10 Key Bible Verses on Teaching the Bible

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

All commentary notes adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

1. 2 Timothy 4:1–4

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Read More

The Ultimate Charge. Having just reminded Timothy of his early training in Scripture and of the power and divine origin of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15–17), Paul exhorts him to preach this word (2 Tim. 4:2ff.). Chapter 3 ends with a reference to being competent and equipped, and 2 Tim. 4:1–8 then describes the specific “good work” of leadership that Timothy is now to show himself competent to do: 2 Tim. 4:1–2 present the charge, followed by the reason why this is necessary (2 Tim. 4: 3–4); v. 5 returns to the charge in contrast to the evil of the current situation; and in 2 Tim. 4:6–8 Paul provides another example, heightening the seriousness of his charge with a reminder that his death is imminent.

Paul places his charge to Timothy in solemn eschatological perspective by reminding him that he conducts himself under the gaze of God and Christ, that Christ (not those around him, whether opponents or faithful believers) is the one who will ** judge him, and that Christ will certainly return (his appearing). Christ’s kingdom** is then the ultimate reality with which Timothy should be concerned.

The charge itself is spelled out in five imperative verbs (with four more in 2 Tim. 4:5). Preach the word refers back to “Scripture” (see 2 Tim. 3:16) and thus includes proclaiming the “good news” of the gospel in a broad, biblically anchored sense. “Gospel” for Paul is not only an evangelistic presentation; the gospel is the core message (found in the whole of Scripture; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16) which can be applied to unbelievers (a call to faith) or to believers (a call to continue to believe in and live out the implications of this message). Thus, the way to preach the gospel is by expounding the Scriptures. be ready in season and out of season. When it is convenient and when it is inconvenient. Reprove, rebuke, and exhort means the communicating of all that Scripture includes—doctrine, instruction, correction, and encouragement. Patience in such teaching is again encouraged (see 2 Tim. 2:24–26).

the time is coming. Since Paul exhorts Timothy on how to respond when these things occur, it is apparent that he is not referring merely to some time in the distant future but to a situation he expects Timothy to face (or to be already facing; see 2 Tim. 3:1; 1 Tim. 4:1–3).Itching ears indicates a yearning for novelty that results in a pursuit of teachers who will tell people what they want to hear (to suit their own passions) instead of orthodox teachers like Timothy.

Driven by their own desires, people will readily accept fanciful myths rather than the ** truth**.

2. Romans 12:4–8

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Read More

The diversity and unity of the church is illustrated by comparison to the human body. Just as the human body is one with many members (lit., body parts, limbs), so the church is united though it is composed of many members. On the theme of the church as the body of Christ, see also 1 Corinthians 12 and Eph. 4:4, 12–16.

The variety of the body is evident from the various gifts God has given the church. On the gift of prophecy, see notes on Acts 21:4; 21:10–11; 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 2:20; 1 Thess. 5:20–21. in proportion to our faith. Paul instructs prophets to speak only when they have faith or confidence that the Holy Spirit is truly revealing something to them, and not to exceed the faith that God has given them by trying to impress others.

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3. Galatians 6:6

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Read More

Paul instructs the church to support its teachers materially—with food, money, and whatever good things are appropriate.

4. Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Read More

Putting on the Virtues of Christ. Paul calls the Colossians to a holy lifestyle, consistent with their new identity. Believers have been chosen by God and stand before him as his beloved holy ones. They are to live up to what they are in Christ.

The word of Christ probably refers to the teaching about Christ as well as the words of Christ himself, which were part of the oral traditions passed on to believers in the early years after Christ ascended to heaven, before the Gospels had been written. Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs is one means of teaching and admonishing. Corporate worship has a teaching function through the lyrics of its songs. This was particularly important in the oral culture of Paul’s day.

5. 2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Read More

In 2 Tim. 2:14–26 Paul introduces the false teaching (2 Tim. 2:16) and explains how Timothy should respond to it and be different from the false teachers. In 2 Tim. 3:1–9 he describes the false teachers more extensively. Having exhorted Timothy to steadfast endurance, Paul now begins to address the problem directly.

Timothy in Contrast to the False Teachers. Paul contrasts Timothy and the false teachers: 2 Tim. 2:14–19 contrast Timothy’s faithful ministry with the worthless ministry of the opponents; 2 Tim. 2:20–21 provide an illustration; in 2 Tim. 2:22–26 Paul exhorts Timothy not to be drawn into sinful desire and needless controversy, and counsels him on how to handle his opponents.

