PREACHER, PREACHING. Preaching is the proclamation of the Word of God recorded in the Bible and centered in the redemptive work of, summoning men to repentance, faith, and obedience. It is God’s appointed means for communicating the Gospel of salvation to the unbelieving world and for strengthening the spiritual life of His people.
The basic content of preaching.
The apostolic message (kerygma), in its essential substance and general outline, can be reconstructed in these terms. In fulfillment of OT prophecy, the new age of salvation has dawned through the ministry, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, now exalted as Lord and Messiah. The presence of thein the Church testifies to Christ’s present power and glory. The Messianic Age will reach its consummation at the return of Christ in judgment. God’s action in Christ promises forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and eternal salvation to all who repent and believe in Jesus (cf. C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments, 3-73).
On the basis of this reconstruction the following observations can be made about the Christian message: (1) it consists of a definite body of facts; (2) it is essentially neither a doctrinal nor philosophical system, still less an ethic, but a proclamation of those mighty acts in history whereby God has accomplished the salvation of His people; (3) it is centered in the Person and work of Christ, esp. His cross and Resurrection; (4) it is organically related to the OT; (5) it imposes a stern ethical demand on men; and (6) it has an eschatological dimension, looking forward to a final fulfillment yet to be. The only preaching that strikes all of these chords stands in the apostolic tradition.
Preaching and teaching.
Throughout the history of the Church, preaching often has assumed the form of extended exposition of Biblical passages, doctrinal instruction, ethical exhortation, or discussion of various aspects of Christian life and experience directed to largely Christian audiences. With the publication of Dodd’s work (u.s.), however, it has become fashionable to differentiate sharply between “preaching” (κηρύσσειν) and “teaching” (διδάσκειν) in the NT sense of the terms by restricting “preaching” exclusively to evangelistic proclamation to the unconverted. Alan Richardson alleges, “In the NT, preaching has nothing to do with the delivery of sermons to the converted...but always concerns the proclamation of the ‘good tidings of God’ to the non-Christian world” (A Theological Word Book of the Bible , 171, 172).
Although it would not be accurate to argue that in the NT sense preaching and teaching are identical, the two are nevertheless so intimately related that to draw a hard and fast line between them is equally untenable. In both cases, the basic content is the same: the Gospel of eternal salvation through the death and
The divine character of preaching.
The main words for preaching in the NT ring with authority. This authority lies not in the person of the preacher, but in the message entrusted to him. True preaching does not consist in man’s ideas about God, or in his sanctified religious ponderings and reflections, but in the divine Word of revelation that sets forth God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ and the full purpose of His will for men.
The preacher’s message is also charged with divine power. After expressing his eagerness to preach the Gospel at Rome, Paul added that this Gospel is “the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (
Preaching in the NT further is marked by a sense of divine compulsion. The authentic Christian preacher proclaims the Gospel not merely by personal choice or preference, but by the irresistible call and appointment of God (
P. Brooks, Lectures on Preaching (1877); P. T. Forsyth, Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind (1907); J. Denney, “Preaching Christ,” HDCG, II (1912), 393-403; A. J. Gossip, In Christ’s Stead (1925); G. A. Buttrick, Jesus Came Preaching (1932); C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments (1936); H. H. Farmer, The Servant of the Word (1941); J. S. Stewart, Heralds of God (1946); F. R. Webber, A History of Preaching in Britain and America, I (1952), II (1955), III (1957); J. S. Stewart, A Faith to Proclaim (1953); E. C. Dargan, A History of Preaching, reprint (1954); J. B. Weatherspoon, Sent Forth to Preach (1954); J. Knox, The Integrity of Preaching (1957); R. H. Mounce, The Essential Nature ofPreaching (1960); D. Ritschl, A Theology of Proclamation (1960); E. P. Clowney, Preaching and (1961); J. R. W. Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait (1961); C. H. Thompson, Theology of the Kerygma (1962); P. C. Marcel, The Relevance of Preaching, tr. (1963); R. C. Worley, Preaching and Teaching in the Earliest Church (1967).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
2. The Preacher’s Limitations
3. A Man with a Message
4. Preaching a Necessary Agency
5. Biblical Terms and Their Meanings
6. The Hebrew Prophets
7. Christ as a Preacher
8. The Apostles as Preachers
9. Fundamental Postulates
(1) Preach the Word
(2) "We Are Ambassadors"
In thesense a preacher is a man who has the inner call from the and the external call from the church the witnessing body of Christ on earth, and has been duly set apart as an accredited and qualified teacher of the Christian religion. His vocation is that of addressing the popular mind and heart on religious truth, as that truth is set forth in the sacred Scripture, for the spiritual profit of the hearer as its end. The preacher, recognized as such by the church, speaks as a personal witness of God’s saving truth, explaining it and applying it as the circumstances of the people and the time may require. The gravity and importance of this vocation, as set forth in the sacred Scriptures and amply illustrated in the history of the church, surpass those of any other calling among men. Luther said, "The Devil does not mind the written word but he is put to flight whenever it is preached aloud."
