How Often 'Disciple' Appears in the Bible: A Count Worth Knowing

Discover the true meaning of discipleship in the Bible! Uncover the exact number of times 'disciple' is mentioned and explore real-life examples.

Last Updated:
December 25, 2023
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Article Summary

The Bible mentions the word 'disciple' 261 times and holds an important place in the New Testament. A disciple follows Christ's teachings and imitates Him in their life. It is a call to give up worldly desires and live godly. Here are five key points about discipleship according to the Bible:

  1. The word 'disciple' comes from the Greek word 'mathētḗs', which means a follower or learner.
  2. To be a disciple of Jesus means to abide in His teachings, love others, and have power over unclean spirits and diseases.
  3. Discipleship calls to surrender worldly desires and embrace a godly existence.
  4. Disciples are important in Christianity and there are inspiring examples of discipleship in the Bible.
  5. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is a lifelong journey that requires commitment and dedication.

What Is a Disciple according to the Bible?

According to the Bible, a disciple is someone who wholeheartedly follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. A disciple is a dedicated student of Christ, committed to learning from and imitating Him in every way. They seek to understand His wisdom, teachings, and commandments, and apply them to their lives.

Being a disciple means acknowledging Jesus as their ultimate authority, surrendering their desires and ambitions to align themselves with His will. They recognize His teachings as the absolute truth and strive to live according to His example. This requires a genuine character transformation, as disciples commit to serving and loving others as Jesus selflessly did during His time on earth.

Imitation lies at the core of discipleship. Disciples strive to imitate Jesus in His thoughts, actions, and attitudes, viewing Him as the ultimate model for living a righteous and God-honoring life. They recognize that imitating Jesus means embodying His compassion, forgiveness, humility, and selflessness.

Crucially, disciples also embody the commandment of Jesus to love one another. This love is not superficial or conditional, but reflects the sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated for humanity. Disciples love one another as Jesus loves them, selflessly and unconditionally. This love is inclusive, even to enemies and those with differing beliefs.

Origin of the Word Disciple

The word "disciple" can be traced back to borrowing from Latin. In Latin, “ discipulus “ refers to a learner or pupil. It is uncertain where Latin borrowed the word from, as its etymology remains unclear. However, the Latin term was adopted and anglicized into Old English as "discipul," which ultimately changed to "disciple."

Old English defined a disciple as "one who follows for learning." The word emphasized the aspect of a student or follower who sought knowledge through close association with a master or teacher. This concept of discipleship was prevalent in religious contexts, particularly within Christianity.

As the word evolved, its meaning expanded beyond religious contexts to encompass any person who follows and learns from a guiding figure. Today, the term "disciple" is not limited to religious discipleship, but is more broadly used to describe anyone who adopts the teachings, beliefs, or practices of a particular person or philosophy.

How Many Times is Disciple Mentioned in the Bible?

Luke 6:13-16

In Luke 6:13-16, we find a passage where Jesus chooses His disciples, handpicking individuals who would later become key figures in spreading His message. This selection process is crucial in the development of Jesus' ministry. Let's look at the list of disciples mentioned in this passage, emphasizing that Jesus chose them.

First, we have Simon, whom Jesus later names Peter, the rock upon which He would build His church. Andrew, Simon's brother, is also listed as a chosen disciple. Next is James, the son of Zebedee, followed by John, his brother. These two siblings were nicknamed "Sons of Thunder" for their fiery nature.

Another important disciple is Philip, who hailed from Bethsaida. We then encounter Bartholomew, sometimes identified as Nathanael, known for his honesty and clear skepticism at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Matthew, who was initially a tax collector, is also part of this group. Thomas, referred to as the skeptical one, and James, the son of Alphaeus, come next, along with Simon, called "the Zealot."

Lastly, we have Judas Iscariot, who later betrays Jesus. Though his fate is tragic, it is crucial to note that even he was initially chosen by Jesus as one of His disciples.

With these individuals, hand-selected by Jesus Himself, we see the diverse group of disciples who would play significant roles in establishing and spreading Christianity.

Luke 10:1

In Luke 10:1, we find Jesus giving specific instructions to his true disciples. These instructions are of profound significance as they relate to the background information in Luke 9:23-24 and 6:40.

