“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain PROPHETS AND TEACHERS: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”
It has been said that where purpose is not clearly defined, abuse becomes inevitable. One of the offices of service in the church which for many has not been clearly defined is the office of the Teacher.
The office of the Teacher is clearly an important office of leadership in the Body of Christ and should be recognized as such.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and TEACHERS, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”
There are those that have argued that the scripture above speaks of a four fold Ministry not a five fold Ministry. The basis being that the phrase ‘Pastors and Teachers’ mean Pastoring teachers.
There are three reasons why this is not true.
First, all the offices listed above are meant to build the saints in the knowledge of the Son of God so essentially they are all supposed to teach. In the light of this Teaching cannot be limited to the Pastoral office based on this Scripture.
The Apostle is supposed to teach, so is the Evangelist and the Prophet.
There is no such thing as ‘I don’t know the Bible, I only know how to see in the spirit.’ That’s a disaster waiting to happen.
The great commission to make disciples (students) of all nations is given to every believer so in essence every believer is supposed to be a teacher by virtue of spiritual growth irrespective of what other office they may occupy.
“For though by this time YOU OUGHT TO BE TEACHERS, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”
It would seem therefore that leaders in the church must first grow into being Teachers before they become Pastors, Evangelists, Prophets or Apostles.
The Office of the Teacher is the first office that must be occupied by the believer which qualifies him for other offices of leadership. It is a ‘gateway’ office so to speak.
1 Timothy 3:2
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, ABLE TO TEACH;”
2 Timothy 2:24
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, ABLE TO TEACH, patient,”
This ability to teach is not something you are supernaturally endowed with but what you spiritually grow into by virtue of faithfully learning from other sound teachers. It is an office of spiritual growth.
2 Timothy 2:2
“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men WHO WILL BE ABLE TO TEACH others also.”
Secondly, there is no other portion of scripture that seems to equate being a teacher to being a Pastor. You cannot build a doctrine on one verse or portion of the scriptures.
On the contrary we see that All Pastors must first be teachers but not All teachers become Pastors.
In Acts 13:1 where we started we are told there were certain Prophets and Teachers in Antioch and we were given the names of 5 people including Paul.
If all those ‘Teachers’ were ‘Pastors’ then it would mean the Church at Antioch had two or three Pastors over them. That definitely wasn’t the case.
We also see that Paul and Barnabas were first ‘Teachers’ before they were sent out as ‘Apostles.’
Thirdly we see the Bible specifically mention Teachers as a distinct office of leadership in the Church.
1 Corinthians 12:28
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third TEACHERS, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.”
What then is the role of the Teacher in the Body of Christ? Since the scriptures are the work tool of a teacher, the role of the scriptures will also define the role of the teacher.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for DOCTRINE, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for INSTRUCTION in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
So the role of the teacher is to bring forth doctrine which is the clear explanation of the scriptures.
He is to bring reproof which is essentially repeated evidence (proof) of what is taught from the scriptures.
He is to bring correction by confronting errors with the truth that has been clearly presented and explained.
He is also to bring instruction by showing his listeners how what is being taught can be incorporated into their daily lives and conduct.
Are you a teacher?
You should be one.
Grow into it!