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Lesson 8: What Are Disciples

Key Verse

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:18-19

Aims Of This Study

Being a Christian is easy. Just give your heart to Jesus and ask Him to live in your heart. Then choose to follow Him. This sounds easy, until you start to put it into practice. There are so many things in life that come between us and our relationship with Jesus. Things include family, money, entertainment, the Church, busyness etc.

Jesus has called us to be not just a Christian, but a disciple of Jesus. What does this mean? By studying the scriptures, we can have an understanding of what becoming a disciple of Jesus the Christ is all about.

Key Questions

· What is a disciple?

· Is following Jesus safe?

· What is a key responsibility of a disciple?

· Are we to be individuals or is there another way?

· Can men and women be disciples?

· How can disciples know what to do?

· Is having a relationship with Jesus important.

· What do we testify to others?

· How does God speak to us?

· Who can become disciples?

· What is the importance of God’s Word?

1. What is a disciple?

To begin our journey of understanding, looking in the Strong's Concordance, we can find four different definitions for the word 'disciple'.

1. Strong's #3101 mathetes (math-ay-tes) is taken from #3129.and was used 269 times. It means a learner or pupil that is learning in their mind and this learning then leads to endeavour. They all manifest as disciples by abiding in God's Word. John 8:31. They also believed upon him and confessed Him. Acts 6:1-2, 7, Acts 14:20-22. A disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent, hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher. John 8: 31, 15:8.

2. Strong's #3102 mathetria (math-ay-tree-ah. This is a female pupil or disciple and was used only 1 time in Acts 9:36. when it talks about Tabatha. Disciples can be men or women.

3. Strong's #3100 matheteuo (math -ayt-yoo - o) Is taken from 3101 and is ised 4 times. It means to become a pupil, to disciple, instruct and teach.

4. In the old Testament the word 'disciple' is used. In Isaiah 8:16 Strong's # 3928 - parerchomai (par-er-khom-ahee) From 3844. It means to come near or aside. To pass by, neglect or pass over.

From God's Word we learn the following about discipleship.

a. A disciple becomes like who is teaching them.

In Matthew 10: 24-25 we read The disciple will not be greater but become like them.

It means the teacher must demonstrate how to live and show a good lifestyle. It is just not what they say but what they do that is important.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub,[a] how much more will they call those of his household! Matthew 10:24-25 (NKJV)

40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40 (NKJV)

b. Parents can and should raise up disciples .

Timothy was a young man raised by his mother as a disciple.

16 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. Acts 16:1 (NKJV)

3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1: 3-6 (NKJV)

c. Disciples not only learn, they put into practice what they have learnt.

They reach out to others. By doing what we are told we receive our reward.

42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42 (NKJV)

We are known not just for being disciples, but for the works we do as disciples.

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. Acts 9:36 (NKJV)

Disciples are taken to minister with the teachers to teach them through doing.

16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Man of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. Acts 21:16 (NKJV)

d. By becoming a disciple of Jesus we need to love Jesus more than anything else in this life.

We are also called to give up our lives, bear our cross or decide to do what it takes to be a disciple no matter the cost.

26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26-27 (NKJV)

e. We give up everything to become a disciple.

33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:33 (NKJV)

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me. Luke 9:23 (NKJV)

f. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be holy and set apart.

13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16

g. We need to decide whose disciple we are.

It is essential we are ultimately a disciple of Jesus. It is only him we follow.

28 Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. John 9:28 (NKJV)

h. Whoever we follow, we must ultimately imitate Jesus, the Christ.

11 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)

5 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma .Ephesians 5:1-2 (NKJV)

6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NKJV)

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4: 14-17

2. Following Jesus is risky.

We do make mistakes at times, but Jesus is there to forgive us and encourage us in the tasks He has given us.

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another[a] disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. John 18:15-16 (NKJV)

3. As disciples we share the responsibility of looking after each other.

26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27 (NKJV)

4. Jesus is calling us to become part of the body of Christ.

We all then work together to achieve what God is calling us to do. Our ministry is about supporting and helping each other.

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[c] one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

5. Both men and women were disciples.

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. Acts 9:36 (NKJV)

6. A disciple both sees and believes.

Disciples both experience and see Jesus, and believe from what they have seen.

8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed .John 20:8 (NKJV)

7. Disciples can clearly discern the voice of Jesus.

They will give up what they are doing to follow Jesus.

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. John 21:7 (NKJV)

Also Read John Chapter 10.

8. Being a disciple allows us to have an intimate relationship with Jesus

In this relationship we can learn and ask Jesus questions.

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” John 21:20 (NKJV)

9. Disciples see, experience and testify of the things we have been given by Jesus.

23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. John 21:23-24 (NKJV)

10. God speaks to disciples in dreams and visions.

From the dreams he calls us to do difficult and often crazy things.

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”

And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” Acts 9:10 (NKJV)

11. God can do amazing things to turn even the most impossible of people around to become disciples.

We need to bring in to our fold those who God brings to us.

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. Acts 9:26 (NKJV)

12. Disciples know God's word and it is sealed in their hearts. Very important!

We do not be afraid but know, learn, understand God's Word so it is sealed in us. Then we can wait on Him in our lives and trust what He says in the Word!

Fear God, Heed His Word

11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:

12 “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’

Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,

Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.

13 The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;

Let Him be your fear,

And let Him be your dread.

14 He will be as a sanctuary,

But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense

To both the houses of Israel,

As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15 And many among them shall stumble;

They shall fall and be broken,

Be snared and taken.”

16 Bind up the testimony,

Seal the law among my disciples.

17 And I will wait on the Lord,

Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;

And I will hope in Him.

18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!

We are for signs and wonders in Israel

From the Lord of hosts,

Who dwells in Mount Zion. Isaiah 8:11-18 NKJV


Being a disciple of Jesus the Christ starts with giving your life to Christ, but it is just the start of the adventure of getting to know Jesus, learning what Jesus did, said and how He lived his life. Then in our lives, learning to imitate and become a disciple that will do as Jesus did no matter the cost. In dying to ourselves there is life in all its fullness. John 10:10 says

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I encourage you to choose life, the full life Jesus promises.

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