Biblical Basis for Discipleship

By Doug Franklin February 5, 2018

A biblical understanding of why and how we do discipleship

The Devoted Disciple

A disciple is a follower of particular word or doctrine. To be a disciple of Christ, then, is to be one who follows Jesus and lives in obedience to his commands. The purpose of discipleship is to shape believers into committed followers of Christ who live out the kind of devotion that Jesus described through his teachings.

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

 The Clear Charge

Jesus ultimately charged his disciples to go and make more disciples, and the Bible is clear that we, too, are meant to be disciple-makers. We are called to discipleship: the process of multiplication through relationship. When we participate in the work of discipleship, we’re doing precisely what Jesus told his disciples to do in the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Perfect Picture

Not only did Jesus charge us to make disciples, he instructed us to teach those disciples everything that he commanded throughout his earthly ministry. This is the challenging work of discipleship, but Jesus perfectly modeled what this process should look like. By looking at Jesus’ life and his ministry to his disciples, we gain practical insights for the discipleship of others.

John 13:14-15

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

The Team Task

Jesus made it clear to his followers that the task of discipleship was not one to be accomplished apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit. Discipleship is not a one-man job but a team sport. We are instructed to walk in step with the Spirit and trust God to make things grow.

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

1 Corinthians 3:7

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More