Discipleship and Jesus' Audience

A third challenge for the student of biblical discipleship, when studying discipleship in the Gospels, is the need to pay close attention to whom Jesus was speaking (his audience).

Some discipleship passages deal with Jesus speaking to the crowds about becoming his disciples (we call that evangelism). But not all discipleship is about "making disciples" in the sense of "creating" a new disciple (i.e., it is not all about evangelism).

Other discipleship passages deal with Jesus speaking to his follows about growing as disciples (we call this edification; it's about "making disciples" in the sense of "molding" or "forming" them into the image of the Master, Christ). But not all discipleship is about edification--teaching and training disciples--because part of discipleship deals with making/creating a disciple through evangelism.

So, when studying discipleship in the Gospels, we need to pay attention to Jesus' audience and ask ourselves, "To whom is Jesus speaking?"