Make Disciples to Evangelize or Evangelize to Make Disciples?




There are really only two sets of verses that use the verb “to make disciples.”  The first is one we are all familiar with:





“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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19,20

In this set of verses, the verb mathēteusate, meaning “disciple” or “make disciples” is used.  The making of disciples is by means of going, baptizing, and “teaching them to observe/obey all that Jesus commanded.”

 Let’s look at the second set.

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  Acts 14:21,22

In this second set of verses, the verb mathēteusantes, meaning “having made disciples,” is used.  It is simply the past tense version of the verb from Matthew 28:19,20  Here though, the means by which disciples were made, was the preaching of the gospel.

It would appear as if there are two ways to make a disciple.  The first is by going, baptizing, and teaching.  The second, by evangelizing or preaching the gospel.

So, which is it?

Do we Make Disciples to Evangelize or do we Evangelize to Make Disciples? 



0 thoughts on “Make Disciples to Evangelize or Evangelize to Make Disciples?

  1. Rob Kampen says:

    The second reference does not exclude the making disciples process – the use of the “and had made” could well mean other activity than the preaching of the gospel.
    There are occasions, although few and far between in my experience to date, where God comes and does a sovereign work that rapidly matures the believer and establishes the foundations necessary for discipleship; however the more usual process is through the school of hard knocks, life experience and digging into the word / allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten and thus develop the character of a disciplined one.

    • I understand both imperatives working together:

      Preaching the Gospel invites and challenges others to enter the discipleship relationship. Both are necessary components and they compliment each other and work together like “knife and fork” – one becomes weak without the other.

    • Miguel says:


      I think we’ll need a greek language expert here. If the most natural meaning is “they preached the gospel” and THEN “Made many Disciples,”


      They preached the Gospel “resulting in” the Making of many Disciples, then we may need some application adjustment.

  2. Jim Wright says:

    How can we truly preach the gospel without making disciples – as per the Great Commission – of those who respond to the Good News? Paul did both, it seems. Sometimes God uses one to proclaim, and others to disciple – to baptize, teach obedience, etc. But the one can’t be divorced from the other.

    If the gospel is the message of the Kingdom of God, as Matthew says in his “Gospel”, then all of the elements of the Great Commission are part of that gospel.

  3. Doru says:

    The word “and” is in that verse. Seems like they had responders and some time to disciple enough to at least leave them to hear Jesus themselves.
    Obviously god gave Paul grace to accomplish both evangelizing and discipling with that group. Phillip was given grace in Samaria to evangelize but it appears the grace to disciple them was given to Peter and others that came to follow up. We can’t put ourselves in a box, but have to obey and the leading of the holy spirit.
    Some people you meet may have had the gospel preached to them already and you are in their life to help disciple. Some it’s both. Some it is to evangelize only.
    We need to be faithful with the part god gives us and be sensitive to Him more than methodology.

  4. Frank says:

    I don’t think you can make disciples exclusive of the Gospel. Jesus commanded in the Great Commission to “teach everything I have commanded you” which implies the Gospel. Without the Gospel of Jesus Christ, what or whom are we disciples of?

    Also preaching the Gospel is not exclusive of “as you go” in Matthew 28. Acts 8:4 tells us of the scattered disciples who “preached the word as they went.” Were they not preaching the Gospel? If they weren’t, then what were they preaching?

    The Gospel is not limited to the walls of a church (or synogogue) in which it may be preached.

  5. Marshall says:

    may we not attempt to lock-in or synchronize?!
    as example, in addressing the false gospel of Moralism, often we observe disciples of His being made/formed with the declaration of Christ coming to them after a time. Yet, the Spirit of Christ surprised us in any hour!
    the koine Greek is not going to permit us to nail down a step-by-step process, so we best just get used to letting go of our western-style process think!?

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