In the post entitled "The Purpose of the Various Roles in the Church," I listed the roles pertaining to the church which are mentioned in Scripture.
We're in the process of looking at each of these roles in light of GOD's overall purpose of the church, which is to help individuals be transformed into the image of Jesus, which is GOD's will for each human.
In this post, we look at the purpose of teachers.
Regarding certain roles in the church, Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
(1 Cor. 12:27-28 NIV)
When we think about the purpose of the church and we think about the concept of "the faith" (Jude 3), the purpose of having teachers within the church is quite obvious.
There are some facts that GOD would have us believe, some instructions He would have us follow, and some promises that He will fulfill.
Teachers are essential to helping people grow in their knowledge of the faith and in their walk with GOD.
GOD is the ultimate Teacher of us all.
Jesus was frequently referred to as "Teacher" during His time on earth.
As the Master Teacher, Jesus taught in word and in action.
Recall His words to the apostles in the Upper Room following the Last Supper:
12 When [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
(John 13:12-17 NIV)
In this same conversation recorded by the apostle John, Jesus explained to the apostles that the Holy Spirit would serve as their Teacher after Jesus was gone:
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
(John 14:25-26 NIV)
On the Day of Pentecost, following Jesus' ascension, the Holy Spirit came miraculously upon the apostles (see Acts 2).
After Peter preached the gospel to the Jews, 3,000 souls were added to the church, and look what the Spirit says to us next:
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:41-42 NIV)
The apostles were the first teachers in the church.
This is in obedience to Jesus' final commandments prior to His ascension:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matt. 28:19-20 NIV)
The apostles kept on teaching people about Jesus and, just like Jesus Himself, this brought persecution upon themselves from the Jewish religious leaders.
On one occasion, after Peter and John healed a lame man, the religious leaders arrested them and threatened them.
13 When [the Sanhedrin] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
(Acts 4:13-20 NIV)
In the years that followed, the apostles developed additional men and women to serve as teachers and leaders within the church (Jesus' body) at the various places where they lived.
Many of these men served as elders or shepherds in the church, as well.
Paul wrote to his son in the faith Timothy, saying:
1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
(2 Tim. 2:1-2, 22-26 NIV)
Paul gave similar instructions in greater detail to Titus in Titus 2.
Without question, the role of teachers is among the most vital roles (if not the most important) in the LORD's body.
I say this because the vast majority of disagreements, errors, divisions and false doctrines that exist in Christendom today are the result not of people diligently studying their Bibles and misunderstanding, but of being taught these things by other people.
In fact, the Scriptures warn that not many should become teachers.
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
(Jam. 3:1-2 NIV)
In the next post, we'll look at some dangers that teachers face within the church.