Worship Times

Sundays    10:30 a.m.
                    4:00 p.m.

Today's Verse

Teaching The Word of God & The Sunday School

by Don Snow
 

 

 As  the  apostle  Paul  prepared  Timothy to  teach  the  gospel of Christ  to  the  world,  so  Timothy  was   to   prepare  other men to teach:  “And the things that thou hast heard  of  me among  many witnesses, the same  commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)           

 

Let  me  firmly  establish  that I believe  in  the  teaching of  God’s  Word, and  this  article  was   written   in   love   to  encourage  every  reader   to investigate  the Word  of  God and obey it - “If  you  love Me,  keep  My commandments.”  JESUS (John 14:15 & John 15:10)

 

After Jesus was raised  to life, following a brutal beating and unmerciful death on a  Roman cross,  He came  to His chosen apostles and affirmed  in Matthew  28:18 - 20, “All authority has been given to Me  in heaven and on earth.   Go therefore  and  make  disciples  of  all  the  nations, baptizing them  in  the name of  the Father and of  the  Son  and of  the Holy Spirit,  teaching  them  to  observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,  even to the end of the age ” (‘world’, Ref. # 165).

 

Then  in Mark 16:15-16  the Lord says, “Go  into  all  the  world and preach the  gospel to  every creature.   He  who  believes  and  is  baptized  will  be  saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

 

Later, Peter, an apostle of  the resurrected Savior, declares  in Acts 10:42, “And He  commanded  us  to preach to the people, and to  testify  that it is He  who  was ordained  by God to  be Judge of the living and the dead.”

 

From  these  few  verses of  scripture we  learn that Christ  declared  that  His  Word   be taught  throughout  the  world - in  order  to  give all  mankind  the choice  of  believing & obeying Christ  for salvation and eternal life, or  rejecting Him and His Word.

 

GOD’S  METHOD  OF  TEACHING  HIS  WORD.                               

 

Since  the Old  Testament  is  referred  to as “a shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1), let  us  see  what  God  instructed  them to do.     In   Deuteronomy  31:11-13,  Moses by God’s instructions wrote  the Torah (the Law of the Lord and Moses):  “When  all  Israel comes  to  appear before  the LORD  your  God  in  the  place  which  He  chooses, you  shall read  this  law  before  all  Israel  in  their hearing.  Gather  the  people together, men  and  women  and  little  ones,  and  the  stranger  who  is within  your  gates, that  they  may   hear  and  that   they  may  learn  to  fear  the LORD your God and carefully observe  all the words of  this  law,  and that their children, who  have not  known  it,  may hear and learn  to  fear the LORD your God as  long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess."   (NKJV).

 

And in Nehemiah 8:1-3,  “Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was  in front of the Water Gate;  and  they  told  Ezra  the  scribe  to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.   So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and  women and all  who could hear with  understanding  on  the  first day  of  the  seventh  month.    Then  he  read from it  in  the  open  square  that  was  in  front  of  the Water Gate  from  morning  until  midday,  before   the  men and  women and those  who  could understand;  and  the  ears  of  all the  people  were attentive to the Book of the Law.”        

 

Also in Joshua 8:35, “There  was  not a  word of  all that Moses had commanded which Joshua  did  not  read  before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers  who  were living among them.” 

 

In the previous scriptures we see in the Old Testament  that  God  wanted  His word taught to His people, and  the strangers (‘foreigners’).     In  the New Testament we learn  that Christ commands that His gospel message  be taught to all people, and He gives several scriptures  to  regulate  the pattern for public teaching in the church.    In Acts 14:27, “ Now when  they  had come  and  gathered  the church  together,  they reported  all  that God  had done  with  them, and that He had opened the door of  faith  to  the  Gentiles.”

