Workshop Manual
SECTION 1: THE CONCEPT OF A WORKSHOP

A DEFINITION OF PREACHING

To understand the Workshops on Biblical Exposition (or preaching workshops), we must begin with a definition of preaching. It is a somewhat elusive term in the Bible, likely on account of wide variances in content, form, audience and intention from specific context to specific context. In its most general sense, to preach is “to proclaim, to announce, to declare a word from God, to present publicly the good news, to deliver a religious discourse related directly or indirectly to a text of Scripture,” according to the Anchor Bible Dictionary.

John Stott arrives at a slightly different conceptual organization through expansive studies of a few other words (see The Preacher’s Portrait, Eerdmans, 1964). He outlines these other roles and unique characteristics of the preacher according to Biblical depictions of preaching in various social roles.

Herald (kērussō, verb) refers to announcing publicly. It is found in Mark 1:14, 1 Cor 1:23, Acts 10:42 and is used approximately 60 times in the NT. The herald is charged with the solemn yet exciting responsibility of proclaiming the good news of God. The herald’s content is Christ crucified and, as the result of his proclamation, he may expect a result. The verb itself is generally used in a public context.

Steward (oikonomeō, verb) certainly refers to, in part, the preacher’s role as a steward or manager of the household affairs. But, this role also refers to the preacher’s incentive and the content of his message. As a steward of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1), he is motivated by the trust placed in him, the responsibility given to him to care for God’s household. The content of his message comes from God in the form of the Scriptures. As a steward, he manages the household but does not provide the goods for the household. He is, instead, to use the full breadth of the goods entrusted to him. In other words, the preacher is to skillfully use the fullness of the given Word.

Witness (parakaleōs, noun), taken in the legal sense, refers to one who bears a special relationship to the Godhead and who is called to testify on His behalf. Stott’s summary concludes that “Christian witness is borne by the Father to the Son before the world through the Holy Spirit and the Church.” In other words, the Father is chief witness (sending both the Son and the Spirit), the Son is the object of witness (of whom the Spirit and the gospels bear witness) and the Holy Spirit is the called witness for He speaks with living words to and through men in the Scriptures. He is the Paraklētos. The preacher in the Church functions like and with the Holy Spirit. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).

Father (patēr, noun) refers to the preacher’s love and gentleness as “preaching involves a personal relationship between preacher and congregation.” The preacher’s role as a father should be understood in only two ways. First, the word father can refer to the one who has been the means of another person's conversion. It is used in that sense in 1 Cor 4:14ff. The word can also be used in the sense of guide (as is implied in 1 Corinthians 4). While he may, on occasion, play the role of disciplinarian (such as the word guide implies contextually), he wishes to serve as a gentle, understanding and earnest fatherly example. The word should never be understood as indicating an authoritative or intermediary role for those properly belong to the Godhead in a Spiritual context.

Servant (diakonos, noun) refers to the twofold role comprising personal service to another and service taken at another’s command. In this way, it distinguishes itself from other words (oiketēs, doulos, hupēretēs) which are certainly used to describe the workers of ministry. And though it certainly refers to a proper office in the Church, it is also used to describe an element of the preacher’s role. The word is used in 1 Cor 3:5 to describe Paul and Apollos as “servants through whom you believed,” not in whom or by whom. The word servant is also paired with steward in 1 Cor 4:1 to describe Paul and his ministry.

Preaching, then, is the public, ardent teaching or proclamation and application of a Biblical text in the power of the Holy Spirit. Inasmuch as the preacher’s message is dependent on the original meaning, it is authoritative and binding—the very Word of God. His character and activity should reflect that of a herald, steward, witness, father and servant.