Part Two: Internal Evidence

             In the first part of this article we discussed the external evidence for Pauline authenticity of the Pastoral Epistles. What follows is a look at the internal evidence.


             The issue of the genuineness of the PE becomes even more complex as the focus shifts from the external evidence to the internal. There is no questioning the undeniable truth thaPault the PE differ significantly from the other ten Pauline letters. As a result of these differences, many scholars have concluded that the PE must have been written pseudonymously.  Moreover, it is pointed out that the writer must have been highly familiar with the teaching of Paul. “The writer. . .  addresses the problems of his own day as one who has drunk deeply from the Pauline well.[1]” While the arguments based on the apparent differences between the PE and the rest of the Pauline corpus appear scintillating, the content of the PE are better understood as genuinely Pauline. The following issues make up the primary areas of dispute.



            The first internal difficulty deals with reconciling the events mentioned in the pastorals with those recorded for us in the book of Acts. Some are not convinced that the events in the PE coincide with the accounts written in acts and therefore, submit that the writer must be manufacturing allusions that would give the impression of an historical setting.[2] For example, 1Timothy depicts Paul on his way to Macedonia, while Timothy is back in Ephesus, and Paul is longing to return there to see his protégé (1 Tim. 1:3; 3:14). This seems to conflict with the picture in Acts 20 wherein Timothy meets Paul in Macedonia rather than remaining in Ephesus. Titus 1:5 indicates that Paul had spent time in Crete and left Titus there to continue the work of the ministry. However, the only reference of Paul being in Crete is the brief comment found in Acts 27:7-13 and fails to imply any reference to ministry work. A final example is found in 2 Timothy 4:13 in which Paul requests a cloak left at the house of Carpus at Troas. In order for the request to be understandable it seems logical that Paul must have recently visited Troas. However, this is difficult to line up with the timeline given in Acts 20.


            Several insightful responses have been given to these objections. First, it is important to realize that the book of Acts was not meant to be an exhaustive description of the early church,[3] highlighting every detail of the apostle’s journeys. We know fairly little of what Paul did during those years and there are huge gaps when other events could be squeezed in[4]. For example, when did the events mentioned in 2 Cor.11:23-27 occur? Or what about the three years Paul spent in Ephesus recorded in Acts 20:31; none of Paul’s trips are recorded during that time. The second imprisonment theory offers credence to those who affirm Pauline authorship. This theory suggests that Paul experienced a second imprisonment after the one mentioned in Acts 28. This means that Paul was released from his imprisonment spoken of in Acts 28, served for a few more years and eventually was imprisoned a second time in which he was soon martyred. This theory can be attested by the fact that the book of Acts seems to indicate reason for Paul’s release. Furthermore, 1 Clement 5:7 reports that Paul journeyed “to the outer limits of the west” (i.e. Spain), which would only happen after Acts 28, and  numerous patristic sources mention Paul’s release from Roman imprisonment. While it cannot be made certain, it seems more favorable to fit the PE within the timeline of Acts rather than apart from it.


            “Many scholars believe that the understanding of church life that is  presupposed in these letters could not have appeared during Paul’s lifetime. Specifically, they see a strongly organized church with an ordained ministry.[5]” For example, Banks maintains that the undisputed letters contain a reoccurring theme of familtexty imagery that is somewhat diminished in the pastorals. While the terms in the pastorals are generally similar to those in the other letters, the pastorals display a less dynamic view of the Christian community. Moreover, the authority of leadership has shifted from that of the community of believers to certain roles held by individual leaders within the church.[6] The assumption is that the early church began as a charismatic Spirit-led body of believers. It was only much later that the church began to establish elders, deacons, and eventually bishops for the purpose of combating error within the church.[7] While these points should be seriously considered, a few considerations warrant attention. First, it is important to recognize that Paul began establishing elders in churches as soon as his first missionary journey[8] Second, when discussing the development of ordained ministry within the PE only 1 Timothy should be seriously considered. This is seen in the fact that 2 Timothy makes no mention of ordained ministry and Titus, only a small reference to the appointing and qualifications of elders.[9] Finally, the reference to the overseers and deacons in Philippians 1:1 says just as much about ordained ministry as any of the PE do.