 

  • Acts 15:30,  “So  when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and  when  they  had  gathered  the  multitude  together, they  delivered the letter.”
  • Acts 20:7,  “Now  on  the  first  day of  the  week,  when  the  disciples  came together  to  break  bread, Paul, ready  to  depart  the next day, spoke to them and continued  his  message  until midnight.”
  • I Cor. 11:20,  “Therefore  when you come  together in one  place,  it is  not to eat the Lord's Supper.”
  • I Cor. 11:33, “Therefore, my brethren, when you come  together to eat, wait for one another.”
  • I Cor. 14:23, “Therefore  if  the  whole church comes  together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?“  See verses 24-33 when a church  teaches in foreign languages.
  • Hebrews 10:25, “not  forsaking   the  assembling  of  ourselves  together, as  is  the manner of some,  but  exhorting  one  another,  and  so  much  the  more  as  you  see the  Day  approaching.

 

The church is defined  as: “a gathering of  citizens  called  out  from their homes into some public place;  an  assembly”  Ref. # 1577).      Since  the  church  is:  “the pillar and ground of  the truth”  (I Timothy 3:15),  may  Christians  divide  the  public  assembly  into  separate  classes and  teach?  May women teach?    Let’s  review  these issues  more  closely.

 

INTRODUCTION TO SUNDAY SCHOOL

 

Most  encyclopedias  will  provide the history for Sunday Schools, but  here  is  a  brief   history   taken   from  THE  WORRY  CLINIC,   by Dr. George W. Crane. 

 

“Robert Raikes, born   in  1735, was  a  famous  British  newspaperman  whose  contributions  to  our  welfare rival those of John Peter Zenger.   Mr. Raikes  published  the  “Journal” and, like  all  true  journalists, was  vitally  interested  in social conditions.

 

He pioneered  the movement  to  improve  the  conditions in  the jails of England.     Then  his  attention   shifted   to  the  children  of   his   city   of Glouchester.   Most  of  them  worked  from  dawn to  dark, six  days a week.  And they could not read.   For our public school system didn’t originate for another century.    Only the children of  the wealthy were tutored  in reading.

 

So  Robert Raikes asked  the youngsters  of  Glouchester  if  they  would like to  come to school on Sunday to learn how to read.    And they shouted with joy  at this chance.    They  showed  none  of  the  grumbling  of  some modern  children  who  gripe  about  our  wonderful,  free   public   schools.   So, in the year 1780  Robert Raikes hired  some  women  teachers  and  on Sunday they opened a free school.    Since the Bible was the most famous and most available  textbook  to  use, they  employed  it  as  their reading book.   This first venture was called  Raikes’ “ragged school,” since  the children who attended were in tatters and rags.   But the movement spread like wildfire.  The Queen  of England heard about the idea and  gave it her support.   And John Wesley backed  it, too.    In fact, Wesley  brought  the  Sunday  School  idea  to  America, where  the  Methodists  pioneered  a  definite  plan  of  Sunday  schools right after the Revolutionary War.   Other denominations  soon  followed  their  example, until  nowadays Sunday  schools are  operating  all  over  the  world as  a standard  part  of  religious  education.

 

But  please  remember that  this remarkable educational innovation was due to  the  forward  thinking  of  a  newspaper  publisher.” - End of Article.

 

It  was  very  thoughtful and  praiseworthy  for Mr. Raikes  to  teach  these poor children to read.   However, the  church of  the  Lord  had  existed  more  than 1800  years  before   this “educational innovation”  became an additional  method  by  which  the  church  was  to  be  taught.  In  the  Old  Testament  it  gives   this  warning  in  Deuteronomy 5:32,  “Therefore  you shall be careful  to  do  as  the  LORD   your God has  commanded  you;  you  shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”    Likewise, in  the  New  Testament  it  reads  in  2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved  to God,  a worker who does  not need  to be ashamed,  rightly dividing the word of truth.”  Yes, one  can  just as  easily  go  too  far  to  the  Right of God’s Word, as  to the Left.  [And right here one might wish  to read 2 Thess. 2:10-12].                    

