The Church is an Educational InstitutionThe Kind of Teachers the Church Needs
A Basic Teacher Training CourseHow to Prepare a Bible Lesson The Importance of Teaching (James 3) An Honest Analysis of Myself as a Teacher
Duties of TeachersStudy Habits Checklist
Using Visual AidsA Synopsis of the Old Testament Books
Between the Testaments
It matters not how large or small a congregation is, the need for teachers is ever present. However, not just anyone can or should be a teacher. Hence the warning of James, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Thus, we ask the question: What kind of teachers does the church need?
1. Teachers that are faithful in their attendance. Too often church leaders have the mistaken notion that giving a half-hearted church member an assignment will help them to be more faithful in church attendance. Dr. Henry Speck rightly observed that “all the knowledge, culture, training, and skill in teaching that one might attain cannot justify the use of such a person as a teacher in the church” (The Church’s Educational Program, p. 49). The example of the teacher in faith, zeal, attitude, character and conduct will be “caught” by the pupils and perhaps count for more in their lives than what is actually “taught.”
2. Teachers that have a proper view of the church. The teacher must realize that the church is not a denomination but the product of God’s eternal love and purpose (Eph. -12; Titus 1:2). By teaching and training in the Word of God, the teacher is preparing the pupil’s entire life for useful service to Christ in the church. Regardless of what age group one teaches, the teacher has the responsibility to instill eternal truths in the minds of those who shall face God at the judgment.
3. Teachers that are diligent students. Teachers of the Bible must be willing to make adequate preparation. A person cannot teach what he does not know. A teacher who loves the Lord and loves the students will prepare by spending much time in the Word of God. Preparation involves more than just going over the lesson material, it involves prayerful study of the Biblical text. In other words, the teacher must be a diligent student of God’s word. Paul admonished Timothy “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. ).
4. Teachers that know their students. It is vital that teachers know their students. Each pupil is an individual with the power to think, feel, determine and act. They have hobbies, interests, aspirations and problems all their own. The teacher should know the student’s home life and week-day environment in order to relate biblical truths in a meaningful way. A teacher may master the subject matter and yet not be effective because he does not know his pupils well enough to adapt his teaching to their individual needs.
The church will always need Bible teachers whose chief joy comes from seeing the lives of their students develop into the likeness of Christ. As Jesus observed, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Matt.-38).
The Seven Laws of Teaching
John Milton Gregory
First Regent of the
Baker Book House
THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING
1. The Law of the Teacher:
The teacher must know that which he would teach.
2. The Law of the Pupil:
The pupil must attend with interest to the material being taught.
3. The Law of the Language:
The language used in teaching must be common to the teacher and pupil.
4. The Law of the Lesson:
The truth to be taught must be learned through truth already known.
5. The Law of the Teaching Process:
The teacher must excite and direct the self-activities of the pupil.
6. The Law of the Learning Process:
The pupil must reproduce in his own mind the truth to be learned.
7. The Law of Review and Application:
The completion, test and confirmation of the work of teaching must be made by review and application.
The Law of the Teacher
The teacher is to know that which he is to teach. A teacher cannot teach what he does not know! Imperfect knowledge will necessarily be reflected in imperfect teaching. Certainly, there will be some things the teacher will not know. However, the teacher of God’s word must continually “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter ).
There is no substitute for preparation! Often teachers do not make the necessary preparation for their work. Many teachers wait until Saturday night to begin their preparation for Sunday morning...they are a week late! By waiting until Saturday night, they rob themselves of valuable hours of preparation and meditation.
There are five steps of lesson preparation which should be followed carefully: (1) study the lesson; (2) plan the lesson; (3) gather the materials; (4) choose the method; and (5) plan the procedure.
In studying the lesson, it is well to read the lesson text from the Bible and get the general connections of the lesson text with other portions of scripture. Fix the main purpose of the lesson in mind. Study closely the parallel scriptures and other general information that may be had on the subject. Use the quarterly as an aid, not as a substitute for the Bible. Make use of the concordance, topical Bible, Bible dictionary and other helps.
