrew halak - Hosea 2.5,7; Isaiah 45.14.


c.   In Deut, Hosea and Jeremiah, it is used as a technical term for apostasy, breaking the covenant. Going after other gods is Israel's most destructive sin - Judges 2.12; Deut 4.3; 6.14; I Kgs 21.26; Jer 11.10. In Hosea 1.2; 2.7,13; Prov 7.22 the expression is bound up with the imagery of spiritual adultery, which dominates his preaching.


d.   Following Yahweh by the Righteous - Deut 1.36; 5.30ff; 13.5; Ex 13.21; I Kgs 13.8; II Kgs 23.3; II Chron 34.31; Jer 2.2.


e.   Prophetic Disciple - Elisha follows Elijah - I Kgs 19.20. This following passes over into Rabbinic custom.

III. New Testament Use of akolouthein


a.    Limited to discipleship of Christ - Mk 3.7; Mt 8.10,19; 1.18; 10.28

b.    Self-commitment which breaks all other ties - Mt 8.22; Lk 9.6lf.


Externally, like pupils of rabbis, but internally in attachment to Jesus. After Jesus, there is only one discipleship and signifies participation in His salvation - Lk 9.6lff; Mk 10.17,21; Jn 8.12; Rev,14.4. c. Also implies participation in the fate of Jesus - Mt 8.19f; 10.38; Mk 8.34;Lk 14.27; Jn 12.24,26. Basis of concept of Imitatio.


IV. Old Testament Background of Disciples, The Twelve, and Apostles


a.   Pupil or Disciple - information, attitudes, fellowship, goal of both teacher and disciple - all equally striving toward goal. Socrates and his circle avoided both content and relationship.

b.   Classical master-disciple relations: (1) Schools of Philosophy, those who gave out Intellectually, and those who received intellectually; and (2) Cultic-religious activity. The two forms intersect in person of the master.

c.   Mystery religions and master-disciple relation: the initiate needs the master to introduce him to the mysteries of the god. The master is the expert and the initiate is the lay- person.

d.   Fellowship of Disciples—presupposition for the continuation of the disciple is found, not in personal relationship-with master, but in the cause advocated and presented by the teacher. Common acknowledgment of insights of the master.

e. Absence of master-disciple relation from OT (Schools of the Prophets were called, never self-prepared or self-appointed).- The nebi'in are organized into guilds (II Kgs 16.1ft; I Sam 19.20).


1. Moses and Joshua - servant who stands at one's side. He does not grow into Moses' office as his disciple and heir at Moses' death.

2. OT prophets had no disciples, true both for popular prophets and Elijah and Jeremiah.

3. OT canon vs. principle of tradition of the type found in Greek and Hellenistic philosophy. Note importance of Moses; yet there is a complete lack of veneration of his person - Micah 6.4; Jer 15.1; Isa 63.11; Mal 3.22. Preservation of Torah or nomos is the task of the community.

4. Israel's faith was based in revelation, not tradition transmitted via master-disciple relation. Learning takes place by listening to what the rabbi says, and appropriating what is heard, i.e., hearing is obedience never mere memorization of information.


V. Fishers of_ Men; Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."


a. Four different ways of fishing in Graeco-Roman times:


1. Nets

2. Lines plus hooks

3. Wicker baskets

4. Long pronged trident which served as symbol of Poseidon, the Greek deity worshipped in all things connected with the sea.

b. Social, economic factors involved in fishing in Galilee during Jesus’ life (Mk 1.16-20; Mt 4.18-22; 17.27; Lk 5.1-11; Jn 21.3ft).

c. Bethsaida - literally Fishville of Huntsville. Capital of Gaulanitis, territory of the tetrarch Philip, it lay near mouth of the Jordon at the north end of the Sea of Galilee. This was the richest fishing area on the whole lake. Geographically and culturally it was part of Galilee, the adjoining tetrarchy of Herod Antipas ( Jn 12.20ft).

d. Fisherman: (1) Type of fisherman who owned boats, nets, marketing equipment, signs contracts with the tax collector;, (2) Type of fisherman who is hired servant. The NT evidence supports that Peter, Andrew and Zebedee's sons must not be identified with type two.

e. Fishing was a vital industry to the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, king of Galilee and to the tetrarchy of Gaulanitis ruled by Philip.

f.    Fishing metaphor and fishing techniques: (1) Preparation of fishing tools, bait, finding the fish (farmers sowing); (2) Actual fishing, the tool, of letting down the nets and hauling in the catch - Lk 17.7. This part resembles the harvesting, the winning of a battle. (3) The sifting, the selling for profit and taking in of the reward for all the labor. Resembles agricultural sorting that follows the harvest, or shepherds' sorting of the sheep at the end of the day or season.

g.   Jesus transformed the ‘fishers of men’ concept into a job description for his followers - fishing for men and the Kingdom of God.

h.   Disciples' participation in God's purpose - mission.

i.     Transmission by participation - The Disciples - The Twelve - The Apostles -


VI. The Church as Servant - I Cor 15.5.


Fishers of Men who were guided by "another Jesus," "a different spirit," and "different gospel." II Cor 11.4; Gal 1.6ff.


