Summary: James teaches that teachers are to take the work of teaching extremely serious because they will be judged with stricter judgement!
2. In this verse James is giving those who teach and preach God’s word a serious warning. In the other verse of chapter 3 James gives serious warnings to all Christians, even if you are not a teacher or preacher.
3. The tongue is of great concern to James, being mentioned in every chapter of his letter.
(1) Let’s read James 1:19, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
(2) Now, drop down to James 1:26, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”
(3) Look now at James 2:12, “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”
(4) Interestingly, in the last half of James 2, James gives warning after warning of trying to be justified and acceptable to God by just talking and verbally claiming to be justified. James gives the warning that justification takes more than just talk. James says that justifications takes works of obedience.
4. James 3:1 gives the serious warning to those who teach and preach and then the rest of the chapter and then even chapters four and five give instructions about the proper use of the tongue.
5. In this lesson we’re going to discuss the use of the tongue as it relates to those who are teachers and preachers.
I. FIRST, JAMES 3:1, IN THE KJV USES THE PHRASE “BE NOT MANY MASTERS” WHEREAS THE NKJV USES THE PHRASE “LET NOT MANY OF YOU BECOME TEACHERS”.
1. The Greek term James used which is rendered “masters” is better translated as “teachers.”
(1) The word is not properly used in the sense of master, as distinguished from a servant or slave, but as a “school master” teaching one who is a pupil, a disciple, or a learner.
(2) Turn to Luke 18:18. Here, the rich young ruler uses the word “master” as if he meant “teacher” when he ask Jesus a question about how to receive eternal life. Let’s read Luke 18:18, “And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
2. Let’s turn and read a few passages from the KJV that translate the same Greek word that is used in James 3:1 and there translated “masters”, but in these other passages it is translated “teachers”.
(1) John 3:2: "The same [speaking of Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."
(2) Acts 13:1: "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul."
(3) Romans 2:20: "An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law."
(4) 1 Corinthians 12:28-29: "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?"
(5) Ephesians 4:11: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers."
3. All of these passages help us to understand that James is wanting his readers to understand that the serious and responsible use of the tongue relates to those who would teach and preach God’s word.
(1) James cautions the would-be teacher to give careful attention to this highly responsible activity.
(2) The teacher and preacher must practice what they teach and preach!
(3) This fits the prominent theme of the epistle of James, which emphasizes that we must be doers of the word and not merely hearers; we must act as well as believe; we must live up to what we teach.
(4) Turn to Acts 1:1. In this statement Luke let’s us know that our Lord set the perfect example of being an example of what He taught. Acts 1:1 says, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach". Jesus did and then taught. Jesus was an example and not just a spokes person.
II. SECONDLY, LET’S OBSERVE SOME BIBLE PASSAGES THAT WARN TEACHERS TO NOT TEACH FOR THE WRONG REASONS.
1. Turn to Matt. 23:8-12. Here, Jesus warns those who aspire to be preachers or teachers and want the position due to the honor and prestige they think accompanies it.