Now you are ready to plan the lesson. Fix in mind the points to be covered in the lesson. Determine which illustrations you will use. Decide what visual aids will be needed.
Next, gather the material. You may want to use pictures taken from magazines or newspapers. You may need to do some art work or prepare hand work provided with the quarterly material.
Determine next what method you will use. There are several methods: lecture, story telling, question and answer, discussion, flannel graph, project, etc. You may want to use a combination of these.
You are now ready to plan the procedure (how you will spend the class time). Make a list of the activities and approximately how much time you plan to spend on each part of the lesson.
These steps having been taken care of early in the week, the teacher will then be ready to review the lesson and get the points and procedure fixed in mind. Saturday night should be a time of review.
One of the most important things on the part of the teacher in preparation is prayer. No teacher is prepared to teach God’s word who does not approach the study with prayer. Pray constantly and consistently as you study and prepare each lesson. This will help in comprehending the lesson and in presenting it to the class.
The Law of The Pupil
The pupil must attend with interest to the material to be learned. Without attention the pupil cannot learn. One might as well talk to a fence post as to attempt to teach a child who is wholly inattentive.
More is required in the learning process than a mere presentation by the teacher; the pupil must think! He must have an aim and purpose, in other words, he must PAY ATTENTION! The pupil may seem to pay attention, he may look and listen. But if the mind is only half aroused, the conceptions gained will be faint and fragmentary. Thus, the student must attend with INTEREST to the material being taught.
Since attention follows interest, the teacher must first create interest. The sources of interest are many. The sense-organ is a gateway to the pupil’s mind. The use of visual aids, showing a picture or some other illustrative material will attract attention. The sudden raising or lowering of the voice arouses fresh attention. There are many devices to create interest, but the teacher’s effort at all times should be to make his presentation so interesting that the attention of the pupils will follow it.
There are many factors which hinder attention. They may be summed up in “The Four ‘D’s’”: (1) Discomfort; (2) Disturbance; (3) Distraction; and (4) Disinterest. If the pupil is disinterested because of fatigue or illness, the wise teacher will not attempt to force the lesson. Class disturbance should be eliminated as much as possible. Make sure the room is comfortable...not too hot or too cold, etc.
1. Never begin a class exercise without the complete attention of every pupil.
2. Pause whenever the attention is interrupted or lost, and wait until it is regained.
3. Never wholly exhaust the attention of your pupils. Stop when signs of fatigue appear.
4. Adapt the length of the class exercise to the age of the pupils; the younger the pupils, the briefer the lesson.
5. Arouse attention when necessary by variety in your presentation, but be careful to avoid distractions; keep the real lesson in view.
A simple formula for teaching:
Attract attention; create interest; stimulate desire; impel action.
The Law of the Language
The language used in teaching must be common to teacher and learner. A word is a symbol or sign of an idea. A word can only have meaning when the idea for which it stands is known. Without the image or the idea in the mind, the word comes to the ear only as a sound without meaning, a sign of nothing at all. If the pupil is to learn, the teacher must use words within the sphere of the child’s language power.
Many words in our language have more than one meaning. For example, consider the following expressions: mind and matter; what is the matter; what does it matter; it is a serious matter; the subject matter... The same word is made to carry several meanings. Now, if a pupil only knows a single meaning for the word matter, he may be confused and puzzled by another use of the word.
Once a teacher asked her pupils to draw a picture of Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden. One pupil drew a picture of Adam and Eve in the back seat of a car with God behind the wheel! Then, there was the boy who wanted to see “the wicked flea” (Proverbs 28:1).
Communication is incomplete if the pupil does not understand the meaning of the words used by the teacher. Therefore, the teacher must be careful to use language familiar to the pupil. When introducing new words, use illustrations, pictures, objects or drawings to fix the meaning in the pupil’s mind.
