how is the bible taught?

The Bible is taught by preaching (announcing/heralding) and teaching (explaining). This can, does and should take place in a variety of ways and contexts.

God’s word defined who the Israelites were and how they were to live. In Deuteronomy we see Moses preaching and teaching, announcing and explaining God's’ law to the people. However, the teaching of the law did not end when Moses stopped speaking.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates,  so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Because of the importance of God’s word, the teaching of it was to take place in a range of places, at multiple times, with different groups of people. It was (and is) foundational to everyday life and so is taught and learned in that life.

For the people returning to Jerusalem after the exile God’s word was again crucial to re-establishing God’s people in God’s place. The combination of preaching and teaching can be seen again in Nehemiah 8

Nehemiah 8:8

They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

God’s law was announced to the people by reading it and then a number of priests went among the people explaining what had been read. The important thing was that the people understood what they were hearing. It was not assumed that everybody got everything the first time they heard it and, again, the preaching and teaching took place with a range of people, groups and methods.

As Jesus starts to build his church in the New Testament, his word is still the fundamental shaping influence on that rapidly growing community.

Acts 2:42-47

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 5:42

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

God’s written word (about God’s incarnate word, Jesus) was the central thing in this brand new church. They were devoted to His word, which again saw people learning by preaching and teaching. This took place every day, in the temple and in homes. The word was not confined to the temple because it can’t be confined to the temple.

Throughout Acts we see God’s word being spread:

  • in multiple languages 2:11
  • through impromptu speeches to gathered crowds 2:14-36, 3:12-26, 8:5-6
  • in the temple  2:42-27, 5:20-21, 5:42
  • and in homes 2:42-27, 5:42, 28:23, 28:31
  • in speeches made when being charged/threatened/persecuted 4:8-13, 7:2-53
  • by all Christians who were scattered due to persecution 8:4, 11:19-20
  • one to one 8:26-39
  • in small groups 16:14, 16:32
  • in synagogues 9:20, 13:5, 13:15, 13:43-44, 14:3, 17:1-3, 17:10-11, 17:17, 18:4-5, 18:19, 19:8,
  • to the church 11:26, 14:27, 20:7-11
  • in apologetics talks to unbelievers 17:17, 17:22-31, 19:9-10

All these cases refer to the word being preached, or taught or spoken. We do not not know the form which that took in every example but it is clear that God’s word was announced and explained in a variety of ways, by different people, to different sized groups in different places.

We are called to preach and teach the word. To announce who God is and what he has done and explain what that means. The bible shows that this can take place in a variety of ways and should take place in a variety of ways.