Teaching Doctrine

by Mike Ratliff

ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. (1 Timothy 4:13 NA27)

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (a personal translation of 1 Timothy 4:13 from the NA27 Greek text)

I witnessed the changing of the guard this morning at our church. The pastor who planted it about 10 years ago participated in the ordination of the service of his replacement. The pastor whom God sent to plant our church is moving into a ministry to the sick and dying as a hospital chaplain. I love him. I love all the elders at our church. I was sitting there last Sunday in a lot of pain just a few days before my shoulder surgery and one of them came up and just conversationally asked me what was going on and as I shared that he immediately had me added to the prayer ministry. I sat in a strategic place this morning so I could see the whole ordination service take place and I thought no one would really notice me off to the side yet I was approached by elders and friends all wanting to know how it all went and how I was doing. However, my favorite part of this morning was that, before any of that, I got about 30 seconds of my new pastor’s time to give him a hug after he asked me about the surgery as I walked through the front door. I told him that I came there this morning for two things, to hear him preach the word and see him ordained. Then I got another hug. 

I was impressed with the ordination because it called for our new Pastor to be totally obedient to the passage I placed at the top of this post in regards to be devoted to the preaching and teaching of scripture, to exhortation, and the teaching of doctrine. Every part of his ministry is to be saturated in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every relationship is to be within the context of Christ and Him Crucified. That is a high calling. I do not think it is only for pastors or elders, but also for all believers.

As we saw in What is Biblical Exhortation? true exhortation of God’s Word is the application of its exposition. This exhortation challenges God’s people to obey the truth of God’s Word and warns them of the consequences of not doing so. The last part of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13 is τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. Notice how Paul precedes the noun with the definite article τῇ, which we would render as “the.” That means Paul was referring to specific διδασκαλίᾳ not διδασκαλίᾳ in general. What διδασκαλίᾳ or didaskalia is is the imparting of information as in teaching. However, Paul was referring to specific διδασκαλίᾳ.

δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, νηφάλιον σώφρονα κόσμιον φιλόξενον διδακτικόν (1 Timothy 3:2 NA27)

It is necessary therefore for the overseer to be without reproach, of one wife a husband, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, skillful in teaching (a personal translation of 1 Timothy 3:2 from the NA27 Greek text)

The adjective I translated as “skillful in teaching” is διδακτικόν, which is the Accusative case of διδακτικός or didaktikos, “skilled in teaching.” This word describes one who is not merely given to teaching, but able and skilled in it. This skill in teaching is the especial office of the minister on would fall the ordinary duty of instruction of believers as well as the refutation of those who hate God’s truth. Therefore, when Paul was talking about τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ in 1 Timothy 4:13 we know that he was referring to the very teaching done by those with this skill.

As I stated earlier. I love it when my family or I is given Pastoral love and care, but it is far more important for me that the Pastor and elders of my church be highly skilled in expositing God’s Word, His doctrines to us. If Pastors will do this and saturate their ministry with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ then ministry to their flock will naturally follow.

A Pastor must be a good teacher. I know that it is not popular in today’s culture, but doctrine and theological teaching are biblical and God’s true people will be drawn to it’s clear exposition because that is where they are being fed.

Soli Deo Gloria!

8 thoughts on “Teaching Doctrine

  1. O.K. so come and fish with me, for perch, walleye, and the souls of men…but not necessarily in that order!

  2. So glad for the fidelity of my pastor to preach and exhort, as he exposits and teaches… for that he humbly asks us to pray… We are a new church plant..
    Thank you , Mike, for your faithfulness to the ministry our God has called you to!

  3. Once you have tasted the sweetness of the Word through the preaching/teaching of a Godly man, nothing else will ever satisfy your longing soul. You crave the pure, unadulterated meat delivered without fear or favor!
    The charlatan that took over after my pastor (husband) died was such a disappointment.
    Still “waiting” on the Lord.

    “Not too many days”

  4. Angi, I often wonder why so many “charlatan’s” are in the ministry. There has to be something else they could be doing. Also, those who select the men to fill these spots are supposed to be doing due diligence in selecting God’s man. I have seen it, as have you, where man’s man was selected instead. We also wonder why God would allow these things because in His sovereignty He could easily prevent this from happening, but I am convinced that the actual sheep in proportion to the professing goats in the visible church is quite small and when these situations happen then the sheep are tested and God works through that for His eternal purposes. Yes, we must wait upon the Lord.

  5. You are right, it is all HIS plan and for HIS purpose, HIS ways are so high above my own. I do trust Him. It is just not an easy road, but that was never promised was it?
    I am going all the way through, if I have to crawl on my belly to do so!
    Though none go with me, still I will follow!

    Praise Jesus for imparting HIS perseverance in me.

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