In the past I have taken this verse to mean that the disciple always has to submit to the teaching and authority of the teacher. And whilst I think that is still true I have recently come to view this verse from the teachers perspective. What does this mean for people that are in the teaching position? I mean, let’s face it, if we have a healthy walk with the Lord then we are at some point going to be leading and discipling others. So what does it mean to be a teacher?
Well before Paul went to Rome to meet Nero he called for the elders to meet Him in Miletus and said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you” (Acts 20:18). Well It’s the manner bit that I’m interested in. How did Paul go about teaching? What was his manner?
I’m grateful to Paul that he tells us the manner in which he came and took that teaching role:
In verse 19 he says that he wasserving the Lord with all humility,
there’s a few parts to this one – firstly he was “serving”. It’s the Greek word doulos which means slave. In Roman times (and indeed earlier, see Exodus 21) there were voluntary slaves. People that had been in slavery and the master had released them, only for the slave to stay in the house and work. Paul is saying that he had been a slave, had been bought out of slavery but remained in the Lord’s house to work. And notice secondly that he is serving “the Lord”. Whilst, as a teacher, I am serving others – I am firstly serving the Lord. I am not bowing to the wishes of the disciple but to the Lords. Then thirdly he says that he was doing it with humility. Knowing that he doesn’t deserve to be a place of honour. Paul wrote to the church in Rome (Romans 15:18) and told them that he would only speak of the things that Christ has accomplished through him. That’s humility!
Then he says it was done with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;”
Pauls heart was in it. He didn’t clock off at the end of the day. He didn’t have anything more important to do. Serving the Lord was his life and even when his own people (the Jews) plotted against him his manner was one of serving the Lord.
He continues and says that hekept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
He emptied himself. this is what he was writing about in Philippians 2:17: Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all
So from Paul’s testimony I know that a teacher is someone who:
1. Serves as a slave
2. Serves the Lord
3. Serves with humilty
4. Serves from the heart
5. Empties themselves
The world needs these kind of teachers so that we can make more of these kind of teachers. Lord help me to be this kind of teacher!