 

So  that  I  won’t  be   misunderstood,  let  me state a  few  points.  I wish to emphasize that EVERYONE  needs to study the Bible.   God warned in Hosea  4:6,  “My  people  are  destroyed  for  lack  of  knowledge.  Because you  have  rejected  knowledge,  I also will reject  you  from  being  priest  for  Me;  Because  you   have  forgotten  the  law  of  your  God,  I  also will  forget  your  children.”  [In Christ,  all  obedient  Christians  are  priests  in  the family  of  God  (I Peter 2:5-10; Revelation 1:6].      In 2 Peter 3:15-16  the apostle advises  everyone to “consider that  the  longsuffering  of  our Lord is  salvation--as  also  our  beloved brother Paul, according to the  wisdom given to him, has written  to you,  as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of  these things, in which  are  some  things  hard to understand, which untaught  and unstable  people  twist to  their own  destruction, as  they do also the rest of the Scriptures.                                                    

 

IS SUNDAY SCHOOL  PUBLIC  OR  PRIVATE  TEACHING?

 

In the New Testament  the Apostle Paul writes in Acts 20:20, “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but  have  shewed  you, and have  taught you  publickly,  and  from house to house.”

 

The  Dictionary  defines “Public” - “the  people  as  a  whole, community  at  large.    A  specific  part  of  the  people;  those  people considered   together  because  of  some  common  interest  or  purpose.    In public, openly, not in private or in secrecy.”

 

“Publicly” is Greek Ref. # 1219.   Strong’s Greek Dictionary says:in public - common, openly,  publickly.”   Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it - “belonging to the people or state, in public:  Acts 5:18,  Publicly, in public places, in view of all:  Acts 16:37,  18:28,  20:20.”    

 

Yes, it  is  obvious   that  the  church’s  method  of  teaching  in Sunday  school  classes  is  public  and  church  arranged,  and  financed  by  the church.    However, over  the  past   several  years   I   have   had  supporters  of  Bible classes in churches tell me that Sunday school classes  were  like “Public Rest Rooms - Public but Private.”    

 

THE  CHURCH  AND  SUNDAY  SCHOOL.

 

Some  people  may deny  that  Sunday schools are  a  part  of  the church  and  public  teaching.  However,  if  Sunday school  classes  are  NOT a  part  of  the  church,  then  why  do  churches  contend  for  them?    Why do churches support  them and advertise  them?     Why  does  the  church invite  everyone  to  attend  the  classes  using  flyers,  signs,  posters  as  advertisements?      In  most cases, the  elders  and  deacons  try  to  oversee  and regulate  the Sunday school operation.                                

 

It  is  reasoned  by some  that  nowhere  in  the Bible  is  the  church directly FORBIDDEN  to  use  this  method  of  teaching.   This  is  true.    But  does  this  type  of   “reasoning”  give   anyone  a  license  to  use  it?      There  is  a  pattern of divine worship and  teaching  in  the blood-sealed  Testament of  Christ, and  we  need  to  respect  that  pattern regarding  public  assembly  for  worship  to  God  (Hebrews  8).     We need  to  do  only  that  which  has  been  revealed  by  Divine  Authority.     In  Deuteronomy 29:29  it  reads,  “The  secret  things  belong  unto  the  LORD  our God:  but  those  things  which  are  revealed  belong  unto  us  and  to  our  children  for  ever,  that  we may  do  all  the  words  of  this  law.” {Please read  I Corinthians, chapters 2 & 3}

 

ARE  CHURCH  SUNDAY  SCHOOL  CLASSES  IN  THE  BIBLE?

 

1.  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:   That  the  man of  God  may  be  perfect (“complete” - Ref. # 739), throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17).    Since  scriptures  do  not  furnish  the  method  and  order  for Sunday  school  classes,  is it  really a good  work in the Lord’s church?

 

2.    Jesus said in Luke 8:11-15, “THE  WORD  OF  GOD  IS   THE  SEED  OF THE KINGDOM.” God’s “SEED was  sown by  the  church  for  over 1800  years and  never  produced  a  Sunday school class  in  the  church.    It  was  the  sown “seed  of  Robert  Raikes  for  social  education   that  prompted  the  Methodists  to  introduce  this  new  method  into  the  public church  assemblies  in  the  early  1800's, after  the Revolutionary War of  1775 - 1783.

