This is the eleventh part of a 12-post series from Jonathan Edwards’ (1703-1758) sermon on Hebrews 5:12, titled The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth. The first part covered Edwards’ definition of divinity (theology), the second focused on what kind of knowledge is included in divinity, the third considered the usefulness and necessity of knowing divinity, the fourth discussed knowledge in divinity as the chief end of man’s faculty of understanding, the fifth asserted that there is nothing more worthy to be studied than divinity, the sixth declared why divinity is of infinite importance to all people, the seventh argued for the infinite worth of divinity based on God’s great works of revelation, the eighth asserted that God gave us the Bible to be studied, the ninth declared that the subject matter of divinity is inexhaustible, and the tenth focused on knowledge of divinity as an essential part of our high calling. Now we turn to his discussion of God having appointed teachers to help us grow in knowledge of divinity:
God has appointed teachers to help us grow in knowledge of divinity.
It may be argued from this, that God hath appointed an order of men for this end, to assist persons in gaining knowledge in these things. He hath appointed them to be teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers.” Ephesians 4:11-12, “He gave some, apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” If God hath set them to be teachers, making that their business, then he hath made it their business to impart knowledge. But what kind of knowledge? Not the knowledge of philosophy, or of human laws, or of mechanical arts, but of divinity.
If God have made it the business of some to be teachers, it will follow, that he hath made it the business of others to be learners; for teachers and learners are correlates, one of which was never intended to be without the other. God hath never made it the duty of some to take pains to teach those who are not obliged to take pains to learn. He hath not commanded ministers to spend themselves, in order to impart knowledge to those who are not obliged to apply themselves to receive it.
The name by which Christians are commonly called in the New Testament is disciples, the signification of which word is scholars or learners. All Christians are put into the school of Christ, where their business is to learn, or receive knowledge from Christ, their common master and teacher, and from those inferior teachers appointed by him to instruct in his name.