            A large amount of ink has been spilled over the linguistic problem found within the PE. Simply put, when contrasting the PE with the other Pauline epistles there arises a significant difference in language. The forerunner of this critique was P.N. Harrison and his work The Problem of the Pastorals.[10] In his effort to critique Pauline authorship Harrison offers a massive amount of statistical data in support of his double contention that Paul did not write the PE and that the language reflects that of a second century author.[11] Harrison’s presentation of the problem is fourfold[12]: First, Harrison points out that one-hundred and seventy-five words found in the PE are found nowhere else in the New Testament (i.e. the Hapax Legomena).[13] Second, there is the problem of the large number of words found in the PE and other New Testament writings but unknown to the other ten Pauline epistles.[14] Third, stands the problem of characteristic Pauline words and groups of words missing from the PE.[15] Finally, Harrison suggests several grammatical and stylistic differences.[16] Harrison’s extensive work has convinced many that the PE could not be attributed to Paul. Harrison’s view carries some significant weaknesses however. That a significant amount of vocabulary is unique to the PE does not warrant non-Pauline authorship. It seems ludicrous to believe that Paul’s vocabulary was limited to only that which we find in the ten Pauline epistles. Moreover, Harrison’s claim that the language used in the PE fits more in line with second century literature is weak on the basis that most of the words shared by the pastorals and the second century writers are also found in writings prior to A.D. 50.[17] Additionally, that some of the words are used with different meanings signifies that only the contexts are different, Paul also uses vocabulary with different meanings in the ten letters. [18] In the final analysis it must be observed that although the statistical data provided by Harrison is impressive, it is unable to offer the reason as to why the differences exist. Too many variables are at stake; Paul is writing to individuals instead of churches, different topics are discussed, the context for writing is different, there could be a different amanuensis, and so forth.


             Opponents of authenticity do not neglect to point out what they believe are doctrinal differences between the Pauline epistles and the PE. Some argue that the PE contradict some of the Pauline themes found in the undisputable letters and that some of the theology is un-Pauline.  Several categories are usually given:


              It is argued that some of the major Pauline themes such as the Holy Spirit, the cross, and flesh verses spirit are missing in the PE. The importance of this point comes from the idea that certain theological themes are so central to Paul’s thought and message that their omission calls Pauline authorship into question.[19] In light of this argument some considerations should be made. First, Paul is not limited to what we might feel is his core theological themes. Moreover, these types of expressions, while not phrased in the same form as the Pauline epistles have them, often incorporate Pauline terms—perhaps used in a different way, but still Pauline.[20] Secondly, the fact that Paul is writing to two individuals concerning specific historical circumstances speaks to the fact that it was not necessary to discuss basic theological topics. Finally, Mounce rightly observes that in the acknowledged Pauline epistles there may be theological themes common in one book but not in another.[21]

            Paul 2

            Some see an issue with certain Pauline terms being used differently within the PE. For example Banks understands Paul’s use of the word agape as the ethos within which members carry out all their communal responsibilities.[22] However, according to Banks, in the PE agape has lost this significant meaning.[23] It is argued that words such as faith and righteousness are severely un-Pauline. Faith for example is not seen as a gift from God but a “deposit to which nothing can be added,”[24] and righteousness is a “virtue to be sought.”[25] In response to these arguments one only need recognize that words carry semantic ranges. In other words, Paul’s theology was not so rigid that every time he used a certain theological term it always carried the same meaning. This can be attested for in the undisputed Pauline letters themselves. For example, when Paul tells the Roman church that their faith is proclaimed in all the world (Romans 1:8) it is not the gift that is proclaimed but the fact that they are Christians.[26] Therefore, the argument that Pauline terms are used differently in the PE seems insignificant.


