Can you imagine what it was like to be a disciple of Jesus? Walking with him on the dusty road, observing the personal relationship he had with the great Yahweh, watching him heal the blind and deliver the possessed.
Come with me as we explore Bible verses about discipleship and what it means to be a modern-day disciple.
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What Does the Bible Say about Discipleship
What does the Bible say about discipleship? Jesus gave us specific instructions on being his disciple and Paul and the other apostles furthered those instructions as they laid their lives on the line to fulfill Christ’s command.
These commandments are just as much for us today as they were to those in the first century.
Jesus talked often of denying ourselves and following him. Paul includes many instructions on how to live our lives to glorify Christ and be an example to the lost.
Examples of Discipleship in the Bible
Discipleship is more of a New Testament concept as a follower of Christ, but the idea of a disciple is one who studies under and promotes the teachings of another. Technically a disciple could be any school of thought and any religion.
While most of these Bible verses about discipleship focus on Christ and Christians, here are a few noteworthy examples of discipleship in the Old Testament:
- Moses and Joshua
- Eli and Samuel
- Elijah and Elisha
- Jeremiah and Baruch
These mentor and disciples worked closely together. Joshua took over leadership of the Children of Israel after Moses. Samuel, having come to live with Eli as a child, succeeded him as high priest and Judge.
Elisha travels with Elijah, witnesses him taken to heaven in a whirlwind, and is granted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Baruch wrote many of Jeremiah’s letters to the king and recorded God’s words to Jeremiah.
Continuing on with examples of discipleship in the Bible, here are a few New Testament examples:
- John the Baptist and his followers, several of which followed Jesus after John’s death
- Jesus and the 12 apostles
- Jesus and the 70
- Paul and Timothy
- Paul and Titus
Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-37)
John’s disciples were loyal to him and many stayed with him until his death. While in prison, John sends two of his disciples to Jesus to question if he is the promised one.
After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them,
“The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Luke 10:1-2)
Just like the 70 Jesus sends out before him, we are the laborers in the harvest. We are representing Christ to those who do not know him.
The relationships we see between Paul and the leaders of the churches he establishes can be considered a kind of discipleship. A beautiful relationship of working toward the common goal of sharing the gospel, the good news of Christ. This can be seen in Paul’s letters to Timothy.
You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
Bible Verses about Discipleship
Jesus’s 12 closest disciples were a small part of discipleship. We are also called to be disciples of Christ.
As Jesus is ascending into Heaven, he gives us a biblical mandate for discipleship:
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
This thought is continued in Luke’s account in Acts.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Bible Verses about Being a Disciple
Being a disciple is about following Christ’s example and taking to heart his teachings. Jesus was very forward on this topic because we cannot represent him when our own goals and ambitions are in the way.
A separation of sin and an attitude of servitude set us apart as disciples of Christ. As you can see from these Bible verses about discipleship, it is all about Christ and not at all about us. This can be difficult for some people and even a stumbling block, causing some to remain in a less active state of Christianity.
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-27)
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:33)
Jesus was constantly teaching the disciples. He taught them about the father, he explained the law, he showed them by example what it means to live in the spirit. One of the most beautiful examples of Christ’s humility and love was how he washed his disciples' feet. Jesus wished for us to have this same heart of a servant and he instructs his disciple
“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Bible Verses on Disciple Making
As I mentioned before, the early disciples had the job of both being disciples and fulfilling the great commission as well as training others to do the same. Paul understood that discipleship is about imitation, learning by example.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:21-23)
Bible Verses about Disciples Following Jesus
We all come to Christ because we need forgiveness from sin, restoration with our maker, and salvation for our souls.
But do you really want to be a disciple? Jesus does not make it easy and it is almost painful to type. True discipleship is about self-denial and obedience.
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Luke 13:34-35)
One of my favorite calls to discipleship in the Bible is at the end of John, after Jesus’s resurrection, you see Jesus with his disciples in a very private and personal setting.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Bible Verses about Family Discipleship
The Biblical mandate for discipleship begins at home. First, with our relationship with Christ and secondly with our relationship with our spouse and children.
God gives us strict instructions to not only follow Him and His commandments, but to teach them to our children. When we disciple our own children, we are developing disciples for Christ. We are raising strong men and women of faith who will be in turn be a light.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
From your home, discipleship will come naturally as you live out the teachings of Jesus and become imitators of his words and actions.
Armed with these Bible verses about discipleship, are you ready to take up your cross, be an imitator of Christ and a light to the world?
So, what does it mean to be a disciple of God in today's world?
Discipleship is just as much about how we live as it is about what we speak. Long sermons and thought-provoking blog posts are only one way to live out your discipleship.
Loving your enemies, being a servant to your neighbor, raising your children in Christ, respecting your parents and your spouse, encouraging those around you, and the list goes on.
In everything that you do, let it be done with the purpose of glorifying God!
We are instructed to build our houses on the rock, following Christ and leading a life of discipleship. A life that points to our savior.