Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Defining Christian Counseling


Bible teaching about defining Christian counseling gives a unique perspective. It should. There exists dozens of types of psychotherapy (probably hundreds). Some are similar, many are opposites. They all propose their way of “fixing” people’s problems. 

The Bible has something to contribute, since it also deals with the problems of people. Considering that God wrote it, the Bible teaching about the definition of Christian counseling should disclose some pretty good stuff. Don’t you think? 

Let’s start with the biblical data, and then we can draw some conclusions about defining Christian counseling. Some of this may be technical, but bear with me. It is amazingly rich material for you – and me. 

Start with the Proverbs

Proverbs is a book filled with counsel, giving abundant advice and instruction on living a godly life here, and gaining reward for the next life. The Hebrew word for “proverb” means a comparison, and came to mean a wise pronouncement of morality. 

This concept is captured as, “For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 24:6). Jesus Christ was designated as, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6). To expand on Jesus’ role in counseling, Paul wrote of Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

From this point, we analyze several New Testament Greek words related to defining Christian counseling. Using this strategy, we can assemble several pieces together to see the full picture of the Bible teaching about the definition of Christian counseling. 

Gnome: To Know

Gnome helps with defining Christian counseling. It means to known, perceive, reason, or that which is thought or known. In application, it refers to a view, judgment, or opinion as to what should be done to resolve an issue. It means to do something as a result of knowledge. 

Luke uses the word in Acts, “And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined (gnome) to return through Macedonia” (Acts 20:3). 

Boule: Advice, or Plan

Boule is another word in the Bible teaching about defining Christian counseling. Boule results in determining a course of action. It means a counsel, a piece of advice, or to resolve a matter. It is used both of the counsel of God (Luke 7:30; Acts 2:23; 4:28; 13:36; 20:27; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17), and of men (Luke 23:51; Acts 27:12, 42; 1 Corinthians 4:5). 

An example of its use in understanding the definition of Christian counseling is, “And the soldier’s plan (boule) was to kill the prisoners, that none of them should swim away and escape” (Acts 27:42). They had consulted together to form a plan of action.

Paraklesis: call along one's side

Paraklesis gets us closer to defining Christian counseling. It means to call to one’s side to console, comfort, encourage, soothe, or exhort. It means to advocate on someone’s behalf with legal assistance or aid (1 John 2:1). John used it of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter or Helper (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). 

Paul wrote, “and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage (parakaleo) you as to your faith…for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted (<i>parakaleo</i>) about you through your faith…Therefore comfort (<i>parakaleo</i>) one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 3:2, 7; 4:18; cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-6; 2:7).

Phroneo: To Think

Phroneo builds even more on the Bible teaching about the definition of Christian counseling. It means to think, to be mindful of, and it contains the idea of thoughtfully reflecting on moral considerations as opposed to unreasoning opinion. 

Paul used it this way, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds (phroneo) on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5; cf. verses 6, 7).

Nouthesia: Put Into the Mind

Nouthesia is the key word in understanding the Bible teaching about defining Christian counseling (cf. Titus 1:11; 3:10; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 4:14; 10:11; Acts 20:31; Colossians 1:28; 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15; Romans 15:14). 

Nouthesia is frequently used with didasko (to teach). Nouthesia is two words put together: nous (mind), and tithemi (to put). Consequently, it literally means “to put in mind.” 

It is used in context with lay person to lay person (Colossians 3:16), but also as a specific function of ministers (Colossians 1:28). Nouthesia forms the basis of Jay Adam’s “Nouthetic Counseling.” 

Nouthesia means to have a corrective influence on someone with the goal being the correction of the mind, affecting the will, which leads to behavioral change. It is to call into view the things that are wrong through a process based on instruction and training by word, encouragement, warning, and teaching. 

There are three dimensions to Nouthesia regarding Christian counseling. 

  • First, that something is wrong in the person – an obstacle or blockage that needs overcome (Titus 3:10).
  • Second, verbal processes are used to right the problem (Colossians 3:16).
  • Third, correction is always to benefit the client (1 Corinthians 4:14).

Christian Counseling: The Definition

Finally, we have reached the point where I can offer something: the Bible teaching about the definition of Christian counseling! Thanks for sticking with me. 

Christian counseling is a process for bringing needed change in an individual for the better. It deals with information, learning, and involvement from others. A major component deals with the thinking patterns of the mind that subsequently leads to behavioral, emotional, spiritual, and relationship changes.

What makes it “Christian” is that it is grounded in Christ and His revelation through the Bible. Whew! That is a lot. But, it is enough for now. Other Bible studies pick up from here.

With this overview of the Bible teaching on defining Christian counseling, Esmie and I wish you the very best. God bless you, yours, and your ministry in the cause of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman


1. What is your attitude toward Christian counseling?

2. How does Proverbs 24:6 contribute to defining Christian counseling? Explain.

3. What part does Jesus Christ play in the process and definition of Christian counseling?

4. How does gnome contribute to defining Christian counseling?

5. How does boule contribute to the defining Christian counseling?

6. How does paraklesis contribute to the definition of Christian?

7. How does phroneo contribute to the definition of Christian counseling?

8. In your dealing with people, describe the most common problem you come across. How can you apply this lesson to the problem?

9. Based on what you have learned in this Bible study on the Bible 

teaching about the definition of Christian counseling, what do you think God feels about counseling? Explain.

10. What stood out to you the most in this study about Christian counseling? Explain.

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