TEACHING and PREACHING
Teaching and preaching are 2 different words.
Matt:11v1 relates that Jesus departed to preach and to teach.
Since two different words were used to identify what Jesus did we might reasonably
conclude that he did two different things. But in what ways are they different? What did Christ, Paul or the apostles teach and what did they preach,
and to whom?
The vast majority of times when the words teaching or
teach occur in the New Testament they are translated from the same Greek word; didasko
(St:1321). In Thayer’s explanation of the
word it says: ‘to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic
discourses.’ Didactic means to instruct but the definition of a discourse is to
talk, converse, hold forth in speech or writing. So teaching is more of a two-way process involving interaction with
others. The question-answer process acted out
in schools is a typical example of this. Pupils
have interaction with a teacher often asking questions when information is not clear or it
needs reiteration. The final instructions
Jesus gave to his followers, Mat:28v19 ‘Go ye therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them……’ is to
teach not preach. Heb:5v12
‘For indeed because of the time, you ought to be teachers,
you have need that one teach you again what are the first principles of the oracles of
God. And you have become in need of milk, and not of solid food.’
So it appears we are to develop the ability to teach others.
Since congregations are generally only “preached” to or at, this is going to be
a difficult assignment because people learn by example.
IITim:2v24 ‘But the servant of the Lord must not strive, but to be
gentle to all, apt to teach,
But what about preaching? In
the New Testament preaching is generally translated equally from two Greek words, kerusso
(St: 2784, 62 times) and euaggelizo (St: 2097, 54 times).
Thayer’s Lexicon explains the word kerusso as, ‘to
proclaim after the manner of a herald; always
with a suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority, which must be listened to and
suggestion here is, be quiet and listen because I have something to say to you.
In Thayer’s it adds, ‘to proclaim openly, especially used of the public
proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by
Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian leaders.’
This is significantly different from teaching.
What about euaggelizo, ‘…in the New Testament used esp. of the glad
tidings of the coming kingdom of God, and of the salvation to be obtained in it through
Christ, and of what relates to this salvation.’ (Thayer’s)
There are scriptures that include both words, teach and
preach. In Matt:4v23 and Matt:9v35
we find on both occasions that Jesus was teaching in the synagogues and preaching the Gospel.
Later the two words are used in Acts:28v31 where it relates how Paul spent 2
years in his rented home in Rome preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and teaching
about Jesus the Christ. In Col:1v28 ‘Whom we preach (Christ), warning everyman, and teaching
every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ
Jesus.’ It must be noticed however other
things on occasions are preached in the New Testament:
the resurrection Acts:4v2, Christ/Jesus Acts:8v5/35,
Christ is the Son of God Acts:9v20, and
the remission/ forgiveness of sins Acts:13v38/Luke:24v47.
looked at all the scriptures that include the words
teach and preach and their derivatives a clear pattern shows up.
On only one occasion can I find disciples or believers preached to and that is in Acts:20v7,
the occasion that Paul preached in Troas until dawn, and as stated in the NLT v7, ‘..
since he was leaving the next day.’ Actually
here the word ‘preached’ is neither from the Greek word kerusso or euaggelizo.
Of the 60 times the word preached occurs in the New Testament it is translated on
this one occasion only, from the Greek word ‘dialegomai’ (St: 1256), where Strong’s
says; i.e. discuss (in argument or exhortation), meaning to dialogue, not be ‘preached’ to. In Thayer’s Lexicon it adds; ‘to
converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss’, adding ‘drawing arguments from the
Scriptures,’ so on the one occasion Paul is recorded as preaching to his fellow
believers, he didn’t! He is, in
fact, involved in discussion !
Greek word: dialegonnai is where we get the word dialogue.
Looking up the definition of this word in the Oxford Dictionary it says,
‘Conversation…between two or more persons.’ In
order to follow Christ we must imitate Paul (ICor:11v1). i.e.
Acts:17v2 Paul’s habit – ‘reasoning with them out of the scriptures.’ (In the synagogue.)
Acts:18v4 Paul, every Sabbath – ‘reasoned …and persuaded…’ .. ..
Acts:18v19 ‘….entered into the synagogue and reasoned with…’ .. ..
Acts:19v8 Paul. For 3 months – ‘disputing and persuading the things…’
Reasoning and disputing again comes from Greek word dialegonnai. Paul did not preach to
them but discussed with them most probably ‘drawing arguments from the Scriptures’.
large proportion of the times that preaching occurs there is the mention of the Gospel,
examples include Acts:9v10 and Matt:10v7.
It would have been difficult holding a dialogue or two-way conversation as in
teaching with the Gentiles since they would not have a basis on which to discuss much, as
regards Christianity. The interaction with
the Jews was different. So what was Christ’s example?
It was Christ’s habit to go to the synagogue and meet others on the Sabbath (Luke:4v16),
but what did he do there? There are 10
occasions where it
records he taught there and one
where he read. But what happened with the
apostles and how often did they preach. They
certainly preached among the Gentiles (Gal:2v2), but what about when they were in
the synagogues? It was a place of verbal
interaction, NOT one of an ordered and regular format.
