“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!
1 Peter 2:1-3 (NKJV)
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
Many believers wonder what that secret formula for spiritual growth is. The Apostle Peter gives it to us here on a platter of gold. It is the pure (sincere) milk of the word of God.
We must realize that what Apostle Peter referred to as the Word of God is not what we would refer to today because Peter didn’t have 66 books of the Bible in his hands.
Peter’s ‘Word of God’ would essentially be Genesis to Malachi. It means you can read Genesis to Malachi and grow Spiritually but it would have to be the pure (sincere) milk.
Peter uses the allegory of ‘milk’ to describe how to derive spiritual nourishment from the writings of the Old Testament. Milk is processed Grass. A brown cow can take green grass and produce white milk.
Peter was saying that the way to Spiritual growth is to process the green grass of Genesis to Malachi into pure milk.
The word translated ‘pure’ or ‘sincere’ in some versions of the Bible is the Greek word ‘Adollos’ which means unadulterated or without deceit.
This let’s us know that Peter’s instruction in Verse 1 to lay aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy and evil speaking has to do with our approach to interpreting Old Testament writings.
To put it plainly, we can be hypocritical and deceitful in our interpretation of the writings of the Old Testament and end up producing adulterated milk which will amount to evil speaking and will lead to zero spiritual growth.
Does the way we interpret the scriptures matter? Yes it does. It can make the difference between Spiritually edible and Spiritually poisonous teaching.
How then do we know if we have processed the word correctly into unadulterated milk? We are not left in the dark to figure that out. Peter mentions it in Verse 3: ‘if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’
In other words, if your interpretation of Genesis is correct, your summary and conclusion should be that ‘The Lord is Gracious!’
If you read the book of Psalms properly, your take away shouldn’t be dangerous prayer points against stubborn enemies, it should be that ‘The Lord is Gracious!’
If you read the many stories in the writings of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Kings and Chronicles. The end result should not be that God is an unpredictable being who commands men to do one thing while he sovereignly does the opposite. The end result should be a conclusion that ‘The Lord is Gracious!’
If you did not come to this conclusion after reading, you didn’t chew the grass well. Your milk is adulterated. You need to regurgitate and chew again.
What grows men Spiritually is not a mystery. It is the revelation of God’s character.
The pure (sincere) milk of the word is not referring to foundation class teachings either but to that which you must never graduate out of.
The Lord is Gracious!