Updated: May 16, 2019
AN OVERVIEW OF THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH.
These are not hard-and-fast similarities, but they can help us to determine “where-we-are” in our growth in Christ.
Christian growth and development is similar in some (but not all ways) to human growth and development. However it is not automatic.
One can also slip backward to an earlier stage.
“Born from above” (anothen) is of course an absolute prerequisite Jhn 3:3
A person becomes a new creation in Christ, a spiritual baby (see Stage 1).
Stage 1 : NEPIOS
This is the equivalent of a baby aged 0-2 years
(3516 Strongs, “not speaking,” Infant, Simple-minded, Immature).
Carnally minded: The defining characteristic of this stage is 1 Cor 3:1
Tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine Eph 4:14
Unskilled in the Word of righteousness Heb 5:13
Can offer praise to God (perfect: to complete or to repair praise) Mtt 21:16
Can receive revelation Mtt 11:25
Stage 2 : PAIDION
Equivalent of a little child 2-10 years
(3813 Strongs, “Childling,” Immature, Lad).
Deficient in spiritual understanding: The defining characteristic 1 Cor 14:20
Are humble: Indicates that NEPIOS has begun to grow Mtt 18:4
Are to come to their Lord (learn how to pray and listen) Mtt 19:14
Have begun to intimately know the Father 1 Jhn 2:13
Jesus called his disciples PAIDION Jhn 21:5
Should be under the teaching of a spiritual father (PATER)
Receive and enter the Kingdom of God by simple trust Mk 10:15
Stage 3 : TEKNON
The equivalent of an older child 10-17 years
(5043 Strongs, Son, daughter).
See also TEKNION (5040 Strongs, “darlings”).
Actively seek their Lord: The defining characteristic is in Jhn 13:33
Learn to mimic their heavenly Father Eph 5:1
Do righteousness and love their brethren 1 Jhn 3:10
Are commanded not to sin; learn to deal with sin and the world 1 Jhn 2:1
Are not to be deceived by others concerning lifestyle 1 Jhn 3:7
Are told to abide in Jesus 1 Jhn 2:28
Are told to love in deed and in truth 1 Jhn 3:18
Are struggling to have Christ formed in their character Gal 4:19
Must keep themselves from idols 1 Jhn 5:21
Stage 4 : NEANISKOS
Equivalent of a young man 17-40 years
(3495 Strongs, Youth under 40 years)
Keep the law but lacks the spirit of love: Defining characteristic Mtt 19:20
Sees visions Acts 2:17
Serves the eldership Acts 5:10
Has overcome the wicked one 1 Jhn 2:13
Is strong, and the Word of God abides in them 1 Jhn 2:14
Stage 5 : HUIOS
Equivalent to a mature “son” 40+ years
(5207 Strongs, Mature relationship with God).
Are led by the Spirit of God: Defining characteristic in Rms 8:14
Are peacemakers (they end fights) Mtt 5:9
Love their enemies and pray for their persecutors Mtt 5:44-45
Learn obedience through suffering (putting down the flesh) Heb 5:8
Are chastised by the Lord Heb 12:5
Live a separate lifestyle from unbelievers 2 Cor 6:14-18
Stage 6 : PATER
Equivalent to a father-figure (3962 Strongs, Father)
or MÉTER Mother-of-Israel type (3384 Strongs, Mother).
Intimate knowledge of God’s ways: Defining characteristic 1 Jhn 2:13-14
Charges, exhorts, encourages the believers 1 Thess 2:11
Often works with HUIOS and NEANISKOS as a mentor Philp 2:22
Helps the NEPIOS, PAIDION, TEKNON to grow in Christ
Some Christian thinkers and writers have come up with slightly different versions of the ‘stages’ idea. Philip Yancey for example identifies three broad stages in a person’s faith life, similar to but not the same as Gerard Hughes idea of the child, the adult, then the parent stage.
The child stage is, Yancey writes, very much where the Old Testament Israelites were at in the desert – with lots of hands-on parental involvement from God as Father, and lots of rules, but not a lot of maturity in their response to His purpose.
The adult stage, for Yancey, is a more mature version of belief but can be a little self-centred. He sees the true end of faith as the ‘parent’ stage when you’re able to exit centre stage and invest in other people’s growth and development.
Brian McLaren however identifies four stages in the life of faith:
Whether there are 6 stages or 7 (or less) the point is that we should be progressing in our faith, trust and commitment. We should “dip stick” regularly against Scripture to see how we are advancing.
But at the end of the day, don’t get caught up with being proud of your achievements in Christian growth. And don’t think that by engaging with “how-to-grow” spiritually will be of benefit on the Great Day of the Lord.
The point is that we are all “saved by grace” not by how well we did in our spiritual growing (Eph 2:5 and 8).
That's not to say that growing isn’t extremely important; it is! But always keep the balance between what you do and what Christ has done for you, in proper balance.
SOME TIPS ON HOW TO GROW IN FAITH:
Daily Bible reading
Meditation on the Scriptures
Regular quiet time of prayer and listening
Corporate praise, worship, prayer, testimony, and fellowship
Having of love of and for the Truth.
May these insights help us to appreciate the great need to progress in our faith. Blessings to you in the Messiah.
The Issachar Ministry