 

3.  “If any man speak let him speak as the oracles (‘utterances of  God  through  Christian  teachers’- Ref. # 3051)  of  God” (I Peter 4:11).      One cannot speak “as the oracles of  God”  and  talk about  the  work being done in  Bible school classes of  the  church.

 

From   the   records  of   history  it  is  shown  that  Sunday school  is  a   human institution,  trying   to  do  the  work  of  the  church  and  the  home.    Let   us  remember  that  it   is   the   charge  of   parents   to  teach  their   children   (Ephesians 6:4;  Colossians 3:21; 2 Timothy 1:5;  Hebrews 12:9-10).     Parents,  are  we  failing  in  our  responsibilities?    And,   the  church   has   the  duty  of   teaching   the   public  assembly (I Corinthians 14:23-25)  - “men, women, children & strangers”  who  need  to  obey  the  gospel  of  Christ,  and  those  who  have  obeyed  the  Lord’s  gospel  message for salvation,  discipline, and  maturity  as  children of  God  (Matthew 28:18-20;  2 Peter 3:18).    Have we  forgotten  that  individual studies  may be done “house to house” or privately?

 

Of  course,  people are  quick to point out that in Sunday school classes the Bible is taught, that classes  are  endorsed  by  leading  men of  the  nation,  that  there  is  a  class  for  every age,  that  classes  help everyone  to  learn  of  Christ  and  that  they  help  develop  Christian  character.  Can all of  these  not  be done in  the public  assembly and  from house to house or private meetings?  “Are  church  Sunday  school  classes  from  heaven  or from men?” - What do  the scriptures say?

 

Just  as  we’ve  asked “Are  church Sunday  school  classes   from heaven  or  from men?,” we  could  also  ask “Are   the   following   ideas  and  doctrines  from  heaven  or  from men?”   - Holy Water  (first used after  120 A.D.);   Purgatory  (first mentioned  after 220  A.D.);  Sprinkling &  Pouring  water as a  substitute  for  baptism (used after 250 A.D.);   The  Pope and  his stately position & authority (introduced after 296 A.D., made  firm  after 533 A.D.);    Instrumental music  (first  used  in  Christian worship  after 666 A.D. and  very  much practiced in churches today);    Mass (first observed  after  350 A.D.);     Infant  baptism  (first  practiced  after 370 A.D.);     Sale of   Indulgences (first  introduced  about  814 A.D.);    Individual   breads, wafers  and  individual  cups  of  varied  drink  elements  used  in  the Lord’s Communion (introduced  after 1800 A.D.).  Are these and  other  man-made doctrines from heaven or  from men?” - (Matthew 21:23-27)

 

Let me repeat...if  a  thing doesn’t  follow  the  pattern  in  the  scriptures  or  it  violates  command,  order, or  direct  instruction  from  the  Word  of  God,  then  we should leave it alone regardless  of  how  sentimental it is to us.    The Bible tells  all  believers  to “obey  God  rather than  men” (Acts 5:29).     It warns of  the coming of “grievous  wolves” (Acts 20:29-30),  and alerts  to  the destructive doctrines of  “false teachers” ( 2 Peter 2:1-22;  Mark 7:6-7; Gal. 1: 6-10;  2 Thess. 2:1-17;  2 Peter 3:14-18;  Jude 1:3-4.)

 

MAY WOMEN TEACH?

 

The present  day Sunday school movement, which began in the 1800's A.D.,  usually  permits  women  to  teach and  to  usurp  authority in churches that use the  public class system of  teaching.  In  I  Cor. 14:33-35, “For  God  is  not  the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.   Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto  them  to speak; but  they are  commanded  to  be  under obedience,  as  also  saith the law.    And  if  they  will learn anything,  let them ask their husbands at home:  for it is  a shame  for women  to  speak  in the church.  This word ‘shame’  is  defined in Greek Lexicons  as: “base, dishonorable, a disgrace’.    Also, verse 34  describes  women  in the churches -  “not permitted unto them to speak...” - “as also saith the law.”    This  word  “law”  helps to explain Genesis 3:16, after Eve sinned:  “To  the woman He (Jehovah God) said: "I  will  greatly  multiply  your  sorrow  and  your  conception;   In  pain  you shall  bring  forth  children;  Your desire (longing) shall  be  for your husband, And he shall rule (have dominion) over you." So a woman  is  not  to  play  the part of  a  man in the things of God.

