Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Teachers, Role of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 13:52

In the eighth and last parable of this chapter, Jesus educates His disciples in their roles as students, teachers, and leaders. The householder represents the true minister doing the work of feeding the household of faith. Our Savior shows that a minister of God's household has a truly rich, inspired storehouse of essential spiritual treasures from which he can draw to perform his duties.

A "scribe" in the first century had an important position in the Jewish community. Almost five centuries earlier, Ezra the priest had been the archetypal scribe (Ezra 7:6), trained and skilled in the Law of Moses, which God had given Israel. He read the law before all who could hear with understanding on the Feast of Trumpets, helping the people to comprehend it (Nehemiah 8:2-8). In this, we see the function of a scribe—and similarly, the function of what we call a "minister" of God. A minister is a man who dedicates his life to studying God's written Word so he can expound and illustrate the Bible's laws, statutes, and principles to help people live God's abundant way of life.

The word translated instructed is from a Greek word meaning "to make a disciple" or "to become a pupil." Verse 52 could easily read, ". . . every scribe who has been trained for the Kingdom of God is like a master of a house." In this light, we see the scribe as a student who has been taught and is continuing to be taught. Not only is he a teacher, but he is also learning at the same time. He must continue to learn so that he can continue to teach.

Jesus left an example of sending out His disciples after teaching them to preach the Kingdom of God (Matthew 10:5-7; 28:19-20). In this way, the gospel is spread around the world and God's flock is fed.

The scribe is compared to "a householder." The Greek word translated householder means "the master of the house." "Master" implies great authority as well as responsibility over his house. The master of the house has the final say in deciding what is best for his household.

In terms of government in the church, the minister of God has been commissioned as an authoritative teacher of Holy Scripture (I Corinthians 4:1). This parable suggests that God has granted His ministers authority to expound His Word, calling them "masters of the house." A minister is thus a student, a teacher, and a leader. Paul expresses in Ephesians 4:7-13 Christ's view that the ministry is His gift to the church, and that He gives them to do the work of preaching the gospel, equipping the saints, and helping to bring people to the measure of the stature and the fullness of Christ. He does these things, Christ says, by bringing "out of his treasure things new and old."

The word treasure in verse 52 means something slightly different than it does in verse 44 in the parable of the hidden treasure, where it implies gems and other precious things. In verse 52, it means a place for treasure, not the treasure itself. In other words, Jesus refers to "a treasure house," "a treasury," "a storehouse," or "a storeroom" where a person would keep necessary items like food, clothing, supplies, and family valuables for safekeeping. In context, then, the minister is to use what he has learned and experienced for the benefit of his spiritual family—he is to use as resources all the things he has stored away from his study of God's truth and his know-how in living God's way to lead and provide for his flock.

The "new and old" refers to food stored in a storeroom. The master of the house is in charge of ensuring that his storeroom contains everything needed to feed his family. A prudent householder balances serving his oldest store with the new. In this sense, seeing the value in the old, he wisely serves his family old store as well as the fresh "off-the-vine" food, mixing them in balance so that neither is wasted.

Jesus wants His ministers to teach their spiritual families by carefully balancing the teaching of the Old and the New Testaments (Matthew 5:17-19; Acts 26:22-23). It does not mean that the old is thrown away or is wrong. In the parables, Jesus did a similar thing by taking the old understanding of God's Kingdom and focusing new light on it to expand the people's understanding of its character and future course.

Ministers of Christ may not grasp and understand all the wisdom of God, but having received His instruction and sufficiently understood His message, they are commissioned to make use of this spiritually rich treasure to enrich others (Galatians 6:10). Taught by Jesus Christ and inspired in understanding His Word, ministers are to reflect that knowledge to their spiritual families, their fellow members of the church.

Martin G. Collins
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Nine): The Parable of the Householder

1 Corinthians 3:9-10

If God places us within an office in the church—as an elder or a deacon—it must be looked upon as a blessing that is a responsibility, not a reward! It is given for God's purposes. Paul even had his office as apostle because it was given to him. It is implied that all the powers to perform it were also given. He used them to lay the foundation.

Everybody else is the same way. The important thing is that each one of us must use our gifts to build. Paul says, "Be careful how you build." The foundation that was laid is Jesus Christ. When we begin to expand on it, it consists of the apostles and the prophets as well—the things that they wrote and the examples that they set. Everybody is to build on the same foundation! God gives everybody the gifts to enable them to do so.

To some, God gives gifts to be apostles; to others, He gives gifts to be an evangelist, pastor, teacher, or whatever. They are given, though, and every time God gives an office, He gives all that is needed for the person to fulfill that office—including overcoming sin.

The Bible consistently teaches that an office is not a place from which to exercise power, but a position from which to exercise service. The authority is certainly there, since God gives it. He always gives the authority to go with the office, but having it means that the elder or deacon must also have the right perspective on how to use the office God has given him. The office is given, not earned.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


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