What is a Disciple?

A Bible Study Exploring

What Jesus Taught About Being A Disciple

STEP 1:  Read through the definitions below and underline anything that helps you better understand what a disciple is.


Definitions – The word “disciple” designates a learner or follower, as in the sense of an apprentice, and “always implies the existence of a personal attachment which shapes the whole of life of the one described.”

Gerhard Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), p. 441.

The disciple, as an adherent and follower of Jesus is a prominent figure in each of the four Gospels, and is the counterpart of Jesus in His role as teacher as well as Lord (Mt. 8:25) and Master (Lk. 8:24).  Background.– In the Greek world, mathētēs variously designated an apprentice, one who companied with a teacher in order to learn from him…

R.P. Meye, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Gen. Editor Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 948

Mathētēs means more in the NT than a mere pupil or learner.  It is an adherent who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct, e.g., the disciples of John (Matt. 11:2; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; 7:18; John 3:25); the disciples of the Pharisees (Mark 2:18). In John 9:28, the Pharisees told the healed blind man, “Thou are his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.” Jesus had disciples in the sense that they believed and made His teaching the basis of their conduct. (Matt. 5:1; 9:19; 14:22; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 9:27; 15:8).

Spiros Zodhiates, ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, Comp. and ed. Spiros Zodhiates, TH.D., (AMG Publishers, 1992), p 936

Etymology –  mathētēs, 3101,  lit., “a learner” (from manthanō, “to learn,” from a root math-, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor), in contrast to didaskalos, “a teacher”; hence it denotes “one who follows one’s teaching.”  A “disciple” was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher; cf. John 8:31; 15:8.

W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger & William White, Jr.; ed., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 171



  1.  Look up the following six passages and write down your thoughts.
  2.  Read what comes before and after each verse (to discover the context).
  3.  In the first box, paraphrase the verse…write it in your own words.
  4.  In next box, write in your observations about the verse…what stands out to you.
  5.  Any questions/answers that you might have about the verse, goes in third box.
  6.  Finally, in the last box, record what the verse means to you personally.  Is there anything God is laying on your heart to do?  to be?  to praise Him for?  Here is where the blessing comes in… (see James 1:25)
  7. Have fun!





LUKE 14:26 
LUKE 14: 27 
LUKE 14:33 
JOHN 8:31-32 
JOHN 13:34-35 
JOHN 15:8 

STEP 3.  Read through the following verses and highlight the commitments Jesus asks from disciples:

Look through the following verses and highlight the commitments Jesus asks from disciples:  What commitments did Jesus ask from a disciple? 
Matt 4:1919 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”


Matt 8:19-2219 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”


Mark 8:34-3834 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”


Luke 14:25-3525 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters yes, even his own life he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’  31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.  34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


John 8:31-3231 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


John 15:18-2518 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’


John 9:26-3426 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”  27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”  28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”  30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.


John 12:2626 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.


STEP 4:  Apply what you’ve learned to yourself!

Make a list of each commitments you discovered above that Jesus asks his disciples to make

Have you made this commitment?


According to what you have learned are you a disciple?

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