Preparing to Teach: Lesson 2 Class Notes

What is Teaching?

Cecil May, Dean of the V. P. Black School of Bible at Faulkner University wrote:

An old saw says, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Then someone asked, "What about those who can't teach?" The answer given was, "They teach teachers.

As a longtime teacher of preachers, I reject that characterization.

An altogether different view is reflected in this quotation:

Years ago, after a celebrated international career on the stage, the world-famous violinist Jascha Heifetz became a Professor of Music at UCLA. When someone asked him why he had left the glamour of performing to become a teacher, Heifetz answered, 'Violin playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on; otherwise it is lost.'

Then he went on to say,

'I remember my old violin professor in Russia. He said if I worked hard enough, someday I would be good enough to teach.'

Preaching and Bible teaching are also "perishable arts." That is not to say no one can learn them primarily on their own; some obviously have. But there are those who do them well, those who do them better, and those who do them superbly. All of us can learn from each other, and those with the greatest knowledge and skills are the best from whom to learn. Better yet if they have successful ministry experience behind them!

In Christ's kingdom it is the local church, led by its elders and preachers, where the work of Christ is primarily done. To be able to teach preachers is a wonderful place of service, a valuable talent and a useful skill. We who do that are blessed beyond measure to have that privilege. But our work has value only to the extent that the students we teach perform their work well in local churches in their respective communities.

Two tasks of the teachers or preachers are to ensure they know the Word and they have the ability to continue to grow in knowledge and the practice of righteousness.

'I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth' (3 John 1:4).

How is "teaching" defined? Our English word derives from the Old English taecan, and is related to Old Saxon tekan, which meant "to show how to do." "Teach" in the New Testament is the translation of "didaskos." Thayer defines it as "to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses." Louw & Nida define it as "to provide instruction in a formal or informal setting — 'to teach, teaching.'" "Teach" and its variants are important words in the New Testament as shown in this table:

teach 105
teacher 57
teachers 13
teaches 13
teaching 89
teachings 3

In the Gospels, Jesus is referred to as a teacher more than by any other title. Teaching was more common than preaching in the early church. While John the Baptist was a preacher, Christ was a teacher. Sixty out of ninety times that Jesus was addressed, He was called "teacher." And He commissioned His followers to teach as well as to preach (Matt. 28:19–20). While the words for "preaching" are found about 150 times in Scripture, those for "teaching" are mentioned about 250 times. The early church saw the vital importance of continually teaching its members from the Word of God. The Greek word most often given to Christ, as an educational title, is didaskalos. This word is translated "teacher" or "master" and is found more than forty times in the Gospels. Most frequently in the King James Version of the Bible, didaskalos is translated "master" rather than "teacher" because at the time of translation the word master was understood to mean "schoolmaster."

  • Jesus' disciples referred to Him as teacher or master (Mark 4:38).
  • The scribes and Pharisees referred to Him in this way (John 3:2).
  • Jesus identified Himself by the term (Mark 14:14).

Other Bible passages also point out the priority of teaching in the ministry of Christ (Matt. 4:23; 5:2; 7:29).

Rabbi is another title associated with the word teacher and is used to refer to Christ. This word is also sometimes translated "master" and, as a Jewish title, designated one as able to teach with the authority of Moses, possessing authority to interpret the law. Nicodemus and the disciples of John the Baptist called Jesus "Rabbi" (John 1:38; 3:2). Rabboni (John 20:16), a similar but even more intensively educational and relational title, was used by Mary Magdalene when He appeared to her after the Resurrection.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)