30-4-2014 1:00 PM
The Essence of Discipleship: An Evangelical Perspective
Much literature presents discipleship in terms of what one does, but the latter does not define the former - it only shows what discipleship may look like when executed. Christians in general and seminary students in particular struggle to define the essence of Christian discipleship. Much literature exists today describing how one may do discipleship, but what brands something as the very thing it is is not the same as identifying the work it does. This research fills the gap not addressed by the many “how to do discipleship” books by using a hermeneutical-type approach to identify the way people understood “essence” in first century Palestine and beyond. By specifically examining “essence,” the research surveyed the current language denotation; how the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Jesus and the Apostles, understood essence; how the Bible uses the term “disciple” and the associated expectations that word carried for those who would purport to be followers of Jesus; and how selected early Church fathers of the Ante-Nicene era (until A.D. 325) spoke of essence. The essence of Christian discipleship is Jesus Christ – the second person of the Trinity. If Jesus Christ is not the very essence of Christian discipleship, then no essence of Christian discipleship subsists – it is but a vapor in the wind.