The Greek word for “disciple” appears in only five of the books of the New Testament: the four Gospels and Acts. We often associate the word “disciple” with those who were followers of Jesus during his earthly ministry. Paul, whose call came after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, referred to himself as an “apostle” rather than a “disciple.”
The Greek word that we translate “disciple” means someone who learns. The word describes more than just the fact of being a student. It expresses a deep, personal bond between student and teacher.
In Jewish tradition, someone who wanted to become a rabbi would need to first study with a rabbi. Choosing one’s teacher was an important part of the process. In the Gospels, the process is different. It is Jesus who calls the disciples to come with him. He does the choosing. He establishes the relationship. As Jesus says in John 15:16a, “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “We are called!” by Kathryn A. Kleinhans in the January/February 2020 Gather magazine.
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