Monday, July 13, 2015

The teacher and the student - Galatians 6:6

"The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him." (Galatians 6:6)
Paul is presenting to us a basic Christian principal that it is good to share material things with those who share spiritual things with us. We see this principal in regards to the gentile's debt to the Jews. "For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things." (Romans 15:26-27) Paul also used this principal in regards to himself. "If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more?" (1 Corinthians 9:11-12) However, though it was his right, Paul did not often make use of this right. Paul also uses the same Greek word for "share" to describe how other churches shared in his ministry. "You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs." (Philippians 4:15-16) The principal is, that it is good to share materially with those who share spiritually with us.

It is interesting that Paul speaks here specifically of those who teach, Paul places a premium on teachers. He enumerates the functions of the church saying, "God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:28) He places teachers above even miracle workers. I believe that the reason is because, for the long term heath and growth of the church, teachers are a necessity. In Paul's day, some churches had resident teachers, such as the church at Antioch. "Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers." (Acts 13:1) However, we know that some churches existed without any teachers or even any formal leadership. We see that both Timothy and Titus were sent to appoint elders in the churches that Paul had started, implying that they previously had not formal leadership until they appointed elders for them. The same is true today. There are many churches that have pastors but no teachers. Those who are lead by evangelists but have no pastors. It is possible to be part of a church that cares well for the members but that depends on outside resources for its teaching and for the equipping of the saints.

The early church was a church that shared its resources with each other. Luke writes that, "And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need." (Acts 2:44-45) Even two hundred years latter, the church was still involved in caring for the needs of one another. Turtullian writes that the church was, "One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives." (Turtullian, Apology, Chapter 39) I think what Paul is driving at in his letter to the Galatians is that, in their sharing of what they have, do not forget those who minister among you, especially if they are visiting or itinerant ministers in their midst.

There is little to no evidence that the local church eldership in the early church was paid or drew a salary from the church. However, there were those who dedicated themselves to the preaching and teaching of the gospel. Often traveling great distances to preach and teach the word of God. Peter spoke of his own dedication and that of the other Apostles. "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:4) Those who dedicate themselves in this way deserve to be supported by those whom they bless. In caring for one another, let us not forget those who minister among us and to us.

David Robison

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