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Jon Ruthven

This paper was written by Jon Ruthven.

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Jon Ruthven is a Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent University School of Divinity, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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Articles > Charismatic Theology > The "Imitation of Christ" in Christian Tradition

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    A further pattern evolves in 2 Tm 2:1-2 where Paul addresses Timothy as "my son" and encourages him to perpetuate the process of replication to the fifth generation! "And the things which you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others also." It is important to note that while the "teaching" here is verbal, it is directed toward spiritual empowerment and action, as is suggested from the previous verse and as we shall see in the next section.

    Part II has just reviewed the nature of discipleship as mimesis in the NT setting, let us now in Part III briefly examine its content of discipleship:[27] What does the NT emphasize that a disciple was expected to do when he imitated the life of his teacher/rabbi?

Part III

    Let us step back for a moment and view the big picture of the content of NT discipleship by asking five simple questions: 1) What is it that the NT says that Jesus came to do? 2) When ministering, what does he actually spend his time doing? 3) What does Jesus tell his disciples to do? 4) What is it that they actually spend their time doing? Finally, 5) what is the reader of the NT (the "disciple of the disciples") expected to do?

    1) Frequently, when the New Testament writers condense his ministry into a sentence or two they show Jesus in opposition to the reign of the devil which appeared as demonic possession, sickness, the disruption of nature, or sin: it was "for this purpose that Jesus appeared, to destroy the works of the Devil" (1 Jn 3:8). Peter spelled out the result of Jesus' baptism and gave a summary of Jesus' mission on earth: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, . . . he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him" (Acts 10:38). Both of these verses confirm the programmatic statement about Jesus mission in Lk 4:18.

    2) Summary statements about Jesus' mission abound throughout the text of the Gospels with references to healing and exorcisms:

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. . . . Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons . . . (Mk. 1:34//Mt. 8:16//Lk. 4:40-41).
. . . he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him (Mk. 3:10//Mt. 4:15//Lk. 6:19).
The news about him spread . . . so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses (Lk. 4:15).
At that time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sickness and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind (Lk. 7:21).
I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal (Lk. 13:33).
He welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing (Lk. 9:11//Mt. 14:14).
Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel (Mt. 15:30-31).
Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there (Mt. 19:2).
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them (Mt. 21:14).

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