Teaching is a grace-gift of the Spirit, but that doesn’t make you a teacher
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The NT says the Spirit gives the grace-gift of teaching (a), that the early Church had teachers (b), that Paul included himself as a teacher (c), and that Hebrews 5:12 ridicules Jewish-Christians that should have been mature enough to “be teachers by this time,” yet James 3:1 warns “not many of you should become teachers.” Just what is this and what is it not? <Notes> a) 1 Corinthians 12:28-29, Ephesians 4:11, b) Acts 2:42, 13:1, 15:35, c) 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11, 4:3, Acts 18:11.
Just because a person has been given a “grace-gift to teach” or is “apt/skilled to teach” (a) doesn’t mean he should then be called “Teacher,” especially when Jesus clearly stated there is only “One Teacher” and thus to “call no man ‘Teacher’ (b) because WE are ALL brethren” (c). ALL grace-gifts have to do with functions (d) – all the Greek words used for them are verbs or verbal-nouns, not positions, offices, or titles at all. For example, verses about teaching use these words: “training” (e), “to train” (f), “equipping” (g), and “nourishing” (h). Because I can wash dishes and do wash dishes, especially when my wife calls on me to do so and because I love her, does that mean I am a dishwasher, that I have a position doing that, that I have my own private room for this, or that I have a name plate for that room, walk around with a name tag with that title, or walk around in public with my special uniform, collar, or hat so that everybody knows that I am a dishwasher? How ridiculous! That’s what the Pharisees did and what many clerical, churchmen do today! Nothing really has changed that much since Christ’s day because religious men like “to be seen by others” (i). <Notes> a) 1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:2, 24, b) rabbi, c) Matthew 23:8 – see Teach One Another – BT10, d) praxis, e) paideuo: correcting, chastening, disciplining, as with children: 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 2:12, Acts 22:3, f) gumnazo: exercise the body or mind: 1 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 5:14, 12:11 “trained by paideuo discipline,” g) katartizo: thoroughly make fit, prepare: Hebrews 13:21 – see Coaches and Factilitators, h) entrepho: form the mind, educate: 1 Timothy 4:6, i) Matthew 6:5, 23:5-8.
As we’ve seen, part of this confusion about “teachers and teaching” comes from reading our modern definitions of “teachers and teaching” into these ancient 1st century documents. However, when these are read accurately in context, much of the early Church’s “teaching” was actually more like “child-rearing or elementary education (a) in righteousness” (b) that “made them wise for salvation in Christ by trusting-relying-faith” (c). This child-like educational approach even consisted of gentle correction of argumentative Jews (d), thus never done by argumentation (e) or as a debater (f) or by yelling or quarreling (g), and certainly not over words or controversies of the Torah Law of conditional-favor (h). <Notes> a) paideia: where we get the word pediatrics, b) 2 Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:5, 7, 8, 11, c) v. 3:15, d) 2 Timothy 2:25, e) Titus 2:9, f) 1 Corinthians 1:20, g) Matthew 12:19; Romans 14:1; 1 Corinthians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Timothy 2:8, 3:3; James 4:1-2, h) 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:14, 23-24; Titus 3:2, 9.
Yet, this argumentative debate is exactly how Jewish and even Christian universities have taught from the beginning of time! The Jews actually believe that debate is a form of obedient “meditation of scripture as worship to God” and thus part of their “unconditionally-loving God with their whole mind (a)” (b) – another tradition of men “borrowed” from the OT to maintain the status quo of their professions as teachers at bible colleges and universities! This too is the foundational problem of The Great Wall quenching the Holy Spirit in the Church. It’s even more obvious the intellectual bias of the cunning scribe-lawyer who added to the OT commandment in Luke 10:27 “unconditionally-loving God with all your naturally-endowed strength/power (c)?” This “internal capacity of firmness, vigor, strength, might, ability, efficiency, force, and power or control over external things including immediate resistance” is exactly the “power” of Zechariah 4:6’s “absolutely in fact not by might nor power” that God wants to dispose of in exchange for “by My Spirit.” <Notes> a) dianoia: thorough, balanced reasoning of intellect, b) Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30 citing Deuteronomy 6:5, c) koach, ishus in contrast to chayil/dunamis Spirit-power.
