Disciple-Making Without a Degree

In our own churches today, there are many who have been led to believe that only seminary-trained men should do the work of discipleship. While this notion contradicts the command of Christ for all of his followers to “as you go, make disciples of all nations,” this belief is viral in even the most biblically-centered churches. Such an idea must be fought if we ever desire to reach the nations, and what better way to fight a false teaching/understanding than with the truth of Scripture?

Consider Acts 18:1-4. “After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.”

Paul meets two believers, a husband and his wife who work full-time in a secular vocation; they are tentmakers. Although we can assume that they never received formal theological training, as we examine the New Testament, it becomes evident that they are passionate, disciple-making Christ-followers.

First, while in Ephesus, a man names Apollos comes to preach about Christ. According to Acts 18:26, he needed more instruction in the faith, and Aquila and Priscilla, the two tentmakers, were the ones to provide him with discipleship and additional training. It was this hard-working couple (without a seminary degree) who would help to train Apollos, who would eventually become a great asset to the church.

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. (Acts 18:24-28 ESV)

Second, we see that this couple was continued to be involved in church leadership and missions as Paul later writes in his letter to the Corinthian church, “The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 16:19 ESV). Did you catch that? The tentmakers lead a church that meets in their house.

Are you passionate for Christ and his glory? Then, don’t hesitate to be involved in directly training others in the faith. Men, take the opportunity to train young men to live for God’s fame. Women, train young ladies to follow their Father. Couples, model a godly marriage to younger couples. By doing so, you may eventually train a new Apollos who will greatly impact the nations for the glory of God. NO SEMINARY DEGREE REQUIRED.

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