Wherever religion is freely exercised, religious schools are established in order to promote that religion and train the proponents of that religion. In Philip Schaff’s eight-volume History of the Christian Church (Vol.5, p.534, 1907), we read, “Education and the advance of true religion are inseparable.” This complete union of the Christian religion, its free exercise and its educational endeavors are clearly recorded in the Bible.
The word teach and its various forms are found 178 times in 170 verses of the Bible. In addition, the word taught is found 81 times in 79 verses. The history of the Bible is a history of religious teaching.
Abraham (Abram) had 318 trained servants (Genesis 14:14). Although, they were trained to fight, Abraham also taught all those in his household (this would include servants) to “keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19). This occurred approximately 2,000 years before the time of Jesus Christ.
More than 500 years later, God gave the law to the children of Israel by way of the man Moses. The priests were commanded to “teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses” (Leviticus 10:11). The Levites were to “teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law” (Deuteronomy 33:10). In later years, one of the prophets decried the absence of “a teaching priest” (2 Chronicles 15:3).
Around a thousand years before Christ, at the beginning of the times of the kings of Israel, we are introduced to the “company of prophets” (1 Samuel 10:5, 10; 19:20) who are later called the “sons of the prophets” (1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:1-7, 15; 4:1, 38-41; 5:22; 6:1-7). The sons of the prophets were obviously formed for the purpose of training and have been used for models of training since that time. They were ruled by more experienced prophets and had special places where they stayed with them (2 Kings 6:1-7).
About five hundred years before Christ the Jews were allowed to return to their land and rebuild Jerusalem. When the priest Ezra came, he saw it as his job “to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). Traditionally, he is given credit with establishing much of the training that formed the Jewish mind around the time of Christ.
The life of Jesus Christ was constantly one of teaching (Matthew 21:23; Luke 11:1). He chose twelve of his disciples to be apostles and put them through a special three year long training course (Luke 6:12-13; Acts 1:21-22). The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), which is accepted by many churches as their primary mission statement, speaks of teaching two times: “teach all nations” and “Teaching them to observe all things.” The apostles continued the teaching ministry of Christ after His death and resurrection (Acts 4:18; 5:25, 28, 42).
The office of teacher was one of the major ones in the New Testament churches (Acts 13:1; Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Hebrews 5:12). One of the qualifications of the pastor (i.e. bishop) is that he be “apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2; 4:11; 6:2; 2 Timothy 2:24).
Paul, the great missionary, was as much a teacher as he was anything else. He testified, “I teach every where in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17). He came and taught in the church at Antioch (Acts 15:35). He stayed for a year and a half in Corinth in order to establish the church (Acts 18:11). While in Ephesus for two years, he taught in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9-10).
In fact, the Apostle Paul gives what amounted to a command for churches to establish centers of Bible training in 2 Timothy 2:2: “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.” This verse is the theme of our Bible school.