Listen to your pupils. Allow them time to express their ideas. Study constantly and carefully the language of the pupils, to learn what words they use and what meanings they give to these words. The only way one can measure the pupil’s understanding is to let them re-tell what has been taught. This gives the teacher an opportunity to learn both their ideas and their modes of expressing them, and to help to correct their knowledge.
Always use the simplest and fewest words in short sentences. If a pupil obviously fails to understand, repeat the thought in other language. “Make haste slowly.” Try to increase the number of the pupil’s words and at the same time improve the clearness of meaning. Each word should be learned thoroughly before others are added.
Pupils sometimes profess to understand when they have only caught a mere glimpse of the meaning. Do not be fooled by the interested look of the pupils. Often children are only entertained by the manner of the teacher.
The Law of the Lesson
The truth to be taught must be learned through truth already known. The new and unknown can only be explained by the familiar and the known. The teacher must learn how to use what the pupil knows as a stepping stone to what he does not know.
Teaching must begin where the pupil is in his learning experience and proceed in the direction of new truth. It is necessary to review, as we will see in a later lesson, but do not keep pupils too long on familiar ground. Learning must proceed by graded steps. Each new idea mastered becomes a stepping stone to another idea. The teacher must be sure, however, that each step is mastered before the next is taken, or the pupils may find themselves proceeding into unknown fields without proper preparation.
The act of knowledge is in part an act of comparing and judging...of finding something in past experience and making meaningful the new experience. The parables of Jesus illustrate the point well. Jesus used earthly stories to illustrate spiritual truths. Thus, he carried his audience from the known to the unknown. This is the very nature of the learning experience. We are compelled to seek the new through the aid of the old.
Figures of speech, such as similes, metaphors, and allegories, have sprung out of the need for relating new truths to old and familiar scenes, objects and experiences. Paul used the account of Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 21:2) to illustrate the difference between the Old and New Covenants (Galatians -31). “Which things contain an allegory...” (Galatians 4:24). By using this familiar account, Paul led his readers from the known to the unknown.
The problem teachers face constantly is “where to begin.” The teacher must determine where the pupils are in their learning experience and begin at that point. In many public schools, a diagnostic test is given to determine what the pupils know and what they do not. Visiting with the pupils in their homes and in class get-togethers can help the teacher in determining the needs of the pupils. Counseling with parents is also of great benefit.
Another problem is the fact that often there is a wide range of differences among pupils. What to some children is as clear as day is to others only vaguely suggestive. If the teacher makes the pupils talk about the lesson, as was suggested in the discussion of the law of the language, some of these differences will be revealed and the proper means of meeting them and of adjusting the instruction to them may be discovered.
There are two kinds of unknowns, factual and spiritual. While the teacher seeks to lead the class in learning new facts, he must not forget the application of those facts in the spiritual realm. This will perhaps pose a two-fold problem. First, leading the pupils from known facts to unknown facts, and then leading them from known values to unknown values. Any given Bible story will have facts to be presented. The spiritual truths must also be taught. The teacher must make application of the lesson in the everyday lives of the pupils. Those truths must be emphasized that are the greatest need. Remember, give them something to KNOW, something to FEEL, and something to DO.
The Law of the Teaching Process
Excite and direct the self-activities of the pupil, and as a rule tell him nothing that he can learn himself. Teaching results in the communication of knowledge or experience. Whether by telling, demonstrating or leading pupils to discover for themselves, the teacher is transmitting experience to his pupils. This experience must be relived and rethought by the receiving mind. All explanation and exposition are useless except as they serve to excite and direct the pupil in his own thinking. If the pupil himself does not think, there are no results of the teaching; the words are falling on deaf ears.
One of the overall goals of the Bible class teacher is to “create within the pupil a desire for the study of the Bible.” This can only be done when the teacher finds pleasure in the study of God’s word. Only the teacher who enjoys Bible study can truly communicate Bible truths to his pupils!
