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On Being a Disciple - Our Calling

Unfolding Prophecy Truth
"As a disciple, I want to master the Bible so that the Master of the Bible can become my Master."
May God bless you all!
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[computer software] . Franklin, TN: Equipping Ministries Foundation. (Original work published 1890)
Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.
Strong, J.
Meyers, R. (2005). e-Sword.
As we continue this series of study, I wanted to dig a little deeper into explaining what a disciple is and what our calling is as a disciple. If you are also reading the articles this year on spiritual gifts, by now you have begun to understand that we all have been given a spiritual gift, and that we will use them differently. Example: some water and some harvest. Notice that most of my quotes are direct quotes from the Master Himself!
- Author unknown
e-Sword. [computer software] . Franklin, TN: Equipping Ministries Foundation. (Original work published 1915)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
Meyers, R. (2005).
Orr, J. (Gen. Ed.).
Please note that the majority of the paragraphs in this first section below are snippets from a variety of authors within my library and were extracted as part of my study several years ago. I was unable to find them as I prepared this articles but do wish to give them all credit.
Review: The term "Disciple" and the Concept of "Discipleship"
Basic meaning of
in short, a disciple is a student (Strong's G3101). A
disciple is one who disciplines himself in the teachings and practices of another. The word
, like
, comes from the Latin word
, meaning "pupil"
or "learner." The Greek term
means "a learner, pupil, disciple" (Thayer
Were there disciples in the Old Testament?
The Old Testament does not contain the
term nor precise idea (Orr,
which can
mean rope or bands and also company (Strong's H2256) - these companies study together usually under a well-known teacher. In 2 Kings 6, Elisha is working with a group called the "sons of the prophets" and a borrowed axe head was lost in a body of water. One of the "sons" asked Elisha to help retrieve it, and Elisha tossed a stick into the water, and the axe head floated to the surface to the picked up.
Synagogue practices:
Without a temple, the Israelites resorted to building houses of
worship while captive in Babylon. They continued this practice when they returned and built them within their various cities with larger ones having many houses of worship. These houses of worship were called synagogues. As a matter of practice, these synagogues had teaching times with a known rabbi or teacher (
pupils were called his
which is translated "scholar" in the King James English
Bible (1 Corinthians 25:8). It is safe to assume then that scholars, or students, or disciples were a common practice throughout the Old Testament years of Isreal - indeed, doesn't every generation everywhere have teachers and students?
Isaiah 8:16
"Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my
(bold added)
Isaiah 50:4
(bold added)
"The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned,
that I should know how to speak a word in season to
him that is
weary: he
wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the
are the same, and they are the Hebrew word "
" (Strong's
H3928), which means instructed, learned, taught - disciple.
From these two verses and others, we can see clearly that a prophet like Isaiah (and others) had students who wished to learn from them. I suspect that many saw the life he led and the example that he gave and wanted to be like him. Look at Isaiah 50:4 and see the habit implied by Isaiah - He rises every morning (or God wakes him) and listens to the instruction that he gets from God so that he can be learned, and so that he can speak good words to the weary (encouragement).
From God to the teacher - from the teacher to the student.
Back to Jesus' day, we have references to a school of Tyrannus in Acts 19:9, and Paul tells us that he learned at the feet of Gamaliel, a famous Doctor of the Law (Acts 22:3).
Three levels of schools in the synagogue:
As children in a Jewish community in
Jesus' day had schooling at the synagogue, there were three levels of training with each more intense and exacting. (Can we say grade school, middle school, and high school?) These were called
Bet ha-Sefer
Bet Midrash
, and
Bet Talmud
Bet ha-Sefer
(House of the Book) was for children 6 through 12 - mostly boys. Here
they would learn the Bible and memorize large passages of Scrupture and, for those who could afford it, write out their own Torah copy to keep into adulthood (the Five Books of Moses - the Law). The "graduation" for this effort was the
Bar Mitzvah
a boy graduated into manhood. (Girls had a
Bat Mitzvah
Bet Midrash
(House of Learning) was for boys 13 to 15 who were considered worthy
of additional study. If not, you would be expected to learn the trade of your father or some other relative and essentially apprenticeship under them. Those selected would study (and memorize what they could) the entire
(the Jewish Bible Old
Testament), as well as learning the family trade. Based on what we know of Jesus' twelve disciples, they did not go to the
Bet Midrash
- most likely not counted worthy to
do so. Interesting that these are the men Jesus chose to make His disciples.
Bet Talmud
(House of Study): here young men would study the law, law commentaries
in the
(oral law), and the
(written law). If you were in this school, you
were destined to be a rabbi/teacher one day and generally left off learning a trade.
Using these three schools as examples, one could say that those who studied in
were made to do so and, therefore, can be separated from those who went on
to study further. Those in the
Bet Midrash
wanted to know more, and we will call them
"believers" for our comparison. Those who chose to move on to
Bet Talmud
Jesus' Call for Us to be Disciples: It's Sevenfold Elements
Discipleship is a call to personal commitment to Jesus.
1) The Call: must know Him and, therefore, be in His presence
Soon after Jesus began His ministry, He selected twelve disciples. They lived with Him, walked with Him, talked and listened to Him. We can do the same thing with the Spirit's help, and we are called to do so.
Mark 3:14:
"And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he
might send them forth to preach,"
1 Corinthians 1:9:
(Strong's G2842)] of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship
Philippians 3:10-11:
"That I many know him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."
2) The Objective: become like Him
Luke 6:40:
"The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect
shall be as his master."
(instructor, doctor, teacher) (Strong's G1320) and Perfect:
(complete, prepared, mended) (Strong's G2675).
John 13:14-17:
"If I then,
Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also
ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
Matthew 16:25:
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will
lose his life for my sake shall find it."
3) The Mandate: we are to be followers
1 Corinthians 11:1:
"Be ye followers [imitators -
(Strong's G3402)] of
me, even as I also
of Christ."
Luke 9:23-24:
"And he said to
all, If any
will come after me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Luke 14:25-35:
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any
come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and
brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have
Lest haply, after he hath laid the
foundation, and is not able to finish
, all that behold
begin to mock him, Saying,
This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth ambassadors, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt
wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill,
men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 10:42-45:
But Jesus called them
to him
and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are
accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
4) The Power: He works in us and not we ourselves
2 Corinthians 3:5-6:
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing
as of ourselves; but our suffciency
of God; Who also hath made us able
ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: . . ."
Philippians 2:13:
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of
good pleasure."
John 15:5-8:
I am the vine, ye
the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same
bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast
into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in
you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
5) The Promise: rewards for being a disciple
Mark 10:28-31:
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many
that are
first shall
6) The Commission: what are we called to do
Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always,
unto the end of the world. Amen.
7) The Master's Command:
Our empowerment: "All Authority in Heaven and Earth"
Our imperative: "Therefore, go and make disciples . . ."
Our exertion: Baptizing and Teaching
Our ability: "I will be with you . . ."
In Closing:
2 Peter 1:10:
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your
calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:"
to finish
) leading it, and his
were true
However, there are other terms and evidences of disciples of different teachers before New Testament times. For example, in 1 Samuel 10:5 (and other places), we discover a couple of references to "a company of prophets" using the word
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
, Disciple).
good: but if the salt have lost his savor,
be last; and the last first.