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The Meaning of Discipleship

The essence of discipleship is relationship.

In those days all kinds of people had disciples, and two of the Greek words that were in common use at that time were didaskalos, which means teacher, and mathetes, which means pupil or disciple. Now it was impossible for a didaskalos, teacher, to be a teacher unless he had mathetes. It was equally impossible to be a mathetes, a pupil or a disciple, unless you had a teacher. It was the relationship between mathetes and didaskalos, between pupil and teacher that was the essence of discipleship. I want us to get hold of that basic idea. The essence of discipleship is relationship.

Now just to sketch in some background so that we can get the feel for the days in which our Lord lived and was exercising his ministry of making disciples, let me just point out one or two things to you. The Greeks, to whom we often refer if we want to understand the days of our Lord, were very much into this whole idea of schools of thought. Teachers, the didaskalos, the teacher who gathered together his little group of disciples. And this is usually based on the idea of a certain philosophy. A teacher would have a certain philosophy. He would gather around people who related to him on the basis of philosophy. The key word was disciple. The essence of what was going on was the relationship that existed between a teacher of a certain philosophy and those who went along with his philosophy.

The Greeks were very fascinated with the world in which they lived. They were keen observers. They noticed, for instance, that rivers kept flowing. They believed that no man could step into the river twice for two reasons. One because if you stepped into the river the second time it would no longer be the same river you stepped in because the river you stepped into ...

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Stuart Briscoe is minister-at-large of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and author of several books, including What Works When Life Doesn't (Howard Books).

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Sermon Outline:


I. It is fundamental to discipleship that we be in relationship with Christ

II. It is fundamental to discipleship that we move from curious to convinced

III. It is fundamental to discipleship that we move from convinced to committed