What is Discipleship?

Let us learn what vision Jesus clearly casted when He commanded all believers to make disciples.

The Great Commission
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Great Commission is one command (Make Disciples) surrounded by three participles (Go, Baptize, Teach).

  1. Go – This is understood as a non-negotiable. It is assumed that we are always going. Jesus is telling all those who recognize His lordship that wherever and however you go, make disciples.
  2. Baptize – Jesus is describing the symbolic gesture of being initiated into His fold. The focus is witnessing, so the task of baptizing in this text is mainly evangelistic in nature.
  3. Teach – Jesus wants us to teach disciples all that He commanded. By teaching what Jesus taught, the church becomes an extension of His ministry. Though this education must not be just a digestion of theology, but equipping people to obey all that Jesus commanded.

Models of Discipleship
“Disciple” comes from the Greek word that means, “to learn.” Historically, the word recognizes a pupil-teacher relationship. By looking at Jesus’ ministry, we see how His relationship with His disciples transcended the normal pupil-teacher relationship. Jesus poured Himself into those who would multiply – teaching His disciples, spending intimate relational time with them, and sending them out to proclaim the gospel and do good works. Jesus literally staked His whole ministry on twelve young men. He was quietly equipping the saints so that they could lead the multitudes.

As we read further in the New Testament, we see Paul carry this mantle of making disciples. His discipleship-relationship with a young Christian named Timothy is evident throughout the epistles. He wrote to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul poured his life into Timothy – training and modeling to him – and encouraged him to continue the process.

As we study the Great Commission and examine the practical ministry models of Jesus and Paul, we can conclude that discipleship is: Pouring into others, training them in Word, in Relationship, and in Ministry, so that they might develop as healthy believers who can walk by faith, share their faith and multiply their faith. This definition is dense, so click on the link below to see how we can break it down.

Next: The Three Components