We gather regularly for instruction in the Word of God, not simply to learn knowledge about God, but that our faith in Jesus Christ might be strengthened, and that we might live by that faith in our lives. We call this kind of teaching “catechesis.” Receiving our Lord’s teaching from the Holy Scriptures is a way of life for us, young and old alike, from the cradle to the grave. Our Lord is with us wherever His Word is faithfully taught and received. Jesus said:

“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

As we learn in the Table of Duties, the Apostle Paul insists upon “doctrine” as one of the most important duties of a bishop (1 Timothy 4:13, 16; 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:2). Doctrine is not naturally known but must be learned. The act of teaching is known in the church as “catechesis” and the knowledge imparted by teaching as “catechism.” The word katechesis means instruction by word of mouth, especially by questioning and answering. It is commonly used for instruction in the elements of religion, especially preparation for initiation into Christianity.

St. Luke indicates that his Gospel was written in part for this purpose: “that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:4). In Acts 18:25, Apollo is described as “instructed [katechemenos] in the way of the Lord”. St. Paul uses the word twice: “I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach [katecheso] others also” (1 Corinthians 14:19); and “Let him who is taught [ho katechoumenos] the word share in all good things with him who teaches [ [to katechounti]” (Galatians 6:6). Hence the word, with its technical meaning of oral religious instruction, is applied both to the act of instructing and the subject-matter of the instruction.

Catechesis is much more comprehensive than mere education and involves the actual doing of things that Christians will continue to do for the rest of their lives: attend Divine Service, listen to preaching, receive the Lord’s Supper, confess their sins, receive absolution, pray, confess their faith, forgive one another, live as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, workers of every kind, etc.