“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
In chapter three, James shifts to a new subject – controlling the tongue. A good measure of maturity in the Christian life is how we control our speech. The mouth manifests that which is on our hearts. The first 12 verses show Christians how to control their speech. Christian work comes by words.
James continues to address his comments to believers. The use of “my brethren” is an indication of a new subject.
let not many of you become teachers,
A “teacher” is someone who officially teaches the Word (Ac 13:1,14,15; 1 Co 12:28; Ep. 4:11). An office carries great privilege, but it also carries great responsibility. Some people want prestige without the responsibility of their teaching. A teaching role can hold great honor, and that is why some seek the role.
Mt 23:2-12, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The word “many” indicates that there are not many people qualified to teach God’s Word. Few are fit to do this noble task because it requires 1) a giftedness for it, 2) discipline in doing it, and 3) skills to properly understand God’s Word.
knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment
Teachers will face “stricter judgment” in their present life on earth by divine discipline because God holds them to a higher standard for what they teach than others do.
Acts 20:27-31, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Note James includes himself in the word “we.” God holds apostles and leaders to this high standard as well.
2 Ti. 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
1 Ti. 4:6-7, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.”
Unauthorized teachers of God’s Word set themselves up for double discipline.
Teachers of God’s Word are to take very seriously the responsibility to accurately represent what the Bible teaches. Much of today’s Bible teaching is the most superficial and erroneous Christianity has faced for many generations.
Careful and thorough teaching of God’s Word is foundational to all Christianity. We cannot articulate God’s Word accurately without a deep sense of responsibility and careful study of what it says. So many today are ill-equipped to teach the Word that they misrepresent the mind of God to the mind of man.
Those who use the office of Bible teachers for their own purposes step into a divine discipline in their lives. Those who faithfully teach God’s Word will receive a special reward for doing so.