            The fact that the Holy Spirit is only mentioned three times[27] in the PE is considerably significant to some. The problem involves the emphasis Paul gives to the Holy Spirit in his other letters; if so much emphasis is designated in the authentic Pauline letters, why not the PE? While the lack of reference to the Holy Spirit may be, at face value, unlike Paul, it should be noted that such references are not evenly spread over all Paul’s earlier epistles. In the case of Colossians and 2 Thessalonians the Holy Spirit is mentioned only once, and in Philemon not at all.[28]


            Seeking to determine the genuineness of the PE may at times create just as many questions as it does answers. Nevertheless, there seems to be a sufficient amount of evidence to satisfy an affirmative conclusion concerning Paul as the author of the PE. The early church’ reception of Pauline authorship is well established under close examination of the external evidence. It may even be probable that P46 points to the validity of the PE rather than speak against them. The internal evidence sheds additional light to Pauline authorship. The difficulties of reconciling the events between Acts and the PE are troubling at first glance. However, the difficulties seem less atrocious when recognizing that Acts is not exhaustive and in light of the second imprisonment theory. Ordained ministry, undoubtedly adapted and fine-tuned in the second century, was by no means unfamiliar to the early church as seen in Philippians 1:1 and the reference in Acts 14. Harrison’s detailed observations on the seemingly problematic linguistic issues failed to satisfy careful scrutiny and any theological terms questioned in the pastorals neglect to take into account semantic domains. Altogether, it seems fitting to conclude that based on the external and internal evidence it is highly probable that Paul is the author of the PE.

               [1] D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 555

               [2] Carson and Moo, Introduction, 561

               [3] Mounce, Pastorals, 35.

               [4] A.T. Robinson outlines a fine argument in favor of the events within the PE reconciling with those in Acts. See John A. T. Robertson. Redating the New Testament. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 67-85.

               [5] Carson and Moo, Introduction, 564.

               [6] Robert J. Banks, Paul’s Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Cultural Setting. Rev. ed. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2009), 194-195

               [7] Mounce, Pastorals, 36

               [8] Acts 14:23

               [9] Tit. 1:5-9

               [10] For a helpful summary of Harrison’s points see Carson and Moo, Introduction, 555-558.

               [11] Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles,  54

               [12] ibid, 54

               [13] Harrison, Problem, 20.

               [14] ibid, 21.

               [15] ibid, 31-38.

               [16] ibid, 38-46.

               [17] Carson and Moo, Introduction, 556.

               [18] ibid, 556.

               [19] Mounce, Pastorals, 39.

               [20] Carson and  Moo, Introduction,  565.

               [21] Mounce, Pastorals,  39-40.

               [22] Banks, Community,  195

               [23] In fact, Banks argues that a major understanding of Paul’s is the involvement of community, especially within church discipline and decision making. Thus, Banks questions whether the PE are genuinely Pauline because of the seeming neglect of communal responsibility and a shift to established roles in church leadership. 

               [24] Mounce , Pastorals,  42.

               [25] ibid, 42.

               [26] ibid, 42.

               [27] 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim 1:14; Tit. 3:5

               [28] Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles,  49.




Part One: External Evidence


             For most, there is no questioning the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles.[1] It is assumed that thesPaul letterse documents are in fact part of the canon of scripture and in essence the very words of God. However, it may surprise some that most individuals of scholarship “insist[s] that the pastorals were all written by someone other than Paul.[2]” For conservatives, maintaining such a view would take into question the genuineness or inspiration of the PE. Nevertheless, a deeper investigation of the issues may indicate that such a view is not that farfetched. In reality, the answers are not as easy as merely reading the opening words of each letter. Therefore, it seems that if one could establish authorship for the PE than the genuineness of those documents would develop accordingly. Thus, the purpose of what follows is a pursuit to establish and contend for Pauline authorship of the PE by examining both external and internal evidence. The importance of this endeavor is tersely summed up by Harrison: “We must endeavour to promote a right understanding of their message and a just appreciation of their worth, by seeking first to ascertain and establish, as far as may be, the facts of their authorship.[3]

