[B-Greek] B-Greek Digest, Matt 28:19 and "disciple."

Blue Meeksbay bluemeeksbay at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 22 17:22:35 EST 2010

I am sorry, I am under the weather and so will not be able to follow through 
with this thread, but I just wanted to briefly add my two cents.

Friberg’s Lexicon says:  μαθητεύω1aor. ἐμαθήτευσα; 1aor. pass. ἐμαθητεύθην; (1) 
intransitively, active be or become a disciple of someone (MT 27.57); passive 
become a disciple, be a follower (MT 27.57); be instructed, be trained (MT 
13.52); (2) transitively make a disciple of someone, instruct, cause someone to 
become a follower (MT 28.19) 

I always understood this verb in the sense of Stephen Carlson’s example – 
"Tomake a disciple of; to convert to the doctrine of another, or Friberg’s 
definition of causing “someone to become a follower.” 

And now Carl Conrad's latest post – (Thank you Dr. Conrad for taking us back to 
the essence of the matter). I really like your statement: *The verb μαθητεύω 
[MAQHTEUW] is a transitive verb and means to turn its accusative object into a 
μαθητής [MAQHTHS].*    I think Dr. Conrad got to the essence of the meaning by 
reminding us of Matthew's context of Jesus as the new Rabbi in the New Covenant 
as Moses was the Rabbi of the Old Covenant – cf. John 9:28, *disciples of 

It also seems making a disciple, or, in other words, making a convert to 
Jesus, fits in better with the context and especially the aorist tense of this 
verb. I think Matthew is talking about a punctiliar action, which fits in nicely 
with the idea of making a convert.
If the verb was in the *present* tense, then it might be better understood to 
carry the connotation of *discipling* someone as was used in the example of the 
junior pastor in Terry Cook’s example.
It seems Jesus is just saying the same thing he said in the other gospel, albeit 
in a different way: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all 
creation.” Mk. 16:15
 Just as a disclaimer. I know this idea of the aorist is many times used too 
simplistically, as Wallace says below regarding the *Abused Aorist:*
“There are two errors to avoid in treating the aorist: saying too little and 
saying too much. First, some have said too little by assuming that nothing more 
than the unaffected meaning can ever be seen when the aorist is used. This view 
fails to recognize that the aorist tense (like other tenses) does not exist in a 
vacuum. Categories of usage are legitimate because the tenses combine with other 
linguistic features to form var­ious fields of meaning.
Second, many NT students see a particular category of usage (Aktionsart) as 
under­lying the entire tense usage (aspect). This is the error of saying too 
much. Statements such as “the aorist means once-for-all action” are of this 
sort. It is true that the aorist may, under certain circumstances, describe an 
event that is, in reality, momentary. But we run into danger when we say that 
this is the aorist’s unaffected meaning, for then we force it on the text in an 
artificial way. We then tend to ignore such aorists that disprove our view (and 
they can be found in every chapter of the NT) and pro­claim loudly the 
“once-for-all” aorists when they suit us. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basicsby 
Daniel B. WallacePrinted Edition:Zondervan Publishing HouseGrand Rapids, 
Michigan 49530Copyright © 1996 by Daniel B. Wallace (pg. 557)
But in this case, I view this verse as fitting in nicely with Wallace’s 
statement, *It is true that the aorist may, under certain circumstances, 
describe an event that is, in reality, momentary.*  

In addition, the punctiliar thought of becoming a disciple or convert fits in 
better with the same verb used in Matt. 27:54 and also the participles in Matt. 
13:52 and Acts 14:21. 

For example, if the participle in Acts 14:21 was being used in the sense of 
*discipling* or *mentoring* someone, then it seems it would have been better 
used in a place where Paul stayed for a year or two like Corinth or Ephesus, but 
it is used here of a place where he and Barnabas stayed for a very short time, 
therefore, it seems Luke is also using it in the sense of making a convert. In 
this case it seems the participle MAQHTEUSANTES is completing the thought of the 
participle EUAGGELISAMENOI.  In other words, Luke is saying they preached the 
gospel and people responded and believed, thereby becoming a disciple of the new 
Rabbi, Jesus. 
So anyway, there is my two cents. Like two cents, it may not be worth much. 
Blue Harris


From: cwconrad2 <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
To: Delwyn Campbell <dxcj4life at hotmail.com>
Cc: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Wed, December 22, 2010 1:25:43 PM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] B-Greek Digest, Matt 28:19 and "disciple."

I'm sorry if I've been the cause of confusion regarding this passage with my 
objection to use of the English "disciple"
as a verb to convey the sense of the Greek imperative μαθητεύσατε [MAQHTEUSATE]. 
I do think that it's probably
only those who use "disciple" in English to represent this particular verb in 
this particular GNT text who are likely to
use "disciple" in English as a verb. But whether or not that may be the case, 
our focus in this discussion group is
really not upon how to convey the words of a Greek text into English but first 
and foremost on how best to understand
the Greek words and text in themselves.

The verb μαθητεύω [MAQHTEUW] is a transitive verb and means to turn its 
accusative object into a μαθητής [MAQHTHS].
I think that this noun -- MAQHTHS -- is a very distinct item of Matthew's 
vocabulary and is closely associated with the image
of Jesus as a rabbi and new Moses laying down a new Torah for those who sit at 
the rabbi's feet and take to heart his instruction.
I wonder how often these particular associations of Matthew's usage of the word 
are in mind when one uses either "make disciples of" or "disciple" or "mentor" 
are used. Insofar as the question is fundamentally how MAQHTEUSATE ought best to 
be rendered in
English, the question I would ask is, "How can one best convey the wealth of 
implication in Matthew's usage of the noun MAQHTHS?"
Ultimately the question is not, I think, "How is this verb best conveyed in 
English?" but "What all should we understand this verb to mean in Matthew's 
Greek usage?"

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (ret)

On Dec 22, 2010, at 04:13 PM, Delwyn Campbell <dxcj4life at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Would it be possible to use "mentor all the Gentiles,...teaching them to
> observe..." as a translation of the passage?
> Delwyn X. Campbell
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