Do your best, i.e., “Be zealous” (Gk. *spoudazō). The believer must zealously pursue God’s approval. One way to do this is to make sure one is rightly handling Scripture, which contrasts with the meaningless disputes of the false teachers.

6. James 3:1

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. Read More

Taming the Tongue. James establishes the general principle that small things can cause great results (James 3:1–5a) then more specifically applies this to the power of the tongue to destroy (James 3: 5b–12).

Teachers were important in the early church (Acts 2:42; Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11), and those who were ambitious sought teacher status for the wrong reasons. However, with greater responsibility comes greater expectations by God (Luke 12:48; Heb. 13:17), and teachers will be judged with greater strictness (lit., “greater judgment”), since they are accountable for more.

7. Matthew 28:19–20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Read More

The Risen Jesus’ Great Commission. As the resurrected Lord, Jesus calls upon his followers to make disciples of all people groups through the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom.

Teaching is a means by which disciples of Jesus are continually transformed in order to become more like Christ (cf. Matt.10:24–25; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). observe. Obey. I am with you always. Jesus concludes the commission, and Matthew his Gospel, with the crucial element of discipleship: the presence of the Master, who is “God with us” (cf. Matt. 1:23).

8. 2 Timothy 2:1–2

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Read More

what you have heard from me. Throughout this letter, Paul emphasizes the message Timothy has received from him (see 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:8). As Paul faces death, he encourages Timothy to pass the gospel on to faithful men who will in turn teach others, so that the gospel is preserved for coming generations.

9. Deuteronomy 6:4–7

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Read More

Hear, O Israel. This verse is called the Shema from the Hebrew word for “Hear.” The LORD our God, the LORD is one. The Lord alone is Israel’s God, “the only one.” It is a statement of exclusivity, not of the internal unity of God. This point arises from the argument of ch. 4 and the first commandment. While Deuteronomy does not argue theoretically for monotheism, it requires Israel to observe a practical monotheism (Deut. 4:35). This stands in sharp contrast to the polytheistic Canaanites.

love. See Deut. 4:37. ** all. That the Lord alone is Israel’s God leads to the demand for Israel’s exclusive and total devotion to him. heart … soul … might**. All Israelites in their total being are to love the Lord; “this is the great and first commandment” (Matt. 22:38). In Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27, Jesus also includes “mind.” In early Hebrew, “heart” included what we call the “mind”. “Might” indicates energy and ability.

lon your heart.l Deut. 4:39. The demand is for a heart that totally loves the Lord. Deuteronomy anticipates the new covenant, when God’s words will be truly and effectively written on the heart (Jer. 31:31–34; also Deut. 30:6–8).

10. Titus 2:1–8

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Read More

Paul describes “what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), i.e., the type of living that corresponds with the gospel. Some argue that the behavior commanded here is not universally required but is culturally bound to the first century. They argue that the ground for this behavior is to avoid offense (see note on Titus 2:5, 8, 10). However, v. 1 roots this behavior not in cultural ideas but in “sound doctrine” itself. Paul addresses the behavior of the church according to typical groups within the family structure (older men, older women, younger women, younger men, bondservants), with special attention to age and gender. While there are similarities in what is expected of each group, there are also distinctives.

But as for you indicates the sharp contrast that must exist between people, on one hand, whose deeds disprove their claim to know God (Titus 1:16), and Titus, on the other hand, who must teach the people to live in a way that accords with sound doctrine, i.e., that will affirm rather than deny their claim to know God.

The instruction to older women and young women is intertwined because part of the role of a Christian older woman is to train (Gk. sōphronizō, “to give instruction in wise behavior and good judgment”) the younger women. The topics comprising the teaching of the older women in Titus 2:4–5 are very practical and focused on the domestic sphere. Working at home does not prohibit working outside the home (cf. Prov. 31:16, 18, 24) but it does indicate that Paul expects wives to carry the primary responsibility for the day-to-day care of their homes and children. Yet this is to be done while being submissive to their own husbands, supporting their husbands’ leadership role in the family. While other instructions could be included, the focus here is on older women helping younger women learn about being godly wives and mothers.

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