Dr. Couch, James says that not many should become teachers while the book of Hebrews says that the Jews should be teachers by now. Is there a contradiction?
ANSWER: No, not really. The point James is making is that one should be careful in becoming a teacher of the Word of God because, if one cannot live up to what he is teaching, there is a more "stricter judgment" (James 3:1). We all stumble spiritually, he says (v. 2a) but if one does not, then "he is a perfect (mature) man" (v. 2b). By now, the author of Hebrews argues, you Jews should be teachers, but instead, you are not advancing and growing in your faith because someone presently needs to teach you "the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food" (Heb. 5:12).
Baker, in our NT commentary series, points out that "the teacher's tongue is a more fertile area of offense." If the teacher is not careful he can manipulate Scripture and people as well. James is not precluding the role of a teacher but simply pointing out that the position can be abused. The stricter judgment can come upon the teacher because he is more responsible. To control the tongue is to control sin in the life, Baker notes.
There are actually two distinct contexts in these two books. One must always be watching out for the context or one can miss the point the author is making.
You had a good question. Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch