How a Comma Brought About a Discipleship Coma

51l-g0rv2tl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Punctuation is important!  But a ‘coma?’

Look at the difference between these verses, one from the King James Version and another from the English Standard Version. First, the King James:

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Now the ESV (and most every other modern translation):

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Look at verse 12.  God gave leaders in the church:

  • For the perfecting of the saints
  • for the work of the ministry
  • For the edifying of the body of Christ.

That comma between “perfecting/equipping the saints” and “for the work of the ministry” is something that Robby Gallaty cleverly describes as “the comma that may have kept the church in a coma.”

The aim of your leaders in your church is not to do the work of the ministry exclusively, like a contractor hired by an organization to accomplish an assigned task, but as a shepherd showing the sheep how to be a flock.

He brings out another difference, this time in the Great Commission.  First, in the KJV:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Now the ESV (and all other modern translations):

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

It’s “teach” vs “make disciples.” There is a difference. Here’s Gallaty on the difference between the two.

They take this to mean that they share the gospel and then encourage people to “ask Jesus into their hearts.” They communicate information. But while communicating information is important, discipleship doesn’t end there. As we learned in our study of the Hebraic roots of discipleship, more is required to make a disciple than knowing facts about Jesus. Making disciples requires equipping and investing in a lengthy training process, particularly for new believers.  … A disciple is one who “is intentionally equipped with the Word of God through accountable relationships that are empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to produce Christ-likeness.” At the core, a disciple is not one who is in a static state of being, but one who continually grows and develops (Robby Gallaty, Rediscovering Discipleship, pp. 122-123).

For many, this is a paradigm shift of the first order, but it’s a necessary one.

  1. It’s not just up to the leaders to do all of the work, but to model by doing it as well as equipping.
  2. It’s not just about information dump, but a transformation of the heart and mind through teaching, investing, and equipping.

I cannot recommend Robby Gallaty’s Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words our First Work enough!





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