Thus, the teacher must excite and direct! “Get your pupils to work!” “Make your pupils discoverers of truth.” “Set your class on fire with a fervor for Bible study!” These familiar maxims are different ways of stating the law of teaching.
It is a proven fact that one can learn without a teacher. Children learn hundreds of facts before they ever see a school. Why have a teacher then? Why, through the centuries, has man not discarded the teacher? The answer is simple. The best learning must have direction! (See Acts , 31) Knowledge in its natural state lies scattered and confused. It is the teacher who places it in its proper place.
The teacher’s task is not only to give knowledge, but to stimulate pupils to gain it. The teacher is a sympathizing guide whose knowledge of the subject to be studied enables him properly to direct the efforts of the pupil, to save him from a waste of time and strength, from needless difficulties. Yet, the pupil must learn for himself. The eye must do its own seeing, the ear its own hearing, and the mind its own thinking, however much may be done to furnish objects for sight, sounds for the ear, and stimuli for the intelligence. Too often pupils become ‘parrots’. A boy, having expressed surprise at the shape of the earth when he was shown a globe, was asked: “Did you not learn that in school?” He replied: “Yes, I learned it, but I never knew it.” In order to find out if students are listening and thinking, have them re-tell the lesson either orally, by written summary or by simple drawings.
The student who is taught without doing any studying for himself will be like one who is fed without being given any exercise; he will lose both his appetite and his strength. The pupil must be stimulated to think. It is the teacher’s mission to stand at the spiritual doorways of his pupils minds and lead them into the right paths. It is his, by sympathy, by example, and by every means of influence - by objects for the senses, by facts for the intelligence, to excite the mind of the pupils, to stimulate their thoughts.
The teacher should, as a rule, tell the pupil nothing that he can learn himself. Do not carry this too far, but follow it as a guide. The explanation that settles everything and ends all questions usually ends all thinking also. After a truth is clearly understood, or a fact or principle established, there still remains its consequences, applications and uses.
Give pupils a chance to see the truth taught and make the application, or at least to ask questions and seek answers. Pupils should be led to ask what, how, when, where and why. It is only when the questioning spirit has been fully awakened and the habit of raising questions has been largely developed that the teaching process may embody the lecture plan. Ask questions of your pupils and encourage them to ask questions of you and of others.
The Law of the Learning Process
The pupil must reproduce in his own mind the truth to be learned. True learning is not merely memorization and repetition of the words and ideas of the teacher. The pupil must form in his own mind, by the use of his own power, a true concept of the facts or principles in the lesson.
Steps in the learning process:
1. Memorization. A pupil is sometimes said to have learned the lesson when he has committed it to memory and can repeat or recite it word for word. However, there is more to learning than this.
2. Understanding. The pupil must understand the truths being taught and...
3. Expressing the thought. Translate the thought accurately into his own words without detriment to the meaning.
4. Evidence for belief. The pupil shows greater progress as he begins to seek evidence of the statements which he studies. The one who can give a reason for the things he believes is a better student as well as a stronger believer than the one who believes but does not know why.
5. Applying knowledge. A still higher and more fruitful stage of learning is found in the study of the uses and applications of knowledge. Every fact has its relation to life, and every principle its applications, and until these are known, facts and principles are idle. The real test of teaching is not only what our pupils learn, but what our teaching does to their lives.
There are, of course, limitations to this law of learning. The age of the pupil must be considered. The mental activity of young children lies close to the senses. Their knowledge of a lesson will be largely confined to the facts which appeal to the eye, or which can be illustrated to the senses. A little later the desire of pupils for activity and for projects may profitably be utilized in their training. As maturity is approached, young people think more and more about reasons, and the lessons which will appeal most to them will be the ones which ask reasons and which give them conclusions.
1. Help the pupil to form a clear idea of the work to be done.
2. Ask him to express, in his own words, the meaning of the lesson as he understands it, and to persist until he has the whole thought.
