Disciples of Whom?

Related Bible Passages:
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. II Tim. 2:2

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. I Thess. 1:6-9

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. I Tim. 4:12

Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. I Petr. 5:3

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Titus 2:7-8

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. James. 5:10

Paul practiced what he preached!
Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. II Thess. 3:9

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. Phil. 3:17

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Phil. 4:9

And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. Acts 26:29 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I Cor.7:7

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. I Cor. 11:1

Jesus practiced what he preached!
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. John 20:21

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. John 13:15

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love… This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:9-13

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: I Peter 2:21

Negative Example:
And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. Mark 9:38

What did John do wrong?

Jesus demands absolute commitment:
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:57-62

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. I John 2:9-11

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. I John 3:15

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ? I John 4:20



We hear much in missions and church circles about making disciples, but the idea portrayed has generally been “making disciples of Christ.” It has become clear to me in the New Testament, that Paul made disciples of himself. Paul encourages Timothy to do the same (II Timothy 2:2). I Thessalonians 1 gives us a splendid example of how this works.

In modern evangelical circles, it would be considered arrogant to call people to become OUR disciples. We do this of course, but we prefer to use non-biblical terminology such as “mentoring” or “leadership training”. It seems to me that we miss important truths of scripture when we opt for “political correctness” rather than call it what it is.

I ask if it is even possible to make disciples of anyone other than ourselves. Would it not rather be arrogant to claim that we are making disciples of Christ? And if we are faithful disciples of Christ, why can we not call upon others to follow us? Or do we refrain from that because it allows us a certain freedom of movement? We needn’t be on guard, lest someone following our example could cause us to feel guilty. It is easier to live with our own shortcomings and faults when we believe and declare that people should be disciples of Christ.

Certainly, discipling includes the hope and expectation that the trainee will someday be spiritually weaned and capable of serving his Master without our help or presence. In this sense, our disciple is also becoming His disciple. Paul bemoaned the fact that the Corinthians and Galatians were still dependant on him when they should have been capable of serving the Lord independent of human admonishing and support.

In looking back, I often wished that some older, more experienced missionary had taken me into his school and made me his apprentice (a good definition of “disciple”). On the other hand, I might have objected to his efforts, having been taught that I was to become a disciple of Christ and to Him alone.

To most young Christians in the fifties, A missionary, pastor or full time Christian worker was someone who sought, discovered and faithfully followed God’s leading to a specific field of service. It was an individual matter between God and man. I didn’t know about disciplers and there were few if any “Antioch” churches, which under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, sought out and sent out missionaries.

In fact, it is little different today. The entire process of salvation, discipleship and ministry is considered a private matter between a person and God. A person accepts Jesus into his heart or makes a decision to follow Christ. He or she also "follows the Lord in the waters of baptism." The fact that the pastor baptizes is coincidental. To become a missionary, a person "receives a call" directly from God, chooses a Christian college for training, selects a mission society and field of service. The missionary seeks and sets up meetings in churches and recruits a support team. The missionary’s local church, pastor and even the mission organization normally play only minor roles in this entire process. Fellow believers are invited to become supporters, but not expected to give advice, let alone direction.

In the New Testament church, the fellowship (koinonia) played a major role in the lives of believers. There were no "independent Christians" but only the church and the brethren. Christ built his church, the church made disciples and Christians evangelized. Today, people build their churches and only the Lord makes disciples. And church members who never led a person to Christ feel God leading them to become missionaries.

When these "missionaries" get to their "missionfield" with little or no need of human guidance, is it any wonder that they may resent senior missionaries having a say in their activities on the field? As Field Director, I sometimes had to use a lot of tricks and psychology to get missionaries into productive ministries. "I don't feel led..." or "It's not my calling" are handy spiritual-sounding excuses. This is perhaps the reason why “Field Policy Manuals” are so important. It is an impersonal way to keep the missionary in line.

Pastors and mission leaders tend to emphasize the importance of a personal relationship with the Lord and stress the need for unity among fellow believers, yet seem to be afraid to make disciples.

About twenty years ago, I proposed trying a new kind of recruitment plan, which I feel is quite in line with scriptures and has great potential for missions, for young people and the church. It stresses personal discipleship over a longer period of time. The latter factor is probably the reason no mission wants to implement such a program. We like fast results and even a harvest after three months seems like an eternity.