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Reference: Disciples


In the ancient world every teacher had his company of disciples or learners. The Greek philosophers and the Jewish Rabbis had theirs, and John the Baptist had his (Mr 2:18 'the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees'; cf. Joh 1:35; Mt 14:12). In like manner Jesus had His disciples. The term had two applications, a wider and a narrower. It denoted (1) all who believed in Him, though they remained where He had found them, pursuing their former avocations, yet rendering no small service to His cause by confessing their allegiance and testifying to His grace (cf. Lu 6:13; 19:37; Joh 4:1; 6:60,66-67). (2) The inner circle of the Twelve, whom He called 'Apostles,' and whom He required to forsake their old lives and follow Him whithersoever He went, not merely that they might strengthen Him by their sympathy (cf. Lu 22:28), but that they might aid Him in His ministry (Mt 9:37; 10:1,5), and, above all, that they might be trained by dally intercourse and discipline to carry forward the work after He was gone. These were 'the disciples' par excellence (Mt 10:1; 12:1,49; 15:23,32; Mr 8:27; Lu 8:9; Joh 11:7; 12:4; 16:17,29). See also Apostles.

David Smith.

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