            It seems fitting to approach the discussion by first observing the external evidence for Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles. It has well been established that the early church viewed the PE as authoritative documents along with other New Testament writings in the later part of the second century.[4] Moreover, the genuineness of Pauline authorship was not taken into sincere questioning until the nineteenth century.[5] Strong examples of these second century authorities include Clement of Alexandria who regularly connected his citations from the PE to Paul. Similarly, Ignatius, Tertullian, Justin Martyr and Irrenaeus[6] all allude to Pauline authorship of the PE. Also of significant importance is the PE listed within the Muratorian Canon. While the evidence for these second century attestations seems valuable, they still fail to display convincing conclusions. The evidence from Polycarp however, develops a substantial case for Pauline authorship.[7] Berding points out that in Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians he has an unmistakable tendency to cluster Pauline citations and allusions after he mentions the name of the apostle Paul.[8] Interestingly, contained within two specific “clusters” are clear references to passages in 1 and 2 Timothy.[9] The implication is that Polycarp considered the phrases in each cluster to be Pauline. If this conclusion is accepted, then a most important implication is that Polycarp considered the phrases which he quoted from 1 and 2 Timothy also to be Pauline.[10] The significance of this point is heightened with the understanding that Polycarp could be dated as early as 120 A.D.[11] Polycarp becomes the earliest witness to the Pauline authorship of two of the three PE by about 50 years. Moreover, it should be noted that Harrison rightly points out that “if Polycarp knew 1 and 2 Timothy, it becomes a priori more than likely that he knew the Epistle to Titus also.[12]P46


          Although the external material seems to favor Pauline authorship of the PE there remains two very important and weighty suggestions that seek to refute the above arguments. First, the PE are omitted from the Chester Beatty Papyri (P46), an early collection of Paul’s writings dating as soon as the early third century. The papyrus is missing its last seven leaves which seem to exclude 2 Thessalonians, the PE, and Philemon (it does contain Hebrews however). Those who deny Pauline authorship point out that there would have not been enough room for the scribe to include 2 Thessalonians, Philemon and the PE. The resulting inference implies that since such an early and well attested manuscript as P46 did not choose to include the PE, then they must not have been seen as attributed to Paul.  While this argument seems substantial on the surface convincing reactions have well been attested. Jeremias has demonstrated that the scribe’s writing grew smaller toward the end of the manuscript as a result of running out of writing space.[13] Therefore, it is possible that the seven missing leaves could have contained the rest of the Pauline letters. A similar case was argued by J. Duff who points out that “there is a chance the manuscript did have space for the Pastoral Epistles, since the scribe’s writing gets more compact as the manuscript proceeds.[14]” Guthrie explains that it was not uncommon for scribes to “add additional sheets at the end of a codex,[15]” and this could allow for the missing PE. The omission of Philemon may indicate that the codex only included Paul’s letters to churches and left out letters written to individuals. This may explain the omission of Philemon and the PE but the inclusion of Hebrews. If however, the above reactions were not taken into consideration this particular argument still fails to stand. This precarious form of argument of questioning the authenticity of the PE because of their absence in the papyri, if taken to its logical extreme, would have to also question the authority of all of the other New Testament books not represented in the papyri.[16]


           The second issue revolves around Marcion, a mid-second century heretic. Marcion adapted a belief that rejected any remnant of Jewish theology within the New Testament. Thus, along with the PE he also rejected books such as Matthew, Mark, and John because of their Jewish connotations. Specifically, the dilemma involves Marcion’s omission of the PE in his “canon.” Scholars opposed to Pauline authorship submit that Marcion was unaware of the PE existence and therefore conclude that Paul could not have possibly written them. However, it is Tertullian who stated that Marcion rejected the PE. Some believe Tertullian was mistaken and speculate how Marcion could have rejected such works if in fact they were already accepted by the orthodox community. Yet, it seems clear that if Marcion was willing to reject other well established books such as Matthew and John, then why would he hesitate to omit the PE? Furthermore, the PE do contain teachings that would give Marcion reason to reject them (e.g. 1 Tim. 1:8; 1 Tim. 4:3; 2 Tim. 3:16). Tertullian’s statement therefore, seems appropriate and Marcion’s omission of the PE fails to convince a non-Pauline author.

