THE MINISTRY OF THE TEACHER
BY KEVIN J. CONNER
“And He gave some . . . teachers” (Ephesians 4:11).
“God hath set in the Church . . . Thirdly, teachers . . .” (I Corinthians 12:28, 29).
“He that teacheth . . .” (Romans 12:7).
The ministry of the Teacher is mentioned in all three of the lists of ministries and gifts and functions in the Body of Christ by the apostle Paul.
The Lord Jesus mentioned “apostles, prophets and scribes” also in Matthew 23:34 as ministries which He would send to His people.
There is certainly not the problem of understanding the ministry of the Teacher as there is with that of the Apostle and Prophet.
Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers have generally been accepted by the Church over the centuries.
However, it should be recognized that the Teacher is also a distinctive ministry among the fivefold ascension-gift ministries of Ephesians 4:11. It may be said that all fruit trees are trees but each brings forth a distinct kind of fruit for food. The apple, orange, fig, grape, plum, banana, and so forth are all TREES but each have their distinctive fruit. So with the ministries. All are ministries and ascension-gifts of Christ, but each bring forth THE WORD-ministry in their particular style to feed the Body of Christ. All of the five-fold ministries are WORD MINISTRIES, and each handle the Word in their unique manner by reason of their distinctive calling and gift. The Teacher handles the Word in a unique presentation which marks him out and sets him forth as a Teacher. The prophet Isaiah said “Thine eyes shall see thy teachers” (Isaiah 30:20).
A. Definition of Word
1. Old Testament Hebrew
a. Yarah (SC 3384) = “to flow as water (i.e., to rain); fig, to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach. Some of the ways this word is translated are: “direct, inform, instruct, lay, shoot, shew, teach through, rain”. Exodus 4:12, 15; 18:20; 35:34; Deuteronomy 24:8; Psalms 45:4; II Kings 12:2; Genesis 46:28; Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:10; Hosea 6:3; 10:11; Psalms 64:4; and Isaiah 30:20.
b. Lamad (SC 3925) = “to goad, i.e., (by implic) to teach (the rod being an Oriental incentive). Some of the ways this word is translated are:
“diligently instruct, learn, skilful, teach, teacher, teaching”.
Deuteronomy 5:1; 31:13; Psalms 119:7; Jeremiah 12:16; I Chronicles 5:18; Deuteronomy 11:19; II Chronicles 17:17; Ezra 7: 10; Psalms 25:4, 5; 119:12, 26, 64, 66, 68, 108; 143:10; I Chronicles 25:7; Jeremiah 32:33.
Together these words show that a Teacher is one who points out by the finger, directs, informs, instructs, shoots as an archer, and shows, by teaching the ways of the Lord. His teaching is to flow like water, and comes down like rain. He is the one who is skilful in instruction and causes others to learn. His teaching is like a goad, a rod, that causes the people of God to walk in the ways of the Lord (Deuteronomy 32: 1-2; Isaiah 55:10-11; Hosea 6:2; 10:11; Ecclesiastes 12:11).
New Testament Greek
a. Didasko (SC 1321) = “to learn; to teach”. Translated–teach.
b. Didaktikos (SC 1317) = “instructive (‘didactic’)”. Translated–apt to teach.
c. Didaktos (SC 1318) = “instructed or convicted by teaching”. Translated–taught, which teacheth.
d. Didaskalia (SC 1319) = “instruction, the function or the information”. Translated–Doctrine, learning, teaching.
e. Didaskolos (SC 1320) = “an instructor”. Translated–Doctor, 14 times; Master, 47 times; and Teacher, 10 times; and Scribe 67 times, teacher of the Law.
f. Didache (SC 1322) = “instruction (the act or the matter)”. Translated–Doctrine, hath been taught.
A teacher therefore is one who instructs, and by his teaching causes others to learn. It involves exposition, explanation and instruction of doctrine to others.
B. Christ THE Teacher
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is indeed THE Teacher, The Master Teacher, and Teacher of Teachers.
Nicodemus recognized Jesus as a Teacher come from God (John 3:2; 13:13).
