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New Testament Terms Related to Teaching

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in discipleship | 7 comments

New Testament Terms Related to Teaching

I’m putting together a workshop (or series of lessons) on the subject of teaching in the New Testament. I hope to lead our church through this study sometime early next year, perhaps in January. I’m excited to discover new things about this topic, both from my own study and from the church as we guide each other through the Scriptures.

To begin the study, I thought I would put together a list of terms found in the New Testament related to teaching. I’m not saying that these terms are synonymous (although they sometimes seem to be used that way). However, I think that if we want to understand teaching from the New Testament perspective, we also need to understand these related terms.

While each of these terms is a translation/gloss of a Greek word, I do not plan to list the Greek terms. If you have any question about which Greek term I’m using, feel free to ask in the comments. However, I will list a few relevant passages in which the term is used.

Teach/Instruct (verb)
The primary verb primarily denoting some type of instruction which includes both verbal and nonverbal communication. (Acts 20:20, Colossians 3:16, 1 John 2:27)

Teacher (noun)
The person who is carrying out the instruction. (1 Corinthians 12:20, Hebrews 5:12, James 3:1)

Teaching/Instructing/Instruction/Lesson/Doctrine (noun)
The activity or process or content of teaching or instructing. (Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 14:6, 2 John 1:10) (There are two different Greek terms that have a similar range of meanings.)

Admonish/Warn/Instruct (verb)
A form of instruction that seems to be related to possible problems ahead. (Acts 20:31, Romans 15:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Rebuke (verb)
A form of instruction related to pointing out existing problems. (2 Timothy 3:16, see also Psalm 38:12)

Correct (verb)
A form of instruction related to both pointing out and also changing problems. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Encourage/Exhort/Implore/Urge (verb)
Help (both verbal and nonverbal) to move in a certain direction (depending on the context, could be spiritually, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, etc.). (Colossians 2:1-2, Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 5:12)

Encouragement/Exhortation (noun)
The content or process of helping someone moving in a certain direction. (Acts 15:31, 1 Corinthians 14:3, Hebrews 12:5)

Edify/Build Up/Strengthen (verb)
To make someone stronger (depending on the context, could be spiritually, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, etc.). (Acts 9:31, 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Edification (noun)
The content or process of making someone stronger. (Romans 15:2, 1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 4:12)

Disciple (verb)
To help someone be a follower. (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 14:21)

I’m also thinking about including the terms “proclaim/preach/announce” and “evangelize/preach/proclaim the good news.” Do you think there are other important terms to consider when studying teaching in the New Testament?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-14-2011

    There are additional passages that indicate teaching/communications that takes place as we spend extended time with each other following Him together day by day.

    to “know Jesus” (be with Him and observe His actions) is to see the Father (Jn 14:7-9)

    to “know” Paul is to fully know his teachings, and Timothy is to pass these things on in much the same way–by being with others (compare 2 Tim 2:2 and 2 Tim 3:10-11

  2. 10-14-2011


    Just a quick observation. You included only one verse for the gospel accounts. I feel any ecclesiology or understanding of teaching that does not include a comprehensive look at what Christ taught about the subject of teaching, how He taught, the word pictures He used, the internal divine motivation and empowerment He would send etc. is a common error. I see this over and over again. I feel we must start with what the Master said about the subject and interpret Paul and in the other NT writers in light of Christ’s teaching. I hope this does not come across as too critical because I have immense respect for you and have learned a lot from Christ through you.

  3. 10-14-2011


    Yes, I will bring out many of those passages as examples and illustrations. For this exercise, I was only looking for terms. However, I do need to consider the term “know” and how it relates to teaching.


    I did not find your comment critical. I agree that we can learn much about teaching from Jesus’ examples. I did not intend to leave out passages from the Gospels, but, like I told Art, I think many of them will show up as examples and illustrations of what it means to teach.


  4. 10-14-2011

    BTW, a good example of learning by observing others in action is how we all learn about our own cultures. No one has any formal teaching on how we eat (point of a slice of pie must face you), gow we value time (pretty important in business to be on time within a few minutes, but not important for social engagements) how we use space (18 inches is about the proximity limit in North America), etc.

    In everyday life, we observe others and we mimic them (or fail to do so). If we get it wrong, we get feedback, which may be verbal instruction for that moment in action, or just a frown; if we get it right, we may get a smile and head nod. But learning our cultural cues (which are extensive and complex) is not taught in the traditional ways we think about teaching (lecture/classroom/books, etc).

  5. 10-14-2011


    It’s very interesting that you left this comment… Wait 25 minutes and read the post that will be published at noon. 🙂


  6. 10-14-2011

    Alan, you are killing me, between your new posts and trying to catch up on your old ones I am not getting my work done. That is a New Jersey guy’s way of thanking your for providing this great resource. If you are going to include preach and proclaim could you take the time to address the preacher/teacher distinction and the popular uses of those “titles” vs their usage and any distinction in scripture. If you have the time. Thanks again

  7. 10-15-2011


    Thanks for reading my posts – the new ones and the old ones. If we discuss preach/proclaim and evangelize/proclaim good news, then we will definitely talk about the differences, especially in context.