The Pastor as Teacher

St. Augustine has said, “The purpose of Scripture study is both to discover its meaning and to pass it on to others; both tasks to be undertaken with God’s help” (On Christian Doctrine, 106).  Within these words, we can ascertain the importance of a pastor serving as a teacher of the Bible.  To be an obedient teacher of the Bible, a pastor must possess numerous qualities, but three of these that merit discussion at this time are the prayerfulness of a pastor, the studiousness of a pastor, and the generosity of a pastor.  These characteristics will not only prepare the pastor to teach the truth of the Bible to those entrusted to their care, but they also serve as a model for those under that pastor’s care to become teachers of the Bible themselves. 

The central aspect of teaching the Bible is prayer.  In fact, prayer is what ultimately determines the profitability of the study of the Bible for both the teacher and the student.  Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”  Prayer guides the teacher and student of the Bible to discern howthe Scriptures are true for the people of God.  Prayer makes people teachable and humble.  It causes one to be submissive to the instruction of the Holy Spirit as it relates to teachers and students.  While some attempt to teach the Bible simply as observation, prayer communicates to the teacher and student the personal necessity of understanding the “living and active” nature of the Bible (Hebrews 4:12-13). Most of all, prayer for teachers and students connects them with the very act of Jesus Christ, who spent a great amount of time in prayer before and after teaching and preaching the Bible to others (see Mark 1:35-39, et. al.).      

A good teacher of the Bible must also be a student of the Bible.  This places the pastor in the role as a perpetual student of the Scriptures, never graduating from the study of the sacred text, but always learning and wrestling with the meaning and application of the Bible.  The most effective teacher is one who still enjoys and is impacted by the lessons they teach.  Jesus, when instructing his disciples about the persecution they will endure, tells them in John 15:20, “A servant is not greater than his master.” The teacher of the Bible is a servant of the Master, Jesus Christ, and therefore, must be continually instructed in the truth of the Bible in order to properly instruct others. 

Lastly, a pastor must be a generous teacher.  A pastor must not withhold instruction from those in their care.  A pastor might be tempted to use preaching and teaching as an opportunity for self-promotion by attempting to impress his or her hearers with Bible knowledge instead of seeking to be a humble communicator of God’s life-changing message of forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. After prayerful study, the pastor as teacher of the Bible will be prepared to deliver to the student the profitable meaning of the text and provide them with a grace-filled, vital application for life situations.  Again, the teaching of the Bible should not be a showcase of skillful rhetoric presenting interesting information—it is the communication of the life-giving truth of God, intended to edify and encourage the saints of God as they sojourn in this world, bringing to the saint the comfort of God in difficult times and relief from the condemnation of sin.  The generous teacher of the Bible equips their students with the ability to continue studying the Bible and encourages them to also become a teacher of the Bible themselves.

Therefore, the pastor who properly teaches the truth of Scripture is first and foremost a prayerful, generous student who understands the teaching of Luke 12:48, “to whom much was given, much will be required.”  The pastor has been given the word of life, found in the Bible, to discern and proclaim. May all pastors realize this and be faithful teachers of God’s truth to those God has entrusted to them.

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