The Ministry Gifts of Christ (Part 7 of 8)

The Teacher

Introduction

We have now arrived at the 5th Ministry Gift that is listed in “Ephesians 4:11” that of the Teacher.

As we have examined the previous four Ministry Gifts it has I’m sure become apparent that Jesus is the best example of how to operate in any of the ministries, and Teaching is no different.

Like Him, the Teacher needs to communicate effectively and expound the Word of God with power, anointing and authority “Mark 1:22They were amazed at his way of teaching, for he taught with the ring of authority—quite unlike the scribes” J.B. Phillips

The commission of Jesus to His church was and it still is to make disciples of all nations and these Nations were to be taught to obey everything that Jesus had commanded or taught “Matthew 28:18-20”.

It is now upon God’s Teachers that a significant and heavy responsibility mainly falls.

Definition

The Greek word that is translated, “Teachers” comes from the Greek word, “didaskalos” and it has a number of forms into which it is portrayed.

It is translated “Master” 47 times in the Gospels, the majority of these in respect of Jesus 40 times in fact. It is translated “Doctor” in “Luke 2:46 “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” and “Teacher” in “John 3:2 “The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” and “Acts 13:1 – “Now there were in the Church at Antioch both prophets and teachers….” J.B. Phillips.

The Greek word is always translated as “Teacher” in the Epistles, with one exception that being Master which is discovered in “James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation”.

The word, “didaskalos” means to teach, or to give instruction, and thus we see that the Ministry Gift of “Teacher” is one who has been gifted by God with a special ability to take the truths of God’s Word and to teach them to others.

What is the Ministry Gift of a Teacher?

If we were to need to provide a simple profile of a Teacher in the sense of our context we could say – “The Gift (keeping in mind that the man / women are the Gift) is to provide a grounding to the Body of the Church in sound, foundational and inspirational Biblically based truth.

  • The Teacher would enjoy the task of taking on difficult chunks of scripture and doctrine and breaking them down and presenting them to the body through either spoken or written word.
  • There would of necessity sake be an inherent love for the Word of God and a compulsion to train others to read, understand and apply Biblical truth.
  • As an individual, it would seem very obvious that there would be a significant desire to study to obtain more knowledge and insight for themselves but specially to pass this knowledge and revelation onto the Body of Christ and instruct the Church in the practical application of God’s Word.

As a point of interest, I would contend that the move from the Old Testament to the New did not in essence change its nature or character. Also, as we have looked at previously the Pastor gifting I feel that no one could be a Pastor without being a Teacher but one could be a Teacher without being a Pastor. It would also seem logical to think that a Teacher who does not have a Pastoral Ministry in which he / she is looking after a specific group of people would usually having a trans-local / roving ministry.

God has always wanted to communicate His Word to people, this is very clear throughout Scripture and a major way He does that is through Teachers. Teachers were necessary in the Old Testament and in the early Church, and they are still necessity and they are also today.

The Teacher will find themselves in a situation where they are not satisfied unless they feel that the audience has “gotten” the message. To the Teacher, teaching is not about presenting, it is about learning. Because of that, true Teachers are tuned into their audience.

  • Are they receiving?
  • Are they bored?
  • Have they had enough?

If the people have not learned, then the teacher has not taught, and it makes no difference if the presentation was “perfect,” had music, illustrations, charts, PowerPoint, or whatever. If the student has not learned, the Teacher is, and should be, left with a sad and empty feeling.

It is of course true that every Christian can and should teach, there is however a difference between the teachings of a Christian with the Gift Ministry of a Teacher and one who does not have that ministry. A person with the Ministry of a Teacher will teach in a way that differs in quality, quantity, and scope from others who teach in the Body of Christ.

Since anyone can take what they have learned and to some extent communicate that to others, it can be difficult sometimes to distinguish between someone with the Ministry of a Teacher and someone who simply has a command of his subject. The way we can tell if someone has the Gift Ministry of a Teacher is the same way we can identify other ministries, look and see what comes forth from them over time.

A Teacher is not just someone who teaches, we are all encouraged to teach as “Colossians 3: 16”“Instruct and direct one another using good common sense” The Message, but one who brings instruction to the Body at large as is the case with Apollo’s who was also an Apostle in his “watering” ministry in “Acts 18: 24-28” and “1 Corinthians 3: 2-10”.

Philip Greenslade (Baptist minister, with over 30 years’ experience in Christian ministry in Free Church, charismatic and restorationist settings) once said “The teacher’s aim is to nourish the life of God implanted in others until it blossoms into confident openness before God and the world, enabling them to bear whatever fruit God intends it to produce. In short, it is clear that in the New Testament the specific aim of the ministry of the word is to bring believers to maturity”.

