Posted by: Terry | November 4, 2015

How to identify a Disciple

IMG_0591We are called to be disciples of Christ, so what does a disciple look like? A disciple, Greek – mathēths, in its most basic form is a student, a learner. But “Mathētḗs 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.” Disciples would commonly leave their city and family to follow a teacher or spiritual figure, thus Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV)

John gives us three marks of a disciple. First, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”(John 8:31 ESV) A disciple is first of all a student with a passion to learn and understand all that the teacher has taught.

Jesus taught the Apostles and they passed on his teaching to others. The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.” We have the record of what Jesus taught in the New Testament, and we have in the Old Testament the record of all that led up to Jesus coming. A true disciple of Christ will be a “devoted” student of the Bible, for it contains the teaching of the one they follow.

The second mark we find in John 13, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:35 NIV) A disciple is moved to put other people’s needs and joy above their own. Jesus gave this command after he had taken the position of a servant and washed the Apostles feet, one of the lowliest servant tasks of that culture. A disciple is called to serve others; this is love.

The third mark is found in John 15, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8 NIV) A tree or vine is identified by the fruit it produces, so it is with a disciple of Christ. Note also that the fruit is to glorify The Father, it was Jesus’s objective and it should be ours as well.

Jesus taught that to produce such fruit one must remain, abide, with him. A disciple is completely dependent on Christ for the means of producing that fruit, the fruit buds from the Sprit of God that is in us because of our abiding in Christ. And we are told that, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV) These are all the characteristics of Jesus and if we are his disciples they will be true of us as well.

A disciple is a student of the Word, a lover/server of others, and a living image of the Jesus Christ we follow. Overemphasizing any one will put a disciple out of balance, ignoring any one will leave us deficient, it takes all three.



  1. Great explanations! Keep it up!

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