2. The Preacher’s Limitations:
The preacher, in the sense indicated above, is with all other Christians a sharer in the freedom that is in Christ. But as a recognized teacher and leader of the church, he is not an unattached and entire unrestricted teacher. He is not to speak as his own, but as the mouthpiece of the church whose apprehension of the gospel he has voluntarily confessed. The faith of the church is, by his own assent, his faith, and her doctrine is his doctrine. He is not expected to give his own, as distinct from or opposed to the faith of the church in whose name he has been set apart to proclaim the gospel. Both the personal and the representative or official are united in him and his preaching.
3. A Man with a Message:
His work is always to be related to the
4. Preaching a Necessary Agency:
No agency of religion is older than preaching. It is as old as the Bible itself (
5. Biblical Terms and Their Meanings:
6. The Hebrew Prophets:
Thus, while preaching belongs especially to Christianity, it has well-defined antecedents in the Old Testament. Under both the old and the new dispensations the subject takes the church for granted and utters the testimony, not simply of a solitary believer, but of a divinely-founded society, whether it be of Jews or Christians. The older books in the Canon have in them the beginnings and some of the features of the preacher’s office and of the high function of preaching. In them we find a special class of men set apart and separated unto that particular work, as we find in the Christian church, from its beginnings, the same divinely instituted office. The Hebrew prophet had a message direct from God, which frequently came with supernatural knowledge in the power of prediction. The mission of the prophet, however, was simply or chiefly to forecast the future, but to declare a present message from the Lord to the people. The prophet of the Old Testament was the forerunner in office and the prototype of the ambassador of Christ. With the development of the synagogue as the center of Hebrew worship, application as well as interpretation of the Law became essential.
Moses, the most commanding figure in Hebrew history, was a prophet, and no messages in the Old Testament are more imbued with power, sublimity and pathos than those uttered by the great lawgiver. He became the guide Israel, not so much by his rod as by the word he delivered to the people. There are numerous indications that after Moses there was a continuous class of religious teachers whose work it was to instruct men and inspire the people, as is indicated in the cases of Joshua, in the history of Deborah and Barak, and in the days of solemn assembly which are inconceivable without men who spoke and other men who listened. In the time of Samuel there was a distinct advance made in the work of the prophets, and the prophetic office had become a fixed institution. There were schools of the prophets at Bethel, Jericho and Gilgal, the very seats of heathen idolatry. Under the Old Testament dispensation the whole course of progress was toward presenting divine truth in its simplicity and power, by bringing it to bear upon the popular mind and heart. One of the marks of the new era beginning with John the Baptist was a revival of prophetic preaching (
See PROPHECY, PROPHETS.
7. Christ as a Preacher:
The words meaning "to proclaim as a herald" and "preaching," are frequent in the New Testament. The mission of our Lord was essentially one of proclaiming good tidings concerning the Kingdom of God (
8. The Apostles as Preachers:
The preaching of the apostles was essentially prophetic in character, and bore testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus and His early return to judgment (
9. Fundamental Postulates:
Upon the basis of what is taught in the word of God there are two fundamentally important postulates concerning preaching and the preacher.
(1) Preach the Word.
The first note of preaching is that it be the word of God (
(2) "We Are Ambassadors."
The work of preaching is the fulfillment of a divinely instituted ambassadorship (
David H. Bauslin