TEACHER (בִּין, H1067, יָרָה, H3723, לָמַד, H4340; διδάσκαλος, G1437).
A comparison of Acts 13:1 with Romans 12:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; and James 3:1 shows that the teachers in the Christian Church—named along with apostles, prophets, and pastors—exercised their gift in congregations already established. The gift of teaching was not necessarily limited to them, but was exercised also by apostles and prophets, who, however, existed only in apostolic times.
A. Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ (1876); W. Barclay, Train Up a Child; Educational Ideals in the Ancient World (1959); R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel; Its Life and Institutions (1961), 48-50.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
tech, tech’-er, tech’-ing:
I. OLD TESTAMENT TERMS
II. NEW TESTAMENT TERMS
III. OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY
1. In the Home
2. In Public
IV. EXTRA-BIBLICAL TEACHING
V. NEW TESTAMENT HISTORY
1. Christ’s Life
2. Apostolic Labors
3. General Considerations
A rich variety of words is employed in the Bible to describe the teaching process. The terms do not so much indicate an office and an official as a function and a service, although both ideas are often expressed or implied.
bin, "to separate": The word meaning "to separate," "to distinguish," is often used in a causative sense to signify "to teach." The idea of teaching was not an aggregation of facts bodily transferred like merchandise. Real learning followed genuine teaching. This word suggests a sound psychological basis for a good pedagogy. The function of teaching might be exercised with reference to the solution of difficult problems, the interpretation of God’s will, or the manner of a godly life (Da 8:16,26; Ne 8:7-9; Ps 119:34).
sakhal, "to be wise": The verb from which the various nominal forms for "wisdom" are derived means "to look at," "to behold," "to view," and in the causative stem describes the process by which one is enabled to see for himself what had never before entered his physical or intellectual field of consciousness. The noun indicates a wise person or sage whose mission is to instruct others in the ways of the Lord (Pr 16:23; 21:11; and often in the Wisdom literature). In Da 12:3 we read: "They that are wise (margin, "the teachers") shall shine as the brightness of the firmament."
yadha’, "to see" (compare oida): This verb literally means "to see" and consequently "to perceive," "to know," "to come to know," and "cause to know or teach." It describes the act of knowing as both progressive and completed. The causative conception signifies achievement in the sphere of instruction. It is used of the interpretation and application by Moses of the principles of the law of God (Ex 18:16,20), of the elucidation of life’s problems by the sages (Pr 9:9; 22:19), and of constant Providential guidance in the way of life (Ps 16:11).
zahar, "to shine": This verbal root signifies "to shine," and when applied to the intellectual sphere indicates the function of teaching to be one of illumination. Ignorance is darkness, knowledge is light. Moses was to teach the people statutes and laws, or to enlighten them on the principles and precepts of God’s revelation (Ex 18:20). The service rendered by the teachers--priests, Levites and fathers--sent forth by Jehoshaphat, was one of illumination in the twofold sense of instruction and admonition (2Ch 19:8-10).
ra’-ah, "to see": The literal meaning of this verb is "to see," and the nominal form is the ancient name for prophet or authoritative teacher who was expected to have a clear vision of spiritual realities, the will of God, the need of man and the way of life (1Sa 9:9; 1Ch 9:22; 2Ch 16:7 f; Isa 30:10).
nabha’, "to boil up": The most significant word for "prophet" is derived from the verb which means "to boil up or forth like a fountain," and consequently to pour forth words under the impelling power of the Spirit of God. The Hebrews used the passive forms of the verb because they considered the thoughts and words of the prophets due not to personal ability but to divine influence. The utterances of the prophets were characterized by instruction, admonition, persuasion and prediction (De 18:15-22; Eze 33:1-20).
II. New Testament Terms.
Further light is thrown upon religious teaching in Bible times by a brief view of the leading educational terms found in the New Testament.
manthano, "to learn": The central thought of teaching is causing one to learn. Teaching and learning are not scholastic but dynamic, and imply personal relationship and activity in the acquisition of knowledge (Mt 11:29; 28:19; Ac 14:21). There were three concentric circles of disciples in the time of our Lord: learners, pupils, superficial followers, the multitude (Joh 6:66); the body of believers who accepted Jesus as their Master (Mt 10:42); and the Twelve Disciples whom Jesus also called apostles (Mt 10:2).
paratithemi, "to place beside": The presentative idea involved in the teaching process is intimately associated with the principle of adaptation. When it is stated that Christ put forth parables unto the people, the sacred writer employs the figure of placing alongside of, or near one, hence, before him in an accessible position. The food or teaching should be sound, or hygienic, and adapted to the capacity and development of the recipient (Mt 13:24; Mr 8:6; Ac 16:34; 1Co 10:27; 2Ti 4:3; Heb 5:12-14).
