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Discipleship

Branches

John 15:5
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
ESV

The word “disciple” (“mathetes” the noun form of manthano) occurs 275 times in the NKJV of the Bible. Different versions will create different counts because of the fashion of translation. It is to be noted that not all of these references are to followers of Jesus. Those who follow John the Baptist and the Pharisees are also called disciples (Matt 9:14; 22:15-16).  Some who are called disciples of Jesus are not true believers and leave Him at different points in His ministry as His teachings become difficult (John 6:60).

Statistically, the more interesting number is that the term “disciples” only occurs with the pages of the Gospels and Acts. Once we turn to the epistles, believers are brethren. This is best explained because now, one disciple writes to another. In one sense they are all at an equal level and brethren becomes a better description of the relationship they share to each other. For, like all of us, the early followers of Christ were disciples of Jesus, not of Peter or Paul or John. As between themselves, as between believers today, the relationship of one follower to another is that of brother or sister, while the follower remains a disciple of Jesus.

John 15:7-17
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. NIV

Elsewhere I wrote about Abiding Fruit using John 15. Verses 7-17 of this passage provide us with the basis of a disciple. A disciple

Abides in Christ (15:7)

Is obedient to Christ (15:9)

Bears fruit (15:8, 16)

Glorifies God (15:8)

Has joy (15:11)

Has love (15:12-14, 17)

 

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