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Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. (James 3:1)

The Scriptures show that within the first-century congregation, Christians possessed different abilities, callings, and services. Some became capable teachers, serving remarkably in that capacity. (See Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 29) Right after Pentecost 33 C.E., the twelve apostles were the teachers who got Christianity underway, in the beginning, bringing thousands into the Way. (Acts 2:42; 6:2-4) Paul tells us that after Jesus’ ascension, “he gave gifts to men.” (Eph. 4:8) Jesus gave them the apostles, the prophets (Gr., prophetes primarily means explainer of God’s Word and secondary foreteller of events),[1] the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers. (Eph. 4:11-16) In Acts 13:1, we read, “there were in the church at Antioch prophets (explained God’s Word and foretold events) and teachers (gave instruction in the Scriptures and in Christian living).” Because all overseers were teachers within the congregation, clearly, these “teachers” were especially proficient and active in this service to God. (See Ac 15:35; 1 Tim. 4:13-16) The apostle Paul appointed three responsibilities: “preacher and apostle and teacher.” – 2 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:7.

We will be learning from James below that teachers carry a heavier responsibility, as they are imperfect and prone to stumble in word. Herein lies the danger, as some sincerely sought to be teachers but was not qualified to teach. When a congregation receives an unqualified teacher, it can dramatically affect the spirituality of the congregation. Then, there were those who sought to be a teacher because of self-importance and a desire for success. They pushed their way into the position of overseer because they were attempting to achieve power and importance as teachers. Paul writes,

1 Timothy 6:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the teaching according to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but has a sick interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions.

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

This seeking power and position would be very attractive to “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” These were Jewish people scattered throughout Gentile lands, to which James wrote. (Jam. 1:1) In that ancient world, the Jewish people held teachers in high esteem, like that of a high governmental official, would have been held. Within Judaism, the title “Rabbi,” which meant “teacher,” was a highly respected and even feared position. (John 1:38; John 3:2) The Jewish Rabbis sought fame, adoration, and preferential treatment, for which Jesus resoundingly condemned them. – Matthew 23:6-7.

For this reason, Jesus cautioned his disciples against a wrongly motivated desire for preeminence. In fact, he warned them, “you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers … Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” –  Matthew 23:8-12; compare Luke 22:25-26.

The reason for James’ counsel can be seen through the advice Paul gave to Timothy, who was assigned to appointing overseers. Paul warned him about false teachers,

1 Timothy 1:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain ones not to teach different doctrine, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than God’s plan that is by faith. 

Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK

Paul went on to say,

1 Timothy 1:5-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But the goal of our instruction is love out of a clean heart and out of faith without hypocrisy. Certain ones, by deviating from these, have wandered away into futile talk, wanting to be teachers of the law, without giving thought neither to what they say nor about what they firmly assert.

The “teachers of the law” that Paul spoke of were extremely rigid, unbending, and apparently impressed those who listened to them by their belief in their own abilities and doggedness. However, if scrutinized by an accurate knowledge of God’s Word (Ac 17:11; Col. 1:9-10), these teachers were nothing but pretenders with their deception, i.e., false teachers. – Acts 15:1; 2 Corinthians 11:5, 12, 13; 2 Timothy 4:1-4.

REASONABLE FAITH

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers

Therefore because of this heavy responsibility, anyone who desires to be overseer or deacon within the congregation should pause to contemplate his motives. At the same time, he also takes an honest look at his qualifications. (Rom. 12:3, 16) He needs to possess more than mere head knowledge, even though knowledge is a crucial part. Also, mere charismatic ability in communication does not alone make a good teacher, but rather a spiritual maturity and a love of God and neighbor are the most important factors. (Matt. 22:37-40; 1 Cor. 13:1-2, 4; 14:6, 26) One major indicator that this is his calling is not that he notices that he has a knack as a teacher, speaker, communicator, but others, without prompting, continue to tell him such things. – 2 Corinthians 10:12, 18; compare Proverbs 25:27; 27:2.