            Now that we have examined the external evidence we shall swiftly sift through the internal evidence in part two of our examination of the genuineness of the pastorals.

                   [1]  Pastoral Epistles will be referred to as PE.

               [2] D.A. Carson, and Douglas Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 555

               [3] P.N. Harrison, The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles (Humphrey Milford: Oxford, 1921), 17.

               [4] cf. Donald Guthrie. The Pastoral Epistles. Rev. ed. (TNTC  Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 2002), 20; I. H. Marshall. The Pastoral Epistles (ICC  New York: T&T, 1999), 5; and William Mounce, D. Pastoral Epistles  (WBC 46; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 14.

                   [5] Guthrie outlines a fine list of scholars in the last 200 years who oppose Pauline authorship and those who affirm it. See Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles, 21-22.

               [6] Irenaeus (ca. 188) is the first clear testimony to Pauline authorship, for he quotes phrases from the Pastorals as coming from Paul. See Kenneth Berding, “Polycarp of Smyrna’s view of the authorship of 1 and 2 Timothy,” VC 53 (1999): 349-360.

               [7] Some question the validity of Polycarp’s usage of the PE. Moreover, the author of the PE is viewed as using Polycarp. This claim has been well refuted however. See Mounce, Pastorals, 17.

               [8] Berding, “Polycarp,” 349.

               [9] The first Cluster in Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians is 3.2-4.1 and references 1 Timothy 6:10 and 1 Timothy 6:7. The second cluster is 9.1-10.1 and references 2 Timothy 4:10.

               [10] Berding, “Polycarp,” 359.

               [11] The date could be as high as 135 A.D.  See Berding, “Polycarp,” 350.

                   [12] Harrison, Problem, 295.

               [13] Mounce, Pastorals, 15.

               [14]Stanley E. Porter “Greek New Testament Manuscripts.” DNTB  675.

               [15] Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles, 20.

                   [16] Mounce, Pastorals, 15.




What is preaching? Have you ever pondered that question? For many the modern day preacher conjures up pictures of a legalistic, close-minded, money hungry, overweight, car salesman-like individual who seeks the platform of the pulpit as a means preacherto gratify his selfish ambitions. Yet the New Testament elevates the act of preaching and pictures it as the “event through which God works.[1]” Preaching is so vital to the Kingdom of God in fact, that if it were to cease no one would ever have the opportunity to hear the message of Jesus and in turn receive Christ’ wonderful gift of salvation” (Rom. 10:14-16 ESV)! The preacher stands as the mouth piece of God, announcing to the world God’s desire and will. It only seems logical therefore, that the Christian understand the role and duties of the preacher as described in the Bible. Thus, the following seeks to provide a biblical theology of preaching. A biblical basis for preaching will be provided, followed by a discussion of how the New Testament defines preaching, and concluded by two guiding principles for the modern preacher in light of the New Testament’s explanation of preaching.


Before anything can be said about the subject of preaching, a biblical foundation must be developed, offering a reason for preaching in the first place. Imagine the modern day preacher’s surprise if he discovered his hours of study and preparation were all in vain due to a lack of biblical emphasis to preach! If indeed there lacks a clear exhortation to preach in the scripture, tremendous unproductive efforts have been wrought by preachers throughout the years. Thankfully, this is not the case. The Bible has indeed set forth a strong emphasis on the importance of preaching. The Bible emphasizes preaching through the ministry of Jesus, the commandment of Jesus, the ministry of the early church, and the source of divine compulsion,

            Few doubt that the Gospel writers highlighted Jesus’ preaching ministry. In fact, one of the main reasons Jesus entered into the cosmos involved preaching. For example, in Luke 4:43 Jesus says “but he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’” When asked of John whether Jesus was actually the messiah one of the proofs Jesus gave included preaching (Lk. 7:22 ). Furthermore, Jesus sent out his disciples to “proclaim (kerryso) the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 10:7 ESV), implying the importance and significance of preaching. One of the main thrusts of Jesus’ ministry therefore, included his preaching.

