Commands of Christ

Make Disciples

Where is this command found?

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Matthew 28:19-20

Applying This Command

A disciple is a “disciplined learner.” The Greek word most frequently translated disciple is mathetes. It means “a learner.” The root word (manthano) indicates thought accompanied by action. Thus, the learner is one who not only accepts the teaching, but also makes it a rule of conduct. The word translated disciple is in contrast to the word translated master, (didaskalos, which means “a teacher”). Jesus said,“The disciple is not above his master [didaskalos]: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40).

A believer becomes a disciple when he learns to observe all the commandments of Christ. This is the message that Jesus gave to His disciples when He gave them the Great Commission. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This does not entail completing a checklist or achieving a percentage grade. In reality, if we strive to obey the commandments through our natural abilities, we will either fail or despair. This is not the life Christ calls us to live. In fact, the Greek word translated keep means “to guard” or “to watch.” It tells us to hold Jesus’ words before our eyes, thinking and meditating upon them throughout each day. As we do this, God’s Word cleanses us, renews us, and enables us to walk in obedience to Him as a natural result.

Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Matthew 28:20, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Make Disciples.

II Timothy 2:2

“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.”

I Corinthians 11:1

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

Luke 14:26–27, 33

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. … So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

John 13:35

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Acts 14:22

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

Colossians 1:28–29

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

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Study Question

Q: Jesus told His disciples that a disciple is not above his teacher and a servant is not above his master. Why, then, did Jesus later say to His disciples, “Greater works than these shall ye do; because I go unto my Father”? (See Matthew 10:24–25 and John 14:12.)

A: Before Jesus’s ascension into heaven, He instructed His disciples to go throughout the world and make disciples of all nations. He then explained how to do this: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

This particular command is significant because it illustrates the essence of discipleship. A disciple must take the information that has changed his or her life and also teach it to others, who will in turn pass it on to even more people. Paul described this sequence of discipleship to Timothy: “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” (II Timothy 2:2).

In John 14:12, when Jesus told His disciples that they would do “greater works” than He did, He was not referring to works of a greater quality or nature, but was emphasizing the fact that they would perform a greater quantity of works. Jesus’s earthly ministry lasted only three short years and was confined to Judea. During this time, He focused on the people of Israel and training 12 disciples. His disciples, however, would have an entire lifetime and a limitless mission field of the whole world, thus allowing them to do an even greater number of mighty works and make an even greater number of disciples.

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