Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Word studies are for more than just scholars. A belief in the integrity of the King James Bible can guide any serious seeker of the truth. A public school teacher who is a Christian mother had asked me for guidance on the difference between the words "train" and "teach". I encouraged her to do her own study and the results are worthy to be published, not just to show the difference in the two words, but also to encourage anyone that they also can find truth in their bibles without commentaries.
I began this word comparison study when I drew a question during devotions one day. The question I had was “What is the difference between teach and train? How do I ‘train’ my children, but ‘teach’ my public-school students? What is the meaning between the two?”
I began with searching the results of the two words in the KJV Bible.
Train- 3 occurrences
That finding alone was intriguing. ‘Train’ is only used three times and each entrance has a different meaning.
1 Kings 10:2 “train” is used as a noun in the form of an animal caravan.
“And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.”
Isaiah 6:1 its used as a noun in the form of a piece of clothing.
“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”
Proverbs 22:6 is the only time the word train is used as a verb. An action verb no less.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. “
To me that enlightened me to the great deal of emphasis that the Lord has placed on Proverbs 22:6 in the fact that it’s the only use of the word train as an action. An action we are to have towards our children nonetheless!
Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘train’ as a noun and a verb.
As a noun:
A form of transportation
A form of clothing
A gear system
As a verb:
Teach over a period of time
Taught through practice
Mentally or physically sharp from a result of instruction or practice
Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘teach’ solely as verb.
As a verb:
To show how to do something
To give information
Profit from instruction
Encourage to accept something such as a fact or principle of a matter
Taught by experience
Just the dictionary differences shows the importance emphasis that ‘training up your child’ from just teaching. But deeper digging to the meaning of ‘teach’ is still needed.
Since ‘teach’ is only used as a verb, I’m focusing on the one verse that focuses ‘train’ as a verb rather than a noun.
To teach….what’s the difference?
Instead of just relying on the Webster’s Dictionary I looked into all of the verses using the word ‘teach’ and separated them into functional categories. I was able to group them into the following 8 categories by referencing what the word ‘teach’ is showing ownership to. For example, many explain you are to teach them my laws and statutes. The ownership is shown in laws and statues, which would categorize this form of ‘teach’ into that of -to making known.
To make known (as making know the laws, statutes, commandments etc.)
To utter what’s learned
To be wise
To go/walk along
To give instruction
To inform or indoctrinate
To guide or lead
To become something (to be sober)
What struck me is that in all of the ‘teach’ verses there is nothing to mention that of disciplinary action. There would show the answer to my question of what is the differences between ‘train’ and ‘teach’? They seem so close at hand to another in many of the references. But when it comes to our ‘training’ our children in Proverbs 22:6, the Lord didn’t just command us to ‘teach’ them by using the above categories….he instructed us to ‘train’ them which would require an amount of discipline. Not just corporal punishment discipline and sparing the rod towards our children, but discipline to us as parents as well. We may have all the aspects of knowledge, wit, guidance, instruction to give to our children but without discipline to ‘train’ ourselves in the laws of the Lord we will have little effect on how to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. “
In the public-school settings you cannot discipline children….in today’s society it’s overrun with Positive Behavior Rewards and Catch Them Being Good. But, to truly ‘train’ a child we will need to have that aspect of discipline as well. Now, I use much Positive Behavior Rewards in my special education classroom but also there is an aspect of discipline and respect for authority despite the fact we cannot use corporal punishment. But, I’m not debating that topic! ☺
So, even though I’ve been told that my public-school classroom is a special atmosphere ultimately there is a difference from how I ‘teach’ my students and how I ‘train’ my children. I can instruct, educate, inform and have my students gain new skills, manners and concepts but ultimately, I cannot ‘train’ them in the good and right way to help guide them in the matters that matter most in this life. But, along with my home, that classroom is my mission field. I may be the only Christ they will ever see. I can instruct them on matters more than just knowledge, manners and life skills so that someday, somehow, the Lord will allow someone to enter their lives and will be able to help grow and ‘train’ them up in the ways of the Lord to ultimately come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Training requires teaching, but ultimately discipline will govern what you both teach and train your children.