“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40
Fully Trained – If we examine the Greek text, we are likely to conclude that Yeshua’s remark is just commonsense. Of course a pupil isn’t superior to his teacher. Of course the goal is to be fully trained so that we can be like the teacher. But, of course, this reading transports the imagery into our modern idea of classroom instruction. And that’s not what Yeshua meant.
The Greek word here is katartizo. It is derived from two other words, kata (with) and artizo (to adjust, fit or finish – from artios – complete). Generally, it means to put something in its appropriate condition, to establish something or equip it. Therefore, we have the English translation “fully trained.”
Two things need to be considered as we examine this text. First, the Hebrew view of the relationship between teacher (rabbi) and pupils (talmidim) isn’t the same as our cultural view, and second, Yeshua would not only have employed the Hebrew concept of rabbinic discipleship, he would also use words from the Hebrew Scriptures to establish the authority of His teaching. Therefore, we will have to look backward into the past to discover what He meant.
The first step is fairly straightforward. In the Hebrew model of education, rabbis picked their students. They picked them because they showed promise. The education itself revolved around absorbing, through word and deed, the lifestyle, thoughts, attitudes and actions of the rabbi. This was not information transfer. A pupil did not reach full maturity until the pupil became what the rabbi embodied – a perfect copy of the teacher.
The second step in our analysis takes us back to Psalm 17:5 and other Hebrew Scriptures. There we find that the Greek word is a translation of the Hebrew tamak. Other Hebrew words used for the Greek expression are kun, nathan and nashav. What can we learn about the similarities between these Hebrew words? They are all generally about establishing or making firm. The meanings cover “to appoint, to erect, to take a stand, to place, to set up, to make firm, to support.” How do these words fill in the Greek idea from Luke? The concept of “fully trained” means to produce a pupil who is ready to take the stand of the rabbi, who establishes the rabbi’s words and deeds by repeating them, who supports what the rabbi taught by incorporating that teaching into his own life. In other words, to be fully trained is to walk in the footsteps of the rabbi so long that eventually there is no distinguishable difference between the two. If we are going to be fully trained by Yeshua, the day should come when an outside observer isn’t able to tell where He stops and we begin. An outside observer should be able to say, “That man – that woman – they are the hands and feet of their Lord.” Is that day coming for you?
Topical Index: fully trained, katartizo, tamak, kun, nathan, nashav, Luke 6:40
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