As we’ll see again, much of the confusion about “teachers and teaching” is also because of our modern emphasis on the noun “teachers,” as if the NT emphasis was upon individual people, positions, offices, or titles. However, the emphasis in the NT was more on the verbal aspect of “teaching” (a) as only one of many functions (b) within the Body-of-Christ (c) or one of many forms of “service with different energetically effective/efficient results/effects” as one of many “demonstrations of the Holy Spirit” (d). Wouldn’t it sound foolish to give positions, offices, or titles to “helpers, tongue-speakers, tongue-interpreters, miracle-workers, and healers,” but we still feel determined to “cherry-pick” grace-gifts from the many lists and then call the people who get them: “Apostles (e), Prophets (f), Evangelists (g), Pastors (h), Teachers, and Administrators (Managed-Caregiver Supervisors).” It’s all so arbitrary! However, out of 58 uses of “teacher” in the NT (i) only 8 (j) or 14% are used of Christians! Most uses are negatively describing this within an unbelieving, hostile world! <Notes> a) Romans 12:6-8; 1 Timothy 4:13; 5:17, b) praxis, c) Romans 12:4, d) 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 27-31, e) who are missionaries or church-planters, f) those who hear and speak the directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words of God, even from visions and dreams, g) preachers, h) shepherds, i) rabbi, didaskalos, j) 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; 2 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:7; James 3:1; Ephesians 4:11; Acts 13:1; Hebrews 5:12.
Most Greek scholars see these nouns as “action or verbal nouns” and merely a convenience for getting around the awkwardness of always having to say: “the ones sent-out-on a mission, the ones who prophesy, the ones who preach the gospel, the ones who shepherds/cares/watches over others who are also apt/skilled in teaching, or the ones who administrate or organize others.” It’s like saying “Garbage Collector” instead of “the one who drives down my alley and regularly picks up my garbage.” I don’t think they care about have being called this, having a name tag that says this, a special shirt that says this, or a sign on their truck that says this. In fact, most just want to be left alone to do their job, but they do appreciate cold water, a wave, candy bars, and oranges I’ve found out! I think nowadays, the use of these church positions, offices, titles, and special clothing have more to do with the religion of “special people and all that is connected to them” and the “want to be seen by men” pride associated with all this, because there is certainly no NT justification for any of this!
BODY-teaching is the solution to the many pitfalls described above! Ephesians 4:4-16 explains: “There is one Body and one Spirit . . . but unconditional-favor-of-grace was given (a) to EACH ONE of us down-from/according-to . . . of the [singular] grace-gift of Christ. . . He gave grace-gifts [of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12] to men . . . in order that He might pleroo fill to completion (b) all things (c), thus He gave . . . ” Christ is ultimately the agent, the giver of the Spirit and the grace-gifts from the Father (d). <Notes> a) being that it’s unmerited, b) pleroo, c) including ALL people of His Body, d) John 15:26, 16:7; Romans 11:29, Hebrews 2:4.
Now Paul continues: “These [grace-gift] apostles, these [grace-gift] prophets, these [grace-gift] evangelists, these [grace-gift] shepherds kai and/coupled teachers.” Scholars note that only one article “these” governs each group of grace-gifts, as with the coupled/linked “shepherds and teachers” group, making a total of 4 grace-gift groups, not 5 as so many erroneously teach as “a five-fold ministry.” Thus scholars see this latter group simply as “these [grace-gift] shepherds [who are apt/skilled as] also teachers” as often linked (b). The definite articles “these” referring to 4 [grace-gift] groups (each is plural not singular) all point back to the “He (Christ) gave grace-gifts.” Jesus isn’t speaking of what goes on in any one city or church gathering, but the entire Body-of-Christ worldwide! Thus the “apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds [who are] also teachers” are not people, positions, offices, or titles, but functioning “grace-gifts,” and clearly there was no hint of a mono-episcopacy or one-bishop rule that the Catholic Church invented or that the Protestants perpetuated with a mere title change to “Head or Lead or Senior Pastor” to hide their own guilt! <Notes> a) the coupling conjunction kai often means “even” or “and also”, b) 1 Timothy 3:2, 5:17; 2 Timothy 2:2, 24; Titus 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
Why did Christ give these functioning grace-gifts? “For the equipping (a) the saints for the work/doing of ministry/service.” The “equippers” aren’t supposed to be the “ministry staff” of the church! ALL the saints are supposed to be! The idea of “clergy” and “laity” was invented by the Catholic Church – do your homework! But what kind of ministry? To “build up the Body-of-Christ.” That’s the role of ALL the saints, not just the “equippers!” Does this mean building church attendance or increasing the money collected to build church buildings? No, “until we ALL attain towards/at the unity of The-Trusting-Relying-Faith and/coupled of the genuine, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge of the Son of God.” That’s what The Christian Faith is about – intimate fellowship with Christ. That’s what unifies churches, not a 100 programs to keep everybody busy! <Notes> a) katartismos – see Coaching and Facilitating.
