Why Did Jesus Call His Followers Disciples?

Jesus Christ is one of the most influential figures in human history. His teachings and philosophies have impacted countless individuals, shaped entire cultures, and continue to resonate with people around the world today.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Jesus’ ministry was his choice to call his followers “disciples.” But why did he choose this term? In this article, we’ll explore the meaning and significance of discipleship in the context of Jesus’ teachings.

What is a disciple?

Before we can understand why Jesus called his followers disciples, we need to define what a disciple is. At its simplest, a disciple is someone who learns from and follows a teacher or leader.

In ancient times, disciples were common in many cultures and religions. They would live with their teacher or leader, observe their actions and words, and try to emulate their way of life.

Why did Jesus call his followers disciples?

Jesus’ decision to call his followers “disciples” was not accidental. In fact, it was intentional and carried significant meaning. Here are some possible reasons why:

To emphasize the importance of learning

One possible reason why Jesus called his followers disciples is that he wanted to emphasize the importance of learning. The word “disciple” comes from the Latin word “discipulus,” which means “student” or “learner.” By calling his followers disciples, Jesus was highlighting that they were there to learn from him – not just passively receive information but actively engage with his teachings.

To establish a relationship between teacher and student

Another reason why Jesus may have used the term disciple is to establish a particular kind of relationship between himself and his followers. Discipleship involves more than just learning – it involves submitting oneself to a teacher or leader in order to be transformed into something new. By calling them disciples, Jesus was signaling that he was their teacher and that they were his students.

To create a sense of community

Finally, Jesus may have called his followers disciples to create a sense of community. In ancient times, disciples would often live together in close quarters with their teacher or leader.

By calling his followers disciples, Jesus was inviting them into a new kind of community – one based on shared values and beliefs. This community would ultimately become the foundation for the Christian church.

The significance of being a disciple

Being a disciple of Jesus is not just about learning from him – it’s about becoming like him. Discipleship involves following Jesus’ example, obeying his commands, and embodying his values. It’s a lifelong journey that requires dedication, commitment, and sacrifice.

Discipleship involves sacrifice

One of the most significant aspects of being a disciple is sacrifice. In order to follow Jesus fully, we must be willing to give up our own desires and priorities and submit ourselves to his will. This can be difficult and even painful at times, but it’s essential for true discipleship.

Discipleship involves transformation

Another key aspect of discipleship is transformation. As we follow Jesus’ example and obey his commands, we are gradually transformed into something new – something more like him. This process can be slow and difficult, but it ultimately leads to greater joy, peace, and fulfillment in life.


In conclusion, Jesus called his followers disciples for a variety of reasons – to emphasize the importance of learning, establish a particular kind of relationship between teacher and student, and create a sense of community. Being a disciple involves more than just learning from Jesus – it involves following him fully and embodying his values in our daily lives. May we all strive to be true disciples of Christ as we seek to live out his teachings in the world today.