3. Let the reason why be perpetually asked until the pupil is brought to feel that he is expected to give a reason for his opinions.
4. Cultivate in the pupil the habit of research. Help to make him an independent investigator.
5. Seek constantly to develop in pupils a profound regard for truth.
The Law of Review and Application
The completion, test and confirmation of the work of teaching must be made by review and application. Review is an essential part of teaching, for no lesson is complete without it. Review is an effective aid to learning because of the power of repetition. It provides a check on the effectiveness of our teaching and the pupil’s learning. It enables the teacher to correct wrong impressions, to stress important points, to show how the lessons are related to one another.
Review is more than mere repetition. A machine may repeat a process, but only an intelligent agent can review it. A review involves fresh conceptions and new associations, and brings an increase of facility and power.
Reviews are of different grades of completeness and thoroughness. A review may deal with only a part of a lesson, a whole lesson, or a series of lessons. It may take the form of a summary by the teacher, recitation by the pupil, questions, discussion, handwork or written quiz.
Frequent repetitions are valuable to correct memorization and ready recall. Memory depends upon the association of ideas, the idea in mind recalling the ideas with which it has been linked by some past association. Each review establishes new associations, while at the same time it familiarizes and strengthens the old. The lesson that is studied but once is likely learned only to be forgotten. That which is thoroughly and repeatedly reviewed is woven into the very fabric of our thoughts, and becomes a part of our equipment of knowledge. Not what a pupil has once learned and recited, but what he permanently remembers and uses is the correct measure of his achievement.
Review is not simply an added excellence in teaching which may be dispensed with if time is lacking; it is one of the essential conditions of all true teaching. Not to review is to leave the work half done. The law of review rests upon the laws of the mind. The human mind does not achieve its victories by a single effort. There is a sort of mental incubation as a result of which some splendid discovery oftentimes springs forth. Some fresh experience or newly acquired idea serves as a key to the old lesson, and what was dark in the first study is made clear and bright in the review.
The process of review must necessarily vary with the subject of study, and also with the age and advancement of the pupils. With very young pupils the review can be little more than simple repetition; with older pupils the review will be a thoughtful restudy of the ground to gain deeper understanding.
Always plan time for review. One might review the previous lesson or series of past lessons at the beginning of the class period, review various parts of the current lesson any time during the class period, and whole of the current lesson at the close of the period. About one third of our teaching time should be devoted to review.
The Final Test
The real and final test of all Christian education is determined by what takes place in the lives of our pupils after they leave the Bible class. During this series of studies, a number of requisites for successful teaching have been stressed.
There were five necessary steps in lesson preparation: study the lesson, plan the lesson, gather the materials, choose the method and plan the procedure. The second requisite for a successful teaching situation is an attentive pupil. Discomforts, disturbing and distracting influences must be eliminated from the classroom and any lack of interest on the part of the pupil must be overcome. Every possible means for gaining and holding attention must be employed: through acquaintance with the lesson on the part of the teacher; the use of teaching aids that appeal to the senses; meaningful gestures and facial expressions. The lesson, too, must be related to the interests of the pupils and kept on the plane of their everyday living.
Another important level is the level of understanding, the language of teaching. As a rule, simple words and short sentences make for better understanding of the lesson taught.
In studying the law of the lesson we learned the necessity for proceeding from the known to the unknown - for teaching new truths through old, familiar ones. In applying this law to our teaching we employ the principle used by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, and take a very important step toward our goal of successful teaching.
The teacher must provide the impetus that will cause the pupil to think for himself, become a searcher after truth, and put into practice the lessons taught. This can be accomplished by making maximum use of the question, by directing the pupil in research and providing opportunity for discussion, and by guiding the pupil into open doors of service.
In the law of the learning process, we discovered that the pupil must reproduce in his own mind and life the truth to be learned...and that true learning is more than memorization. Learning involves understanding, expressing the thought, formulation of beliefs and their support by convincing evidence, and the application of truth in daily living.
