Teach Your People Well

Preaching as Teaching

In this post we are going to explore what it means to teach as a preacher.  Teach your people well in some, if not most of your sermons.

A little girl called Martha was talking to her teacher about whales.  The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because,  even though it was a very large mammal,  its throat was very small.

Martha stated that a whale swallowed Jonah.

Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.

The little girl said, ‘When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah’.

The teacher asked, ‘What if Jonah went to hell?’

Martha replied, ‘Then you ask him’.

Teach the Marthas well

Someone taught Martha about the Bible.


We are studying the various words in the New Testament that refer to preaching.  Here’s a link to the first one in this series if you are just tuning into this blog.  In this post we consider another word that often refers to an action that we would describe as preaching.  It is didasko, a Greek word that means “to teach”.

Here’s a description of the various ways that the word for “Teaching is used in the New Testament, as found in the blog post that is linked above.

“The Greek term didasko is found ninety-seven times in the New Testament. In the King James Version, it is rendered either “teach” or “taught” and is employed in several ways. This word often indicates a formal teacher-student relationship. At other times with a more general meaning, didasko constitutes informal instruction or simply a lesson conveyed.

The word frequently is used of the authoritative instruction of a formal teacher (Mt. 4:23; Acts 5:25). However, the verb can signify merely a general lesson, such as conveyed by “nature” (1 Cor. 11:14). It can denote the nurturing instruction new converts are to receive (Mt. 28:20). It can even signify the reciprocal edification of Christians singing in a worship service (Col. 3:16) with no authority exercised.”

Teachers convey information and express facts or truths in a way that causes students to learn, and sometimes this is the purpose of the Sunday sermon.

Jesus modeled for his disciples how to teach your people well

Jesus teaches the people

Jesus teaches the people

The ministry of Jesus included teaching groups of people in a way that today we would likely describe as preaching.

Matthew 4:23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

Matthew 9:35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Luke 5:3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.

Those are just a few of the many references to the ministry of Jesus as “teaching”.  He knew what it meant to teach your people well by conveying truth.

The Disciples’ Teaching

When we come to the book of Acts we find that the disciples of Jesus taught people in public settings.  This first reference is to the aftermath of Peter and John healing a lame man.  The Sanhedrin hears that they are “teaching” in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

And here’s Paul’s defense of his ministry to the Ephesians elders.

Acts 20:20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house….

Obviously, the disciples would say that to teach your people well is a goal of preaching.

So What?  Teach your people well!

teaching people as a preacher

A teacher/preacher at work

In seminary I learned that this was the primary task of preaching, to convey information to people.  However, when I wrote my Master’s thesis on preaching in the New Testament, I learned in the research that preaching is far more dynamic than just teaching.  Things like admonition, proclaiming the gospel, telling the story, etc. can also enrich my preaching.

But having said that, teaching definitely should be part of what we do in our sermons.  We need to convey information about the Bible, so that we will all understand what God wants us to do and be as His people.   Include things like the background to a book of the Bible, the definitions of words that are used, the context of a passage that we are focusing on, etc. in your preaching/teaching.

The bottom line is this: there is power in the Word, and when the Spirit “breathes” into the truth we present to people, when you teach your people well lives change.

Needless to say, it is difficult to differentiate between teaching and preaching in many settings.

Here’s a video of Dr. Kenneth Acha of the Austin Bible Institute talking about the difference between teaching and preaching, where they coincide, and where they are different from one another.

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