The apostle Paul in writing to his beloved son in the Lord, Timothy, encourages him to surround himself with men who are “able to teach”. (1 Timothy 3:2) This word is again quoted in his second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:24) and speaks of one who is skilled in teaching. It’s the only qualification specifically relating to an elder’s giftedness and spiritual ability. It is that which distinguishes the elder from the one operating in the office of a deacon (servant). Make no mistake about it, the teaching of the Word of God is the overseer, pastor, elder’s specific responsibility.
Why all this emphasis on teaching and correct doctrine? A search through the epistles from Paul quickly answers that. In his first letter to Timothy he wrote, “that you might charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine.” Now what is all that about? False teachers were teaching doctrine different from the apostolic doctrine. This specifically was addressing the fact that there were those who were proclaiming a false gospel and not the glorious gospel of Almighty God. In verse 7 of that first chapter, he goes on to write, “Desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor the things which they affirm.” In other words they wanted prestige from their position, much like the Jewish rabbis, but they cared nothing about teaching the truth of the scriptures by knowing it themselves.
Then as we move through that first epistle to Timothy in chapter 4, the first verse again warns Timothy that in the last days, some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. Those who fall prey to these false teachers, abandon the Christian faith and fall into the dredges of apostasy. And the influence of these demons will reach its apex during the Tribulation period which is rushing upon the world even now.
Even in the second letter in chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, after Paul commands Timothy to “preach the Word!”, he writes, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers….turning their ears away from truth…..turned aside to fables.” Under these conditions people will dictate what men will preach rather than what God dictates through His Word.
Uh-oh. What are we to do? How important is sound doctrine….correct teaching? Obviously according to the warnings dictated in scripture……it is of the utmost importance.
We are blessed today with able teachers while at the same time we can be inundated with charlatans who only parade themselves as such.
Stay true to His Word. Study it. Be a student of the Holy Scriptures. Teachers …… are still wanted!