Paul continues with more clarity: “[That is] towards/at [being] a grown up (mature) person, [that is] to the measuring-device-size (a) of the size/stature of the fullness (b) of Christ.” Why is Christ our example to grow up to be like? “In order that we may no longer be little children tossed to and from . . . carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking The Truth (c) by the means of unconditional-love, we are [ALL] to grow up in every way…into Christ who is the Head (d), [that is] into Christ. . . making the Body grow so that it builds itself up by the means of unconditional-love.” <Notes> a) metron: where we get ‘metronome’ from, a device that clicks out a set, equal, amount of time – God doesn’t show favoritism but is impartial by giving equal amounts, but expressed differently through different grace-gifts in us, different services through us, and different energetically-effective results in others, b) pleroma: completeness, Ephesians 3:19, c) Jesus and His sound logos gospel message of The Truth, d) master: Ephesians 1:22, 5:23, the only ‘down-from/according-to’ authorized leader, leaving the rest of us simply ‘brethren’ per Matthew 23:8-10 – see Teach One Another – BT10.
Boy, have a lot of churches got this one wrong too! Only if we are ALL growing up “into Christ” will we be actually hearing “The Truth,” who is Jesus (a) and then understand that “unconditional-love” is what we will then be hearing from Christ – not more sermons on bible doctrine! Christ’s unconditional-love is what builds the Church, not building programs! Only when we are hearing The Truth for Jesus, The Truth, will other “winds of doctrine” blow right past us! <Notes> a) John 14:6.
Jesus said, “The sheep follow Him, for they have already, with ongoing results, mentally ‘see’ to perceive/know (a) His Voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they have not in fact already, with ongoing results, mentally ‘seen’ to perceive/know (a) the voice of strangers” (b). The solution to recognizing a counterfeit is to really know the real thing! Yes, the directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words of God are seen in our mind’s eye to understand, thus the promises of prophecy are primarily through vision and dreams (c). We know from Paul’s many other lists of “grace-gifts” of the Spirit of Christ, that Ephesians 4:11 is a very limited list, simply focusing on “equipping functions” (d) and their very limited role! It’s really sad to see church leaders read too much into this passage to justify so many personal ambitions and indulgences! <Notes> a) eido, b) John 10:4-6, c) Acts 2:17-19, d) not people.
As Christian musicians, do we care more about “being seen by men” as special leaders or teachers with special positions, offices, titles, and dress? Or do we correctly see these as various functions of service to others, based on God’s grace and work of the Holy Spirit at the moment that God can change depending on the needs at the moment? Only the free-flow ministry of the Holy Spirit through every member of the Body-of-Christ can we escape the imbalance and susceptibility of error that comes when only one or a few try to the be the “ministers.” Only when the Body-of-Christ is free from “ball-hogging ministers,” will the “saints be able to do the work of ministry in order to build up the Church into the mature stature of Christ!” If a church is only regularly hearing from one or a few on some stage placed “over them,” then the “audience” are sitting ducks to “be carried away by every form of error and deception!” And shouldn’t any human voice simply being Coaching and Facilitating as “equippers,” especially when there is only One Teacher who is Christ by the means of the Holy Spirit?
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