Jesus, recognizing the immense task ahead, handpicks seventy-two disciples and sends them out in pairs to proclaim the kingdom of God. The instructions given by Jesus carry great weight and emphasize the disciples' role as messengers of God's kingdom. They were to follow Jesus, preparing the towns for His arrival.

These instructions become apparent when we consider the context of Luke 9:23-24 and Luke 6:40. In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus states that anyone who wants to be His disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him. This self-denial and determination to follow Jesus despite difficulties and potential persecution is crucial for the disciples as they embark on their mission.

In Luke 6:40, Jesus explains that a disciple is not above his teacher but fully trained will become like his teacher. These instructions in Luke 10:1 further reinforce the disciples' training and growth, allowing them to develop their faith and deepen their understanding of Jesus' teachings.

By entrusting His disciples with these explicit instructions, Jesus is not merely sending them on a mission but also fulfilling His promise to train them into becoming true disciples who mirror His values, character, and teachings.

John 2

John, one of the four Gospel writers, played a significant role in addressing the events described in John 2. He was not only a Gospel writer but also the brother of James, who were Jesus’ disciples. John's name holds great significance as it means "Yahweh is gracious," reflecting his deep understanding of God's mercy and love.

In John 2, he narrates the story of Jesus attending a wedding in Cana. This event is of utmost importance as it marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, where he performs his first miracle by turning water into wine. John highlights this event to emphasize Jesus' divine nature and power over the natural elements. Through his Gospel, John aims to present Jesus as the Son of God who brings forth grace and salvation to mankind.

Apart from his role as a Gospel writer, John is also known for his peaceful death on the island of Patmos. Traditionally, it is believed that he was exiled there during the reign of Emperor Domitian. Despite the harsh circumstances, John continued serving God by receiving visions and writing the book of Revelation, also included in the New Testament. His devotion and unwavering faith even in the face of adversity serve as a testament to his deep commitment to spreading the message of Christ.

In conclusion, John, as one of the Gospel writers, provides a unique perspective on the events described in John 2. His close relationship with Jesus as his disciple and his role as the brother of James grant him an intimate understanding of Christ's teachings. Furthermore, his peaceful death on Patmos demonstrates his unwavering commitment to his faith and dedication to proclaiming the truth. 

John 8:31

John 8:31 holds immense significance in the context of discipleship, underscoring the vital importance of adhering to Jesus' teachings and the subsequent liberation it brings. Jesus states, "If you hold to my teaching, you are my disciples." This verse highlights the fundamental requirement for disciples to embrace Jesus' teachings fully.

Discipleship centers on following Christ's footsteps, learning from his words and actions. By holding fast to his teachings, disciples demonstrate their commitment, obedience, and desire for transformation. Jesus embodies the ultimate truth, and his teachings guide individuals toward understanding and experiencing that truth.

Furthermore, holding to Jesus' teachings leads to genuine freedom. Jesus proclaims, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." As disciples internalize his teachings, they encounter the profound reality of God's truth. This truth liberates disciples from the bondage of sin, false beliefs, and worldly influences.

In conclusion, John 8:31 underscores the critical role of discipleship, stressing the significance of holding firmly to Jesus' teachings. This adherence allows disciples to encounter the truth, thus experiencing a profound and lasting freedom. Discipleship becomes a journey in which embracing Jesus' teachings leads to liberation and an abundant life rooted in God's truth and love.

John 21:2

In John 21:2, the significance of this verse about the theme of love and discipleship can be seen in its context. This verse forms a part of the post-resurrection narrative where Jesus appears to his disciples by the Sea of Galilee.

The significance lies in the actions and instructions Jesus gave in this passage. Peter, a disciple of Jesus, had denied him three times before his crucifixion. Jesus demonstrates his boundless love and forgiveness by seeking out Peter and his fellow disciples. He appears to them while fishing, symbolizing their previous occupation as fishermen before they were called to become fishers of men.

Through this encounter, Jesus reaffirms the importance of love and discipleship. He demonstrates his love for his disciples by forgiving Peter and restoring their relationship. Furthermore, Jesus instructs Peter to feed his lambs and tend his sheep, highlighting the call to discipleship.

How Many Disciples are in the Bible?

