It can be argued that being a disciple is a foundational step to becoming a Christian. This perspective is supported by the emphasis in the New Testament on learning from and following Jesus’ teachings, which is central to discipleship. Here’s a step-by-step explanation:

1. Following Jesus’ Teachings

  • Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
  • This Great Commission underscores the importance of making disciples, which involves teaching and observing Jesus’ commands.

2. Learning and Obedience

  • John 8:31-32: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
  • Being a disciple involves abiding in Jesus’ word, which leads to knowing the truth and experiencing freedom.

3. Love and Commandments

  • John 14:15: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
  • Discipleship is marked by love for Jesus, demonstrated through obedience to His commandments.

4. Adoption of the Term “Christian”

  • Acts 11:26: “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
  • The term “Christian” was first used to describe disciples in Antioch, indicating that being a disciple was the initial identity before being called Christians.

5. Suffering as a Christian

  • 1 Peter 4:16: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
  • The term “Christian” is associated with those who follow Christ and endure suffering for His sake, further emphasizing the depth of commitment.

6. Recognizing True Disciples

  • Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
  • This passage highlights that mere outward actions or declarations are not enough; true discipleship involves doing the will of the Father and living a life that aligns with Jesus’ teachings.


Being a disciple is foundational to understanding and living out the Christian faith. Discipleship involves learning from Jesus, obeying His teachings, and growing in relationship with Him. This process naturally leads to the identity of being a Christian, which encompasses not only following Jesus’ teachings but also identifying with the community of believers and representing Christ in the world.

Thus, it is reasonable to assert that in order to truly be a Christian, one must first be a disciple. This aligns with the biblical model where discipleship is the initial step that leads to the broader identity of being a Christian.