There are many examples of discipleship in the Bible, which, as a lifestyle of the Christian community, is a tool for consolidating new converts, deep relationships, and cell, and church growth, is one of the most beautiful, true, and biblical ways of living Christianity.
Jesus himself guided us in relation to discipleship when he said:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will always be with you, until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
And yet, beyond words, Jesus lived and demonstrated discipleship in his daily life. He was the greatest example of discipleship that ever existed.
Thinking about it, we prepared 6 examples of discipleship in the Bible, in order to inspire you to live it too. Good reading!
6 Examples of discipleship in the bible
Discipleship is present from the old testament to the new, in the most diverse stories reported.
In Acts, when the Primitive Church was already beginning to establish and organize itself, we find:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.” (Acts of the Apostles 2:42).
Discipleship, in this perspective, goes far beyond scheduled meetings and Bible study, for example. In reality, biblical discipleship has a much greater meaning: it is like a relationship between brothers (or father and son), in which we aim to reach the stature of Christ through teaching, fellowship, and especially testimony.
So, even though we don’t find the word “discipleship” contained in the scriptures, we see it implicitly in many passages of the scriptures.
Stay now with 6 examples of discipleship in the Bible;
1. Moses and Joshua
Joshua was Moses’ successor as a leader and also his faithful servant. The discipleship of the two lasted an average of 40 years, when the people of Israel were in the desert, heading to the Promised Land. See what the scriptures say:
“The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, as one speaks with a friend. Then Moses returned to the camp; but Joshua the son of Nun, who was his attendant, did not leave the tent.” (Exodus 33:11).
Moses, as leader of the people of Israel, was close to Joshua in a way that truly disciplined him. Joshua, in turn, became a wise man, fearing God and desiring to know him more and more – as we can see in series B of the verse above.
Even after the death of Moses, it was Joshua whom God gave the leadership of the people of Israel, instructing him to be strong and courageous and choosing him to be the man who would lead the people of God to Canaan.
2. Naomi and Ruth
Noemi was the wife of Elimelech, both were Hebrews and lived in Judah. Sometime later, however, there was a severe famine in Bethlehem of Judah, and the entire family of Elimelech (his wife, his two sons, and his two daughters-in-law) went to seek shelter in Moab for a while.
While there, however, both Elimelech and his two sons died, and Naomi was left alone with her two daughters-in-law.
Knowing then that the Lord had been merciful to his people and that he had provided them with food, Naomi headed towards her land in order to return. So he sent away and blessed his two daughters-in-law (Orpa and Ruth) to return to their homes and their gods.
Orpah returned, Ruth, in return, swore fidelity and loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi, saying:
“Do not insist that I leave you and not accompany you. Wherever you go, where you stay, I’ll stay! Your people will be my people and your God will be my God! Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me with all severity, if anything but death separates me from you! ′′ (Ruth 1:16,17).
Because she loved Naomi so much and was influenced by her conduct in life and the relationship between the two, Ruth decided to leave her homeland and began to serve Naomi’s God.
Because of this, the God of Naomi – who was now also the God of Ruth – blessed her tremendously, and by marrying Boaz, Ruth spawned Obed, who spawned Jesse, who was the father of King David.
The story of the two reflects a true discipleship lived in everyday life, in which Noemi’s life pleased the Lord so much that it awakened in Ruth the desire to serve him as well. And Ruth was faithful to Naomi until the end.
3. Elijah and Elisha
Elijah and Elisha were prophets that God sent in an effort to save the northern kingdom. Their ministry, taken together, spanned some 75 years in the mid-Northern kingdom period, and their walk together is one of the clearest examples of discipleship in the Bible.
Elijah, as a prophet and man of God, started to walk with Elisha when God ordered him to anoint him so that he would be the next prophet, his successor:
“Also anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi king of Israel, and anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah to succeed you as a prophet. ” (1 Kings 19:16, emphasis added).
In 2 Kings, throughout the passages, we can see that Elisha had the condition of being Elijah’s servant, companion, disciple, friend, heir, and successor.
Elisha was very loyal to Elijah, as we can see in this reading:
“And on the way, Elijah said to him, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” Elisha, however, said, “I swear by the name of the Lord and by your life, that I will not let you go alone.” So they went to Bethel.” (2 Kings 2:2).
So much so that, when Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisha’s request was a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and so it was done: Elisha immediately began to operate the same miracles as Elijah, and also became a great prophet.
“As they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask me what you want me to do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, Let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” (2 Kings 2 – 9).
In this context, this did not merely mean a request. That was the moment when Elijah passed on to Elisha the greatest inheritance that a spiritual father could pass on to his son and disciple.
4. Jesus and the 12 Disciples
This was the greatest and most brilliant example of discipleship in the Bible that we could point to. Jesus made some simple men, great apostles, and transformers of history, just living with them for 3 years.
Christ’s character radiated wisdom, integrity, fear, complete trust in God, authority, simplicity, and humility. Jesus was for the disciples – and today is for all of us – the fulfillment of everything written in the books of the prophets. He was “ the word that was made flesh and dwelt among us. ” ( John 1:14).
Of his 12 disciples, we can highlight:
- Peter: who after the death of Christ, led the mission among those who were left and served with his missionary work for another 35 years, until the day he was killed – 68 years after the birth of Christ;
- John: who received the great revelation of the end times and recorded it in the book of Revelation;
- Felipe: who continued the mission in Asia, in the regions of Phrygia and Hierapolis;
- Bartholomew: who carried out his mission in Anatolia, Ethiopia, Armenia, India and Mesopotamia;
- Matthew: who continued his mission in the place where he lived with Christ and traveled throughout Persia, Judea and Ethiopia;
- Thomas: who left went on a mission to India.
These are just some of the accomplishments that Jesus’ disciples – later apostles – accomplished.
5. Barnabas and Paul
Barnabas was a member of the Early Church in Jerusalem and is described in the book of Acts as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith; and many people were added to the Lord.” (Acts 11:24).
He played a very important role in Paul’s ministry, when he had just converted to Christ, and was still frowned upon because of his accomplishments. As the scriptures say:
“Then Barnabas took him to the apostles and told them how, on the way, Saul had seen the Lord who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had boldly preached in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:27).
Subsequent to this, Barnabas and Paul undertook many missionary journeys together, and did a great job in planting several Gentile churches beginning in Cyprus and going far into Asia Minor.
6. Paul and Timothy
Already at the height of Paul’s ministry as an apostle and missionary, Timothy undertook many missionary journeys alongside Paul, and was with the apostle in Macedonia when the epistle of 2 Corinthians was written.
Timothy was also in Corinth when Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans, and later when the epistles to the Colossians, Philippians and Philemon were written.
Paulo felt an enormous affection for Timóteo, as in a father and son relationship. Even Timothy became a great man, having a huge impact on the early church and the spread of the Gospel.
See what John Calvin says about Paul and Timothy:
“To Timothy, my true son.” This qualification conveys great honor to Timothy, for Paul recognizes him as his legitimate son, no less worthy than his father, and desires others to recognize him as such. In fact, he extols Timothy as if he were another Paul.” – John Calvin.
All these examples of discipleship in the Bible are true inspirations for us to follow. Through them, we can see the impact that the relationship, testimony and communion are capable of providing.