Is Our Focus on Paul Related to a Lack of Focus on Discipleship?

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Here is where the word “disciple” occurs in the New Testament (NIV)

Matthew – 78
Mark – 59
Luke – 50
John – 81
Acts – 26

Here is where the word “church” occurs in the New Testament (NIV)

Matthew – 2
Acts – 19
Romans – 5
1 Cor – 22
2 Cor – 9
Gal – 3
Eph – 9
Phil – 2
Col – 3
1 Thess – 2
2 Thess – 2
1 Tim – 4
Philemon – 1
Hebrews – 1
James – 1
3 John – 3
Revelation – 12

The word “disciple” is never used again after Acts. The word “church” is only used twice before Acts.

So much of our study and teaching in Churches of Christ has centered on Paul. I think that is because we needed Paul. We needed Paul because for 200 years our discussions focused on church distinctiveness and our audience/conversation partners were people of other fellowships.

It is hard to prove much from Jesus in a discussion on how to “do church right.” You can go to Acts for that but mostly to Paul.

If Paul had used the word disciple as many times as it was used from Matthew to Acts I wonder if things would have turned out differently. I think that would have normalized it a bit more for our fellowship.

Our definition of Christianity needs to look at more than Paul. The issues we deal with in life need to be about more than church polity and getting church right. What does life in the kingdom look like? It looks like Jesus and the path to following Jesus is the path of discipleship. Jesus defines discipleship and so defines the church as the church is the gathering of disciples. You cannot have church without having disciples.

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