March 10 I Sunday
“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” —1 Timothy 4:13
In biblical times, the synagogue was essentially a place of teaching. Jesus often taught there, as did Paul and the other apostles. But in the above verse, why does Paul make an issue of both preaching and teaching in his instructions to Timothy? Are they not the same thing?
Teaching is primarily addressing the mind. The end result of good teaching is that people know something. This is the basis on which any significant response to God is made. To be swept along by emotional currents without adequate roots in an understanding of God and His truth will prove to be superficial in time. Preaching, on the other hand, is primarily addressing the will. If the end result of teaching is that people know something, the end result of preaching is that people do something.
The subject of Jesus’s preaching was “the good news of the kingdom.” The good news only becomes good news when the will is made to respond. Minds may be stretched, stimulated and dazzled by impressive teaching, but lives are only changed when teaching becomes preaching and hearers are compelled to respond like those who listened to Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:37 tells us, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” They were moved to do something.
Teaching is the foundation to preaching, and the two should not be separated. To teach and not preach may produce full minds but will leave barren lives. Yet to preach and not teach may evoke a response that is in danger of being little more than seeds that spring to life with no root, only to wither and die.
The necessity of both teaching and preaching is kept in balance throughout the New Testament. In the ministry of Jesus, Matthew records: “After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, He went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee” (11:1). Between the first and second missionary journeys, Acts 15:35 says, “Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.” The book of Acts concludes with the statement about Paul in Rome: “He proclaimed the kingdom of God,” which is preaching, “and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (28:31).
We can fill our minds with knowledge of the Bible, but without the Holy Spirit, who is the Good Teacher, that knowledge remains dormant. It is He who plants the seeds of truth within our hearts and, through good preaching, compels us to respond.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me an understanding of Your Word and springs to life the truths You have revealed in Scripture. Thank You, Lord.