Review is an essential part of teaching, for no lesson is complete without it. Review is an effective aid to learning because of the power of repetition. It provides a check on the effectiveness of our teaching and the pupil’s learning. It enables the teacher to correct wrong impressions, to stress important points, to show how the lessons are related to one another. A review may deal with only a part of a lesson, a whole lesson, or a series of lessons. It may take the form of a summary by the teacher, recitation by the pupil, questions, discussion, handwork or written quiz.
The key to successful teaching is the teacher. But what are the qualifications of a good
teacher? First of all, he has deep and
settled convictions concerning God. He
has experienced God’s redeeming love through his obedience to the gospel. A good teacher has an unshakable conviction
as to the value of a human soul. He
knows full well the price that was paid on
The four “P’s” are essential to successful Bible class teaching. They are 1)preparation, 2) planning the lesson procedure, 3) effective presentation, and 4)prayer.
I. The Teacher’s Responsibility
A. To reveal to his class the will of God and help them to discover how it can answer their needs.
B. To discover ways in which the Bible may become meaningful to each member of his class as his needs are known.
C. To prepare and present a lesson so that his pupils will want to learn.
II. Some binding obligations for the teacher:
A. To be something
B. To know something
C. To share something
III. Some essential factors in teaching
A. “The effective teacher teaches from the overflow of a full life.”
B. Understanding the pupils is essential to adequate planning.
C. Every individual’s personal needs should be known.
D. Understanding Bible material is an essential factor in teaching.
E. Understanding the aim or purpose of lesson materials is a must.
F. A definite plan of each step in the lesson is needed to assure success.
G. A written diagram of a teaching plan is always made.
1. Plans show the way. A chart or map of the way.
2. Plans avoid waste.
3. Planning a lesson establishes procedure.
4. A lesson well-planned improves results and precludes failure.
IV. Steps in preparing lessons
A. Since each lesson has its own peculiar contribution to a total life, the teacher must be sure that he has the life-long aim (ultimate) is firmly fixed in mind.
B. Pray for guidance of the Lord not only in preparation but in presentation.
C. Accumulate as much resources and material as possible:
1. Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias
3. Various versions of the Bible
5. Sermons on the theme
6. Magazine articles and objects
D. First study the selected scripture passage for personal enrichment
E. Second, study the scripture in view of your pupils and their needs.
1. What do the pupils already know of this material?
2. How is the lesson adaptable to their needs?
3. What is my main objective I am seeking to achieve in the lesson?
F. Write out the best lesson aim possible. This is your start on lesson plan.
1. First part of lesson plan considers the unit aim of the lesson.
2. Next, consider your particular lesson’s aim in this over-all plan.
3. Then, write out your approach. Select one of the following means:
a. A question pertaining to the experience of your pupils which is related to the lesson.
b. Introduce with a Bible story which points up the current need and secures attention.
c. Use an object such as a picture, newspaper clipping, or a real object itself to introduce the lesson and grasp attention.
d. Use any illustrative matter which will stimulate interest in the lesson.
e. Relate a personal experience that points up the importance of this particular lesson.
G. Plan your pupil participation.
1. List suggestive material on the chalkboard and solicit the participation of the class to fill it out.
2. Lecture briefly (usually not more than five minutes) on material which would consume too much time.
3. Stimulate discussion. Plan for discussion especially on how to best put into practice the principles found in the lesson.
4. Ask questions which will produce thought. Allow time for answers. (Always have a few minutes at the close for additional questions to be asked by class members.)
5. Ask for experiences on the part of your class members which relate to the lesson.
6. Be prepared with good illustrative material if needed.
7. Always keep your lesson aim before the class and draw definite conclusions.
8. Write the minutes on each area you expect to spend, but allow it to be flexible in case a special responsive interest is aroused in some particular area. The importance to solid Christian practice will determine its importance.