            In what way does the emphasis on Jesus’ preaching ministry speak to the overall biblical emphasis on preaching today? Simply stated, Jesus’ preaching ministry highlights the importance of preaching or proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Jesus set forth for all believers through his preaching ministry an example for all Christians to follow. Because Jesus preached, we too preach! 

            Not only does the Bible emphasize preaching through the example of Jesus preaching ministry but also through Jesus’ command to preach. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven he appeared to his disciples in order to commission them before his departure. In this commission Jesus commanded his disciples to “go into all the world and preach (kerusso) the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk. 16:15 ESV). Of all the commandments Jesus could have left the disciples with, preaching revealed the one that Jesus saw as most necessary. Additionally, Peter in his sermon spoken at the house of Cornelius in Acts 10 said: “And he (that is, Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42 ESV). Therefore, preaching is important because Christ commanded that we do it.

            Just as Jesus exemplified the importance of preaching in the Gospels, so did the early church as recorded by Luke in the book of Acts. A significant example of preaching in the book of Acts comes from Stephen’s remarkable sermon as recorded in Acts 7. Preaching the Gospel was so important to Stephen that he accepted the consequences of speaking the truth in exchange for his own life. After preaching a powerful and convicting sermon to the Jewish religious leaders, Stephen was executed by way of stoning. Stephen’s boldness and courage sets forth a strong case for the essentiality of preaching for the contemporary church.

            Final biblical evidence behind the necessity of preaching lies behind what R.H. Mounce calls “divine compulsion.[2]” Preaching the Word of God results not from some trivial decision to do so, but begins with a divine movement within the heart of the individual. That is, one can’t help but preach; the preacher is compelled to preach. For example, after being told not to speak about Jesus, Peter and John respond by saying “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20 ESV). Similarly, the apostle Paul cries “For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor. 9: 16 ESV). Therefore, divine compulsion points to one of ways the Bible underscores preaching.


            Now that a biblical basis for preaching has been set forth, preaching can be defined and explained. Preaching involves both evangelism and discipleship.

           preacher 3 Generally the word “preach” carries the idea of proclaiming something. The announcer for a baseball game or the spokesman for a T.V. commercial can just as easily be called a “preacher” because they proclaim or announce information. In the ancient Greek world the most common usage of the word preach was kerysso, which meant to proclaim as a herald. The herald was a man of significant importance, employed by the king or state to make all public proclamations. The New Testament writers carried this idea of public proclamation and related it to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Preaching therefore, at its core, is “the public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world.[3]

            Preaching carries first and foremost evangelistic connotations. Preaching involves proclaiming the core truths of the Gospel, that is, Christ’ death burial and resurrection (see 1 Cor 15:1-3). The usage of the Greek word euaggelizo assists in developing this understanding of preaching. The compound Greek word euaggelizo comes from two Greek words, eu meaning “good,” or “well” and aggello meaning “to proclaim,” or “tell.” Thus, euaggelizo means “to proclaim the good news,”  “preach the Gospel,” or “to evangelize.[4]” It is at no surprise then that euaggelizo “is almost always used of good news concerning the Son of God as proclaimed in the Gospel.[5]” Therefore, the purpose of preaching consists of proclaiming the good news of the Gospel to ears that have yet to hear of it. This understanding of preaching is clearly repeatedly seen in the New Testament.

            The early church described in the book of Acts highlights preaching as the means by which evangelism takes place. The majority of the 34 references to the word preach in Acts refer to preaching for the purposes of evangelism. For example, following the dispersion resulting from the martyrdom of Stephen, Luke records that those who had scattered went about “preaching the word” (Acts 8:4 ESV). Among those preaching included Philip, one of the seven chosen in Acts 6, who had gone down to Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. The response to Philip’s message underscores the fact that Philip’s preaching was in fact evangelistic. Philip’s preaching resulted in the Samaritans (v.12) and even Simon the sorcerer (v.13) believing in the message and being baptized. Thus, Philip’s sermon to the Samaritan’s advocates preaching for the purposes of evangelism. Similarly, in Acts 11 men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had traveled to Antioch were “preaching the Lord Jesus to Hellenists.” (Acts 11:20 ESV) Again, the results of their preaching climaxed with “a great number who believed and turned to the Lord (v.21),” showcasing preaching as an evangelistic effort.

