What is a Disciple?
2 min read
What Is a Disciple?
In the New Testament, followers of Jesus are called “Christians” three times, “believers” 15 times, and “disciples” 235 times. Since being a disciple is so important to Jesus, let’s make sure we really understand what it means.
The word “disciple” was not unique to Christians in the first century. When Jesus called his followers “disciples,” none of them asked him, “What’s that?’” No, this was a common concept in the ancient world. Plato had disciples. Confucius had disciples. Jesus had disciples.
Not only was a disciple a common concept back then, it still is today. Everyone is a disciple of someone or something. But to truly understand what this means, we have to de-spiritualize the word “disciple” a bit. At the most basic level, a disciple is with someone in order to learn from them so they can become like them.
Be Like Mike
Long before I was a disciple of Jesus, I was a disciple of another seemingly divine figure: Michael Jordan. Seriously. I followed MJ’s every move in order to learn from him so I could be like him. I had the shoes, I wore the jersey, and I sang with religious devotion that catchy song from his Nike commercial: Like Mike, if I could be like Mike.
I was a disciple.
And it’s not just me. Every time you see someone copy Beyoncé’s latest hairstyle, they’re being a disciple. Every time you see someone reading a book, they’re being a disciple. Every time you see someone trying to follow the career path of a person they admire, they’re acting like a disciple.
Being a Disciple of Jesus
To be a disciple of Jesus, therefore, means to:
be with Jesus
learn from Jesus
become like Jesus
This excerpt was taken from Follow Me, an accessibly written book which explains what discipleship is all about in a way that anyone can understand.
by Jeremy Treat
This short, clear and visual book unpacks what it means to be a disciple of Christ and guides Christians down the path of following their king.
About the Author
Jeremy Treat (PhD, Wheaton College) is Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Reality LA in Los Angeles, California, and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Biola University. He is also the author of The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology.