It is the special ability that God gives to people to explain and apply the Bible, in a way that helps others learn easily, enjoyably and effectively. It is a pre-requisite of being an elder/pastor (1 Tim 3:2&9 and Titus 1:9-16). The ‘person’ gift of the Teacher mentioned in Ephesians 4 would be a person that has a very mature and recognized gift of teaching. Examples from scripture.
• Neh 8:8: ‘They read from the book of the law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read’.
• Acts 18:24-28: ‘Apollos was a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures…he spoke with great fervour and taught about Jesus accurately… he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.’
• Peter in Acts 2 and Paul later in Acts exhibit the gift of teaching from Old Testament scriptures. • Jesus: referred to as the Great Teacher in Mt 23:10. • Heb 12:26-28: Teachers are those who (1) Read scripture (2) Explain it (3) Apply it to our lives.
How will I know if I have this gift?
You will enjoy research, study and reading, but you will also be a gifted communicator. You will be concerned for biblical accuracy and context. When you discover a new truth, you will long to pass it on to others. You will get great satisfaction out of someone ‘getting it’. The best teachers are those with both good content and good delivery. People will tell you that they enjoy the way you preach/teach/lead the bible study. People will be pleased when they find out it is you who is preaching/teaching. Please note that some people are excellent researchers and very studious but are no good at delivering the truth to others. These people are better off serving someone who is good at the delivery side of things by researching and writing books and so on. Also remember that there are different capacities and types of this gift, so not everyone will be suited to the same teaching context. Some people thrive on small, interactive groups, and others on preaching to large groups.
How can I grow in this gift?
Pray for more of it. Study diligently. Seek out a mentor to learn from with the same attitude of Elisha in 2 Kings 2:2-9.