Jesus spent much time in both “preaching and teaching” as well as healing the people (Matthew 4:25; 5:2; 9:35, 36; 11:1; 13:54; 21:23; 22:16; Mark 10:1; Luke 13:10; 20:21). He fulfilled in measure the prophetic word of Isaiah “All thy children shall be taught of the LORD” (Isaiah 54:13 with I Thessalonians 4:9; John 6:45).
a. He taught everywhere He went, both in the Synagogues and the homes (Luke 13:26; 19:4; 21:37; Mark 14:49).
b. He taught everywhere (Mark 6:2; John 8:2).
c. He especially taught His disciples (John 13-14-15-16).
d. He balanced both preaching and teaching in His ministry (Matthew 4:25; 9:35, 36).
e. He taught with the anointing of the Spirit (Luke 4:18-19).
f. He taught with Divine authority, as a voice from God, not an echo like the Scribes and Pharisees (John 7:29; Matthew 7:28, 29; Mark 1:22).
g. He taught what His Father gave Him to teach (John 7:16; 8:28; 12:48-50).
h. His final commission to the Church involved “teaching (discipling)” all nations by “teaching them to observe all things” which He commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Matthew’s Gospel is especially the “Didactic Gospel”–The Teacher of Divine Law. Christ becomes the pattern teacher to follow, even as He is for all other ministries and believers to follow. We need to note the basic laws of Christ’s teaching.
C. Old Testament Teaching Ministry
Teaching has been one of the major ministries right from Old Testament times to today. Most people spend a number of years under teachers and instructors, whether receiving Secular or Religious Education. It is this that basically shapes peoples lives, builds good or bad character and affects all a person thinks, all a person says, all a person does, and all a person is! Thinking, saying, doing and being are primarily the result of teaching given, believed, received and obeyed. In Old Testament times the instruction of people fell under two major areas.
1. Teaching in the Home
It seems clear that the Patriarchs, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob taught their families the ways of the Lord (Genesis 18:18, 19; Hebrews 11:10-16). All were men of faith in God, and instructed in the ways of the Lord in this Godly line. Patriarchal priesthood was the order of that day (Job 1). These men were men of faith, and acted as priests in their homes.
Also the word of the Lord to Israel was that the parents instruct their children in the Law of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:7). They were to talk of them in their home, whether walking, sitting or standing. The words of the Lord were to be everywhere as frontlets between their eyes.
The Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are the instructions of the father and the mother to a son, and applicable to sons and daughters of the family. The father and the mother are first responsible to their children and accountable to the Lord for teaching their own children. This is a top priority; parental instruction in the Word of God.
2. Teaching in the Nation of Israel
The Levitical Priesthood was especially given the ministry of teaching the tribes of Israel the Law of the Lord (Deuteronomy 33:8-11; Malachi 1:1-9; II Chronicles 35:1-6; Deuteronomy 24:8; Ezekiel 44:23; 22:26; Romans 2:20).
There was a time in Israel when they had been a long time without a teaching priest (II Chronicles 15:3).
Princes, Priests and Prophets were also supposed to instruct people in the Laws of the Lord (Ezekiel 22:23-31).
The Prophets were inspired preachers and teachers and interpreters of the Law of Moses (Isaiah 43:27; 42:19; Hosea 12:10).
At times there were teaching seminars by the Priests and Princes also in the cities of Judah (II Chronicles 17:7-9). Ezra was a Scribe and Hermeneutician in Law (Ezra 7:25).
Scribes and Elders generally taught the Scriptures in the local Synagogues. The Scribes were the official interpreters of the Law, but sad to say, they became some of the worst opposers of Christ’s teaching because of wrong hermeneutics combined with the sins of pride and unbelief (Matthew 5:20; 7:29; 12:38; 15:1; 16:21; 23:1-34; 26:3, 57; Luke 11:44, 53; Acts 4:5).
They were called “Doctors” in Luke 2:46; “Masters” in John 3: 10, and “Teachers” also in Messiah’s times.
The Scribes took away “the key of knowledge” from the people and brought woes on themselves (Luke 11:46-49).
One of the main methods of instruction in Jewry was “Catechism” classes. The word “instructed” in Luke 1:4; Acts 18:25; Romans 2:18 means “orally instructed. The Greek word “katecheo” means “to instruct by asking questions and correcting answers. ” It is the word from which we derive Catechism. It is about the best method of instruction. By this method they set forth in order a declaration of the things which were most surely believed among them and set them forth in order, following the instruction through.
D. New Testament Ministry of The Teacher
The teaching ministry continues in the New Testament. It is the ministry of Christ THE Teacher continued in and through members of His Body, the Church (Acts 1:1-2).
When He ascended up on high, He gave gifts to men, and He gave some, Teachers (Ephesians 4:11).
