Probably one of the more popular phrases in reference to a passage of Scripture is the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20. Those of us who have been around the church for any length of time can probably quote at least a part of it. There are several action verbs in that passage; however, only one is used twice. Can you think of it? It’s the verb “teach”.
Our passage today also includes a passage that includes this idea of teaching. 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also”. Here we see Paul’s admonishing Timothy to take the things that Paul had taught him and then to turn around and teach others the same things. This is exactly the idea spelled out in the Great Commission. Jesus commissioned the apostles to teach unbelievers the way of salvation, baptize them, and then continue teaching those new believers the things they had learned from Christ Himself.
This begs the question of the role of preaching versus teaching. What is the difference between those two words? Certainly there is a place for preaching. Paul himself tells Timothy in just a couple of more chapters to “preach the word”. J.I Packer wrote that “preaching appears in the Bible as a relaying of what God has said about Himself and His doings, and about men in relation to Him, plus a pressing of His commands, promises warnings and assurances.” It carries with it the idea of the town herald who would blow a horn to get everyone’s attention and then once the crowd was quiet, proceed to relay a message from the king or another dignitary.
So while preaching certainly has its place and time and is often the thing God uses to wake people up spiritually, the value of teaching cannot be minimized. Teaching carries with it the diligent, methodical, line-by-line, precept-by-precept relaying of truth. It involves taking the time ourselves to understand a passage or truth and then carefully teaching that to others. That teaching may take the form of a Sunday School or small group class, discipleship class, family devotions or just taking advantage of moments of opportunity to impart God’s truth to others. For those of us who have been Christians for awhile, what are we doing to “teach others also?”