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Atlanta, 20 January 2016

In the last two bulletins we've been studying Discipleship. First, we saw that how we define "disciple" depends on the context. Do we mean an attitude or a lifestyle, or are we talking about salvation? Next a discipleship study from John was proposed; here Jesus explicitly tells us what disciples are, and the study doesn't jump around the N.T. -- it's linear. Today we'll examine a special word in the N.T., just for fun. (Oh no! -- Did you expect a serious lesson?)
Discipleship, part 3
And the special word is.... Hold on a sec. We may appreciate it more if we understand that the normal word for disciple, mathētēs, appears 100s of times in the N.T., whereas this word, with almost the same meaning, shows up only once!

The rare mathētria (pron. Mah-THEY-tree-ah) is known as a hapax (the Greek word for "once"), since in the N.T. it appears uniquely in Acts 9:36. There are many hapaxes in the N.T., for example bēryllos, topadzion, chrysoprasos, hyacinthos, and amethystos --  precious stones in Revelation.

Mathētria means a female disciple; it's the feminine form of mathētēs, which itself includes both genders. If you're not familiar with Tabitha (Dorcas), a woman who made quite an impact both times she was alive please take a peek at the setting in which this lovely hapax appears. The Lord calls men and women to the same standard. This fact should have impact in the church, starting with equal respect for both genders. Tabitha was a disciple till the very end -- even though in her case the end came twice. She had two opportunities to be a faithful disciple unto death!

If you're interested in learning about some of the special Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible, click here for 50+ words. (Older disciples, how many do you think you know already? I wonder... Why not find out?)

Next week

Most of us know that in biblical times people became Christians when they were baptized (immersed in water). The biblical evidence for this position is airtight (with some 30 passages, like Acts 2:38; 22:16 and 1 Pet 3:21). Is there any further evidence that the first Christians immersed those ready to make Jesus Lord? Find out next week, as we begin another 3-week series.

Sincerely yours,
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