The Bible Mandate for Teaching

by Joseph Miller

The Bible Mandate for Teaching

The work of teaching is assigned high priority in the ministry of the local church: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:11,12; see also Col. 1:28 and 2 Tim. 2:2).

Several words are employed in the New Testament as terms to describe the responsibilities of the teaching ministry. A careful study of these terms indicates how teaching is a very important key to church growth:


Paul used a Greek term in 1 Corinthians 14:19-katechéo- that is the root of our English term "catechize." "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." This term means to make public, proclaim, instruct in the faith, to divulge the truth. The background was of informing orally as an actor from a stage. While this term implies the lecture teaching method, keep in mind that it is the least-used term to describe teaching in the New Testament.


The most frequently used term in the New Testament (used 95 times) is didsko, the word that means to develop. It means to give instruction through repeated hands-on demonstration with the goal of development of the pupil's abilities. The teacher is to cause him to accept instruction. The qualified instructors are to instruct with a fixed body of truth as noted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:17. The term is also used in 2 Timothy 2:2, translated "teach."


This kind of instructor is to be multiplied, according to 2 Timothy 2:2. For the text also contains another fascinating word, paratithemi, translated "commit." It could perhaps be understood with our term deposit. Timothy was to deposit the doctrine with reliable, trustworthy men so they may in turn develop others. This is true apostolic succession that we are to engage in; that is, apostolic doctrinal succession.


The word "discipline" adequately describes the Greek term that is the root for our English word "pedagogy." It is paideo, to train up a child, discipline, chasten-translated as "learned" of Moses in Acts 7:22, and "taught" of Paul in Acts 22:3. It speaks of bringing up the student by being together with him. In Hebrews 12:6-11 it is the "chastening" of our heavenly Father, or disciplining education with the aim of peace with God.

It should be noted that this disciplining (pedagogy) is an outworking of grace: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13).


The term "disciple" describes the objective of the entire process of teaching (developing). Matthew 28:18, 20 states this focused purpose: "Go therefore and make disciples (matheteo) of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

A disciple is one who attaches himself to Christ. He is discipled by one who attaches himself to his disciple for developing. Christ's teaching is the content for making a disciple. This learning is with view to acceptance, not just an intellectual process (Eph. 4:20; 2 Tim. 3:14).

Church growth is to come through teaching: divulging the truth; developing them through demonstration; depositing truth with others for teaching; disciplining for education; discipling for acceptance.

Your church is only three generations from extinction as a true witness for Truth and Christ. Unless each successive generation is sufficiently taught to accurately teach others, the Word of God and true Bible doctrine will soon be gone within three generations. Consider what has happened to many major church movements. You must accept the Bible mandate to teach others so well that each one can teach another without losing any Bible truth.

Is this the teaching standard of your church? Are you making a passing grade?

From E-TIPS at

Joseph Miller, who heads Discovering Life Ministries, is a church development consultant and publisher of

The Church Planter-a Comprehensive Manual for Church Development.

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