Is there a difference between preaching and teaching? If so, what are the differences?
The teacher’s desk
For those who have the gift of teaching, they have an almost insatiable appetite to learn from the Word of God. They have a deep and passionate desire to dig into spiritual truths. They carefully sift through the teachings of others. They are on a mission to discover and then validate the truths they find in the Bible, without taking anyone’s word. They honor the scriptures rather than their own experience. They keep the church focused on the Word. They have a strong sense of discernment because they spend a lot of time in the scriptures. They can’t stand not having an answer when someone asks them a difficult question about the Bible or the Christian’s walk with Christ. They readily admit their own mistakes and those of others. They know the essentials backwards and forwards. They don’t focus on the non-essentials of faith. They place great importance on the original languages of the Bible such as Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. They are never emphatic about gray areas where the Bible is unclear. Their study habits are extraordinarily good. They place great importance on learning from other Christians (Prov 17:17, “iron sharpens iron”).
The pastor’s office
One thing the pastor has in common with the teacher is that they have discernment. They can often sense a doctrinal error a mile away. They can see the “half” in a half-truth and know that that makes a whole lie. Like the teacher, they focus on the original languages of the Bible and also focus on explanatory preaching, verse by verse. They keep the church focused on Christ, the cross, repentance, the holiness of God, the divinity of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, and the need for forgiveness for themselves and for others. Like Jesus, they should be meek and lowly in spirit (Luke 4:22), but they sometimes express righteous indignation and evils in society when they preach about them. They are not afraid to preach on the wrath of God and hell. They never sweeten or sweeten the gospel; they preach it with force. They are not afraid to offend because the Word cuts but it cuts to heal.
Differences between preaching and teaching
A teacher, such as in a Sunday school class, will try to get the students to ask the questions and not give them all the answers; he expects them to study and find them. Like Jesus when he was teaching, a good teacher asks them questions when they are asked a question. The pastor does not do such a thing from behind the pulpit because there is no feedback from the congregation during the sermon, at least not during the message anyway. Pastors may have the gift of teaching, but not all teachers can be pastors. The office of pastor is not a gift; it is a call, first and foremost, from God. For the pastor, there is an overwhelming feeling of “There is nothing you can do but preach.” Paul felt it while writing “Woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel”(1 Cor 9,16b). For Jeremy it was like this: “If I say, “I will no longer mention him or speak in his name”, there is in my heart like a blazing fire locked in my bones, and I am weary of holding it back, and I cannot»(Jer 20, 9). Another difference between a pastor and a preacher is that a teacher may not be qualified for pastoring. They might not be called of God. They may never have been ordained and called by the church. They might not have that inner appeal.
Is it about teaching and preaching?
The teacher may not go verse by verse in expository teaching… instead, he may focus on a theme or teach on a certain topic, topic or chapter. A preacher can do that too, but the preacher’s main text is still the Bible. He will focus on the Word of God while the teacher will try to focus on a lesson from the Bible. To preach is to preach the Bible effectively, from the Bible and on the Bible. A teacher will focus on the content, stories or characters of the Bible. The Greek word for preaching is kērussō and it means “to announce” and it is considerably different from the teaching as you can read in 2 Tim 4: 2 which says “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, rebuke and exhort, with full patience and teaching. “Typically, teachers don’t suppress, rebuke, or preach (announce) the Word in a classroom, so as you can see, teaching and preaching are not the same things at all. Some pastors have teachings in their preaching but teachers don’t preach in their teaching, if that makes sense.
It is clear that there are differences between teaching and preaching, but the preacher can teach but the teacher never preaches. They are both necessary for the church to grow in faith and knowledge of the word so that the body of Christ can “”grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [and] To him be the glory now and until the day of eternity(2nd Peter 3:18).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is the pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.