As we saw in Educating Christians part 1, the ultimate responsibility for educating a child rests with the child’s father and is clearly identified as such in the Bible.
However, the task of teaching is also seen as belonging to the whole community, the whole body of Christ, just as it was for the Jewish nation throughout the Old Testament. Throughout all three of his pastoral epistles Paul called and exhorts his juniors to teach and keep to the teachings they have been given saying:
“But you speak the things which become sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1)
“But the servant of the Lord must not strive, but to be gentle to all, apt to teach, patient.” (Second Timothy 2:24)
“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (Second Timothy 2:2)
“Teach and exhort these things. If anyone teaches otherwise, and does not consent to wholesome words (those of our Lord Jesus Christ), and to the doctrine according to godliness….. “ (First Timothy 6:2-3)
“Hold on to yourself and to the doctrine; continue in them, for doing this you shall both save yourself and those who hear you.” (First Timothy 4:16)
“Until I come, attend to reading, to exhortation, to teaching.” (First Timothy 4:13)
“Command and teach these things.” (First Timothy 4:11)
Like the father is to the home, so is the pastor to the congregation; for the pastor has the spiritual authority to lead the congregation. Here we see in Paul’s Pastoral Epistles, the pastor being required to teach and to pass on that which he or she has been taught to the next generation following and so on. Once can see that if all fathers pass the burdens of teaching to the pastor, the pastor will be soon overburdened.
The Bible provides solutions to this problem also in First Corinthians 12;28, where it is written that “God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers.” God has thus provided a special “teaching” anointing for some, who have been given a spiritual gifting for teaching quite unlike that of others who teach. They have been given a special burden, a special gift to share the teaching of the children with the pastors and fathers. But as Romans 12:7 tells us, those who have this special gifting of teaching do not necessarily require to be formal teachers or formal pastor/teacher.
It is provided also, however, that the more mature Christians are to teach the less mature: “Let the aged women likewise be in reverent behaviour, not slanderers, not enslaved by much wine, teachers of good; that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.” (Tutus 2;3-4) and “For indeed because of the time, you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again what are the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have become in need of milk, and not of solid food.” (Hebrews 5:12)
In fact, the Bible goes further than this; in Colossians 3:16 saying “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” and in Ephesians 5:19 “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” In other words, all of the congregation are to be teachers and teach others at all times in and by their lifestyle and interactions with each other.
While the responsibility and duty of teaching children is made clear in the bible, so too is the responsibility for being educated, being taught. It belongs to the whole congregation, but primarily to the born-again Christian himself or herself. Peter’s imperative of Second Peter 3:18 clearly states this as he admonished us: “But grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” And again in Second Peter 1:5 “But also in this very thing, bringing in all diligence, filling out your faith with virtue, and with virtue, knowledge.” This duty of seeking learning and seeking knowledge is not incumbent only upon the new seeker, or the new Christian. It is for all of us, new believers or mature. We must all be learners – lifelong learners. It is God’s mandate for us.
Paul’s blessing in Second Timothy 2:1-2 make certain and sums up for all Christians their duty to teach and be taught when we says “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Let us be faithful as Paul was faithful as we strive with love and enthusiasm to educate fellow Christians in the Truth, the Way and the Life of Jesus Christ.
Note: This post is based around ideas and research from J.I. Packer & Gary A. Parrett’s book “Grounded in the Gospel – Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way”.