555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

366. How Long Have We Had a Trained Ministry?

The Bible informs us that even in the days of Samuel there were "schools of the prophets," in which men were trained for the high function of moral and spiritual teaching. The priests and Levites were trained in the knowledge of the ecclesiastical law and the ceremonies, In later Jewish history, twelve great institutions for educating priests, teachers and elders existed. Jesus himself passed a considerable portion of his ministry in instructing and training his disciples. We read in Acts that the apostles imitated his example in personally instructing the younger disciples. John spent his later years teaching at Ephesus, qualifying youths for the ministry, and Mark did likewise at Alexandria. Early Christian training schools were established in Cesarea, Antioch, Laodicea, Nicomedia, Athens, Edessa, Seleucia, Carthage and in Mesopotamia and there were many minor institutions of the same class. Thus all the evidence goes to show that even from the earliest days, those who were designed to convey God's message to the hearts of men were set apart, consecrated, and fitly prepared. It is so today. A trained and educated ministry is essential to the advancement of religion just as training and preparation are needed in other vocations. The apostles, even if they had nothing more, had a course of several years' personal training with the great Master as their teacher before they were sent out on their full mission. It is true that many converted laymen, and women, too, have done and are doing noble work in soul saving, but they are exceptional and the fact that their labors are owned and blessed of God is not a valid argument against a trained ministry, but rather the reverse. With due training they might have accomplished even more.