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Jesus Defines the Meaning of Discipleship by Robert Sloan

Jesus Defines the Meaning of Discipleship
Exerpts from an article in the Holmann Bible Dictionary 
by Robert Sloan 

Background of Disciple The term "disciple" comes to us in English from a Latin root. Its basic meaning is "learner" or "pupil." The term is virtually absent from the Old Testament, though there are two related references (1 Chron. 25:8; Isa. 8:16). 

In the Greek world the word "disciple" normally referred to an adherent of a particular teacher or religious/philosophical school. It was the task of the disciple to learn, study, and pass along the sayings and teachings of the master.

In rabbinic Judaism the term "disciple" referred to one who was committed to the interpretations of Scripture and religious tradition given him by the master or rabbi. Through a process of learning which would include a set meeting time and such teaching methods as question and answer, instruction, repetition, and memorization, the disciple would become increasingly devoted to the master and the master's teachings. In time, the disciple would, likewise, pass on the traditions to others. 

The Gospels often refer to Jesus as "Rabbi" (Matt. 26:25,49; Mark 9:5; 10:51; 11:21; John 1:38,49; 3:2,26; 6:25; 20:16). One can assume that Jesus used traditional rabbinic teaching techniques (question and answer, discussion, memorization) to instruct His disciples. In many respects Jesus differed from the rabbis. He called His disciples to "Follow me" (Luke 5:27). Disciples of the rabbis could select their teachers. 

Jesus oftentimes demanded extreme levels of personal renunciation (loss of family, property, etc.; Matt. 4:18-22; 10:24-42; Luke 5:27-28; 14:25-27; 18:28-30). 
He asked for lifelong allegiance (Luke 9:57-62) as the essential means of doing the will of God (Matt. 12:49-50; John 7:16-18). 
He taught more as a bearer of divine revelation than a link in the chain of Jewish tradition (Matt. 5:21-48; 7:28-29; Mark 4:10-11. 
In so doing Jesus announced the end of the age and the long-awaited reign of God (Matt. 4:17; Luke 4:14-21,42-44). 


Mat 10:24-39 (TLB) 
"A student is not greater than his teacher.
 A servant is not above his master.
 {25} The student shares his teacher's fate.
 The servant shares his master's!
 And since I, the master of the household, have been called 'Satan,'
 how much more will you! 

{26} But don't be afraid of those who threaten you.
 For the time is coming when the truth will be revealed: 
their secret plots will become public information. 

{27} "What I tell you now in the gloom, 
shout abroad when daybreak comes. 
What I whisper in your ears, proclaim from the housetops! 
{28} "Don't be afraid of those who can kill only your bodies--
but can't touch your souls! 
Fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 

{29} Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) 
can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 
{30} And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
{31} So don't worry! You are more valuable to him than many sparrows. 

{32} "If anyone publicly acknowledges me as his friend, 
I will openly acknowledge him as my friend before my Father in heaven. 
{33} But if anyone publicly denies me,
 I will openly deny him before my Father in heaven. 

{34} "Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! 
No, rather, a sword. 
{35} I have come to set a man against his father,
 and a daughter against her mother, 
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- 
{36} a man's worst enemies will be right in his own home! 

{37} If you love your father and mother more than you love me,
 you are not worthy of being mine; 
or if you love your son or daughter more than me, 
you are not worthy of being mine. 

{38} If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me,
 you are not worthy of being mine. 
{39} "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; 
but if you give it up for me, you will save it.

2 Tim 2:1-2 (KJV) 
Thou therefore, my son, 
be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 
{2} And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, 
the same commit thou to faithful men,
 who shall be able to teach others also.

Mat 28:19-20 (KJV) 
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, 
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, 
even unto the end of the world. Amen.


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