There are 2 recorded examples of Paul preaching in the
synagogue; Acts:9v20 and Acts:13v5.
But what about the meetings of Christians in the New Testament?
There appears to be little to go on here except in ICor:14v23-40.
could be the words to summarize what Paul advocated when he wrote to the Corinthians about
In the churches today the vast majority of those attending each
week are believers; therefore it would seem to be inappropriate and unnecessary to preach
(proclaim) to them week after week. Particularly
when one considers that to preach is from the 2 Greek words; euaggelizo from which we get
evangelise and the other kerusso which is to proclaim ‘always
with a suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority, which must be listened to and
As the congregations are effectively being taught to just listen and never to
participate in discussions on religious matters,
they will be relatively ineffective discussing ‘religion’.
services in many places I have found it rare that fellowship is about the sermon or
in fact religious matters in general, which it appears it should be; Isa:58v13
‘….Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shall honour him, not
doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.’
Did Paul, as he went from church to church, ever give a formal,
‘kerusso’? No, he
taught them, ‘didasko’. ICor:4v17 ‘…He
will remind you of what I teach…in all the
churches wherever I
go.’(NLT) As already stressed previously
teaching involves interaction, preaching doesn’t. The
services are, certainly from my experience, notable in their complete absence of any
interactive contribution from the congregation.
But does it matter? Is
ICor:11v1 ‘Follow me as I follow Christ.’ Or as other
translations put it: ‘Imitate me…’
This obviously applies to both the ‘ministry’ and the congregations.
Both Christ and Paul regularly attended the synagogue on the Sabbath. (Luke:4v16,
Acts:7v2). So we today need to go to an
equivalent place to meet fellow believers. Since
the Synagogue at the time of the N.T. was merely a meeting place, we need to go somewhere
where we can meet fellow believers whether it is at a ‘church-meeting’ or someone’s
Based on the information we have in the New Testament what
do we find Jesus and Paul doing in the Synagogue?
In reiteration: Jesus is recorded as reading on one occasion, twice
preaching yet 10 times teaching. (Five times as much teaching
as preaching?) As for Paul, his
habit was to reason from the scriptures while there on the Sabbath. (Acts:17v2)
Every Sabbath reason and persuade. (Acts:18v4)
Three months disputing and persuading on the Sabbath in the Synagogue. (Acts:19v8)
Yet in only 2 recorded examples do I find Paul preaching there, Acts: 9v20
and Acts:13v5. So when they met others
on the Sabbath preaching occurs on occasions but definitely not
If ‘we’ preach or sit listening to preaching regularly we are not imitating
or following Christ or Paul. If we are
involved where teaching, being taught or discussing the scriptures occurs most
we are imitating or following Paul and of course Christ.
all Christians endeavour to be faithful? If
so, then this verse is relevant: IITim:2v2 ‘And what you heard from me through
many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as
well.’ NAB. Yes, we are all to develop into
faithful people. Therefore we need the
know-how, the practice and then the learned ability to become effective teachers.
This is not in any way in conflict with James:3v1 ‘..let not many of you
become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgement.’ There is a
difference between someone in a capacity of teaching, in the case of giving an active
discourse in front of an assembled group (Apollos – Acts:18v26), and that of
being approached by one or more and asked why we believe or do things as we do.
will also hold the view that with a ‘free for all’ people will end up believing
different things and this will result in ‘anarchy’. But it says in John:16v13 ‘However, when the Spirit of Truth,
has come, it will guide you into all truth.’ The assumption I make, however, is that the believers present will
possess God’s Spirit. Note the word guide;
it is not ramming anything down ones throat. IPet:3v15 ‘… and be ready always
to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with
meekness and fear …’ Meekness and fear is
important to stress in this context. ICor:14v
30 is a scripture that appears to be ignored by everyone. If this was applied then
God’s Spirit would be allowed the opportunity to correct abuses and inaccuracies that I
am sure we are aware happen all the time. ICor:14v30
‘If a revelation is revealed to another sitting by, let the first be silent.’
The next three verses in the NLT are helpful v31-3 ‘In this way, all who
prophesy (or teach) will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will
learn and be encouraged. Remember that people
who prophesy (or teach) are in control of their spirit and can wait their turn.
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the other churches.’
So what do I conclude after studying teaching and preaching:
1. All believers
need to develop the ability to teach others, but not
to preach to them. Probably a much larger
proportion of people are converted due to their interaction with friends and relatives
than the ‘written word’ or mass media. Probably
more success in ‘converting’ people would be incurred if some of our energy was
directed to this end, that of teaching rather than preaching.
2. Teaching is a two way process, so there is the
obvious need for us to be actively encouraged to talk about our beliefs.
Since this definitely was not an activity that was at all encouraged in the past we
therefore ‘all’ need this practice. Practice as they say, makes perfect.
3. Preaching the Gospel (Gal:4v13) or
‘Christ’ (Acts:8v5,35) is the active intention of people who appear to be
‘called’ to such an activity. Rom:10v15
‘And how shall they preach, except they be sent?’ and this should be directed to
nonbelievers in particular.