foundation truth

lesson 12 - discipleship

The great commission to the Church is to go and make “disciples of all nations.”

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
“When they had preached the Gospel to that city and made many disciples. ” Acts 14:21

The Greek word for “teach” (Matheteou) means “to be or make a disciple.” The great commission is literally “to disciple all Nations”!


In order to understand the full implications of Christ’s discipleship program, it is necessary to define the meaning of the word “disciple.”

  • Use of the word in Scripture:
    • Old Testament – The word “disciple” is only used once in the Old Testament, in a prophecy concerning Christ and the Church. Isaiah 8:16
    • New Testament – “Whosoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 The word “disciple” is found in the New Testament:
      • In the Gospels – approximately 240 times
      • In the book of Acts – 26 times
      • In the Epistles – not once

Question: Why is the word “disciple” used so much in the Gospels, seldom in Acts, and not once in the church Epistles? All disciples became members of the church.

  • Meaning of the word disciple.
    • Bible meaning – Young’s & Strong’s Concordance:”A taught or trained one.” (Same in Hebrew & Greek)
      A learner, pupil, disciple.” “To enroll as a scholar, be a disciple, instruct, teach.”
    • Dictionary – Webster & Collins’ Dictionary: “A pupil or follower of any teacher or school.” Ephesians 5:1-2; I Corinthians 11:1

“One that receives instruction from another; one that accepts the instruction or doctrines of another.”

“A scholar, a pupil, a follower, adherent.” Mark 4:34; Luke 10:23-24

“Discipline” –

  • Training that develops self-control, character.
  • Submission to authority.
  • Orderly conduct.
  • Treatment that corrects or punishes. “Disciplinarian” – One who enforces discipline. Job 36:10

A DISCIPLE is a pupil, a follower, a scholar, one in submission, one in training, one disciplined by Jesus Christ. Luke 6:40; Matthew 10:24-26


The New Testament teaches that every member of the local church is called to be a disciple.

  • “added to the Church” Acts 2:41-47
  • “Church…disciples” Acts 11:26
  • “disciples…elders …Church” Acts 14:22-23
  • “disciples …Church’’ Acts 19:1, 20:17
  • “Church …disciples’’ Acts 20:28-32


  • Church 2 times
  • Disciples – 240 times

Book of Acts

  • Church 24 times
  • Disciples – 26 times

The Epistles

  • Church 88 times
  • Disciples – 0 times


The following things are involved in the acceptance of the initial call of Christ to discipleship:

  • Counting the cost first – Luke 14:25-33
  • “If any man will come after Me, let him:”
    • Deny himself – Denial of self is the first indispensable condition of discipleship.
    • Take up his cross – ready to die at any time. Crosses always pointed to the fact that a person would be crucified. Crosses were instruments of death, not ornaments.
    • Follow Me – following Christ Jesus.

These are three tests for those who would follow Christ. Luke 9:57-62

Many people have repented but are not disciples! Salvation is accepting the work of HIS Cross — discipleship is taking up OUR Cross. Matthew 16:24-25

His Cross — Substitution — Christ died for us.
Our Cross — Identification — we died with Him.

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About the Author: Dr. Dale Yerton

Dr. Yerton serves as an overseer of a network of churches across the world. What began as a network of six church groups representing 500 churches in Mexico has grown into an international ministry. 

He and Evelyn, his wife over fifty years, live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. They have two daughters: Lora–married to the Rev. Vince Farrell, pastors of Journey Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky–and Kari—also of Hopkinsville–and are the proud grandparents of Emma and Bennett Farrell.

Dale Yerton