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Theology > Church > The Purpose of the Church > Teaching the Truth


And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.
Acts 2:42

In order to continue in the apostles’ doctrine, the believer must know the apostles’ doctrine. To be faithful to the Christian Faith one must know the Truth of the Faith, and the Truth must be taught to believers by believers, for no unbeliever can be a teacher of the Faith. Note some of the implications of this statement from Acts:

One, the Faith of the Church is characterized by a body of content that can be referenced by several different words: beliefs, truths, facts, principles, teaching, doctrine, dogmas, tenets, or theology; in other words, the Faith has content.

Two, the adherents to the Faith must know the Faith and believe the Faith; the content or doctrine must be known.

Three, it is the responsibility of current believers to teach new believers the Truth of the Faith, therefore, it is vital for current believers to be increasing in their knowledge of the Truth, not only for themselves but also for the ability to disseminate knowledge of the Truth to other believers.

Four, as believers come to know the doctrine they are to continue according to the doctrine, consistent with and not contrary to it; in other words, the believer is to live the Truth.

It is also instructive to note that in the qualifications for the bishop (synonyms would be pastor, elder, overseer, and shepherd) Paul said to Timothy that the individual must be “able to teach” (I Tim. 3:2; the Gr. is didaktikos, from didaskō, to teach). There is no qualification that specifically mentions preaching, the ability to preach, certainly preaching in the modern sense of a trained speaker delivering a sermon to a silent congregation with the listeners being either impressed or unimpressed by the performance. Such a scenario is foreign to the intent of the Scriptures which do not suggest this practice for the Church. The believers who comprise the Church are to be taught the things of God and of His Christ, line upon line, word upon word, precept upon precept. Additionally, the word “preacher” is not even one of the New Testament words used to refer to the position of leadership in the Church.

To preach is to teach,
and to teach is to preach.

This identification of teaching and preaching is in contrast to the popular mind which distinguishes between the two, with preaching being the act on a Sunday in a church building, while teaching is something that is done by a highly trained individual in a classroom, such as a college or seminary, or perhaps in a small home Bible study. The terms have come to be specialized terms with a precise and definite distinction. Some believers even state a preference for one or the other; some followers have been so profane as to express a penchant for a teaching-preacher rather than a preaching-preacher, while others in a more trendy vein claim they had rather be taught the Bible than preached at with the Bible. Since the Protestant Reformation preaching has been elevated into an office all its own; in the popular mind preaching is synonymous with Church, ministry, and clergy. But can such speculation be justified?

The Bible affirms that Jesus came preaching and teaching:

Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God (Mk. 1:14);

Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Mk. 1:21-22);

But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee (Mk. 1:38-39).

These three passages refer to Galilee and the towns in that area, and Jesus was preaching and teaching. Was He doing two different things, or do these words describe the same act, but from different perspectives? Are preaching and teaching virtual synonyms, or do they stand in opposition to each other? A forced distinction between the two is without justification.

In Capernaum “He entered the synagogue and taught,” yet when He went to “the next towns” the Text says that “He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee.” Did He do one thing in the synagogue in Capernaum (“teaching”) and something different in the rest of the synagogues throughout Galilee (“preaching”)? Or was His conduct the same in each location, with the different terminology expressing various aspects of the same event? Were there two different strategies or methodologies utilized by Christ, or was his conduct in both places essentially the same?

It is the contention of this website that the Text is not describing two different methods or contrasting events, but that only one act is indicated. Preaching/teaching are essentially the same with the different words conveying different nuances of the same event.

To preach is to teach,
and to teach is to preach.

Jesus is never referred to as Preacher, but is referred to as Teacher. Didaskalos is the word for teacher and appears approximately sixty times in the New Testament, most often referring to Christ—He is the Teacher. In the KJV the word is usually translated “Master” when speaking of Christ, but the word is generally translated “Teacher” in the NKJV and the ESV. Following are some examples of the use of didaskalos:

A certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go” (Matt. 8:13);

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You” (Matt. 12:38);

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16);

And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk. 4:38);

When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one . . . but teach the way of God in truth” (Mk. 12:14);

Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here” (Mk. 13:1);

Then you shall say to the master of the house, “The Teacher says to you . . .” (Lu. 22:1; here Jesus refers to Himself as Teacher);

They said to Him, “Teacher . . .” (Jo. 8:4);

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am (Jo. 13:14).

The teaching that Jesus did is the teaching that the pastor/elder/bishop is to do for the people: believers are to be taught the Word of God. To know the Word of God is to know the “doctrine.”

According to the Great Commission disciples are made by “baptizing them” and by “teaching them to observe all things” (Matt. 28:19-20). To observe is to obey, and in order to obey one must be taught; believers are to be taught what to do and how to do it. Teaching is essential. Without teaching there is no Church, and the Commission is not fulfilled.

Christianity is not exclusively a doctrine to be believed—though it is indeed that—but it is a doctrine to be lived, and without the living it is not believed. Believers must know the doctrine and then must continue in the doctrine, for faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:14-26). Belief in the teaching of the Faith is manifested by the struggle to live the Faith.

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