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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 16

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 16.—Human Directions Not to Be Despised, Though God Makes the True Teacher.

33.  Now if any one says that we need not direct men how or what they should teach, since the Holy Spirit makes them teachers, he may as well say that we need not pray, since our Lord says, “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him;” 1959 or that the Apostle Paul should not have given directions to Timothy and Titus as to how or what they should teach others.  And these three apostolic epistles ought to be constantly before the eyes of every one who has obtained the position of a teacher in the Church.  In the First Epistle to Timothy do we not read:  “These things command and teach?” 1960   What these things are, has been told previously.  Do we not read there:  “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father?” 1961   Is it not said in the Second Epistle:  “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me?” 1962   And is he not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth?” 1963   And in the same place:  “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” 1964   And so in the Epistle to Titus, does he not say that a bishop ought to “hold fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers?” 1965   There, too, he says:  “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:  that the aged men be sober,” and so on. 1966   And there, too:  “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.  Let no man despise thee.  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers,” 1967 and so on.  What then are we to think?  Does the apostle in any way contradict himself, when, though he says that men are made teachers by the operation of the Holy Spirit, he yet himself gives them directions how and what they should teach?  Or are we to understand, that though the duty of men to teach even the teachers does not cease when the Holy Spirit is given, yet that neither is he who planteth anything, nor he who watereth, but God who giveth the increase? 1968   Wherefore though holy men be our helpers, or even holy angels assist us, no one learns aright the things that pertain to life with God, until God makes him ready to learn from Himself, that God who is thus addressed in the psalm:  “Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God.” 1969   And so the same apostle says to Timothy himself, speaking, of course, as teacher to disciple:  “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” 1970   For as the medicines which men apply to the bodies of their fellow-men are of no avail except God gives them virtue (who can heal without their aid, though they cannot without His), and yet they are applied; and if it be done from a sense of duty, it is esteemed a work of mercy or benevolence; so the aids of teaching, applied through the instrumentality of man, are of advantage to the soul only when God works to make them of advantage, who could give the gospel to man even without the help or agency of men.



Matt. 6.8.


1 Tim. 4.11.


1 Tim. 5.1.


2 Tim. 1.13.


2 Tim. 2.15.


2 Tim. 4.2.


Tit. 1.9.


Titus 2:1, 2.


Titus 2:15, Titus 3:1.


1 Cor. 3.7.


Ps. 143.10.


2 Tim. 3.14.

Next: Chapter 17

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