 

In  past  years,  I’ve heard  some  religious  people, who support church sponsored Sunday schools,  reason in this manner:  “Since women  are  to  ask  their  husbands  at  home, and  single  women  don’t  have  a  husband,  then  SINGLE  WOMEN  are  helpless  in  asking   questions  of  their  husbands.    Therefore,  the  scriptures  in I Corinthians 14:33-35  are  old  fashioned  and  useless,  and  only  applied  in  Paul’s  day.”    This argument  against I Cor. 14:33-35 seems to  have  carried  over  until  today.    Recently,  by  coincidence, while surfing  my  television channels,  I   heard   Joyce Meyer, a  woman  preacher  on  public  television,  declare   that   I Cor. 14:33-35 was  a  custom  in Paul’s day, and his statements  in  these scriptures  only  applied  then.  The  custom  has  changed, and  these  verses  no  longer apply  today.       However, Paul  states  in  verse 37 of  I Corinthians 14, “If any man think himself to  be a  prophet, or spiritual, let  him  acknowledge  that  the  things  that  I write  unto  you  are  the  commandments  of  the  Lord.”  Yes, the  Eternal Lord  and  Creator  gave   the  commandment - John 1:1-14;  Ephesians 3:9;  Colossians 1:1-29.

 

Whenever women  (married or single)  teach in the public church assembly or church Sunday school classes, -  they violate  a  command  of  God,   not a custom -  (“for it  is  a shame  for women to speak  in the church”).    In  I Timothy 2:11-12, “Let  the  woman  learn in silence with all subjection.   But  I  suffer  not  a woman to teach (‘to instruct, deliver didactic discourses’ Ref. # 1321)  nor to usurp authority over  the  man (Ref. # 831, ”to govern  or exercise dominion  over one”), but to be  in silence.”   Notice: There are two things that a woman is  forbidden  to do “in the church”.    (1) She may not teach, and (2) she may not usurp authority over the man.   There are some people who have argued that a woman may teach “as long as she does not usurp authority over the man”.   That is not what this scripture says.  Why are women not to teach in a public, church assembly?      Paul  answers  this  question  in I Timothy 2:13-14, “For Adam was  first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was  in the transgression.” 

 

The man (Adam) was  first in  the  creation  before  the  woman (Eve), both being  made in the spirit image of God (Genesis 1:27).  “For man is  not  from woman, but woman from man.  Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.”  (I Cor. 11: 8-9).   Also the woman being  made  from a  rib  of  man (Genesis 2, verses 18-24) was first  in  being  deceived by  Satan  and   first   in   committing   sin (Genesis 3).       Although  Adam  was   not  deceived,  but  did  sin,  man  was   given   the  work  of   eldership  and/ or  overseer  in  the  Lord’s  church (I Timothy 3:1-13 and  Titus 1:5-9).     And  so,  it  would   be   wise   for  one  not   to   rewrite   the  Word   of   God  to   suit   himself  (Galatians 1:6-10;  II Timothy 2:15).      No doubt,  a  single woman  could privately ask  an  elder,  a  preacher,  her  father, or  any  bible -studied  man  any  question(s)  since “it  is  a  shame  for  women  to  speak (‘used  in  the  N.T. of  teachers’, Ref. # 2980) in  the  church.” ( I Cor. 14:34-35).    

 

Does  man  have  the  authority  to change  God’s Word?     I  have had  religious  people  tell  me  that  men  in  their  congregation  give women  the  right  to speak and  teach  in the church, as well as  the right to be elders (?)  & deacons (?).   WOW!    This  kind of  reasoning defies both Ephesians 1:22-23  &  Colossians 1:18  which  declare  that  Christ “is the head  of  the body,  the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He  might have the preeminence.”     The  Apostle  John  indicated  that  men defied  Christ  in  his day - Third John v. 9, “but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them,...”     Who  should  have  the ‘preeminence’ (‘first place’, Ref. #’s 4409, 5383 ‘authority’)  in the Lord’s church?     

