The Definition of Disciple Essay example

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The Definition of Disciple

Discipleship is the core of Christian ethics, especially as the last command of Jesus (28:19). When I heard the word “disciple” in childhood Sunday School, I envisioned an eager, bearded man with dirty robes straining intently towards Jesus, like a child begging to hear more of a bedtime story. In high school youth group, we talked about being good disciples by obeying the rules: no kissing, no running, no talking in church. But as I re-read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s stirring, straightforward work, The Cost of Discipleship as a Lenten devotional, my idea of what a disciple is and does is crumbling like old paint.

A few extremists, citing Matthew 16:25 as their justification, say that only those in the
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Discipleship in Matthew: Building Community

The gospel of Matthew is thought to have been written between 60-85A.C.E for those within the Jewish community who believe in Christ as the Messiah. Because the young sect still saw themselves as part of Israel, the persecution they experienced from fellow Israelites called for decisive action: either reconcile with the Jewish leaders or separate completely. In response, Matthew writes a narrative account of Jesus focused on building a solid community still rooted in Jewish heritage, but distinctly different in practice because of Christ (Koester).

Establishing a new community requires multiple individuals willing to dedicate themselves to a common identity. Therefore, Matthew’s gospel uses the word disciple or disciples 68 times, more than any other synoptic gospel (Longenecker 4). The text is mostly the direct words of Christ, revealing what it means to be a disciple through listening to and obeying Jesus’ teaching.

In using narrative and didactic styles to convey Jesus’ story, Matthew not only shares about the disciples, but seeks to make disciples out of his readers (Donaldson 44). As an unintended result of my paper, then, the reader may find a bit of personal challenge in my analysis. While I will refer to the general theme of discipleship in all of Matthew, I will use the most direct passages—Jesus’ commissioning of the twelve in chapter 10 and his challenge to Peter in chapter 16—to illustrate

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