H. Make your lesson practical by personal application to lives of class.
1. Your aim is not accumulation of facts but application to life.
2. Show how the principles of truth in the scriptures are just as real and important today as the day they were written by the apostles.
3. Solicit the class members’ thinking on ways to make further application.
I. Project the lesson into everyday life.
1. Recognize the shortcomings we have practiced in the past, but always encourage and exhort to better ways of living in the future.
2. Cause your class to leave the room aglow with renewed determination and appreciation of the Christian life. (The non-Christian should be made to realize the joys and privileges he is missing.)
J. Always include somewhere in the lesson a note of evangelism. This may be done by presenting one or more of the great Christian doctrines, and point each one to the saving grace of our Lord.
K. Remember that the success of the lesson is not determined by what takes place in the classroom, but what takes place in the lives of the pupils after they leave the classroom. What change does it affect? What attitudes are developed? What spiritual growth takes place?
L. Leave your class with a desire to learn more of the graciousness of Christian living. Make him thrill to being a Christian. Challenge his abilities to be laid on the altar of service. Encourage him in fulfilling God’s purpose for his life.
Introduction: James 3 is an admonition to teachers.
A. It elaborates on the theme: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James ).
1. The tongue is mentioned in and 26
2. In chapter 2, James emphasized the failure of talking but not doing.
3. Chapter 3 is a dissertation on the proper use of the tongue by the teacher.
B. How important it is that the teacher guard the use of the tongue.
I. The importance of teaching is stressed in verse 1 “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment.”
A. When God renders judgment, He will pay special attention to teachers.
1. Matt. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall do and teach them, He shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
2. The importance of the teacher and teaching can not be over-emphasized.
B. Paul stressed the importance of teaching:
1. Ephesians “and He gave some to be apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers.”
2. I Corinthians “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers,...”
C. Jesus stressed teaching in the Great Commission: Matthew 28:18 “Go ye therefore and make disciples....”
D. The teacher or Rabbi held an important place among the Jews.
1. In the synagogue, the Rabbis instructed the people.
2. However, the people were given freedom to express themselves.
On numerous occasions, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught the people (Matthew 12:9; Mark 1:39; Luke 6:6ff).
Paul took advantage of this freedom to address his fellow countrymen:
Acts - in the synagogue at
Acts 18:4 - Paul persuaded
Jews and Greeks in the synagogue at
Paul had to give some instructions to the church at
I Timothy 1:7 Paul addressed a group of men who were “desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understood neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm.”
4. Evidently, the concept of “freedom of speech” was causing problems in the early church.
It seems that some were eager to jump up and express their “little doctrine” or opinion.
To these, James warns: “Don’t do it.” Why? “Because we shall receive a heavier judgment.”
E. Notice: “We” shall receive a heavier judgment.
1. James places himself in the category of a teacher!
2. I Timothy 2:7 Paul said he had been appointed “a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
3. Every Christian “ought” to be a teacher . . . Hebrews 5:12.
4. Yet, James warns, “Be not many of you teachers...”
II. Some Practical Reasons Why the Teacher’s Position Is So Important
A. The teacher is expected to be more mature than the pupil.
B. The teacher is a leader - Jesus called the Pharisees “blind guides...” Matthew 15:14
C. The teacher must be well-prepared - II Timothy “Give diligence to show thyself approved unto God...”
D. The teacher must be faithful and able to teach: II Timothy 2:2 “The things which thou has heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
E. The teacher is an instructor of souls and this has to do with judgment and eternity...
How important it is that the teacher be careful what he says.
III. Vs. 13: “Who is wise and understanding among you?”
A. One of the qualities of God’s teachers is wisdom.
1. Not only must a teacher have knowledge, he must also have wisdom.
2. Proverbs 4:7 “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom; ...get understanding.”
3. A wise teacher will honor knowledge by putting it into practice in his everyday life.
James has already stressed the need for being “doers” of the word (, 22). Here he applies it to the teacher.
