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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
The proper signification of this word is a learner; but it signifies in the New Testament, a believer, a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Disciple is often used instead of Apostle in the Gospels; but, subsequently, Apostles were distinguished from disciples. The seventy-two who followed our Saviour from the beginning, are called disciples; as are others who were of the body of believers, and bore no office. In subsequent times, the name disciple, in the sense of learner, was sometimes given to the καταηχουμενοι , "auditores," persons who, in the primitive church, were receiving a preparatory instruction in Christianity. They were divided into two classes, those who received private instruction, and those who were admitted to the congregations, and were under immediate preparation for baptism. The church readers were, in some places, appointed to instruct the catechumens; and at Alexandria, where often learned men presented themselves for instruction, the office of catechist was filled by learned laymen, and these catechists laid the foundation of an important theological school.
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Disciple'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/d/disciple.html. 1831-2.