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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

kat'-e-kist, kate-ku'-men (katechizein "to resound," "to teach," "to instruct"): A catechist is a teacher who instructs his pupils in the elements of his own religion. In the Old Testament he teaches them the rudiments of Old Testament truth; in the New Testament he teaches the principles of the Christian faith. A catechumen, one whom the catechist instructs or catechizes, in preparation for the ceremony of baptism.

The words are derived from katechein, meaning "to give a sound," "to answer," "to echo." Classically it was used of the sounding down of rushing water, of the falling of music from a ship to the sea. Then it came to signify the sounding down of words of command or instruction. The preposition kata strengthens the meaning, bringing out more emphatically the back or return sound, the echo, the answer. So it came to mean familiar verbal instruction, a free informal discussion between teacher and pupil. Luke informs Theophilus (Luke 1:4) that he intends to give him a succinct and orderly account of those things which he had previously received by word of mouth (peri hon katechethes). See also the Greek in Acts 18:25 and Acts 21:21; Romans 2:18 1 Corinthians 14:19; Galatians 6:6. In all these passages the Greek verb is "catechised."

We do not find in the New Testament an organized catechumenate, such as we find in the 3rd and 4th centuries. The apostles preached mainly to synagogue-instructed Jews who were familiar with the law and the prophets and the Psalms, or to Gentiles who had, learned from the Jews and had become "proselytes" (which see). The first apostolic preaching and teaching was to convince the hearers that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. As believers multiplied, the contrast between them and those who rejected the teaching became more and more marked. Opposition, scorn and persecution became more bold and bitter. The Christians were compelled to set forth and defend their beliefs more clearly. They had to meet and answer keen and persistent objections. And so the necessity for clear, systematic and organized teaching grew more and more into the form of an ordered catechumenate. The Apostolic Constitutions, from the latter part of the 3rd century, show the institution in a fair state of development. A Jew, pagan, or heretic of good moral standing, upon application to the deacon, presbyter, or bishop, was admitted into the state of catechumen by the sign of the cross and the imposition of hands (Schaff-Herzog, under the word).

The basis for the Christian catechumenate we find in the great commission (Matthew 28:19, 20). The aim of this commission was to make disciples, i.e. believing followers. The means for this discipling are baptizing and teaching. The result of using the means is that those who have become disciples are to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded.

Jesus Himself at twelve years of age had become a child of the law, a catechumen. He increased in wisdom and learned obedience. He became the great Catechist instructing His disciples, other private individuals and the multitudes. See an example of His catechizing in Matthew 16:13.

Paul was a master in method. See examples of use of the modern pedagogical method of apperception in Acts 14:14; Acts 17:16; 19:8, 9. The cathechetical method is frequently found in the epistles (see 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 Hebrews 5:11, 14; Hebrews 6:1, 2 1 Peter 2:2 1 John 2:13), and so the idea of religious nurture and instruction is found all through the New Testament. The catechist and the catechumen are there. It was not something new in the New Testament. Its roots lie back and run through the Old Testament. The narrative of God's first communication with man, inside the gates of Eden, concerning commandment, law, sin, its consequences, its remedy, takes a catechetical form. The importance of systematic instruction, both public and private, is emphasized throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, although it might not always take the form of catechizing in the modern pedagogical sense. In the patriarchal age the father was the prophet, the teacher, the catechist, in his house, which often included several families with their servants (see Genesis 18:19). Matthew Henry explains thus: "Abraham not only took care of his children, but his whole household, including his servants, were catechized" (see also Exodus 12:26 Deuteronomy 6:1-9 Joshua 4:6, 7; Joshua 24:15 Psalm 34:11). Priests and Levites in addition to their sacerdotal functions were catechists (instructors) among the people (Leviticus 10:11 Deuteronomy 33:10 2 Chronicles 15:3 Ezekiel 44:23). In later times the synagogues had regular instruction in the law and the prophets.


