The Great Commission
- "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-21).
Jesus told the apostles to make disciples and teach them to "observe all things that I commanded you". The first command was to "make disciples". The second command was to teach them to obey all of Jesus's commands. That would include teaching them to obey the first command (to make disciples). In other words, Jesus told them to "make disciples" who will "make disciples". Yes, we are all disciple-makers.
Can one be a Christian without being a disciple?
- "The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26).
No. As you can see from the above verse, the term "disciple" and "Christian" are synonymous. The word disciple is used extensively from the beginning of the New Testament until Acts 21:16. The word "disciple" is never used again after Acts 21:16. But the term is used thirty times in those first twenty-one chapters of Acts. If you will read the book of Acts through chapter 21, it will be abundantly clear that all Christians are disciples and that all disciples are Christians.
As an additional proof see Acts 15:1-10. In Acts 15:1-10, legalists claimed that Gentile converts must be circumcised (v3&5). Peter referred to the converts as "disciples" (v10). So, a convert is a disciple. All converts are disciples and therefore should be disciple makers. If you would like to see the full text of Acts 15:1-10, I have shown it below with the critical text in bold font. If you need no additional proof, skip to the next paragraph titled "Priesthood of All Believers."
- "1 Some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you can't be saved." 2 Therefore when Paul and Barnabas had no small discord and discussion with them, they appointed Paul and Barnabas, and some others of them, to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. 3 They, being sent on their way by the assembly, passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles. They caused great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the assembly and the apostles and the elders, and they reported everything that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to see about this matter. 7 When there had been much discussion, Peter rose up and said to them, "Brothers, you know that a good while ago God made a choice among you that by my mouth the nations should hear the word of the Good News and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, testified about them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just like he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you tempt God, that you should put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" Acts 15:1-10
Priesthood of All Believers
- "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
The book of 1 Peter was written to the church at large, so it applies to the church at large. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen ones who are living as foreigners in the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood: Grace to you and peace be multiplied." 1 Peter 1:1-2
- "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27).
- "He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men" (Matthew 4:19).
Fishing for men was Jesus' objective (1 Timothy 1:15, John 10:10). So, how can anyone follow Him without being a fisher of men? Here are the passages which indicate Jesus' objectives: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
Paul's Command to Imitate
- "... even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1).
Paul writes to the Corinthian church of his efforts to save others and then tells them to imitate him. "Saved" is more than conversion. It includes growth in in the faith after conversion. "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).
The Thessalonian Example of Imitation
- "You became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all who believer in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has been declared, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone out" (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8).
The Thessalonian's were an example "to all the believers". What did they do? They repeated the words of God with faith.
The Yoke of Christ
- "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29). (Jesus is speaking)
The yoke of Christ is to make disciples. Those who bear His yoke receive rest in this life. We work to rest. The subchapter titled "The Easy Yoke of Christ" reveals more on this subject.
How Do We Make Disciples?
We have fellowship with the Holy Spirit through the scriptures and prayer. Then we repeat the words of our Father and pray the Endorsed Prayers for Making Disciple (subchapter 4.4). subchapter 4.9, titled "PASS the Faith -- Jesus said Its Easy!" also explains how to make disciples.