My last post was a brief exposition of the key passage on theological education found in 2 Timothy 2:1-2. Some important conclusions may be drawn from that passage.
Paul’s poignant emphasis on this spiritual genealogy brings to light three special characteristics of the spiritual instruction (or theological education) required in this passage.
- First, and very clearly, the spiritual instruction in view has a special class of men in view as its recipients. Though it is certainly true that the Great Commission requires every disciple of Christ to be taught to observe all things that Christ commanded (Matt. 28:18-20), here it is plainly not every disciple of Christ which is to be taught in the way which Paul requires in this passage. Those to be taught must be especially “faithful” men who possess a special aptitude to “teach” others. To put it plainly, those to be taught are not the next generation of Christians, but the next generation of Christian pastors and teachers.
- Second, consequently, and clearly, the instruction in view is not the general instruction of all Christians, but the special instruction necessary for Christian leadership. Of course, the subjects of study are generally the same, but the depth of truth into which these men were to be taken was much greater than that into which the ordinary Christian could or should or needed to be taken. What was true even in Paul’s day is, of course, even more true for us as we apply Paul’s words to our generation. Of course, the greater depth of understanding into Christian doctrine and Apostolic tradition given to those Paul has in mind in 2 Timothy 2:1-2 must continue. Yet, as noted above, the exigencies of the history of the church in which the precise implications of the deposit of truth Paul gave to Timothy by means of great theological controversies will require that the instruction given include a knowledge of the accumulated church history and historical theology of 20 centuries. Also as noted above, the spread of the gospel and the church into nations whose native languages are not Hebrew and Greek will require that Christian teachers be instructed in the original languages of the Bible. Associated with such studies, the geography, history, and culture associated with these languages will have to be considered in such instruction.
- Third, those specifically charged with the work of theological education in the passage are Paul, Timothy, Faithful Men, and Those Able To Teach Others Also. It is clear that it is a special class of Christians to whom the work of theological education is committed. It is those men who have been spiritually gifted by Christ to be faithful teachers of the Word of truth. This means that, while the authority of the church must be respected in this work, the role of faithful teachers in this church must be emphasized. It is the specific responsibility of the Christian ministry to engage in this work of theological education. There is something more, however, that may be reasonably deduced in regard to this matter. The work of theological education is not equally the responsibility of every pastor-teacher. Just as Christians have different gifts, so Christian pastors have different gifts. It stands to reason that the work of theological education may fall more heavily and squarely on the shoulders of some pastors particularly gifted for this work and their churches than on others.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.