G. H. Gerberding


Catechetical Instruction.
... In this work the directions concerning the instruction of Catechumens and their
Baptism are addressed to the Catechist and the Minister of Baptism. ...
/.../cyril/lectures of s cyril of jerusalem/chapter ii catechetical instruction.htm

The Bishop's Burthen
... He was an incomparable catechist, so clear-sighted and scrupulous that his instructions
may still be taken as models by the catechists of to-day. ...
// augustin/iii the bishops burthen.htm

The Anglican Catechism. AD 1549, 1662.
... And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my
life's end. Catechist. Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief. ... Catechist. ...
/.../the anglican catechism a d 1549.htm

Death by Disuse
... her. "That widow you talked to?" said the old catechist, "three days ago
fever seized her, and""He broke off and looked up. Then ...
/.../wilson-carmichael/things as they are/chapter xiii death by disuse.htm

To Eulalius, Bishop of Persian Armenia.
... well as those who were in it, and thus bishops, priests, deacons, or readers might
all of them be found, when occasion required, doing the work of a Catechist. ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/lxxvii to eulalius bishop of.htm

The Time and Arrangement of S. Cyril's Lectures.
... such as should be saved, through the teaching of the word of Faith being brought
home to the hearing of unbelievers." As an instruction to the Catechist how he ...
/.../cyril/lectures of s cyril of jerusalem/chapter ix the time and arrangement.htm

Mission Tours.
... evangelistic object was kept steadily in view. On this occasion I was
accompanied by a catechist. In the early afternoon, when we ...
/.../life and work in benares and kumaon 1839-1877/chapter xiv mission tours.htm

Baptism of Daniel.
... was in my heart. After this, he and Nallamuttoo, the Catechist, daily
instructed me and prayed with me for many weeks. I felt the ...
/.../ daniel/chapter eighteen baptism of daniel.htm

Native Christians (Continued).
... His income as catechist was small, but I often heard him charged with the lowest
mercenary motives by those who knew not, and did not wish to know, anything ...
/.../chapter xxvii native christians continued.htm

Augustin a Priest
... Originally Greek, he knew Latin badly, and not a word of Punic"a great hindrance
for him in his duties of judge, administrator, and catechist. ...
// augustin/iv augustin a priest.htm

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(n.) One who instructs by question and answer, especially in religions matters.
... Standard Bible Encyclopedia. CATECHIST; CATECHUMEN. ... A catechumen, one whom the catechist
instructs or catechizes, in preparation for the ceremony of baptism. ...
/c/catechist.htm - 12k

... Standard Bible Encyclopedia. CATECHIST; CATECHUMEN. ... A catechumen, one whom the catechist
instructs or catechizes, in preparation for the ceremony of baptism. ...
/c/catechumen.htm - 12k

Catching (6 Occurrences)

/c/catching.htm - 8k

... catechetical purposes as he moved from one Christian community to another.
SeeCATECHIST. (2) Later Writings: It is not indeed till a much ...
/c/creeds.htm - 28k

... education. It consisted mainly in committing accurately to memory, and in
repetition from memory (see CATECHIST; CATECHUMEN). There ...
/s/synoptic.htm - 38k

Mark (182 Occurrences)
... The view that he was to be a teacher, a catechist for converts, seems to fit best
all the facts. Why did he turn back from the work (Acts 13:13)? ...
/m/mark.htm - 93k

Instruction (117 Occurrences)
... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. INSTRUCTION. in-struk'-shun. See CATECHIST; EDUCATION;
SCHOOL. Multi-Version Concordance Instruction (117 Occurrences). ...
/i/instruction.htm - 35k

Teaching (372 Occurrences)
... 1, 2; Barnabas 18; Ignatius to the Ephesians 31). SeeCATECHIST; EDUCATION;
SPIRITUAL GIFTS. Byron H. Dement. Multi-Version Concordance ...
/t/teaching.htm - 62k

Teacher (103 Occurrences)
... 1, 2; Barnabas 18; Ignatius to the Ephesians 31). SeeCATECHIST; EDUCATION; SPIRITUAL
GIFTS. Byron H. Dement. Multi-Version Concordance Teacher (103 Occurrences) ...
/t/teacher.htm - 61k



Related Terms


Catching (6 Occurrences)



Mark (182 Occurrences)

Instruction (117 Occurrences)

Teaching (372 Occurrences)

Teacher (103 Occurrences)

Alexandria (4 Occurrences)

Teach (172 Occurrences)



John (154 Occurrences)

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