God hath set in the Church, thirdly Teachers (I Corinthians 12:28,29). There were certain Prophets and Teachers at the Church in Antioch (Acts 13:1-4; 15:35). The Teacher is to wait on his teaching (Romans 12:7). The Great Commission of Christ involves teaching ministries (Matthew 28:18-20). The Teacher is to teach faithful men who can teach others (II Timothy 2:2). The Teacher comes under greater judgment if he does not teach rightly (James 3:1). He that is taught in the word must minister to the Teacher (Galatians 6:6). Paul was a Teacher-Apostle (Acts 18:1; I Timothy 2; 7; II Timothy 1:11; Colossians 1:28). Apollos also was a great teacher of the word (Acts 18:24).
There are some who combine in themselves the ministries of Pastor-Teacher.
The teaching ministry is one of the continuing important ministries in the Body and touches all ages groupings.
It should be remembered that, as with all ministries, so in the teaching ministry, there is “the cluster” of teaching abilities. These would range from teaching of women, teaching of children, teaching of youth, teaching of Bible classes for all age groups in the Church to the distinctive ministry of the five-fold ascension-gift Teacher to the Body. God has set such a cluster of variety of this teaching ministry in the Church.
E. Calling, Qualifications, Ministry and Recognition of the Teacher
As with each ministry, so it is for the Teacher. He must know that this is his distinctive calling and that this is his place in the Body. This call should be confirmed by the Spirit in his own heart and confirmed in the Church by the God-given ability of a teacher.
Because the Teacher is also an Elder in the Body the qualifications of Eldership are laid on him as with the other fivefold ascension-gift ministries.
a. A Teacher should have anointing (unction) on his teaching. It is the anointing which teaches (I John 2:20, 27). The Church has often rejected or neglected the teacher’s ministry because teachers have been dull, dry and uninteresting in their material, approach and presentation.
b. A Teacher should learn to depend on THE INNER TEACHER, the Holy Spirit, as well as THE TEACHER, the Lord Jesus above (John 14:26).
c. A Teacher should remember that the Letter kills but it is the Spirit that gives life (II Corinthians 3).
d. A Teacher should be able to speak with authority, knowing from whom; he received his words (Matthew 7:28, 29; John 7:46; Mark 1:22). He must be a voice and not an echo as the Scribes and Pharisees were in their teaching.
e. A Teacher should follow the Laws of Communication and bridge the gap between himself and his hearers.
(Note–There are a number of good books published on “The Laws of Teaching” to help any Teacher who desires to be a good communicator of the Divine truth).
f. A Teacher should be a sound theologian, and be able to give wholesome doctrine (I Timothy 6:3; Acts 2:42).
g. A Teacher should be a sound hermeneutician and know both the science and the art of rightly dividing the Word of Truth and interpreting the Scriptures. Without such he cannot be a sound exegete of the Word of God.
(Note–There are excellent textbooks available on “Principles of Hermeneutics” for any Teacher who wants to excel in this area).
h. A Teacher should be able to take the Divine seeds of truth given to the Apostles and Prophets and the writers of both Old and New Testament Scriptures and water them by the Spirit and bring forth fruit upon which God’s people can feast. He should receive illumination on the revelation that was given by inspiration.
Because a Teacher appeals more to the logic of people, he needs to depend more on the Holy Spirit’s unction and illumination (Ephesians 1: 17, 18).
Of the fivefold ministries, it seems that they may be grouped (without being limited to such) into two groupings:
Appeal more to emotional Appeal more to intellectual than
than logical the emotional
At times these ministries may involve preaching and teaching and overlap into both areas, both inspirational and logical. Therefore, this must not be used to limit the ministries. But there is, without doubt, the inspirational and the logical ministries in the fivefold ministries.
However, the Teacher does, by reason of the very nature of his ministry, appeal more to the understanding, reason, intelligence and logic than to the emotions. He is especially systematic, following the rules of logic. Therefore, the Teacher needs the unction of the Holy Spirit to make the teaching a channel for the impartation of life as well as knowledge!
His will be a ministry of the Spirit and the Word (I John 5:7, 8).
He will compare “spiritual things with spiritual” (I Corinthians 2:6-14).
He will depend upon the Holy Spirit to take the Word he teaches and witness within the heart of the listeners (Luke 12:12; John 14:26; I John 2:20, 27).