            This idea of preaching as proclaiming the Gospel to the unchurched is also emphasized in Pauline literature. In Romans 10:14-15 the apostle Paul seems to indicate that preaching is in fact the means God uses in order to reach unbelievers. Paul writes: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Ro. 10:14-16 ESV) Preaching then, is the vehicle in which the message of the Gospel is conveyed to the unsaved. The weight and importance Paul places on preaching staggers the mind, without preaching there lies no hope for the Gospel to be communicated to the world.

            Another outstanding Pauline passage that focuses on preaching as the proclamation of the gospel to the unchurched is found in Romans 15:20. Here Paul states that he makes it his “ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation” (Rom. 15:20 ESV). Schreiner notes that “named” refers to “where Christ has not been ‘confessed’ or ‘acknowledged.[6]’” Paul implies that preaching involves proclaiming the Gospel to those who have yet to hear of Jesus Christ.     

            Few deny that preaching should be defined as the proclamation of the Gospel to those who are unsaved. But what about preaching and its relationship to discipleship, is their any correlation between the biblical concept of preaching and teaching? In the modern church preaching and teaching seem to be in some ways synonymous with one another. The modern sermon may involve both preaching and teaching. The question arises however, does the New Testament see preaching and teaching as synonymous pairs or are they separate entities with entirely different functions and purposes?

            The difficulty arises when one discovers that in some circumstances preaching seems to be unique and distinctive from that of teaching. That is, preaching is solely seen as the proclamation of the Gospel to the unsaved without any inference toward teaching for the purposes of edification or discipleship. However, there are instances when the scriptural context seems to define preaching as much more than just an evangelistic effort. On occasion preaching includes an element of teaching for the purposes of growing the church spiritually.

            In Romans 1:15 Paul explains that he is “eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Rom. 1:15 ESV). If preaching is defined as solely the proclamation of the gospel to those who are unchurched, then why would Paul long to preach the gospel to those who had already heard and received it? Since Paul’s audience was already Christians, preaching must include more than just an initial presentation of the centrality of the Gospel and initial conversion.[7] The word translated “preach” is the word euangalizo, and as we have already observed its primary usage is preaching the Gospel to the lost. But as seen in this passage “it also has the connotation of explaining the fuller content of the gospel to the church, the ongoing work of teaching and discipleship that builds on initial evangelization.[8]”  So, while preaching consists of preaching the gospel to the lost, it also involves expounding and explaining the gospel more fully to the church for their edification and spiritual growth. One thing that seems clear from this verse, and the book of Romans in a whole, is that “the gospel of grace is often misunderstood and often requires a lot of follow-up clarification and explanation[9].”

            The above conclusion leads me to believe that the New Testament does not draw much of a distinction between preaching and teaching. Preaching involves a great deal of teaching and vice-versa. This is explained, for example, when the words preach and teach are used so tersely that the logical conclusion demands the same meaning. For instance, in Matthew 11:1 Jesus is pictured going into the city in order to preach and teach. It would seem odd that Matthew intended to have the reader think Jesus would be preaching something entirely different then what he would be teaching. Rather, preaching and teaching seem to be identical. Similarly, In Acts 5:42 we find the early church “every day in the temple and from house to house, not ceasing to teach and preach Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42 ESV). In this example the content of what is preached and taught is exactly the same namely, that Jesus is the Christ. Therefore, Preaching and teaching can be used interchangeably. The same type of construction arrives in Acts 15:35 where Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the lord with many others also. Again teaching and preaching are not seen as two distinct purposes but involve communicating the same content to the same group of people.

