A disciple is completely devoted to a teacher. The relationship goes beyond a student or an apprentice. They don’t simply master a trade or a subject, they learn to emulate their teacher’s life. As Christians, we become disciples, striving to live according to the teachings of Jesus.
Part of being a disciple of Jesus is making disciples. Depending on who you ask though, you’ll probably get several very different explanations of what making disciples looks like, and how to go about it. So what does the Bible say about discipleship?
Watch Jesus gather His disciples
Here are 10 Bible verses about making disciples:
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)
“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.”
Arguably the most famous Scripture on making disciples, the Great Commission is where Jesus sends his 11 apostles around the known world to spread the gospel. In this passage, Jesus also shares what he means by making disciples: baptizing people and teaching them to obey his commands.
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”
Mark’s parallel account of the Great Commission adds that “the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it” (Mark 16:20 NIV).
“‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
Here Jesus calls the disciples his witnesses, exhorting them to share the things they’ve seen and heard in his presence.
As we make disciples, we can share not only the accounts of what the disciples saw, but our own accounts of what we’ve personally experienced as we’ve followed Jesus.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
The good news of Jesus Christ and the redemption he offers is for everyone. Paul highlights the importance of making disciples by pointing out the obvious: you only believe in Jesus because someone shared the gospel with you. Making disciples stems from our own faith-which we only have because someone shared the gospel with us.
Making disciples is about continuing the cycle of redemption, passing on the faith that was passed to you.
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”
When Philip encountered Jesus and discovered who he was, he immediately wanted to share it with his friend. Our desire to make disciples should stem from obedience, but also love for others-if we believe Jesus is who he says he is, why should we keep it to ourselves?
“‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.’”
As disciples, we are growing in maturity. This can only happen if we are spiritually empowered. Jesus says he is the vine, and his disciples are the branches (John 15:5). He chose his disciples for a purpose, and in order to fulfill that purpose they had to remain connected to him, the vine (John 15:6).
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
When you become a follower of Jesus, you become part of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27). The body of Christ depends on each member doing its work. We were each made for a particular purpose, and as disciples, we all play a role in advancing the kingdom.
“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Many of the original disciples were fishermen. Jesus took something they were intimately familiar with-their profession-and made it new. He used a word picture they could identify with to call them away from their old lives.
When we invite others into discipleship, Jesus can use what they know to accomplish things they never imagined.
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”
Making disciples is about more than instructing others. In this verse Paul is telling Titus to teach the older women in the church-those who would be discipling younger women-and that their example matters. It’s important for us all to understand that people are following the precedent we’re setting.
2 Timothy 2:2
“‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’”
Paul reminds Timothy that he cannot do all the work of ministry on his own. He needs to build up disciples that he can delegate the work of disciple-making to. Appointing others to appropriate roles and delegating work is an important part of making disciples who, in turn, will make disciples.
Go and make disciples
Now that you know what the Bible says about making disciples, are you ready to get started? We’ve developed a suite of strategies and tools to help you share the gospel.