VII.      The Coat of Discipleship: Calling (Mt 1.18-22)


a.    Not one adjective, only one adverb in the account of the first four disciples.

b. Jesus takes the initiative, unique in rabbinical circles, as disciples always took the initiative. "What in Judaism was the pious duty of the disciple is here the sovereign act of the Master." Why is Jesus singularly brusque with enthusiastic volunteers? Mt 8.20; 9.9; 19.16-21.

c. Disciples were like the OT Prophets, they were men to whom "the word of the Lord came." To no prophet did the call come in response to self-preparation- Amos 3.8; I Cor 15.8; Gal 1.15; I Cor 15.7-10; I Tim 1.12-16; Eph 3.2.

d. Caller and Goal of Israel's History - Genealogy - Lk 3.2,3ff; Gen 18.18; I Cor 11.1-10.

e. Women in God's purpose: (1) Tamar; (2) Rahab; (3) Ruth; (4) wife of Uria. Note absence of Sarah, Rebecca, Eachel, and Leah.

f.    John's proclamation that the Kingdom is at hand - Ps 29.9ft; Zeph 3.5; 3.1; Deut 6.4; Ps 95.1-3; I Chron 28.5; II Chron 13.8; Mic 4.1-4,6,7; Dan 25; Isa 7.20; 10.5; Zech 14.9.

g. John's proclamation - coming mightier one, coming with repentance and wrath. Amos 5.18-20; Isa 11.41; Dan 7.11-41; 50.9-11.

h. Temptation (Israel and Jesus) - Call - Test - Send - 4.11; Isa 4.16.



VIII. Shaping Disciples for Service - Mt 4.17 - 7.29


a. Sermon on the Mount (chps 5-7) Moses - Jesus typology (cf. Jesus and the crowds - neo-Marxists and the masses).

b. Molding wills - The Beatitudes - 5.3-11 (Isa 11.4; 6l.2f; Ps 37.39ft).

c. Discipleship and Good Works - 5.13-16.

d. Righteousness - Discipleship and the Law - 5.17ff.

e. Discipleship and the Word - Hearing and Doing - Titus 2.11-13.

f.  Piety of Disciples (6.1-18); Existence (6.24); Conflict (7.1-23).


IX. Disciples as Witnesses - 8.1 - 11.1, especially 4.23, 7.1-12 and signs in John


a. Miracles and Messianic Authority - 7.29; 8.8ft; Ps 107.28f; Dan 7.14.

b. Miracles and Messianic Compassion - 8.1-15; 9.13; 9.22; Hos 6.6; Isa 53.

c. Miracles and Messianic Mission - Israel - 10.5-6; 15.24; 11.10; Isa 42.6; 49.6; Mic 5.4.

d. Messianic Motive - Sending the Twelve - 9.361; Lk 10.33; Ez 34.5,6.

e. Messianic Success - being despised and rejected - 10.12-14; Isa 53.2; Isa 9.2-7; Ez 34.25; 37.26.


X. Discipleship and the Mysteries of The Kingdom - Mt 11.2,13,52 X. Fellowship of the Disciples - 13.53 - 18.35


a. Separation from Israel - 13.53-58; 14•1-12-1;•.13;Isa, 11: 9-4.

b. Separation from all Judaism - 16.1-12; Pa 95.9ft; 17-24-27; Rom1:8

c; Deepening relationship between Jesus and Disciples - 16.13ff; 17.1-a.


XI. Hope and Discipleship - 19.1,25,46


a.Two-Ways - Denial and Confession - 20.17ft; II Cor 6.9.

b. Be ready - Be faithful - 25.1-13


XII. Death and Discipleship - 26.1 - 28.29


a.    Ransom for many - 20.28; Isa 53.10ft; Dan 7.1-8.

b.    Jesus' Call to Discipleship and His Resurrection

“follw It" - and immediately - I Pet 2.3 lit. (see D. M. Stanley, "Become Imitators of Me'", Biblica, 1959, PP. 859-877).

c.   The concept of apostleship is considered in the category of the Biblical model of the Church's Leadership ministry.

d.    Jesus as Rabbi - Jn 7.15; Mk 1.18


1. Demands - Life 5.11; Mk 10.281

2. Family, house, farm, money, wealth, former occupations, all economic security - Lk 14.26; Mt 10.37; Mk 10.21; 2.14; Lk 9.58; Mt 8 2(?)

3. Resulting in hatred, suffering, persecution, and death - Mt 10.10-25; Jn

4. Disciples and Missionary discourse - Lk 14.25-35; Lk 9.60. d. Discipleship and Temptation - vocation of following means not primarily imitation of him, but consisted in accepting the conditions of Jesus' life, of sharing in His destiny - Lk 12.32.


e. Twelve from the crowd - Mk 3.13; 10.17-22; Lk 10.1; 9.57-62.

f. Discipleship, the Historical Jesus, the Kergymatic Christ, i.e., the Risen

g. See Imitation - From Jesus to Paul - I Thess 1.6; I Cor 11:1, Rom 15; Phil 2.5ft; I Jn 2.6; 3.16; 4.171; Phil 1.21ft; 3.10f; II Cor 4.11; 13.4.




Pritchard, G.A., Willow Creek Seekers Services: Evaluating A New Way of Doing Church (A fair presentation and devastating critique of conflict between Truth and Relevance) (Baker, 1996, pb.) Critique of Church Growth Movement.


Schwartz, Christian A., Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Church (Based in the study of Church Growth in the Book of Acts). (Church Smart Resources, St. Charles, EL, 4th edition, 2000).


Stevens, R. Paul, The Other Six Days: Vocation- Work. Ministry in Biblical Perspective (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999, pb. Essential tools for postmodern ministry.


Willard, Dallas, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (e.g. Priesthood of believers in the market place) (San Francisco, CA: Harper. 1998.



James Strauss, Philosophy/Theology