 

Concerning whether a  woman  has the right  to  be an elder or  bishop (‘overseer’,  Ref # 4245;  # 1985)  or  a  deacon  (‘servant, attendant’ -  Ref. # 1247),  the  Bible  reads in I Timothy 3:1-13  that  one  of  the  conditions  was  that  he  be “the husband of one  wife.”    Christ’s  judgment  gets  very  direct & serious  in Matthew 7:21-23.      To “many” Jesus  will  say  “I never knew you: depart  from  Me,  you  who  practice  iniquity“ (‘vice, lawlessness, violation  of  one  without  law  of  God’, Ref. #  458).

 

When  considering  whether  women  CAN  or  CANNOT  teach,  nor  usurp authority  over  men in the public church assembly,  the  question  is  often  asked: “Can  women  sing  in  the church assembly?”  (Eph. 5:9;  Col. 3:16).   Without  going  into  an  extensive  review,  singing  is  not  teaching  as  spoken  in  these  verses.   If  singing  were  teaching,  then  each  person  would  have  to  sing  solo  or “one  person  at  a  time” -  (I Corinthians 14:29-33).

 

Another  question emerges  from Titus 2:3-5 which  reads, “The aged women likewise, that they  be  in  behaviour as  becometh holiness, not  false accusers,  not given to  much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober (Ref. # 4994, “discipline, correct, make of sound mind”) to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be  not blasphemed.”      Based  on other scriptures  in  the Bible,  this  teaching by  women  is  not  to  be  done in the public church assembly,  “for it is a shame for women to speak (Ref. # 2980 - preach, speak, talk”) in the church.”     However,  privately a  woman  may  teach anyone, even  a  man (Acts 18:26), and the apostle Paul outlines both public and private  teaching  (Acts 20:20). 

 

In Acts 18:26 the scripture  tells  of  a certain Jew  named  Apollos,  mighty in the scriptures but knew only the baptism of John: “And he began to speak boldly in  the  synagogue: whom when  Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.     This scripture has reference in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Ref. #  4355, as: “to take to one’s self  - Acts 17:5; Acts 18:26.”     Note that “take to one’s self”  is of a private nature.

 

PRIVATE  (OR HOUSE-TO-HOUSE)  ASSEMBLY?

 

Let’s  consider  PRIVATE or  FROM  HOUSE-TO-HOUSE  teaching.    The  Merriam-Webster’s  Collegiate  Dictionary  reads: Private: (a) intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class.   (b) belonging to  or concerning  an  individual  person, company,  or   interest (a house).  (c) restricted  to  the individual or  arising  independently  of  usual  institutions.”

 

“From house to house” Acts 20:20 - Ref. # 3624, Thayer’s Lexicon defines  it: “in  a household  assembly,  in  private.”     Strong’s Greek Dictionary - “of  uncertain affinity;  a dwelling;  by implication,  a  family: -  a home,  house(hold),  temple.”

 

In the early days of the Lord’s church, they didn’t  have  buildings  erected  for “the called out” public worship, and so they were  compelled to, sometimes, meet in their  private dwellings for public worship (Romans 16:3-5; I Cor. 16:19;  Col.  4:15;  Philemon 1:1-2),  as  well as other buildings  and  places (Acts 5:42, 20:7-12).    However,  the  word of  God  deals with two types of teaching: Public and Private.   A building or dwelling does not determine  whether  teaching  (or  anything)  is  public  or private.     It’s whether  the assembly:“belongs  to  the  people or state, open to  all  the  public” - or - “intended  for  or restricted  to  the  use of  a  particular person, group, or class, a household, or private.”

