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A fellow disciple of Jesus expresses an opinion. We blame them for being weak in their faith. It happens a lot. We love to blame others and shift the focus away from ourselves and our relationship with God.

The strong disciple was judged by the weaker. It was wrong for the weak disciple to take the place of God in the life of the strong one. God is the Master; the disciple  is the servant. It is wrong for anyone to interfere with this relationship.

It is encouraging to know that our success in the discipleship life does not depend on the opinions or attitudes of others. God is the Judge, and He will make us stand. The word “servant” suggests that disciples ought to be busy working for the Master; then they will not have the time or inclination to judge or condemn other disciples. People who are busy winning souls to Jesus have more important things to do than to investigate the lives of the saints!

God’s goal: God wants us to accept others and to not blame them. We are not the Master. We are servants and God has given us plenty to do.

  • Romans 14:1–4 — 1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Master is able to make him stand.
  • Romans 15:7 — 7 Therefore, accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted us to the glory of God.
  • Proverbs 3:30 — 30 Do not contend with a man without cause, If he has done you no harm.
  • Psalm 71:13 — 13 Let those who are adversaries of my soul be ashamed and consumed; Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor, who seek to injure me.
  • Psalm 109:18–20 — 18 But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, And it entered into his body like water And like oil into his bones. 19 Let it be to him as a garment with which he covers himself, And for a belt with which he constantly girds himself. 20 Let this be the reward of my accusers from the Master, And of those who speak evil against my soul.
  • Psalm 109:29 — 29 Let my accusers be clothed with dishonor, And let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe.

Digging Deeper – What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

If you want to dig deeper, here are some additional resources. By definition, a disciple is a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus the Messiah. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Master Jesus the Messiah and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more like Jesus. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be in the Word daily—studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us and to disciple others to walk in His way.

New Strong’s Dictionary

μαθητεύω mathētĕuō, math-ayt-yoo´-o; from 3101; intr. to become a pupil; tran. to disciple, i.e. enroll as scholar:— be disciple, instruct, teach.[1]

Baker Encyclopedia

Someone who follows another person or another way of life and who submits himself to the discipline (teaching) of that leader or way. In the Bible the term “disciple” is found almost exclusively in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, the only exceptions being Isaiah 8:16 and less directly Isaiah 50:4 and 54:13, where the same Hebrew word is translated “learned” and “taught,” respectively. Yet clearly wherever there is a teacher and those taught, the idea of discipleship is present.[2]

Lexham Bible Dictionary

While the disciples can be described as all those who are called into discipleship by Jesus, only a few of them are sent out by Him as apostles.

The terms disciple and apostle do not have the same meaning in the New Testament. One of the most important aspects of Jesus’ disciples is that He calls them, while a defining feature of apostles (from the verb “to send out”) are that they are sent out, representing Jesus.

In the Gospels, the apostles began as disciples, but not all disciples became apostles. The Twelve are defined as both disciples and apostles: “Then He appointed twelve, whom He also named apostles, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (Mark 3:14–15; see also Luke 6:13).[3]

International Standard Bible Dictionary

DISCIPLE, di-sī′p’l: (1) Usually a subst. (μαθητής, mathētḗs, “a learner,” from manthánō, “to learn”; Lat discipulus, “a scholar”): The word is found in the Bible only in the Gospels and Acts. But it is good Greek, in use from Herodotus down, and always means the pupil of someone, in contrast to the master or teacher (διδάσκαλος, didáskalos). See Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40. In all cases it implies that the person not only accepts the views of the teacher, but that he is also in practice an adherent. The word has several applications. In the widest sense it refers to those who accept the teachings of anyone, not only in belief but in life. Thus, the disciples of John the Baptist (Mt 9:14; Lk 7:18; Jn 3:25); also of the Pharisees (Mt 22:16; Mk 2:18; Lk 5:33); of Moses (Jn 9:28). But its most common use is to designate the adherents of Jesus, (a) In the widest sense (Mt 10:42; Lk 6:17; Jn 6:66, and often). It is the only name for Christ’s followers in the Gospels. But (b) esp. the Twelve Apostles, even when they are called simply the disciples (Mt 10:1; 11:1; 12:1, et al.). In the Acts, after the death and ascension of Jesus, disciples are those who confess Him as the Messiah, Christians (Acts 6:1, 2, 7; 9:36 [fem., mathḗtria]; 11:26, “The disciples were called Christians”). Even half-instructed believers who had been baptized only with the baptism of John are disciples (Acts 19:1–4).

(2) We have also the vb., μαθητεύω, mathēteúō, “Jesus’ disciple” (lit. “was discipled to Jesus,” Mt 27:57); “Make disciples of all the nations” (AV “teach,” Mt 28:19); “had made many disciples” (AV “taught many,” Acts 14:21); “every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven” (AV “instructed,” Mt 13:52). The disciple of Christ today may be described in the words of Farrar, as “one who believes His doctrines, rests upon His sacrifice, imbibes His spirit, and imitates His example.”

The OT has neither the term nor the exact idea, though there is a difference between teacher and scholar among David’s singers (1 Ch 25:8), and among the prophetic guilds the distinction between the rank and file and the leader (1 S 19:20; 2 K 6:5).[4]

[1] Strong, J. (1996). The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Helm, P. (1988). Disciple. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 629). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Nässelqvist, D. (2016). Disciple. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Trever, G. H. (1915). Disciple. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, pp. 851–852). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.