Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 14, 1957
NUMBER 44, PAGE 1,9b-12

Preaching: A Critical Study (III.)

Roy E. Cogdill, Lufkin, Texas

Proposition III — What does it mean to preach the gospel?

Our friend talks of a strong "clerical trend" and concludes that a misunderstanding and misuse of the words "preach" and "proclaim" are responsible for it. There is no doubt that there are many professed servants of the Lord who have become "professional" preachers and that there is a dangerous "trend" in the church of our Lord today toward a professional clergy. I deplore such an attitude as much as anyone and have condemned such everywhere I have gone. I believe with Paul that "if I were pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ." But there is no point in running past Jerusalem and butting our brains out on the walls of Jericho. Abuses of God's plan have always existed and always will. We must distinguish between that plan and its abuses.

There are several different Greek words which have commonly been translated by the English word "preach." We list these words and give for each of them the definitions given them by three eminent Greek authorities. It is well to keep in mind that all words have different shades of meaning and that they have changed in their meaning through the years. The usage of a word, in its context, determines the meaning conveyed by that word. For that reason it is unwise, incorrect and even deceptive to seize upon one definition and seek under all circumstances to so apply the term. We should therefore carefully study the definitions and the passages in which the terms are employed in order to get the correct sense of the term. An unprejudiced study of the word "preach" as it has been employed by the translators to convey the idea of these various Greek terms will convince any person that the common usage of the term in its most frequent setting in New Testament scriptures is the idea of propagating or spreading abroad the truth and not the revelation of truth originally at all. Here is the fundamental error our friends have made.


Lexicons 1. Preach

(1) (diangello)

Thayer: "to carry a message through, announce everywhere, through places, through assemblies of men, etc.; to publish abroad, declare." (p. 135)

Robinson: "to announce fully, i.e., generally, everywhere, to publish, to declare. To announce, to give notice." (p. 169)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to send as a message: to give notice, notify, proclaim: to pass the word of command from man to man, inform one another." (p. 159)

(2) (dialegomai)

Thayer: "to think different things with one's self, mingle thought with thought; to ponder, revolve in mind; 2. to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss." (comments "drawing arguments from the scriptures). (p. 139)

Robinson: "to lay out separately before the mind of any one; to discourse, to reason, to dispute with. To speak to, to talk with." (p. 172)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to converse, reason, talk with. 2. to use a dialect or language." (p. 163)

(3) (uangelizo)

Thayer: "to bring good news, to announce glad tidings. III. to proclaim glad tidings; to instruct (men) concerning the things that pertain to Christian salvation." (p. 256)

Robinson: "to bring good news, to announce glad tidings. 1. to bring or announce glad tidings unto. II. to bring good news, to announce or publish glad tidings. 2. to bring glad tidings of salvation; to show forth, to declare, to preach, a. to show forth the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, to preach the kingdom. d. to preach the gospel." (p. 301)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to bring good news, announce them; 2. to preach or proclaim as glad tidings; to preach the gospel." (p. 278)

(4) (katangello)

Thayer: "to announce, declare, promulgate, make known; to proclaim publicly, publish." (p. 330)

Robinson: "to bring word down to; to announce, to publish, to show forth, to announce, in order to declare one's mind and disclose one's thoughts; to speak; to speak to one, address him! to speak to, converse with one. to speak anything to any one, to speak to one about a thing. promulgating a thing to one, to speak to one. to make known by speaking, to speak of, relate, extolling. 6. commanding. (pp. 368-69)

Robinson: "to speak, to talk. 2. to teach, to preach. b. tell, relate, declare, announce. c. to foretell, to declare. d. to direct, to charge, to prescribe. to publish, to promulgate. 3. to speak, to prescribe." (pp. 422, 23)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to prate, chatter, babble. to make an inarticulate sound. to talk, talk of." (p. 405)

2. Preacher


Thayer: "a herald, a messenger. God's ambassador, and the herald or proclaimer of the divine word." (p. 346)