At times he will “teach/preach” to balance his word (Acts 13:1; I Corinthians 4: 17; Acts 15:35; 18:11; II Timothy 1:11; Acts 15:22; II Timothy 4; 2, 3; 2:2; I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9; Acts 20:28).
i. A Teacher should be a diligent student of the Word of God. He should have a Divine passion for the Word (I Timothy 4:13; Job 23:12; Psalms 119:47; Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 13:1-3; Matthew 4:4; Revelation 10:8-10).
j. A Teacher should be a man given to much meditation in the Word (Psalms 1:2; Joshua 1:8; Psalms 119:48, 78, 148). Meditation brings spiritual illumination.
k. A Teacher should be creative in his teaching, not just for creativity’s sake, but to maintain interest and communicate well. Consider how Jesus used the “created” things about Him often in teaching (Matthew 13).
1. A Teacher should always be teachable. How can he teach others if he himself is not teachable? How can he expect others to learn from him if he does not or cannot learn from others? (Romans 2:21; I Corinthians 2:13).
Apollos was a great teacher, yet humble and teachable to learn from others (Acts 18:24-27; 20:19; I Peter 5:5; I Corinthians 16:12; 3:6-10; Proverbs 16:23; James 1:21).
m. A Teacher should be able to reproduce other teaching ministries (II Timothy 2:2). He should teach others, who can teach others.
n. A Teacher should be a living example of what he teaches others. People learn more by example than by precept. A Teacher therefore must teach:
1) By Precept–what he says (II Timothy 3:10),
2) By Example–what he is (II Timothy 3:10),
3) By Conduct–what he does (John 13:12-15; Matthew 5:19; Acts 1:1; Isaiah 2:14).
The danger of Phariseeism is “they say and do not” (Matthew 23:1-3). Jesus practiced what He preached. He will teach us His ways, he will walk in His paths, Doctrinal is followed by Practical!
A Teacher’s ultimate aim in teaching is application of the Word to the life-style, and not just information of the Word. It is to bring about obedience to the Word (Deuteronomy 4:5, 14; 31:12, 13; II John 4; III John 3, 4; Isaiah 2: 1-5). Teaching His ways is to be followed by walking in His paths.
o. A Teacher should be well equipped with the principles of homiletics in order to get the message through to the hearers.
p. A Teacher should be characterized by the Spirit of knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
1) Knowledge–the possession of facts of truth.
2) Understanding–the interpretation of truth.
3) Wisdom–the application of truth.
Proverbs 1:1-6; Ecclesiastes 1:18; I Corinthians 2:13; Colossians 2:3. This means he has to be intellectually honest when handling the Word. Otherwise he can make the Word say whatever he wants it to say. This leads to deceptive teaching (Luke 8:15; II Corinthians 4:2; II Peter 3:15, 16).
A Teacher needs wisdom to be able to handle knowledge!
Moses as an Apostle, Aaron as the Prophet and Bezaleel and Aholiab as Teachers were filled with the “spirit of wisdom, knowledge and understanding” to teach others in the building of the Tabernacle of the Lord (Exodus 35:34).
A Teacher should aim at balance in his teaching to avoid his hearers taking any areas of his teaching to extreme, turning to the right hand or the left hand (Isaiah 30:20, 21).
r. A Teacher should be a well instructed Scribe in the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God and be able to bring forth out of his treasure things both new and old (i.e., New and Old Testaments). (Matthew 13:52; Leviticus 26:10.)
s. A Teacher should wait or attend to his teaching service (Romans 12:7).
t. A Teacher should beware of pride of intellect, for “knowledge puffs up” (I Corinthians 8:1).
u. A Teacher, as all ministers, should beware of “flattering titles” (Matthew 23:8-10; Job 32:21, 22).
v. A Teacher is also given for the perfecting of the saints, to bring them into the work of their ministry, and for the building up of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:9-16). Read also Psalms 144:1.
w. A Teacher will speak as the oracle of God according to the ability which God gives to him (I Peter 4:10, 11).
x. A Teacher must be judged by the infallible Word of God in all matters of faith and practice (I Timothy 6:3).
y. A Teacher must remember that the greater judgment is on him than on his hearers (James 3:1). This means that he will seek to guard his tongue in all that he teaches. The Tongue Chapter is especially related to Teachers (James 3:1-12).
z. A Teacher must possess a sound mind and sound judgment (II Timothy 1:7). A sound mind has several distinct qualities:
a) Not highly fanciful
b) Not hasty in judgment
c) Not given to extremes or vain and foolish notions
2) Quick and clear in perception
3) Acute in intellect
4) Good judgment and reasoning ability
5) Able to communicate clearly
6) Always studies the Word from whole to part and part to whole.
