WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE
The English word ‘‘Christian” is the Greek word ‘Christianos’ signifies ‘a follower of Christ, a Christian.
The English word “Disciple” is derived from the latin noun ‘discipulus’ it signifies ‘a learner or scholar’.
Anyone who calls themself a “disciple” is declaring to others that they are a student who’s object it is to learn.
The word “Disciple” is used only once in the Old Testament in Isaiah 8:16
Hebrew is ‘limmuwd’lim-mood and signifies instructed, learned, taught, disciple.
Greek is ‘mathetes’ math-ay-tes and signifies a learner, pupil, disciple.
Putting the two together we have Followers of Christ’s Teaching This then is what a Christian Disciple is, but what does it mean?
One writer on this subject (John Thomas) has this to say.
“Hence a church of disciples is an assembly of learners; and a church of Christian disciples is an assembly of persons who believe the things of the Kingdom of God, and of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, thus believing, have been immersed into Christ and patiently continue in the faith and well doing of their vocation, reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting all things revealed in the scriptures of truth. Such were the disciples first called Christians at Antioch.
Key occurrences of the word “Christian”
Acts 11:26 re: Barnabas and Paul at Antioch
“And it came to pass, that even for a whole year they were gathered together with the ecclesia, and taught much people; and that the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Act 26:27 re: Paul before Agrippa
“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. And Agrippa said unto Paul, With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian.”
1 Peter 4:12-18
“12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
“our fiery trial”
“suffer as a Christian, be not ashamed, but glorify God in this name or on behalf of this name”
Yet today some might tend to despise or shun the name Christian because it is used so widely by any who would claim to be followers of Christ irrespective of whether they have a true understanding of “the way, the life, and the truth” that Jesus taught.
Numerically the greatest number of those claiming this title belong to Apostacy among whom there is a “strong delusion at work” that has its origin in catholicism.
How did this name come about?
The Bible Dictionary:
Origin of name, formation seems to be Latin, where plural nouns ending in ‘iani’ may denote the soldiers of a particular general eg. Galba’s men were known as Galbiani. In the late 1st century AD at least Caesariani was used of Caesar’s slaves and clients, and in the Gospels we meet the Herodianoi, who may have been partisans or clients of Herod (Herodians Mark 3:6, 12:13, Matthew 22:16)
Christian, therefore may have originally been thought of as ‘soldiers of Christ’ or of the ‘household of Christ’
Peterson argues that the contemporary persecution by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1) evoked the name Christian as a parallel to their foes, the Herodians.
However the name developed, it seems clear that it was not a name invented by the believers, but rather a name given to them by the pagans of Antioch.
Peter clearly considered it a name not to be ashamed of and rightly so in that it embraced the very name of its “…captain or author and perfecter of our faith” our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ when speaking to those who would “follow” him uses the Greek word; ‘akolutheo’ (ak-ol-oo-theh-o). This Greek word signifies ‘to be in union’ and ‘a road’.
The meaning is ‘to be together on the same road, to accompany in the same way or direction’
Of this word Bullinger writes that they are; ‘following, attending as a follower or footman, to follow one, to go after as a soldier, servant or pupil’.
So in the first place Christian Disciples are to be ‘followers of Christ. Christ him self has told us just what this means.
Key verses from Christ to “follow” him
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
(Lk 9:61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.)
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
And from the words of the Apostles:
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Another key word associated with the followers of Christ is “love” for Christ said:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Key verses on the “Love” of true followers
“Love” is the Greek ‘agape’
agape(ah-gah×pay), the principal Greek word used for ’love’ in the nt.
Bullinger says: “agape, a word not found in the profane writers, nor in Philo and Josephus, nor in Acts, Mark, and James. It is unknown to writers outside the NT. Philanthropy was the highest word used by the Greeks, which is a very different thing to agape. Philanthropy in its full display was only giving to him who was entitled to it his full rights. Agape denotes the love which springs from admiration and veneration, and which chooses its object with decision of will, and devotes a self-denying and compassionate devotion to it. Love in it s fullest conceivable form.”
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…and Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
2 Thessalonians 2:10 (re: “strong delusion” or “working of error” RV)
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
1 John 2:5
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
1 John 2:15
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 4:17
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
There is another key word associated with the true followers of Christ and this is a word used by the Apostle Paul to speak of the “power” or “energy” at work within the life of a Christian Disciple who has given their life to be a true follower of Christ in word and action.
Key verses on the “power” of true followers
“power” Greek ‘dunamis’
Bullinger says: “natural capability, inherent power; capability of anything, ability to perform anything; then absolutely, not merely power capable of action, but power in action. The Power of God, is the power which manifests itself in all the modes, esp, in His redeeming work, where God is at work, revealing and carrying out the plan of salvation.”
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…
1 Corinthians 1:18
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:4
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1 Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 4:19
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
1 Thessalonians 1:5
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
2 Thessalonians 1:11
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 3:5
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Along with this word we have the words of Moses about those who would be the true Israelites of God.
“For thou Yahweh hast made me glad through thy works, I will triumph in the works of thy hands.”
And so it is that God himself through His Word of Life the Bible works in the very lifes of those who follow Christ, moulding them like a potter to be like the very image of His dear son.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do ofhis good pleasure.”
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will performit until the day of Jesus Christ.”
And so if we are Christian Disciples after this pattern then we can look forward to our Lords return with rejoicing in our hearts.
Concluding words from a writer on this very subject:
“These Christian disciples shone as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of Life. They counted not their lives dear unto them: but hazarded everything, reputation, liberty, wealth and friends, for the Word’s sake. Their treasure was in heaven; therefore their anchor was within the veil. The icy coldness of their old nature was thawed into the genial sympathies of the new man by the benevolence of God. Heart clung to heart, and hand joined in hand, the expressive symbol of unity and love. We want to behold a Church of Christian Disciples such as these; we fear that such an one is yet a stranger in our world. When such a community of churches is restored, we shall glory in it as a Reformation in verity and deed.”
By John Thomas
Is this the Christian Disciple you are working to be???