Was Joseph of Arimathea a Secret Disciple?

I have heard whispers throughout my lifetime as a Christian that hints at the fact that a person can be a Christian yet be a “secret disciple.” The primary example all fingers point to is Joseph of Arimathea, the “secret disciple” which asked for the body of Jesus. Is this true? Does the Bible teach that we can be “secret disciples” of Jesus Christ?

When we read in John 19:39 about Joseph being a disciple but “secretly,” we are not reading a narrative of approval. If we want to know how John felt (underneath the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) about those that “believed” on Jesus but didn’t confess Him openly, we must go to the book of John Chapter 12:42 – 43. It states:

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (Emphasis added). Continue reading

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