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“Your Father in Heaven”. Discipleship in Matthew as a Process of Becoming Children of God.

2008, pp. 252.

The concept of discipleship in Matthew has been explained in several ways using different “identity defining terms” from the gospel such as “one who does the will of God”, “one who practises the greater righteousness”, “one who becomes like a child”, “one who carries the cross” etc.. The present study identifies the extensively but selectively used relational appellation “Father“ for God in the gospel as the most important key for understanding the identity of the disciples. By examining all the passages where this appellation is used to refer to God as the Father of the disciples, this study shows that discipleship is viewed in Matthew as a process of becoming children of God.

Five different dimensions of discipleship – christological, ecclesiological, missiological, eschatological, and ethical – are integrated in this study. Discipleship is a process of becoming children of God: through Jesus, the Son, one can become a child of God (christological); by responding affirmatively to Jesus and to his message one enters the earthly family of God and continues his/her journey with other brothers and sisters (ecclesiological); through their life witness and teachings the disciples attract and invite other people to join them in their process of becoming children of God (missiological); one becomes irrevocably a child of God only in the kingdom (eschatological); to reach this state one should do the will of God and practise the greater righteousness (ethical).

Henry Pattarumadathil, S.J., born in 1964, is a Jesuit priest from Kerala, India. He holds a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute and a Doctorate in Biblical Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He teaches Sacred Scripture at the Jesuit Regional Theology Centre, Kalady, Kerala.