A Teacher must build on that foundation laid by the Apostles and Prophets and learn to work with other ministries in the Body. He will not be an isolationist but check his teachings with other ministries in the Body of Christ for his own “checks and balances” and safeguard.
As all ministries in the Body so believers need to receive the Teacher in order to receive the reward of his labours in the Word (Matthew 10:41, 42). As noted we have “the cluster” of variety of teaching ministries in the Church.
a. The Teacher (Ephesians 4:1 1; I Corinthians 12:28, 29). This is the Teacher of the fivefold ascension-gift type.
b. The Elder
All elders must also have a measure of ability to teach. “Apt to teach” means they are able to teach (I Timothy 3:2; I Peter 5:2).
c. Levels of Teachers
Believers are not always to be babes but to grow up and be able to teach others (Hebrews 5:12). Thus there are many levels and varying measures of the teaching abilities in the Body of Christ besides the Teacher of the ascension-gift type of ministry.
1) Parents teach their children.
2) Older women teach younger women (Titus 2:1-5).
3) Saints can teach and admonish one another in Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:18).
4) Bible Class teachers for youth, adults, children, all ages.
5) Teaching one another on personal approach (Hebrews 8:11).
Everyone learns to do something by doing it. i.e., Learn to play by playing, sing by singing, teach by teaching, etc.
All should be able to take what the Teacher gives and break it down to the varying levels and needs of believers in the Church.
F. Warnings and Judgments on False Teachers
Just as there are false apostles (II Corinthians 11; 13); false prophets (Matthew 24:11); false evangelists and false shepherds, so there are false teachers. The Scriptures warn us to beware of such (II Peter 2:1; II Timothy 4:3; Revelation 2:20; Jude 3, 4; Titus 1:11; I John 4:1).
To whom much is given shall the more be required. Because of the power of the teaching ministry, used by false cults, humanistic philosophies, religions of the world, greater judgment comes upon such when it is false (James 3:1-2).
The following are certain teachers which God’s people need to watch against:
1. Teachers of the Law-Legalizers
Acts 13:27; John 18:28; 5:39, 40; Galatians 3:1-2; 4:1-21; Acts 15:1-29; I Timothy 1:37. The Priests, Scribes, Pharisees became legalizers. They were the Judaizers who by letterism and legalism corrupted the Gospel of Christ. Paul resisted them and their teaching because of the bondage it brought on the Churches. The same is true today of certain religions.
2. Teachers of the Traditions of Men-Traditionalists
Mark 7:1-13. The Pharisees and Scribes taught the traditions of men end mace the word of God of none effect through their traditions. Jesus resisted these. So the Church needs to do the same today. Anything that nullifies the Word of God is not of God but traditions of men.
3. Teachers of False Doctrine-Heretics
There were teachers who handled the Word of God deceitfully (II Corinthians 4:2), and twisted the Word in their trickery of error (Ephesians 4:14. Amplified New Testament). There were those who also wrested, misconstrued, distorted and misinterpreted the Word of God (II Peter 3:16). They brought destruction on themselves and others.
Jezebel was a woman Teacher/Prophetess who taught false doctrine in the Church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:20), usurping authority over the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42; I Timothy 2:12).
Examples of false doctrines are seen in:
a. Those who denied the bodily resurrection (II Timothy 2:16-18).
b. Those who turned the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 3, 4; Revelation 2; 20).
c. Those who caused division contrary to sound doctrine (Romans 16:17).
d. Those who taught material prosperity for gain (I Timothy 6:6-19; II Peter 2:3; Titus 1:10, 11).
e. Those who taught the Doctrine of Balaam (Revelation 2:14).
f. Those who taught the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6, 15).
g. Those who teach fables as truth (II Timothy 4:3).
h, Those who teach Doctrines of Devils, as forbidding marriage and eating of meats (I Timothy 4:1-5).
Whatever teaching or philosophy a person receives and believes determines their character (what they are), lifestyle (what they do) and destiny (where they go). The true Teacher must ground people in the pure Word of God so that they are not carried about by every wind of doctrine and trickery of men (Ephesians 4:9- 16).
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM THE CHURCH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND PUBLISHED BY BT PUBLISHING, 1982, PAGES 187-194. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.