The Greek Geek

Μαθητής: Disciple

By Chris Conner

The New Testament is largely the stories of the disciples of Jesus. But not everyone knows that every Christian is called to be a disciple. The word disciple or μαθητής (transliteration: mathétés; phonetic pronunciation: math-ay-tes') means "a learner, i.e. pupil." The first thing that comes to our minds about the word "disciple" are the twelve apostles.

A disciple is anyone that would follow a "master" or "rabbi" in the sense that they would completely follow him. "It indicates discipleship as total attachment to someone, not the classical Greek idea of a pupil" (New International Dictionary of N.T. Theology, p. 351). Jesus summed up the position of a disciple in Matthew 10:25: "Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master." The only way we can know God is through Jesus and His Word. "Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher" (Luke 6:40, NLT). Once a student has learned all his teacher has to say, he may become greater than his teacher — every teacher except Jesus.

But being a disciple is more than learning what the teacher knows. "Learning implies not only acquiring teaching about Christ, but also acceptance of Christ himself, beginning the new life of discipleship in Him" (New International Dictionary of N.T. Theology, p. 351). "It means more than just 'student' or 'learner.' A disciple is a 'follower,' someone who adheres completely to the teachings of another, making them his rule of life and conduct" ( Being a disciple requires a total commitment to Jesus. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24; HCSB). In fact, Jesus was very blunt when he said, "So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own" (Luke 14:33, NLT). Does this mean living a life of poverty? No. We must be able to USE everything we own to God's glory. "The essence of being a disciple of Christ is unreserved commitment to Him. This involves holding LOOSELY the material things of this world." (Holman Christian Standard Bible, p. 1769) Don't let such a grasp of material things in this world to keep you from focusing on God. We must be able to USE everything we own to God's glory.

The essence of being a disciple of Christ is unreserved commitment to Him. That means if we are going to follow Jesus wholeheartedly we must follow his example in how we treat others. Jesus said, "'I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another'" (John 13:34-35; HCSB). How do we put into practice "loving one another?" We can visit the sick or provide food for those who may be in the hospital. We can help each other when a brother/sister is discouraged or depressed. We can help one another with the Scriptures. Being a disciple means going all out for Jesus. Jesus is calling us to be His disciples to follow Him. Do you want to become a disciple of Jesus?

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Christian-Life  |  Jesus-Christ

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Published 1-5-16