Questions about Bible Class
I. In recent weeks, I have received a number of questions regarding Bible classes.
A. It became apparent to me that Christians as a whole do not understand the purpose of these classes.
B. It is not just locally, because I have received many of the questions from Christians in other areas.
C. I think it would be beneficial for all of us to examine these questions.
II. Can a church hold Bible classes?
A. The reason for the question is because you can’t find a verse that says congregations should hold Bible classes, but this does not mean the authority is not there.
B. There is a duty or office in the church of teacher
1. Eph 4:11-16 - Along with the evangelist, the teacher is to equip Christians for their work of service to God, to unite them in a common purpose, and to help everyone reach spiritual maturity.
2. I Cor 12:28-29 - Some, but not all, are teachers
3. If someone is designated a teacher, then there must be students - Gal. 6:6
4. If we have a teacher and students, then there must be a class.
5. Just from this verse we can conclude that a church is to teach the Scriptures to its members through classes taught by teachers.
C. All Christians need to develop the ability to teach
1. II Tim 2:24-26 - Able to teach and then explains how to teach.
2. Heb 5:12 - Teaching is something you grow up to do
3. James 3:1 - But not all Christians will take on the duties of a teacher.
a. It holds heavy responsibility that many are not mature enough to handle.
b. You are accountable for everything you say.
D. How classes are conducted is up to the individual congregations.
a. Sometimes done when an individual has a specific problem
b. Acts 18:24-28 - The example of Apollos
2. In people’s homes
3. In public arenas
4. In facilities that a church has rented or purchased
5. In combination of the above.
E. However it is done, one thing is certain - a church is required to have teachers instructing the Bible.
III. Is a church limited to only teaching its adult members?
A. The reasoning behind this question is the fact that fathers are given the responsibility for bringing up their children in the Lord - Eph 6:4
1. However, this verse does not mean that only the fathers do the teaching.
2. Mothers, too, can teach their children - Prov 1:8; II Tim 3:15; II Tim 1:5
B. I John 2:14 - The apostle John directs his teaching to children and young people
1. The children know God - they have learned something important
2. The young people are spiritually strong, the teaching of God lives in them, and they are able to defeat Satan.
C. We can conclude that a father can take advantage of a variety of sources of teachers to instruct his children in God’s word.
IV. Can a woman teach?
A. The simple answer is yes - Titus 2:3-5
B. However, there are firm limits on whom a woman may teach and when they may teach.
1. A woman cannot hold authority over a man - I Cor 11:3; I Tim 2:11-15
a. A woman cannot be in charge of a class where a man is present.
b. Reason: Eve was formed after Adam.
c. Reason: Eve was deceived by sin and not Adam.
d. She can assist a man in teaching another man - Acts 18:26
2. I would conclude that a woman can participate in a Bible class so long as she does not dominate it or direct the discussion.
3. There is a further restriction forbidding a woman from speaking out during the worship - I Cor. 14:34-37
a. Reason: It is not permitted to speak in the church (i.e. during the worship service)
b. Reason: It is shameful for a woman to speak in the church
c. This does not mean she cannot participate in the worship, for how would she fulfill the command to sing in Eph 5:19? Or confess Christ before baptism?
d. This means that a woman cannot preach, lead a prayer, lead singing, or read Scripture to the assembly. In other words, a woman is not permitted to address the congregation during worship.
e. Some say as long as the elders authorize it, it is all right because she is acting under the authority of the elders. However, the elders cannot authorize what is forbidden.
4. A woman can speak in mixed company that is not a part of the worship
a. Acts 5:8 - Sapphira answered Peter’s question
b. Acts 12:12-15 - Rhoda announcing Peter’s release. Notice it was during a gathering for prayer
V. Is Bible class a part of worship?
A. Since a woman is forbidden to speak during worship, if Bible class is worship, then a woman would be forbidden to speak in class.
B. Bible class can be a part of the worship, depending on how the class is conducted by the congregation.
1. If a church, as a part of their worship, decided to hold an instructional session were the men would be allowed to ask questions and make comments during the lesson, then the class would be a part of the worship for the same reason that preaching is a part of the worship - Acts 2:42
2. To be a part of the worship, it must be done where the whole congregation is called together for the purpose of worship - I Cor. 11:18,20,33
a. If a congregation decided to hold worship, but then divided its members into different groups, each doing its own thing then the congregation has violated God’s order for worship.
b. For example, some denominations have women’s devotional, a men’s devotional, and a children’s service in different parts of their building
3. However, every coming together of the church is not solely for worship.
a. We can come together for other reasons as well - Acts 15:4,22
b. At these times, we may divide up into smaller groups to accomplish some purpose - Acts 15:6
4. We know that is proper to hold classes in each other’s homes. If we could all divide into classes scattered across the city, why could we not divide into classes, but meet in the same facility?
a. These study sessions are not a part of the worship of the church, though acts of worship may take place in the class (prayer, singing, instruction).
b. Reason: The church is not gathered as a whole
c. Reason: The church is not gathered at that time for the purpose of worship
VI. The congregation here fulfills its duties to teach in a variety of ways
A. We hold individual classes for those who are interested
B. We have special topic classes held from time to time, held in homes and sometimes held here in the building.
C. We hold regular studies on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday evenings.
D. All these classes will do no good unless there are students willing to learn.