diermeneuo, "to interpret": In the walk to Emmaus, Christ explained to the perplexed disciples the Old Testament Scriptures in reference to Himself. The work of interpreter is to make truth clear and to effect the edification of the hearer (Lu 24:27; 1Co 12:30; 14:5,13,17).
ektithemi, "to place out": The verb literally means "to set or place out," and signifies to bring out the latent and secret ideas of a literary passage or a system of thought and life. Thus Peter interpreted his vision, Ac 11:4; 18:26; 28:23). True teaching is an educational exposition.
poimen, "a shepherd": The word for shepherd signifies one who tends a flock, and by analogy a person who gives mental and spiritual nourishment, and guards and supports those under his care (Mt 9:36; Joh 10:2,16; 1Pe 2:25; Eph 4:11). Love is a fundamental prerequisite to the exercise of the shepherding function (Joh 21:15-18). The duties are to be discharged with great diligence and in humble recognition of the gifts and appointment of the (Ac 20:28).
episkopos, "an overseer": The bishop or overseer was to feed and protect the blood-bought church of God (Ac 20:28). Among the various qualifications of the religious overseers was an aptitude for teaching (1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:9). The Lord is pre-eminently shepherd and bishop (1Pe 2:25).
III. Old Testament History.
1. In the Home:
In the Jewish home the teaching of the law of the Lord was primarily incumbent upon the parents. The teaching was to be diligent, the conversation religious, and the atmosphere wholesome (De 6:7-9).
2. In Public:
Provision was also made for public instruction the law of God (De 31:12,13). This is a compact summary of early Hebrew teaching in regard to the extent of patronage, the substance of instruction, and the purpose of the process. Samuel the judge and prophet recognized that his duty was fundamentally to pray, to God for his people and to teach the nation "the good and the right way" (1Sa 12:23). The glory and prosperity of Judah under Jehoshaphat were due in large measure to the emphasis he laid upon religious instruction as the basis of national character and stability. His peripatetic Bible school faculty consisted of five princes, nine Levites and two priests who effected a moral and religious transformation, for "they taught in Judah, having the book of the law of Yahweh with them" (2Ch 17:7-9). The most striking illustration we have of public religious instruction in the Old Testament is found in Ne 8. Ezra the priest and scribe was superintendent, and had an ample corps of teachers to instruct the multitude of men, women and children eager to hear. Prayer created a devotional atmosphere. The reading was distinct, the interpretation correct and intelligible. There was real teaching because the people were made to understand and obey the law. In Ne 9 and 10 we have recorded the spiritual, ceremonial, social and civic effects of ancient religious instruction.
IV. Extra-Biblical Teaching.
The captivity gave mighty impulse to teaching. In far-away Babylon the Jews, deprived of the privilege and inspiration of the temple, established the synagogue as an institutional center of worship and instruction. During the latter part of the inter-Biblical period, religious teaching was carried on in the synagogue and attendance was compulsory, education in the Law being considered the fundmental element of national security (Deutsch, Literary Remains, 23; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, I, 230). The Bible text alone was taught those from 5 to 10 years of age, the first lessons being taken from Le (Taylor, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, 111). From 10 to 15 years of age the pupil was taught the substance of the Mishna or unwritten tradition, and accorded the privilege of entering into the discussions of the Mishna which constitute the Gemara (Edersheim, op. cit., I, 232). Selections of Scriptures like the shema (De 6:4-9) were made for study, and lesson helps were adapted to the capacity of the pupils (Ginsburg, article "Education" in Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature). The significance of the teaching idea among the Jews is indicated by numerous expressions for school (article "Education," Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature) and the prevalence of the synagogues, there being perhaps 480 in Jerusalem in the time of Christ (Hor. Heb. I, 78). The pupil was not expected to be a passive hearer but an active participant (Ab., vi.6; Taylor, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, 115 f). Great emphasis was laid upon audible repetition and exact memory, yet the teacher was culpable if the pupil failed to understand the prescribed lesson (Hamburger, RE, II, 672, 674). The pupil was regarded as the child of his teacher (Sanhedhrin 19), which is a familiar idea in the New Testament. The faithful teacher was considered destined to occupy a high seat among the ancients (Da 12:3). The scribes were secretaries or copyists of the sacred Law, and would thus acquire at least an accurate verbal knowledge of its contents. Quite naturally they would become religious teachers (Ne 8:4). Hence, also their prominence in the New Testament.
Article "Torah," Jewish Encyclopedia (compare the articles "Talmud’’ and "Education"); Trumbull, Yale Lectures on the Sunday-School, 3-40; Hamburger. See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche.
V. New Testament History.
1. Christ’s Life:
2. Apostolic Labors:
3. General Considerations:
Byron H. Dement