Blog Devotionals

What Is the Difference Between a Christian and a Disciple?

February 27, 2023 | Sam Rainer

A disciple is a follower and learner of a teacher. Discipleship is the process of devoting yourself to becoming like the one teaching you. Discipleship means learning from someone, being devoted to someone, and being committed to their cause.

Over the next four Sundays, we will answer some key questions about discipleship and what it means to be a Christian. The entire month of March is dedicated to the definition of discipleship.

  • March 5: What does it mean to be a disciple?
  • March 12: How do you make a disciple?
  • March 19: What is the corporate responsibility of the church?
  • March 26: What is your individual responsibility in the church

In Acts, we learn when the label “Christian” first surfaced in the early church.

“(It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)” Acts 11:26 (NLT)

Being a Christian is more than claiming the label. Christians are not those who respect Jesus. Christians are not those who like Jesus. Christians are not those who study Jesus. Christians have repented of their sins and given their lives to Christ by the grace of God.

Notice the progression of the early church in Acts. Stephen is martyred in Acts 7. The church experiences increasing persecution, and they scatter into the surrounding regions. Saul (a Jew) is converted in Acts 9. Cornelius (a Gentile) is converted in Acts 10. By Acts 11, all sorts of people (Jews and Gentiles) are coming to faith in Christ. Churches start to spring up.

The “disciples” (followers and learners) of Jesus start to be called “Christians” (belonging to Jesus). What is the connection? I belong to Jesus (Christian), and I follow and obey Him (disciple). What separates those who claim the label “Christian” but don’t live for Christ? In a
word, commitment. But we’ll discuss even more on Sunday. See you then for the start of this series!