Interestingly, as we look at the Old Testament and in particular Ezra we read in Ezra 7:6”That’s Ezra. He arrived from Babylon, a scholar well-practiced in the Revelation of Moses that the God of Israel had given” The Message. Why is it interesting? Well! Here and also in Nehemiah 8:8” where it says Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, all Levites, explained The Revelation while people stood, listening respectfully. They translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading” The Message we see the prime task of both the Old and New Testament Teacher to Teach and bring a Clear Understanding of God’s truth. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.

Ezra knew that if the people did not understand what the Law said, then all his teaching was pointless. Interestingly, Ezra’s work involved translation, just as the teacher’s work does today. The Law was written in Hebrew, but some of the people in Ezra’s audience, having just come back from 70 years in Babylon, spoke only Aramaic, so getting the people to understand involved translating the Hebrew into Aramaic.

Ministry Gift of a Teacher Overview

  • Teachers & Teaching held a well-defined and important place in the New Testament Church
  • The Teacher is the only Ministry mentioned in all three lists of ministry activities
  • The Teaching Gift is a Divine Gifting
  • The Teacher is not a Teacher merely by virtue of natural ability or natural inclination
  • The Teaching Ministry will convey Rivers of Living Water
  • The Teacher will avoid causing divisions as one would avoid the plague
  • The Teacher will always build up and not tear down
  • The Teacher will always be ready and open to receive fresh glimpses of truth

Ministry of Teachers

  • Encourages understanding and the ability to divide truth from error or deception to the body of Christ
  • Supernaturally brings God’s truth to Christians through speech, written word and lifestyle
  • Encourages grounding in regular Biblical discovery and study to the body of Christ
  • Trains and equips others to lead the body of Christ
  • Is accountable to Jesus Christ and other Five-Fold Ministers

The Teachers Judgement

It is true to say that there are onerous responsibilities that fall upon all the Ministry Gifts that God has given to the Church and I am reticent to say that there is more upon the Teacher than any other however; it does appear to be so. It is significant that this is not said of any of the other four Gifts Only Teachers.

James in his Epistle shows the importance that God sets upon the Teacher, and upon right doctrine. 

In “James 3:1” we read the following – Don’t aim at adding to the number of teachers, my brothers, I beg you! Remember that we who are teachers will be judged by a much higher standard” J.B. Phillips – “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” King James.

The Bible therefore states specifically that Teachers will be judged more strictly than other Christians, by being held to a higher standard in themselves.

Let’s for a short while then consider why this might be the case. I believe that the answer lies in the importance God places upon right doctrine. In the ecumenical culture in which we find ourselves the tendency is to adopt an attitude of “go along to get along”. It is true that we should endeavour to maintain unity amongst those of differing faith communities and faith expressions however; this should never be at the expense of truth.

It is a fact that Truth sets people free, but error enslaves. There is truth, there is that which is “right,” and God wants us to know it “1 Tim 2:4”Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”

The Lord Jesus has set teachers in his Body with the assigned task of setting forth from God’s Word and from the wisdom therein what is true and right in order to bless and free all people.

Of course, the Adversary has worked hard to keep truth out of the world, and anyone trying to boldly bring it forth will pay a price.

Teachers are supposed to so honour God and His Word that they are willing to pay that price and be the ones through whom God can bring right doctrine to the world. Woe to the teacher that could press into the heart of God and get great revelations of truth for the Body, but for fear of ridicule or rejection teaches something he knows is less than the best God has for His people.

To make full proof of their ministry, Teachers must have a relentless desire to have and hold truth. Teachers cannot afford to have that desire quenched, or be swayed from the truth by people’s opinions or public pressure.

The Apostle Paul echoes the sentiment that they must hold when he says “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court 1: Corinthians 4:3a”.

Please don’t get me wrong here I am not stating that Teachers are infallible or that they cannot get it wrong or have no need to be meek to the instruction of others. On the contrary, teachers must be the meekest of people. They must be ready, willing, and even excited about learning more truth than they already know.

If the truth and knowledge of God’s truth comes via study, revelation, great. If it comes through reproof and correction, so be it. Truth is the goal. Why? Because truth originated in God, and it was He who decreed that it would set people free.

We honour God by recognising that fact, and declaring that there is truth, and then diligently working to find it and teach it to others. The true teacher feels genuine pain at the thought of having communicated some form of error, and thus leading God’s precious people astray in some way.

God’s teachers need to:

  • Be continually open to God and teachable
  • Romans 2:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13
  • Have a real love and respect for God’s Word and pass this on to those they teach
  • Deuteronomy 31:12, 13; Joshua 1:7-8).
  • Enable growth towards maturity of those and need God’s discernment to do this
  • Acts 20:20, 27; Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11).
  • Know the Word of God well it will become a part of their life enabling those they teach to do the same
  • (Matthew 10:24, 25; John 13:13, 14; Matthew 23:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:13, 14; 2 Timothy 3:10-17).
  • Need to and will guard the Church against those would distract and divert.
  • (2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 Timothy   6:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:3, 4; Mark 7:7; Acts 17:11; Titus 2:1; 2 John: 8-11).