Jesus commanded to “. . . go and teach (mathetuo) all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The literal meaning of this Greek word ‘matheteuo’ is ‘go and make disciples.’ This is the very pattern Jesus followed. “. . . Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John . . .” (John 4:1-3). Even those who ask WWJD (What would Jesus do?) should at least make disciples like Jesus did. It is true that the King James versions translates this word as ‘go ye therefore and teach all nations.’ However, it is just as true that the command Jesus gave is to go and make disciples of all nations. If we expect to please our Father we will not neglect this command.
One wonders why the word ‘disciple’ is so seldom used today except by Total Commitment groups. (They wrongly ‘disciple’ people to their own peculiar leaders and organizations, not to Jesus as they claim.) Has the gospel changed? Is this command of God no longer valid? The word disciple is the primary word used to describe Jesus’ followers. It is used 269 times in the New Testament. In contrast the word ‘Christian’ is used three times in the New Testament. Both words are valid words to describe God’s children, but God used one word far more than another for a reason. It is not traditional to use the word disciple today. The Jews could not find the truth of God because they were bound by their own traditions. To find God’s truth they would have had to have left all of the teaching of men and listened only to Christ. We are no different today. When we insist on following our peers’ tradition, we are liable not to obey God. We need to obey his command and go and make disciples of all nations. That brings us to our next question. How do we make disciples?