Robinson: "a herald, public crier, a preacher." (p. 398)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "a herald or pursuivant." (p. 376)

3. Gospel


Thayer: "a reward for good tidings. 2. good tidings. a. the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, of Jesus, the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom. the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the proclamation of the grace of God manifested and pledged in Christ; the gospel. b. the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ." (p. 257)

Robinson: "a reward for good news; good news, glad tidings. 1. the gospel. the preaching of the gospel." (p. 301)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "the reward of good tidings." (pp. 278-79)

4. Evangelist


Thayer: "a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist." (p. 257)

Robinson: "an evangelist, a preacher of the gospel." (p. 302)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "a bringer of good tidings: an evangelist, preacher of the gospel." (p. 279)

5. Teach


Thayer: "to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses. b. to be a teacher. c. to discharge the office of teacher, conduct one's self as a teacher. 2. to impart instruction, instill doctrine into one, prescribe a thing. to explain, expound, to teach one something." p. 144)

Robinson: "to teach, to instruct. 2. to direct, to admonish, to advise." (p. 179)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to teach, to teach oneself, learn." (p. 169)


Thayer: "to lead or carry a narration through to the end; set forth, recount, relate in full." (p. 148)

Robinson: "to lead or conduct through. to go through with, to recount, to tell, to declare." (p. 182, 83)

Liddell and Scott (abridged,): "to describe or narrate in full." (p. 172)


Thayer; "to sound towards, sound down upon, to set forth, to preach inculcate." (p. 380-81)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to announce, proclaim, declare." (p. 352)

(4) (matheetuo)

Thayer: "To be be the disciple of one; to follow his precepts and instruction. 2. to make a disciple; to teach, instruct." (p. 386)

Robinson: "to be the disciple. 2. to train as a disciple, to teach, to instruct." (p. 439)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to be a pupil or scholar. II. to make a disciple of one, instruct." (p. 422)

(5) (paiduo)

Thayer: "to train children, to cause one to learn.

2. to chastise;

a. to chastise or castigate with words, to correct.

b. to chasten by the infliction of evils and calamities.

c. to chastise with blows, to scourge." (p. 473)

Robinson: "to bring up or rear a child.

1. to train up, to educate, to teach. to teach, to admonish.

2. to correct, to chastise, to chasten, to scourge." (p. 540)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to rear or bring up a child.

2. to teach, educate, instruct.

3. to accustom or inure to a thing.

4. to correct, chasten." (p. 512)

(5) (Keerusso)

Thayer: "to be a herald; to officiate as herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald; a. to publish, proclaim openly. b. of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it." (p. 346)

Robinson: "To be a herald or public crier, to make proclamation, to proclaim, to announce publicly, to publish. 2. to publish, to announce, to preach. b. to preach, to teach. (p. 398-99)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to be or act as herald: to make proclamation as a herald, summon, convene as herald. 2. notice is given, proclamation is made II. to proclaim, announce; to extol. 2. to put up or advertise for sale. 3. to call on, invoke. III. to preach or teach publicly." (p. 376)

(6) (laleo)

Thayer: 1. "to utter a voice, emit a sound. 2. to speak, to use the tongue or the faculty of speech; to utter articulate sounds. 3. to talk. 4. to utter, tell. 6. to use words

resound. 2. to teach orally, to instruct. 3. to inform by word of mouth; to be orally informed." (p. 340)

Robinson: "to sound out towards. 1. to teach, to instruct. 2. to inform, to apprize of; to be informed of, to hear by report. (p. 392)

Liddell and Scott (abridged): "to resound. II. to sound a thing m one's ears. 2. to teach by word of mouth, teach the elements of religion." (p. 367)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * Webster's Unabridged Dictionary

(20th CENTURY)

1. Preach: "to declare in public; to proclaim; (closely allied to dicere, to say)

1. to deliver a public discourse on some religious subject, or upon a text of scripture; to deliver a sermon.

