Biblical Counseling is Not New
While the name is new, the sort of counseling done by nouthetic or Biblical counselors is not. From biblical times onward, God's people have counseled nouthetically. The word nouthetic is biblical. The New Testament was written in Greek, from which the noun nouthesia (verb: noutheteo) comes. It is a term used largely by the apostle Paul which is sometimes translated "admonish, correct or instruct." The term, which best describes biblical counseling, occurs in such passages as Romans 15:14: "I myself am convinced about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and competent to counsel one another." In that passage, the apostle was encouraging members of the Roman church to do informal, mutual counseling, something that all Christians today should learn, as well. On the other hand, the leaders of a congregation are to counsel nouthetically in a formal manner as a part of their ministry: "Now we ask you, brothers, to recognize those who labor among you, and manage you in the Lord, and counsel you."
Biblical Counseling Embraces
Because the New Testament term is larger than the English word "counsel," and because it doesn't carry any of the "freight" that is attached to the latter term, we have simply imported the biblical term into English. In that way, the full force of the biblical concept of counseling may be set forth while avoiding the many contradictory connotations surrounding the English one. The three ideas found in the word nouthesia are Confrontation, Concern and Change. To put it simply, nouthetic counseling consists of lovingly confronting people out of deep concern in order to help them make those changes that God requires.
By confrontation we mean that one Christian personally gives counsel to another from the Scriptures. He does not confront him with his own ideas or the ideas of others. He limits his counsel strictly to that which may be found in the Bible, believing that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and useful for teaching, for conviction, for correction and for disciplined training in righteousness in order to fit and fully equip the man from God for every good task." (2 Timothy 3:16,17)