To be a disciple of Christ is to be a committed believer. There’s more to know about the word “disciple,” though.
Matthew 16:24 says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” This is one of the classic passages in the Bible on the subject of discipleship.
The word “disciple” here is the Greek word mathetes, which refers to a pupil or student. In other words, a disciple is simply a learner – a student under the authority of a teacher.
The interesting thing to notice about this word, however, is how and where it is used in the New Testament. It is exclusively a word of the Gospels. Mathetes is used 267 times in the Gospels and Book of Acts. That’s a well-used word. The striking thing, though, is that it is not used one time in the Epistles. NOT ONCE! That’s what you call “loud silence.” It’s like when the kids are playing noisily in the next room and suddenly it get real quiet, and you think, “Oh, oh – what are they up to?” That’s loud silence. It’s a time when silence is noticeable.
Well, there’s a reason mathetes, (or disciple), falls out of use in the Epistles. In John 15:15, Jesus said, “I’m no longer going to call you my servants. From now on I’m going to call you my friends.” You see, “disciple” is a master-servant term. But now, after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, there’s a new relationship. We are not servants anymore; we are sons of God in Christ. Therefore, we are no longer “disciples,” – we’re friends!
Say – Jesus may not consider us servants anymore, but we still serve the Lord.