 

When  people  consider  the  difference  between Public and/ or Private teaching,  it seems  that some FABRICATE definitions - giving  personal  opinions  to  the  meaning of  both  words.  I have known a  few people who say that, in  a  private Bible  study, or  house-to-house  study  of  the Bible,  only  two, three, or few people  (no more  than  two or three  families)  can  come  together  and  do  this  type  of  private  teaching and  studying.     And  more  than  three  families coming  together  in  a  private  home or building to  study  the Bible - IS WRONG.”    Well,  let’s  see how  the Word of God  describes a Private Assembly:

 

In  Matthew 24:3  it  reads  (KJV),  “And  as  he  sat  upon the  mount  of  Olives,  the  disciples  came unto  him PRIVATELY saying,  ‘Tell us,  when shall these things be?    And what shall be the sign of  thy coming, and of  the end of  the world?”  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines Privately, # 2398, part 2 as: private,  severally, separately,  apart.”

 

  • Mark 6:32,  “And  they  departed  into  a  desert  place  by  ship  PRIVATELY.
  • Luke 9:10, “And  the  apostles, when  they  were  returned, told Him  all  that  they  had  done.    And  He  took  them,  and  went  aside  PRIVATELY  to  a   desert  place  belonging  to  the  city  called Bethsaida.”    
  • Acts 23:19, “Then the chief  captain took  him by the hand, and went  with  him  aside  PRIVATELY,  and  asked  him,   What is  that  thou  hast  to  tell  me?”
  • Galatians 2:2, “And I  went  up by  revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among  the Gentiles, but  PRIVATELY  to  them  which  were  of  reputation, lest  by  any  means I  should  run,  or  had  run,  in vain.”

 

In Acts, chapters 10 & 11, it tells of the Apostle Peter, and six (6) Jewish  brethren  going to  a  Gentile’s  house.    In  preparation  of  Peter’s arrival, Cornelius  had  called  together his  relatives and  close  friends (Acts 10:22-24).   While some people try  to  reason  that  this  was a public church Sunday school class,  it  is  obvious it was a  private gathering by Cornelius, since he was  told  to send  for Peter:  “Who shall tell  thee  words,  whereby  thou and  all  thy  house  shall  be  saved.” (Acts 11:13-14).    How  many  people  were  there  in  that  private  gathering  of  kinsmen  and   near  friends,  invited  by Cornelius?    We  are  not   told.     But  it  certainly  was  quite  a  number of   people.   Obviously,  not  2  to 6  people,  nor two or three families.

 

It  is also  reasoned  by  some people  that  when Aquila and  Priscilla  (Acts 18:26)  took Apollos  “unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly”  this was an  example  of  a  public church  Sunday school class, with a  woman teaching.    No, “to  one’s self  (or  private  nature),”  is  not  an example  of  public church Sunday school classes, with women teaching.

 

Next,  it  is pointed  out  by  some  that  there  were  several  women prophetesses’ mentioned in  the  Old Testament Law.   And in the New Testament  of  Christ  there was  Philip, an  evangelist, who had  “...four virgin  daughters, who  did  prophesy”  (Acts 21:9, Ref. # 4395 - “foretelling  future  events  pertaining   esp.  to  the kingdom of God” - Thayer’s Lexicon.   Also  Strong’s Lexicon: “to  foretell events,  divine,  speak  under  inspiration,  exercise the  prophetic   office,- prophesy).

 

It  is  then reasoned  by  some  people  that  these  scriptures  are examples  of  public church assemblies  and/ or Sunday school classes with women teaching.    But  one  needs  to  show  the  scripture(s)  that  reveal  these  women  divinely  teaching  Publicly.    While  women   may  teach  privately, yet  where  in  the scripture(s) does it teach or suggest that any  of  these  women  prophesied  publically - whether  in  the  O.T. Temple, or in  the Lord’s Church assembly? 