The Bible, one of the world’s most revered religious texts, comprises many narratives, teachings, and accounts of significant historical events. One such aspect is the disciples of Jesus Christ, individuals who played a pivotal role in spreading his message and establishing the foundation of Christianity. The Bible provides insight into the lives and teachings of these disciples, shedding light on their number and significance. This article will explore the question, "How many disciples are in the Bible?" We will examine the Bible’s different accounts and references to ascertain the number of disciples mentioned and delve into their importance in the Christian faith.

The 12 Original Disciples of Jesus Christ

The 12 original disciples of Jesus Christ were a group of individuals who played a critical role in spreading his teachings and establishing the foundations of Christianity. These disciples were chosen by Jesus himself to be his closest followers, learning from him and witnessing his miracles. They were known by various names: Simon Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.

These disciples had unique backgrounds and skills that contributed to their mission. Simon Peter, for instance, was a fisherman and became one of the most prominent leaders among the disciples. James and John were brothers and were referred to as the "sons of Thunder." Matthew was a tax collector and could record and communicate Jesus' teachings in writing.

These disciples followed Jesus closely, witnessing his many miracles, including feeding thousands, healing the sick, and casting out demons. They were present during significant events such as the Last Supper and the crucifixion. After Jesus' resurrection, the 12 disciples continued his work, preaching the Gospel and establishing churches.

These original disciples formed the foundation of the early Christian community and played an integral role in spreading Jesus' message of love, forgiveness, and salvation. Their dedication and commitment to Jesus' teachings laid the groundwork for the future growth and development of Christianity.

Examples of Discipleship in the Bible

Discipleship plays a significant role in the Bible, especially during Jesus and His teachings. One notable example is the calling of the twelve apostles by Jesus. In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus approaches Simon Peter and his brother Andrew as they cast their nets and says, "Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people." They immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. This act of leaving behind their previous lives to follow Jesus exemplifies discipleship.

Another example can be found in Luke 9:57-62 when Jesus encounters three potential disciples. One wants to follow Jesus but requests to first bury his father, while the other wants to say goodbye to his family. Jesus responds, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God" and "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." These responses demonstrate the commitment and single-mindedness required in discipleship.

Additionally, the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 showcases discipleship through different approaches. While Martha is busy preparing, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to His teachings. Jesus commends Mary, saying, "She has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." This illustrates discipleship as a willingness to prioritize time spent with Jesus and His teachings over worldly distractions.

These various examples from the Bible demonstrate the different forms and expressions of discipleship. They inspire believers to emulate the dedication and commitment of those who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry.


In conclusion, the biblical understanding of the office of Apostle differs greatly from the beliefs and practices of those who claim to be apostles today. The office of Apostle, as established in the Bible, was a position held by a select group of individuals chosen directly by Jesus Christ. These individuals were eyewitnesses of His ministry, death, and resurrection and were entrusted with spreading the gospel and establishing the early church.

Contrastingly, many who claim to be apostles today do not meet the biblical criteria for this office. They often lack the necessary qualifications such as being an eyewitness of Jesus or being chosen by Him directly. Moreover, their beliefs and practices may differ significantly from the biblical teachings.

Another difference lies in the living conditions of biblical apostles compared to those who claim the title today. The biblical apostles faced many hardships and persecution for their faith, often living as fugitives and enduring great suffering to spread the gospel. Conversely, modern-day self-proclaimed apostles may enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle, using their title for personal gain or influence.

The motives behind claiming the title of apostle today can vary. Some may believe God has called them to fulfill this role, while others may seek fame, power, or financial gain. This stark contrast in motives further highlights the disparity between the biblical office of Apostle and those who claim the title today.

Frequently asked Questions

What are the different roles of the apostles mentioned in the Bible?

The Apostles had many important roles in the Bible:

  • Proclaiming the Word of God and baptizing believers
  • Showing us how to live a godly life
  • Demonstrating how to love others as Jesus loves
  • Having power over unclean spirits and diseases
  • Continuing to be an inspiration and guide for us today.

How often is the word "discipleship" mentioned in the Bible?

