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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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The Bible often mentions preaching and teaching together, for the two are closely related. It seems at times that there is little difference between them. The same person was usually both a preacher and a teacher (Matthew 4:23; Matthew 11:1; Acts 5:42; Acts 15:35; Colossians 1:28; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 4:2; see TEACHER).

Sometimes preaching is proclamation, such as in announcing the good news of the gospel to those who need it (Luke 4:18; Luke 9:6; Acts 8:4; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:40; Acts 17:18; Galatians 1:11; Galatians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:9), while teaching is more concerned with the instruction of those who already believe the gospel (John 14:26; Acts 18:11; Acts 20:20; 1 Corinthians 4:17; Colossians 2:7; Colossians 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:11). Teaching is necessary also for those who do not believe (Luke 4:31; Luke 5:3; Luke 21:37; Acts 4:2; Acts 5:21; Acts 5:25; Acts 18:11; 2 Timothy 2:24-26), while preaching the great facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ is still necessary to challenge the believer (Romans 1:15; Romans 16:25; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Colossians 1:28; 2 Timothy 4:2).

It is therefore probably better not to make too sharp a distinction between preaching and teaching. To preach the gospel is to preach Christ. God’s message for believers and non-believers centres in him. The gospel is more than just the message of salvation; it is the whole new life in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23-25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:11-12; 2 Corinthians 1:19-22; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6; see GOSPEL).

Authority in preaching

God wants the world to learn about him, to know him personally and to be instructed in what he desires for them. He has therefore revealed himself; he has spoken to the human race he created. He has done this dramatically through his Son Jesus Christ, but he has also given a written revelation through the Scriptures (John 1:1; John 1:14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Since God has given these Scriptures to his people, those who preach and teach them have a special responsibility to God. God has entrusted his revelation to them, and therefore they must be careful how they use it. They must make it known in a manner that is faithful to its meaning and at the same time beneficial to the hearers (1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:15).

Preachers and teachers, though they reveal and announce a message that is not their own, should treat that message as if it were their own. It must become, as it were, part of them before they give it out to others (Jeremiah 20:8-9; Ezekiel 2:8-10; Ezekiel 3:1-3; Revelation 10:8-11). They are doing more than merely passing on someone else’s message; they are instructing their hearers (Acts 20:20). But the only authority in their instruction is that of the Word they preach (Acts 20:27). The spiritual authority of the message comes from God, not from the preacher (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:7).

Honesty in preaching

If preachers are dependent on God for the benefits their preaching brings to others, they will express their dependence through constant prayer. They will also live righteously, so that their lives are consistent with their message (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Timothy 4:16). Yet they must put thought and effort into their ministry (Colossians 1:28-29) and must work constantly at improving the quality of their performance (1 Timothy 4:13-15).

Among the dangers that preachers face is the temptation to adjust the message to win approval from the audience. This is the fault for which false prophets were consistently condemned in the Old Testament (Isaiah 30:8-11; Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 23:16-17; Jeremiah 23:21-22). By contrast true messengers of God say what needs to be said, whether or not it is what people want to hear (Jeremiah 1:17; Micah 3:8; Mark 12:14; 2 Timothy 4:2). Whatever Scripture he is expounding, they interpret and apply it honestly. They do not twist it to make it mean something different from what the biblical author intended (2 Corinthians 4:2). At all times their concern is to gain God’s approval, not to win people’s praise (2 Timothy 2:15; cf. John 12:43).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Preaching'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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