WHAT IS DISCIPLESHIP?
Discipleship is what Jesus did. And what did He do?
He selected disciples (pupils/students) and modeled for them a life obedient to God. Jesus also taught His disciples the Scriptures and committed them to a ministry of multiplication. Although every disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ; not all believers have ever truly been discipled.
This is certainly a tragedy—and one that has stifled many Christians in their walk with God.
Prior to ascending to heaven, Jesus made this declaration, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Did you catch the command to “make disciples?” This decree is accompanied by three Greek participles: going, baptizing, and teaching. Thus, the heart and scope of discipleship aren’t limited to winning souls for Christ, but to make disciples into mature followers of Jesus Christ.
Surprisingly, most people tend to overlook one of the riches and best practices of discipleship recorded in the Bible. In Titus 2:1-8, Paul charges Titus on how to properly fulfill the responsibility of discipleship:
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Notice that discipleship in the Bible isn’t about taking people to church or holding a bible study. Those are certainly good things, and no doubt helps us grow in our faith, but the key to discipleship is fellowshipping and learning from mature believers.
Disciple—A follower of Jesus Christ who is taught how to grow in their faith, and learn to do likewise.
- Matthew 4:19 – And Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
- Luke 6:40 – A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.
- Luke 14:27 – Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
- John 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
- Galatians 6:6 – One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.
Discipler—A teacher/mentor who models Christ, teaches the Word, and exhorts believer(s) who are young in the faith.
- 1 Corinthians 11:1 – Imitate me, for I imitate Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:8 – So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
- 2 Timothy 2:2 – The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.