Final thoughts on James 3:1
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. NKJV
In establishing leaders in His church, God instituted two primary categories of church offices. The first of these includes those offices that were given to the church temporarily, such as apostles and prophets, who laid the foundation of the church through the teaching of God’s word by direct revelation and who passed from the scene after the first century (Eph. 2:20). The second category of offices includes those positions that will remain in place until the return of Christ. Pastors and deacons will lead the church until the rapture at Jesus’ second coming, but these respective positions are not the only continuing church offices. The Lord has also provided teachers to instruct His people until He returns in glory.
Didaskalos is the Greek term translated “teacher.” In the ancient world, a didaskalos was one who mastered a certain skill or subject area and taught it to others. In the first century, Jews used the title of didaskalos to refer to teachers who had a great deal of knowledge and could apply it practically to everyday life. The Jews gave the title to men who were highly skilled in the knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures. The gospels refer to Christ as a didaskalos more than forty times because of His understanding and application of the scriptures.
Jesus is the ultimate Teacher, but He is not the only teacher of God’s people. God continues to call and equip teachers in the church to this present day. He has gifted many individuals with the skill to interpret, communicate, and apply the teaching of God’s Word to God’s church. This call to teach is a high and weighty calling. As our text indicates, not many should become teachers because the Lord judges teachers more strictly than others. Because of their influence, there are more opportunities for teachers to lead people astray than there are for ordinary laypeople to lead others astray. Teachers must not take their call lightly, for they will have a lasting impact on God’s people for good or for ill.
God holds all of the teachers in His church accountable, whether they lead the two-year-old Sunday school class or teach a graduate-level seminary course. Therefore, all Christian teachers must study diligently and work hard to present their subjects clearly and without error. As teachers we should take advantage of training opportunities and other helps and spend much time studying the scriptures so that we are fully and properly equipped to handle God’s Word rightly (II Tim. 2:15).