Those who teach and preach the gospel publicly have an awesome responsibility placed upon their shoulders (James 3:1). It is instructive and beneficial to gospel preachers today, as well as to every obedient child of God, to carefully study the words chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe God-approved preaching. The book of Acts, replete with examples of approved gospel preaching by men who were taught by the Master and led by the Spirit of God, provides for us perhaps the richest description of acceptable proclamation of truth. While the following list is certainly neither exhaustive nor complete in its application, it is hoped that it might form the basis for further reflection by those interested in conforming their preaching to the pattern revealed in the New Testament.
Lifted (EPERE) – 2:14: This word is used of the eyes (Matt. 17:8), head (Luke 21:28), hands (Luke 24:50), a sail (Acts 27:40), man (II Cor. 11:20), and “every high thing” (II Cor. 10:5), as well as the voice (Acts 2:14 et. al.). It means to lift up, raise, elevate; to hoist; and when used of the voice, to lift up the voice, to speak in a loud voice. Although his sorrowful sobs of denial had filled Jerusalem earlier, Peter’s voice was now raised in prophecy and praise.
This word is not suggestive of “yelling” or “hollering” as so many modern, denominational preachers–and, unfortunately, even many in the Lord’s church–are wont to do, but of confidence. Christians carry a message that is desperately needed by the world. Peter, along with the other apostles, with a confidence that grew out of knowing the Lord was resurrected from the grave, raised the volume of his voice that he might be heard above the noise of the crowd. Just as a sail might be hoisted to catch the winds, or as the eyes are lifted to catch a glimpse, Christians must raise their voice so that the gospel can be heard.
Said (APEPHTHEGXATO) – 2:14: This word is “expressive of the solemnity of the utterance” and shows “that St. Peter’s words were inspired.” It was not used of ordinary speech in the LXX, but of the speech of prophets and it was used by the Greeks of the sayings of the wise and philosophers. Thayer says of this word, “belonging to dignified and elevated discourse.” Gospel preaching is not to be childish or vulgar. While it is true that a sermon should be able to be understood by common folk (Mark 12:37), there must be a dignity about the lesson.
Just as those who study God’s word are noble (Acts 17:11), those who preach it should be dignified. Nor should God’s word be aimed at simpletons. Gospel preaching should appeal to the intellect (Eph. 5:14-17; II Tim. 2:15) as well as to the emotions (Acts 24:25). This word is found only three times in the New Testament, all in Acts (Acts 2:4,14; 26:25). In 2:4 it is used of the Spirit-inspired “utterance” that was given to the apostles in the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In 26:25 Paul contrasts his speech with that of a madman, which he was accused of being.
(To be continued)
Eric L. Padgett