            Preaching therefore, carries a dual purpose. On the one hand preaching involves proclaiming the gospel message to those who have yet to hear of it. Like a herald in the ancient world carrying good news from the King, so the modern day preacher delivers the greatest news of all, from the greatest king of all, to a hopeless world in need of a savior. To preach is to evangelize. However, preaching includes the development of that initial gospel message for the strengthening of those who have accepted it, explaining in detail everything that is entailed in the gospel and how the believer can apply it to their everyday life. Preaching takes on the characteristics of teaching and develops more fully the implications of the Gospel. This is why Paul instructed Timothy to “preach (kerysso) the word… with complete patience and teaching (didache)” (2 Tim 4:2 ESV). 


            In light of what has been said concerning the meaning and purpose of preaching, two principles will be set forth as a framework to guide one’s preaching ministry.

           preacher 1 First, preaching should address believers and non-believers differently. As been observed, preaching contains a dual nature, a proclamation of the gospel for the unbeliever and an explanation of the gospel for the believer’s spiritual growth. Thus, whenever the preacher presents the gospel he must do so differently for both groups because they are both in need of the gospel differently. Koessler writes: “The difference between preaching the gospel to those who do not believe and to those who do is the difference between announcement and implication. Both involve obedience, but of a different sort.[10]” For the unbeliever the gospel needs to be presented as the good news of salvation, for the believer the gospel needs to be explained in depth and applied for their daily spiritual growth. The reason the gospel must be preached differently to unbelievers and believers involves a “fundamental difference between the two groups…those who do not know Christ are fundamentally incapable of living the Christian life.[11]” Before one can receive the detailed guidelines of the gospel for empowered Christian living one must first receive the empowered dwelling of the Holy Spirit in order to live a Christian life. Therefore, “when we preach the gospel to those who are lost, we hold out the hope of Christ to them and call them to the obedience of faith. When we preach the gospel to those who already believe, we hold before them the Bible’s vision of reality and call them to act accordingly[12]

            Second, preaching should include the whole counsel of God. Paul told the Ephesian elders “And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming (kerusso) the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:25-27 ESV). It has been noted that preaching involves an element of teaching the Word of God for the spiritual growth of the saints. Thus, one of the preacher’s jobs includes teaching the Bible in its entirety. That is, seeking to preach the Bible holistically and refraining from preaching only things that come easy or bring large crowds. The apostle Paul also warned that “the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV). Moreover, preaching involves speaking on tough issues. A good preacher resists the temptation of preaching only on topics that are receivable and non-controversial. Instead, if a biblical passage covers material that is not socially acceptable the preacher remains faithful and preaches the truth withoutcompromise.      

            The emphasis the New Testament places on preaching testifies to its importance. Preaching, as outlined above, includes a dual nature, both the proclamation of the gospel for unbelievers and the expounding of the gospel for spiritual growth for the believer. Because of this understanding preaching should address the believer and the unbeliever from different approaches. To the unbeliever the gospel is presented as the call for salvation. For the believer the gospel is presented as the call to an obedient lifestyle. Furthermore, preaching should seek to include the whole counsel of God, preaching all the truths from scripture.

            [1] Robinson, Haddon W.  Biblical Preaching.  (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 19.

            [2] Mounce, R.H.  “Preaching,”  Pages 1023-1024 in The New Bible Dictionary.  Edited by J. D. Douglas.  (Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity, 1962), 1023.

            [3] Ibid. 1024.

            [4] Zodhiates, Spiros, ed.  The Complete Word Study Dictionary.  (Chattagnooga: AMG, 1993.), 668.

               [5] Unger, Merrill F. and White Jr., William.  Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980.), 481.

            [6] Schreiner, Thomas R.  Romans.  (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 1998.), 770.

            [7] Ibid. 53.

            [8] Cottrell, Jack.  Romans. ( Missouri: College Press, 2005.), 59.

            [9] Ibid. 59 

            [10] Koessler, John.  Folly, Grace, and Power:  The Mysterious Act of Preaching.  (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2011.),114.

            [11] Ibid.  115. 

            [12] Ibid. 116.