Paul’s admonition to Timothy applies to all teachers: “Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in life, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy ).
B. Wisdom and knowledge go hand in hand. One informs, the other directs.
1. Wisdom directs one in living a Christian life.
2. A wise Christian brings glory to God as he goes about in meekness doing the work of his heavenly Father.
3. The teacher, in meekly doing God’s work, is letting his “light shine before men” (Matthew ).
C. The message of James 3:13 is simply this: the teacher must practice what he teaches!
1. It takes wisdom to do this.
2. We are not left to grope for wisdom, because James has already told us that God gives wisdom if we will ask for it (1:5).
3. A wise teacher is not just a knowledgeable person, but one that practices what he teaches.
By so doing, he demonstrates and proves his wisdom.
IV. Qualities that disqualify one from being a teacher - vs. 14 “But if ye have bitter jealously and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth...”
A. Jealously and faction are two sins that destroy the teacher...
B. Why do teachers teach?
1. To keep someone else from teaching and receiving honor.
2. Because he likes the attention of others.
3. Selfish ambition disqualifies one from being a teacher. (Phil 1:15)
C. A teacher who bites and devours and causes faction cannot claim that he is doing God’s will or that God is pleased with his actions -
vs. 15 “This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.”
vs. 16 “For where jealously and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed.”
1. Jealously and faction are not isolated sins...they are responsible for other transgressions as well.
2. Confusion - Greek indicates “disorder, disturbance, anarchy, instability...”
I Corinthians “God is not the author of confusion but of peace.”
3. “Every vile deed” Greek word indicates the idea of “good-for-nothing” -
It sometimes is used to describe a person who deals in trivialities for the sake of showing how “wise” and all knowing he is.
It is these little good-for-nothing, trivial things that cause division among God’s people, and evidence earthly wisdom and sensual conduct.
D. Note the characteristics of earthly wisdom as summed up from verses 14-16:
Bitterness, jealousy, self-centeredness, an uncontrolled heart, incompatibility, haughtiness, fleshly lusts, strife, trivial pursuits, lying against the truth...
V. Characteristics of true wisdom - vs. 17 & 18
A. Pure - Greek “not contaminated, without added mixture”
1. The wisdom that God gives is without pollution
2. Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
Those contaminated shall not see God or enter into His blessings.
Revelation “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie...”
3. The teacher who is well-pleasing to God is seeking to be pure in life and deed. This is heavenly wisdom.
B. “Then peaceable” - the Greek word stresses a harmonious relationship between men...
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.”
C. “Gentle, easy to be entreated” - Greek word stresses “forbearing, fair, moderate, reasonable...”
1. The gentle teacher does not insist upon his own rights.
2. I Corinthians 10:1 “Now I Paul myself entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ...”
3. I Thessalonians 2:7 “But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children.”
4. The Christian teacher should be “gentle,” easy to approach with ease and comfort. He will not react harshly or with a superior attitude...
D. Full of mercy and good fruits
1. Wisdom from above causes one who has received mercy to extend mercy. Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
2. The Christian teacher is full of good fruits because he has sown good fruits...he walks by the spirit and not in the deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:22ff).
E. “Without variance” - Greek stresses the idea of “unwavering” - it is without partiality or prejudice.
Wisdom from above produces steadfastness.
F. “Without hypocrisy” - The Christian teacher is sincere - never pretentious.
Conclusion: vs. 18 - “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace.”
A. Wisdom from above leads to peace and righteous living. Note the following characteristics of true wisdom:
A good life; meekness, good works, purity of life, peaceable, gentle, merciful, open to reason, not partial or prejudice, without hypocrisy, righteous, makes peace, ...
B. This is the kind of wisdom the Christian teacher is to possess.
C. May God help us all to give ourselves to the attaining of heavenly wisdom and to being the right kind of teachers.