  • Discipleship is an important concept in the Bible that involves a deep personal relationship with Jesus and a commitment to following His commands.
  • Discipleship involves growing in faith, imitating His love, and experiencing the transformative power of salvation.
  • Discipleship is more than just being a believer or follower of Jesus.
  • It requires an intentional dedication to learning and living the teachings of Jesus.
  • Discipleship is essential to the Christian life and leads to a more meaningful spiritual journey.

What key teachings of Jesus that disciples are expected to follow?

As a disciple of Jesus, it is important to follow His teachings with dedication:

  • Love one another as He loves us
  • Sacrifice worldly things for godly living
  • Abide in His teachings
  • Embrace discipleship wholeheartedly
  • Let the teachings of Jesus guide your steps

Can women be considered disciples according to the Bible?

  • Women can and should be considered disciples according to the Bible.
  • Women are celebrated in the sacred scriptures for their strength, dedication, love, faith, and fortitude.
  • Despite societal barriers, these courageous women followed Jesus and spread His message.
  • Women served as pillars of support, displaying unwavering devotion to Him.
  • We must honor their contributions and recognize that women are just as important to discipleship as men.

What is the first mention of Disciple in the Bible?

The first mention of the word "Disciple" in the Bible can be found in Matthew 8:21-22. In this passage, a man approaches Jesus and says, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." Jesus responds, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." These verses highlight one of the key aspects of being a disciple - the call to prioritizing one's commitment to Jesus above all else.

Matthew 8:21-22 serves as the first mention of the term "Disciple" in the Bible, initiating the theme of following Jesus wholeheartedly. It showcases Jesus' expectation for his followers to prioritize their dedication to him over traditional familial responsibilities. This concept challenges societal norms and emphasizes the necessity of a disciple's unwavering commitment to Jesus.

How Many Apostles are mentioned in the Bible?

In the Bible, there are various mentions of apostles, each belonging to different categories. The most well-known apostles are the twelve chosen by Jesus. Their names are Simon Peter, Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot (who was later replaced by Matthias).

However, there are also other apostles mentioned in Scripture beyond the twelve. One category includes those who became apostles after Jesus' ascension. The most prominent among them is the apostle Paul, previously known as Saul of Tarsus, who had a transformative encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He became instrumental in spreading the message of Christianity.

Additionally, there are a few other possible apostles mentioned in Scripture. Barnabas, a companion of Paul, is referred to as an apostle in Acts 14:14. Andronicus and Junia are also noteworthy apostles in Romans 16:7.

Is a disciple the same as an apostle?

No, a disciple and an apostle differ based on biblical definitions and their roles in spreading the word of God.

A disciple, derived from the Greek word "mathetes," refers to a student or learner. In the Bible, Jesus had many disciples who followed Him, learned from Him, and sought to live according to His teachings. They were ordinary men and women devoted to Jesus and His teachings but did not possess any special mission or authority to spread the word of God like the apostles.

On the other hand, an apostle, derived from the Greek word "apostolos," means "one who is sent" or "messenger." In the Bible, Jesus chose twelve apostles from among His disciples and appointed them with a specific mission. Jesus gave the apostles authority to represent Him, perform miracles, and preach the Gospel. They were chosen to be the foundation of His church and played a crucial role in establishing and expanding Christianity.

How often does the word 'disciple' appear in the Bible?

The word 'disciple' appears multiple times in the Bible across different translations. In the King James Version (KJV), the word 'disciple' is mentioned 272 times. This translation, widely regarded for its literary beauty and historic significance, includes the Old and New Testaments. In these 272 occurrences, the word 'disciple' is spread across 250 verses throughout the Bible.

However, it is worth noting that the word 'disciple' may vary in translations. For example, in the Bible’s New International Version (NIV), the word 'disciple' appears 269 times. Other translations, such as the English Standard Version (ESV) or New American Standard Bible (NASB), may have slightly different counts.

Are there any notable disciples mentioned in the Bible besides the twelve apostles?

Notable disciples in the Bible, apart from the twelve apostles, include:

  • Mary Magdalene, known for her unwavering devotion and witness to Jesus' resurrection
  • Zacchaeus, a tax collector, whose life was changed after meeting Jesus
  • The Samaritan woman at the well, who shared the good news with her village
  • These inspiring figures demonstrate the power of Christ Jesus' discipleship teachings and show that anyone can become a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Christian Pure Team
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Christian Pure Team
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