The Case for Preaching (part 2)

January 12, 2007

Last Friday (on the Case for preaching part 1) we considered some voices from the past in support of preaching. This week, I’d like to turn to the bible itself. Does Scripture make a case for preaching? You decide.


Old Testament

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Ex 9:16 – the first preacher?)

“In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them.” (Deut 1:3)

“The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.” (2 Kings 24:2)

“So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo.” (Ez 6:14)

“My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.” (Ps 71:15-17)

“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: ” ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.” (Jer 2:2)

“The LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them.” (Jer 11:6)

“Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 21:2)

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2)

“Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.” (Zech 1:14)

New Testament

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea..” (Mat 3:1)

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” (Mat 4:24)

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Mat 24:14)

“Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”” (Mk 1:38)

“He appointed twelve—designating them apostles —that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” (Mt 3:14)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Is 61:1; Lk 4:18)

“So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.” (Lk 9:6)

“He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Lk 24:46,47)

“They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 4:2)

“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:42)

“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4)

“When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.” (Acts 8:25)

“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20)

“But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.” (Acts 15:36)

“As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.” (Acts 17:2-3)

“When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:5)

“First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:20 – Paul)

“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31)

“God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you.” (Rom 1:9)

“That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.” (Rom 1:15)

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Rom 10:15)

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Cor 1:17)

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe….but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:21, 23)

“Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16)

“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Cor 15:2)

“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor 4:5)

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Phil 1:18)

“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” (Col 1:28)

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” (Col 4:3,4)

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Tim 4:13)

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim 4:2)

“For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.” (1 Pet 1:24)

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1)

“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.” (Rev 14:6)



  1. I would like to know why you interpret the words “preaching” and “proclaiming” in the Bible into the form of the one-person monologue that we call preaching today. Most of the “preaching” and “sermons” you find in the Bible do not look much like our sermons today. The prophets used drama (lying on one’s side for days), Jesus used parables, Paul gave personal testimonies.
    I am not against (expository) preaching as we do it today,I attempt to do it myself, but I find it a bit of a stretch to equivocate our (Western) sermon form with the Biblical texts you quote. BUt maybe that’s not what you mean to say.
    I would be interested to know if you, when you use the word “preaching” in the Biblical sense, almost exclusively mean the type of preaching we do today and why that is.
    And I don’t remember anymore who said it: “preach the Gospel all the time, and, if you absolutely have to, use words”.

  2. Just spotted this site this pm – look forward to coming back.

  3. Norman, thanks for your thoughts and questions. I’ll probably take some of them up in next week’s posts. Actually, I had already been toying with the idea of examining some of the key words used to describe preaching next Friday. But one thing: I actually wasn’t making a point in this post about expository preaching (not in this post, anyway). It would certainly be an interesting debate to have on another ocassion, however.

  4. Norman made a similar point to what I would like to say. The vast majority (with very few exceptions) of the verses you quoted (especially in the NT), preaching is associated with proclaiming the kingdom of God — i.e., evangelism.

    I find it ironic that we then believe that listening to preaching is equated with the normal, ongoing life of the believer. Teaching is absolutely necessary for new believers, but preaching to believers, in my opinion, contributes more to stunted growth due to its very nature.

    Our whole gathering as churches is centered around preaching, which seems odd in light of the many verses that reference it in light of evangelism primarily (and perhaps solely). Activities described in detail in the NT related to the gathering of believers (edification, mutual ministry, etc.) are either minimized, or ignored altogether in favor of the sermon being the key element.

    It will be interesting to see where else you take this in your series.

  5. Philip,

    The quotation you refer to was given to us by St. Francis of Assisi, although it wasn’t quite worded like that. Our witness in action, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, is what gives much power to our words in the pulpit.


  6. oops, that was for Norman, not Philip my bad..


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