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Theology > Jesus > Life and Teaching > Preaching and Teaching


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).

Within one chapter, Mk. 1, and within one geographical area, Galilee, and throughout the towns in that area, the Scriptures affirm that Jesus came 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?

Note that the Text says that 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.

This position is in contrast to the popular mind which distinguishes between preaching and teaching, 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. 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 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. But can such speculation be justified?

In the above texts from Mark the Greek word for preaching is kerussō, and for teaching it is didaskō. The former means to announce, proclaim, declare, tell, or to herald; while the latter means to instruct, inform, educate, or to expound. Concisely it is correct to affirm that kerussō describes the manner of the speaking and didaskō conveys the content of the speaking. So to preach the Gospel is to announce or declare the Gospel, and to teach the Gospel is to give instructions regarding the details of the Gospel. The event is one and the same, just expressed from different perspectives. There is simply no justification for distinguishing between the preaching and teaching ministry. As stated above, to preach is to teach, and to teach is to preach.

When contemplating preaching and teaching in the life of Christ, and utilizing the companion words of preacher and teacher, it is instructive to note that 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

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.

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