Discipleship in the First Century Church
by Bobby Bruno 4/21/2014 / Bible Studies
What is a disciple of Jesus Christ? A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who takes the teachings of Christ and tells it to others. In the time of Jesus' visit to earth, He chose twelve uneducated men to become "fishers of men." As fishers of men they were to hear every word and witness every deed Jesus did while He was on the earth before His ascension into Heaven, and then to take this message out into the world around them and make disciples out of those they reached. This message was a message of hope, mercy and forgiveness that every disciple from then on was to teach and proclaim to those they came in daily contact with. Jesus came so that, through His death and resurrection, all me and women may repent of their sins and gain God's forgiveness so He may cover them for all of time. But, most of all, a disciple is a Holy Spirit filled believer who knows that he cannot spread the Gospel on his own strength and words; knows that the Spirit must be the One to guide him in his endeavors; and knows that the boldness he needs can only come through the Spirit of God.
What was central to the teaching of Jesus where disciples are concerned lay in the fact that Jesus expected that all who would follow Him would continue to reach the lost sheep of the world. There were to be no exceptions to this teaching. All who proclaim Jesus as Lord were, and are, obligated by their relationship to Jesus to go out into the world and make more disciples of Christ. Jesus said that His disciples would do greater works than He did while on earth and, because where there was only one of Him, there would be many, many more of us, if we followed His command to make more disciples who would also spread the good news of the Gospel and make even more disciples. What a perfect plan!
The first century believers used certain principles that brought them great success in bringing people to Jesus Christ and making them true disciples of His Gospel. Every believer had a part to play in the spreading of the teachings of Christ, and no one was an exception. Once you were saved, you were expected to carry on the work of Jesus in fulfilling His commandment to make more disciples. No matter where they went, the early believers told all who they came in contact with about the hope and promise that the true Messiah could give them. Everyone gave to all who were in need no matter what that need was, and even sold their own household goods if the money would help a family buy food. Giving away their possessions was easy for those who truly followed Jesus's admonition to give to all those who were in need.
The wonderful thing about the first century Christians was that they did not just bring you to Christ and then leave you to figure out the Christian life on your own, they invited you to their homes for dinner and showed you their love for Jesus by the way they showed their love for each other. Meeting in homes was the best way to spread the word around by inviting in those you knew who did not yet know Jesus. The more you were trusted, the easier it was for others to trust you, too, when it came to trusting Jesus for their lives, if you were living your live according to His.
In conclusion, disciples are to work at spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all they have in time, possessions, and even at the cost of their lives. To earn an unbeliever's trust a disciple's life must lived in accordance with the life that Jesus lived, in word and deed. Just as Christ had done in His time here on earth; a disciple must always be open to the Holy Spirit's leading to speak to everyone they meet and tell them about Jesus Christ. If only the church of today had as much zeal and compassion for the souls of others as the first century church had.
Arn, W., Arn, C. (1982, 1998). The master's plan for making disciples (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, Mi: Baker Books
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.