The Pastor As Teacher

Pastor Kiel Maimai teaching

ESVMatthew 4:23 — And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

The New Testament puts a strong emphasis on teaching.

1. Jesus the Teacher

Jesus was known as the Teacher. At least 46 verses in the Gospels refer to his teaching. He taught in all kinds of places:

  • He taught in the synagogues (Matthew 9:35).
  • He taught in the temple (Matthew 21:23).
  • He taught on the mountain (Matthew 5:1-2).
  • He taught in secluded places (Mark 6:32-34).
  • He taught beside the sea (Mark 2:13).
  • He taught from a boat (Mark 4:1-2).

He taught on vital issues concerning life and the kingdom of God:

  • He taught about the kingdom of God (Matthew 13).
  • He taught how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1).
  • He taught about his cross and the cost of discipleship (Mark 8:31-38).
  • He taught about the Father (John 5:17-23).
  • He taught about the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-15).
  • He taught about his return in glory and the end of the age (Matthew 24; Mark 13).

Jesus was always teaching. When the religious authorities finally came to arrest him the night before his crucifixion, he tells them, “Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me” (Matthew 26:55). Jesus was always teaching.


2. The Continuation of Jesus’ Teaching in the Book of Acts

The ministry of Jesus was characterized by teaching and he commissioned the church to follow his example:

ESV Matthew 28:18–20 — And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Book of Acts is a continuation of Jesus’ ministry of teaching:

ESV Acts 1:1 — In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,

The implication is that the teaching ministry of Jesus continues through his servants. Teaching is referred to at least 20 times in Acts. The new believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (2:42). This did not happen once a week. The teaching took place daily:

ESV Acts 5:42 — And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

When strong persecution broke out against the church, the new believers were well-equipped to scatter the Word everywhere they went. A Gentile church was established as far away as Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:20). When the apostles in Jerusalem heard about it, they sent Barnabas to check it out. By now, Saul (better known to us as Paul) has been a Christian for some 12 years.

ESV Acts 11:24–26 — … And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Barnabas and Saul formed a teaching team and for a whole year “they met with the church and taught a great many people.”

A major shift in the story takes place at Antioch in chapter 13. We see a dynamic Spirit-filled church, the result of the teaching ministry of Barnabas and Saul. They are no longer the only teachers in the church at Antioch. Their teaching has produced other teachers:

ESV Acts 13:1–3 — Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Besides Barnabas and Saul, there were others prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch: Simeon and Lucius and Manaen. The ministry of the church did not depend upon the teaching of Barnabas and Saul because they had multiplied themselves. This church was not in maintenance mode. Because it had been obedient to the Great Commission to teach the disciples to obey all that Christ has commanded us, the church was extending the gospel to the regions beyond.

We cannot separate the empowering and leading of the Holy Spirit from the faithful teaching of the Word of God. The principle had been established by the apostles in Acts 6:

ESV Acts 6:4 — But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

That is exactly what Paul did. He refers to teaching at least 45 times in his letters. He gave himself to the ministry of making disciples through the teaching of the Word. In Ephesus he taught the disciples daily. Apparently he also sent them out because we read,

ESV Acts 19:10 — This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Paul testified to the elders of Ephesus that his three years of ministry among them was characterized by faithful teaching of the Word of God:

ESV Acts 20:20, 27 — …I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, … 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

His ministry goal seems to be summarized in this passage:

ESV Colossians 1:28 — Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Teaching is foundational to “presenting everyone mature in Christ.”

From the first verse of the Book of Acts (“all that Jesus began to do and teach…”) to the very last verse of Acts, the early church was characterized by…

ESV Acts 28:31 — proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.


3. The One Skill Required of Pastors

After his release from prison in Rome at the end of the Book of Acts, Paul travels to the island of Crete with Titus and leaves Timothy in Ephesus. Titus has the work of setting new churches in order for it was a new work. Titus has to appoint elders:

ESV Titus 1:5 — This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—

Simply put, a pastor has to have Christian character.

The qualifications for elders (another word for pastors) are pretty basic. Simply put, a pastor has to have Christian character.


ESV Titus 1:7–8 — For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

This is basic Christian character. In other words, pastors should first of all be Christians.

The only ability or skill required of pastors is the ability to teach:

ESV Titus 1:9 — He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

He must “be able to give instruction in sound doctrine.” This implies that he himself has been instructed—taught in sound doctrine.

Paul gives the same instructions to Timothy. Paul urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to correct pastors who had failed to teach the Word of God correctly. Paul had prophesied that some of the Ephesian elders would stray from the truth of God’s Word:

ESV Acts 20:29–30 — I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 3and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Now Timothy has the difficult task of correcting these wayward pastors:

ESV 1 Timothy 1:3 — As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

As Paul gives Timothy the qualifications for overseers (another word for pastors), again the emphasis is on Christian character. He must have a good reputation in the church (“above reproach”, 1 Timothy 3:2), and “he must be well thought of by outsiders” (3:7). This is what we should expect of all Christians:

The only ability or skill required of pastors is the ability to teach.

ESV 1 Timothy 3:2–3 — Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teachnot a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

Nothing outstanding here. This is basic “new creation” character. The only skill listed is that the pastor must be “able to teach.” 

This is what we would expect if we are to fulfill the Great Commission of teaching disciples to obey all that Christ has commanded us.

Anyone who is incapable of teaching or unwilling to give himself to the ministry of studying and teaching — that person is not fit to be a pastor.


4. Implications for the Church

This has been a brief look at the responsibility of pastors to teach, following the pattern laid down by Christ and the apostles. Just as Paul instructed Timothy, we too must follow the example:

ESV 1 Timothy 4:13 — Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

This sounds like expository preaching: Read the Scriptures to the congregation, exhort, and teach.

