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Submitted: 8/11/2004
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Question: In the epistle of James chapter 3 verse 1, the writer seems to be discouraging people from assuming the function of a 'master' (KJV) or 'teacher' (NKJV). The writer of Hebrews in chapter 5 verse 12 seems to be doing just the opposite by admonishing the church for remaining infants in the Lord when they should be assuming the function of teachers (same Greek word didaskalos is used in both places). Can you elaborate on the message that each writer was trying to convey from your perspective?

Answer: I donít believe James was attempting to discourage anyone from developing a teaching ministry. I think he was simply pointing out the consequences of failing to bridle the tongue. This would be of particular significance to those who teach, since by the very nature of their work they must speak a lot, especially in a public setting. Proverbs 10:19 warns, ďIn the multitude of words sin is not lacking.Ē Throughout the Bible we are admonished to be careful what we allow to come out of our mouths. This is the context of James 3.

Teachers of Bible doctrine need to be exceptionally careful with their words, since their role is to help people understand the Word of God. They must know the correct meanings of words and how words go together to express ideas accurately. They must be cognizant of the level of understanding of those they teach. They must at all costs attempt to speak clearly, truthfully, and graciously.

The caution in James 3 in no way contradicts the challenge in Hebrews 5 where immature believers are being encouraged to grow up to where they can teach others the truths of Godís Word. I believe that every believer should be able to teach a Bible study at some level.