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The first perspective of the problem is the command of Christ to “make disciples.” Jesus commanded the disciples in Matthew 28:19 and 20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age, Amen.”[1] The words “make disciples” is the translation of the Greek μαθητεύσατε.[2]

Donald Hagner states,


The word “disciple” means above all “learner” or “pupil.” The emphasis in the commission thus falls not on the initial proclamation of the gospel but more on the arduous task of nurturing into the experience of discipleship, an emphasis that is strengthened and explained by the instruction “teaching them to keep all that I have commanded” in v. 20a. To be made a disciple in Matthew means above all to follow after righteousness as articulated in the teaching of Jesus.[3]


  1. Oswald Sanders defines “disciple” as, “a learner or pupil who accepts the teaching of Christ, not only in belief but in lifestyle. This involves acceptance of the views and practice of the Teacher.”[4] Sanders further states that the terms disciple and Christian were interchangeable, though it is not so today.[5] The implication of making disciples is more than that of making students. It is the process of duplication or mentoring. Matthew 28:19-20 implies that discipleship includes following all of the commands that Jesus gave His disciples.  Following the commands of Jesus to the fullest, demands that disciples become makers of disciples. A true disciple is one who is leading people to Jesus Christ, to discipleship, and then to the harvest to make disciples.

Jesus was about the task of making disciples throughout the Gospels. Jesus called His disciples in Mark 1:16, to “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” What was He making them?  He was preparing them for the task of making disciples who would make disciples.  It was a process that would change the world.  Jesus reminded the disciples of their commission in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The scriptural mandate for discipleship/leadership demands that we rethink the division between clergy and laity.  The Scripture calls all Christians to be disciples and all disciples to become leaders to lead others to the fullness of walking with Christ.


Carl J. Hart, former Superintendent of the Caribbean, recalls how important it was to only invite Ordained Ministers to ministers’ meetings.  He states that if you invite all ministers, every Christian will endeavor to come because they are all ministers.  Paul the Apostle implies the unity of the Body of Christ working together to fulfill the mission of Christ in Ephesians 4:11-16:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.


Paul goes further, stating that we should all be subject to one another:


Therefore He says, Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:14-21).


Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.   And the things that thou hast heard of me among  many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Paul instructs his son in the faith to commit to faithful men, or make disciples of faithful men, in order for them to teach others also.  The challenge for church leadership is to develop leaders among many who have experienced the saving grace of God and have a record of faithfulness.  Church leaders must equip disciples to minister to this generation.  Leaders must develop leaders with a worldview that clarifies the mission of the church, to “make disciples of all nations.” Deborah Menken Gill states, “The first task Timothy is to be strengthened for is to “entrust” (the verb related to the noun “deposit,” to “reliable people, not limited to “men”) “the things you have heard me say.”[6] Gill notes that Paul was a model for Timothy and was not ashamed, “for his deposit is secure in the hands of God.”[7]  Timothy was instructed to deposit the things he had received from Paul and Christ into the people who are trustworthy to develop others.

Thom Rainer goes further in the confirmation that every believer should be a leader in the harvest.  He states, “The most significant contribution of the Church Growth Movement has been its insistence that evangelism and discipleship cannot be compartmentalized into two separate disciplines with different emphasis.”[8]     He goes on to say, “Separating evangelism from discipleship has no New Testament foundation.  Early believers were always disciples, or else they were not really a part of the church.”[9]

[1] Bible :King James Version.—Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. (Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc.), 1995. The King James Version is used throughout this paper unless otherwise noted.


[2] Donald A. Hagner, vol. 33B, Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 14-28, electronic ed., Logos Library System;Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998).


[3] Ibid.

[4]  Oswald, J. Sanders, Spiritual Discipleship, Principles of Following Christ for Every Believer, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 8.


[5] Ibid, 26.


[6] Deborah Menken Gill, Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament, The Pastorals, French L. Arrington &  Roger Stronstad, eds., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 1263.

[7] Ibid, 1262.

[8] Thom Rainer, Effective Evangelistic Churches, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers), 1996, 169.

[9] Ibid, 170.

1 Comment

  • Reply November 22, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Jeremiah had an encounter with God, we see that right at the beginning. We are talking of a range of years from 640 to 586/587BC, the landmark date of the fall of Jerusalem. Josiah started reigning ca. 640BC.

    When we talk about an encounter of God, then it is very fitting to say that the word of God is coming on somebody. It is easy for God’s people to drift away from the relationship and covenant inheritance, the supernatural experience of God’s presence to a point where they forget what this experience was all about. That happened then and happens today. It is possible to read prophetic experience and not having a clue, what it is all about.

    The same is when we read that the “Word of God came upon the prophet”. To get the Word of the Lord on somebody is very unique, and is part of the prophetic call and experience.

    The simple phrase that the Word of the Lord came on somebody is powerful.

    The term rbd (word, event) as well as the term hsm (burden, oracle) is used. hsm is more adequate of a description what happens. hsm – is the burden of the Lord, or a spoken Word of God (also oracle).

    At times it is possible that a prophet receives a hsm from the Lord and does not realize that it is the Word of God, but he becomes pregnant with the Word of the Lord. The Word of the Lord can be a word and a burden at the same time, like women can become pregnant without realizing they are pregnant. They suffer the sicknesses of a pregnancy, but don’t know that they are pregnant, until the burden is born.

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