Defining Discipleship

This is a paper I wrote for one of my classes

Defining Discipleship

The word disciple/disciples is used in the bible over 200 times and it always means the same thing, a learner or pupil.  A word that would be a great synonym would be student.  Most of the times it shows up in Mark, John, and Acts it is in reference to the disciples of Jesus.  A couple times it references Johns and once it is used when the Pharisees refer to themselves as Moses’ disciples.

THE disciples were students of Jesus.  They were doing more than trying to increase their knowledge.  They were learning how to live.  Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t a weekend project or an academic endeavor, it is a way of life.  What Jesus was teaching was to permeate every aspect of their lives.  These guys gave up everything they knew to follow Jesus and learn his ways.

So, why would anybody do that?  One of the main characteristics of disciple is that they believe.  From the moment they met Jesus they knew there was something special about him. Why else would these guys leave their professions to go roam around with some random person?  They didn’t just do it here or there like we do.  They spent three years of their lives with him on an everyday basis.  What they learned from Jesus wasn’t just shoulds and shouldn’ts, but attitudes; Attitudes like, love and humility that go against our very nature.  Jesus told us to follow him that we must pick up our cross and deny ourselves.

In John 8:31 Jesus say’s “if you abide in my word then you are my disciples indeed”.  So, in order for Jesus to consider us his disciple we must spend a considerable amount of time studying his words.  One of the things a saw a couple times during my study was the disciple would remember his words.  The disciples weren’t passive learners either, they would ask Jesus for clarification; they weren’t content with memorization, but sought to understand what he was trying get across.

As we spend time with Jesus he begins to rub off on us.  He changes us from the inside out.  Many people try to be disciples by forcing themselves to change their behavior to that of a disciple, but miss the key part, fellowship and friendship with Jesus.  Our actions are the fruit of what is in our hearts.  Good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit.  In John 13:35 Jesus says that people will know that we are his disciples if we love one another.  This is an example of fruit.  It seems any people think that fruit is success in ministry (building, bodies and bucks), and I think that is partially true.  However, I think that our behavior is more likely the fruit he is talking about.  He says that you will know a tree by its fruit.  I someone claims to be a good tree but their actions don’t match, so then they are really a bad tree.

Jesus’s disciples loved and enjoyed being with Him.  After Jesus’s death he showed himself to his followers.  On one such occasion the disciples were out fishing all night and got nowhere.  Sometime in the morning Jesus called out from the shore to inquire about their success and to give direction to help them.  John notices it was Jesus.  When peter heard this he put on his outer garment jumped in the sea and swam for shore.  He was excited and eager to see him.  A true disciple takes pleaser in the words and presence of God.

As a result of experiencing God and thus receiving His love for people, a disciple is compelled to testify to people of his goodness and the sacrifice he made on their behalf.  Their goal is to bring others to Christ and to train them to be disciples as well.  A disciple is willing to do this despite any opposition and consequence that may result.  They will stay by Christ’s side no matter what may come.  When others walk away because the teaching may be hard or require great sacrifice, a disciple stays, because he/she knows the value of the treasure that is Christ.  They know the cost is nothing compared to knowing Him, the God of the universe who loved us so much that He gave His life for us a wicked, sinful, rebellious people.


This paper was all about what we should strive for.  The disciple themselve did show some of these traits but they also screwed up a lot.  There is an epidemic in the American church where people classify christians into two categories.  One categorey have simply just prayed the sinners prayer and haven’t moved on from there.  The other category is the group that would recieve the title of disciples.  There is no distinction like this in the bible at all. Pastors are not the only ones called become disciples.  Discipleship is expected of everyone who want to be with God.  Does that mean that people who never really moved on are real discipleship.  However Matthew 7:22-23 says this.


22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

With this verse in mind it makes me concerned.  I think that people who really accept Jesus and repent behave in a certian way.  And if you have not dedicated you life to discipleship then I am worried for you.  I can not say one way or the other where you stand.  Being a disciple does not mean your perfect or anything like that.  But it does mean you are making an effort and intend to become closer to and more like Christ.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s