 

Now, there is no question that women are just  as  smart  and  intelligent as men (or as senseless  and silly as men), which  is  not  the question.    While  some  societies  and  men  mistreat  women,  yet  God  loves women (John 3:16),  and  all  men &  women should read Ephesians, chapter 5; Colossians, chapter 3; and Titus, chapter 2.     In fact, in describing  a  virtuous  woman  (Proverbs 31:10-31)  it  reads,  “She  is  like  the merchant ships;  she brings her food from afar.”    “She considers  a  field and  buys  it.”  “She opens her mouth with wisdom,  And  on  her  tongue is  the law of  kindness.”    “She  watches  over  the  ways  of   her  household,  And does  not  eat  the bread  of  idleness.”    And  in  Acts 16:14, it tells of Lydia,  who was  in  the business  of  selling  purple  fabrics.    However, “it  is  a  shame (Ref. # 149, ‘base, dishonorable, shameful’) for women to speak  (“teach,  preach,  or be teachers - Ref. # 2980) in the church.” - a commandment of  the Lord.    Of course, most Bible preachers  and  teachers won’t  tell  you  this.    I wonder why??

 

CLOSING  THOUGHTS.

 

In  the Word of God, no  restrictions  are  placed  upon  the Christian  man  as  to  where  he  may  teach.    However,  the  man  is  to  be  controlled  and  governed  by  the  Word  of  the Lord, as well as  to  use  wise  judgment  in  teaching  the  Lord’s  truth  (John 1:14, 14:6), “rightly dividing  the  word of  truth” (2 Timothy 2:15;  2 Peter 3:16).    “For  ye   may  all  prophesy  (Ref.  # 4395, ‘teach,   refute,   reprove,   admonish,   comfort’ ) one  by  one,  that  all  may  learn, and all may be comforted” (I Cor. 14:31).   But  a  man  may  teach  both publicly &  privately (Acts 20:20).

 

A woman,  however, is  limited  to  the  place  she  may  teach -  privately.     Simply  stated, where  a  woman  may  teach  she  may  teach  anyone,  even  a  man.    But  where  a  woman  may  not  teach,  she  may teach  no one - not even a child, another woman, nor a  man.     In  recent  years,  society  has   gone  beyond  the  Word  of   God  and  argued  that  I Corinthians 14: verses 34-35  and I Timothy 2: verses 11-14  were  just  referring to  social customs  -  and  the customs have  changed.      But  the  apostle wrote  in I Corinthians 14:v. 37 “...the  things  that I  write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”

 

From  the  time  Sunday schools  were  given  birth  in  denominations during  the early days of the 1800's, they  have fostered  divisions  in  the church,  promoted  women  preachers,  women elders, women deacons, and  created   many  other   kinds   of   man-made  creeds,  doctrines,  and  titles.

 

Many churches  now  own and  operate child care centers,  nursing homes,   hospitals,   sports centers, and so forth.   While Christians may individually own and operate businesses, yet  the  Lord’s  church  was  not  established  for  that   purpose.     In  fact,  some  churches  claim  that  they  are  not  about  religion  or   worship   to   God,  they’re  about  getting   together   to  have  fellowship,  subsidies,  and  good  times.     However,  in  I Timothy 3:verse 15  this statement  is  made:  “so  that  you  may  know  how  you  ought  to  behave (‘conduct,’ Ref. # 390) yourself  in  the church  of  the living  God, the pillar and ground of  the  truth.”   

 

The  Lord’s  church  has  the  responsibility  to  teach  the Word of  God .   This   helps   to  sustain  one’s  spiritual  life  and  eternal  salvation.   But   the  Lord’s church  has  no  right  to invent an  unscriptural  method  for  teaching children and  adults.      The church Sunday school bible classes  will  not qualify  as  being  private, nor  fit  the  pattern  of  God’s Word  as  the  private  work  and  teaching  by  an  individual.     In  fact, James  records  in  chapter 3: verse 1, “My brethren,  let  not  many of you become  teachers, knowing  that we  shall  receive a  stricter judgment.”(NKJV).     Let’s  have  love  for  the Lord  and  His Word of  truth and teach  it  in  love (Eph. 4:15),  but  know  that:we  shall  receive  a  stricter  judgment (‘condemnation’ - # 2917).”   In Christ’s love, Don Snow

 

[I wish to thank Brother in Christ, Jerry Cutter  (from an article “Teaching” in The Proclaimer of Truth  - dated February 1, 1960),  and my son-in-law, Bro. Mark Grant for some  scriptural  thoughts  presented in this report.] - Don Snow