This one section of James should give every Christian who believes that they have been called to be a teacher in the church should take a long pause. James is warning these ones about their responsibility and accountability to God. This warning is not meant to discourage brothers who sincerely desired to be teachers. When we look at Paul’s words in Hebrews 5:12-14, it shows us that all Christians will be teaching the Word of God at some level. (Compare Titus 2:3; Acts 18:24-26) James mostly refers to those seeking to be pastors, assistant pastors, or deacons in the church, as they need to be “qualified to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:1-2; compare 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5, 9.) For this level of teaching in the church only the brothers, the men, qualify to be teachers. The apostle Paul wrote, “But I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence.”[2] (1 Tim. 2: 12)[3]

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

So, what is the problem exactly? James’ following words, which we will take up momentarily, teachers will receive a weightier judgment because if they lose one soul by stumbling a brother or sister over something they failed to do or did wrong intentionally, they will be held accountable. So, the warning is for those (1) who are sincere but just not yet qualified to teach and (2) those who are driven by pride and ambition and push themselves into the position of responsibility, seeking to gain control and notoriety as teachers. – Romans 2:17-21; 1 Timothy 6: 2-4.

Therefore, the wise course of action is to pause and consider the heavy responsibility and possible judgment that awaits. While prayerfully considering things, they should meticulously and thoroughly examine his intentions and humbly evaluate his qualifications or lack thereof. (Rom. 12:3, 16) He needs to consider that it isn’t simply about having enough Bible knowledge, while that is very important. It is also about having the ability to carry out the work. It is also about having spirituality and love for God, and His Word and God’s people. (1 Cor. 13:1-2, 4; 14:6, 26) One way to make certain that he has the ability, spirituality, and temperament is to wait until another pastor notices him and recommends that he investigate being a deacon. (2 Cor. 10:12, 18; compare Proverbs 25:27; 27:2) And at that point, he needs to find a good conservative seminary because there are very few of those.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment.

More is required from the teachers because they are instructing or leading the unbeliever into the truth and, for pastors, guiding the flock with the Word of God. They should be exceptional in their ability to carry out their task. (Compare Romans 2:21-24.) The pastor, assistant pastor, and deacon are more examined by God than other Christians in the congregation. We can see this by considering the principle, “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will be beaten a few times. Everyone to whom much was given, of him, much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48) Not just God, but the members of the congregation also have high expectations from their leaders. This is entirely reasonable. The teachers of the church have a solemn obligation toward the members. They have a weightier account to provide. The church leadership has a more significant and far-reaching impact on doing good or doing harm. Notice that James says, “we,” so he is not leaving himself out of the same responsibility. On this Albert Barnes writes,

A young man, when about to make the choice of a calling in life, should place himself by anticipation at the judgment-bar of Christ, and ask himself how human pursuits and plans will appear there. If that were the point of view taken, how many would have been deterred from the ministry who have sought it with a view to honor or emolument! How many, too, who have devoted themselves to the profession of the law, to the army or navy, or to the pursuits of elegant literature, would have felt that it was their duty to serve God in the ministry of reconciliation? How many at the close of life, in the ministry and out of it, feel, when too late to make a change, that they have wholly mistaken the purpose for which they should have lived![4]

 If a leader in the church makes errors in his teaching through negligence, or reckless instruction in the Word of God, which causes problems for the churchgoers, he will be held accountable before God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said: “But I tell you that every worthless word that men speak, they will give an account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words, you will be declared righteous, and by your words, you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36-37). What the church leaders teach will weigh heavily when they face God. If they are teaching church tradition, denominational tradition, family tradition or are influenced by theological bias, or to be popular in the world, over following the truth, they are held accountable. (Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10) Therefore you need to take care, study the Bible from dependable sources, be humble, modest and possess a deep sense of responsibility to hold faithfully to the Word of God.

[1] After the completion of the entire Bible in 98 C.E., and the death of the last apostle, John, in 100 C.E., there was no longer a prophet in the sense of foretelling events, because the Bible was and is complete, all we need to get to the second coming of Christ. A prophet thereafter was and is an explainer of God’s Word.

[2] Or remain calmremain quiet

[3] FIRST TIMOTHY 2:12: What Does the Bible Really Say About Women Pastors/Preachers? By Edward D. Andrews (978-1949586947)

The role of women within the church has been a heated, ongoing debate. There are two views. We have the equal ministry opportunity for both men and women (egalitarian view) and the ministry roles distinguished by gender (complementarian view). This biblically grounded introduction will acquaint the reader with the biblical view: what does the Bible say about the woman’s role in the church? Both views mention the teachings of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 in order to support their viewpoint. Andrews will furnish the reader with a clear and thorough presentation of the biblical evidence for the woman’s role in the church, so we can better understand the biblical viewpoint.

[4] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: James to Jude, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 55–56.

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