ESV 1 Timothy 4:16 — Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We are to give careful attention to the teaching of the Word of God. By persisting in this ministry of teaching and living the Word, the effect is life-giving for ourselves and those who sit under this faithful exposition of the Word.

What does this mean for the church? Every church is to be a disciple-making station and every pastor must be able to make disciples by teaching the Word of God. 


5. The Need for Pastoral Training

Just as the Apostle Paul gave himself to the ministry of teaching and reasoned with the disciples “daily in the hall of Tyrannus” for two years (Acts 19:9), Joy Bible Institute follows the “day after day” model of teaching the Word of God — exemplified by Jesus, the early church, and the Apostle Paul — so that those who have learned and followed and walked the Way as set forth in the Scriptures may go forth and do the same.

  • Every pastor should endeavor to produce disciples through the faithful teaching of the Word of God.
  • And every church should endeavor to send out disciples to take the message of salvation to those who are still in darkness.

Joy Bible Institute exists to equip the church to fulfill its mission of making disciples of all peoples everywhere. May the Lord be pleased to continue to use JBI to bless and strengthen His Church.

The only true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent

Is the God of the Bible a single-person God like Allah?
Was God alone before creating man?
Are the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit modes or manifestations of God?
Or is the God of the Bible unique among the religions of the world?
Do the titles Father and Son and Holy Spirit
point to real persons in the one true God?

This short article aims to show that the conversations and transactions between the Father and the Son point to the reality of the mutual existence of the persons in the Godhead. Most of this article is drawn from the writings of “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the Apostle John. More specifically, most of the focus is on Christ’s “high priestly prayer,” the night before going to the cross, which Jesus addressed to his Father in heaven:

ESV John 17:1–3 —  When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,  since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.  And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Here the Son makes requests of his Father. He points to their interrelationship, the distinction of persons within the Godhead, and speaks of the mission that his Father has given him to provide eternal life. 

  • As Jesus approaches the cross, he acknowledges to his Father that it is now the hour for him to glorify his Son (v. 1).
  • The Son will in turn glorify the Father (v. 1).
  • The Father gave the Son all authority over all flesh (v. 2).
  • The Father gives people to the Son (v. 2).
  • The Son gives eternal life to those the Father has given him (v. 2).

These transactions point to real distinctions between the persons. While the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, the Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, and the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. The following is adapted from an ancient digram of the Holy Trinity:


Three Persons, but Only One God

At same time, Jesus underlines that there is only one God, “the only true God” (v. 3). While many other passages make it abundantly clear that Jesus is God (for example, John 1:1, 18; 5:18; 10:30, 33; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1), my purpose here is to show that the Scriptures point to the real interrelational existence “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

These distinctions between the persons are further laid out in the verses which follow:

ESV John 17:4–5 —  I [the Son] glorified you [the Father] on earth, having accomplished the work that you [the Father] gave me [the Son] to do.  And now, Father, glorify me [the Son] in your [the Father’s] own presence with the glory that I [the Son] had with you [the Father] before the world existed.

Four times in those two verses, Jesus distinguishes himself from his Father. The Son glorified the Father on earth. The Father gave the Son work to do. The Son accomplished the work which the Father gave him. The Son asks the Father to glorify him in the Father’s presence even as the Son glorified the Father on earth. 

Then Jesus makes the astounding statement that he was with the Father before the world existed: 

ESV John 17:5 —  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The Son’s existence is not linked to the world or his mission in the world. He existed before the world existed. He was with the Father before the creation of the world. He shared the Father’s glory. Before “the beginning,” the Father and the Son were in eternal fellowship. 

Furthermore, eternal life is inextrincably bound up in a relationship with the Father and with the Son:

ESV John 17:3 —  And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Jesus here defines eternal life. It is knowing the only true God AND Jesus Christ whom God has sent. It is a knowledge of BOTH the Father AND the Son. The Apostle John emphasizes this truth in his First Epistle when he writes:

ESV 1 John 1:3 — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

“Indeed our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

As Christians, our fellowship is not only with the Father, nor is it only with the Son: It is “with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Later in his letter, John points to the grave danger of denying the Son’s real existence:

ESV 1 John 2:22–24 — Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.

“No one who denies the Son has the Father” (v. 23). To deny the existence of the Son and to deny that Jesus is the Christ, that is the work of the antichrist. The spirit of antichrists—for John says that there are many (1 John 2:18)— is to deny the real existence of “the Father and the Son” (v. 22). Those who deny the Son do not have the Father, but “whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (v. 23). The word “also” like the word “and” in verse 22 shows us that the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. 

John goes on to explain that this is the message that his readers heard from the beginning. If this truth abides in them—and in us—then they and we “will abide in the Son and in the Father” (v. 24). This again shows that our fellowship is with both the Father and with his Son as John said in 1 John 1:3.

The Apostle John insists on this truth in no uncertain terms in his Second Letter:

ESV 2 John 9–11 — Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Apparently some felt that they were more progressive and advanced (v. 9). They went “on ahead” and did not hold to this teaching about Christ being sent into the world by his Father so that through the Son we might have eternal life. They felt that the doctrine or teaching about the Son was not necessary; having God was enough. The Apostle John warns that these progressive teachers who do not hold on to the Son “do not have God.” But “whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” Both… and… Not just the Father, but also the Son.

This teaching is wholly consistent with the teaching of the New Testament that while both the Father and the Son are God, the conversations and transactions between them are not a matter of biblical or literary fiction. They point to the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son.

On virtually every page of the New Testament, we see the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit —the one true God— working together in perfect harmony to bring about the fulfillment of “the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).

ESV John 17:3 — And this is eternal life,
that they know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.