2. to discourse on moral or religious topics: to advise or exhort like a preacher.

Preach, v. t. 1. To proclaim; to publish; to declare publicly.

2. To inculcate in public discourses; to urge with earnestness upon a person or persons.

3. To deliver or pronounce as, to preach a sermon.

4.To advise or teach, as by preaching.

5.To give advice to in an earnest manner." (p. 1326)

2. Preacher: 1. One who discourses publicly on religious subjects.

2. One who inculcates anything with earnestness. (p. 1326)

3. Preaching: "the act of preaching or sermonizing; a public religious discourse." (p. 1326)

4. Proclaim:

1. To make known by public announcement; to promulgate; to announce; to declare; to publish.

2. To outlaw by public denunciation. (p. 1346)

5. Promulgate: "to publish, the origin of which is uncertain. To publish; to make known by open declaration; to proclaim; to announce; as to promulgate a law." (p. 1351)

6. Herald:

1. In antiquity, an officer whose business was to denounce, to proclaim war, to challenge to battle, to proclaim peace, and to bear messages from the commander of an army.

2. A proclaimer; a publisher; as the herald of another's fame.

3. A forerunner; a precursor; a harbinger. (p. 808)

7. Evangelist: "a preacher of the gospel, one of the writers of the Gospels.

1. A writer of the history or doctrines, precepts, actions, life, and death of Jesus Christ; as the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

2. A preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially a travelling preacher; a revivalist; a missionary.

We call your attention now to the use made of some of these terms defined above. Just a few of the texts in scripture where these terms are employed will confirm so definitely that the word preach as it has been commonly employed by translators to convey the idea of these various Greek terms denotes propagation rather than revelation of the truth that it will become unquestionable to the honest and fair mind.

1. Acts 8:4. "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word."

Here is a Greek word translated preach in New Testament scriptures-uangelizo-It is so translated some 46 times. We have selected a passage that speaks of "preaching" done by the church as a whole. In other words this passage uses the term in a general sense. It does not set forth an activity of the apostles or the work of special men such as evangelists but does record "preaching" as an activity of the "church." It was the "church" that had been persecuted and "made havock" (verse 3) and it is the "church" thus scattered that went everywhere preaching the word. Here it is descriptive of an activity of the members of the church in general. But according to the theory of our friend, "preaching" can only be done in an "official" capacity and could not be a general activity of the church for it had to be done by specially called, chosen, sent, and miraculously endowed men. Were all of these who left Jerusalem apostles, evangelists, or inspired men? Were all of them officially chosen, called, and sent as "preachers"? We don't believe anyone would so say for it is entirely too apparently untrue.

2. Acts 11:19.20. "Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Antioch preaching (lalountes) the word to none but unto the Jews only, and some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they come to Antioch, spake unto the Greecians, preaching (uangelizomenoi) the Lord Jesus."

Here we have two different words in the Greek, "laleo" and "uangelizo," translated by the English word "preach" and correctly so according to the authorities cited above. Again the term is used of men in the church in general who left Jerusalem upon the persecution but are not in any way identified with any official capacity such as apostles or evangelists. Here again, therefore, the words translated "preach" are used in the general sense of spreading abroad, propagating the truth and not in the sense of revealing it at all. Such a usage of the term is impossible and incorrect according to the position taken in the paper under review. According to that paper there is no general use of the term "preach" or any of the terms so translated. It must mean only in an "official sense" — "primary announcement" or revelation of the gospel and has no reference to the propagation of it at all. Hence according to our friend, the inspired writers, the translators and the lexicographers are all wrong.

3. Acts 15:21. "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach(keerusso) him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day." This is a significant passage on the point at issue.

The word, in the Greek translated "preach" is the word "Keerusso." This word, as seen from the definitions above, sometimes means to "preach" or "teach" in the sense of publicly announcing or proclaiming or publishing a thing. This passage certainly does not refer to the initial or primary announcement or revelation of Moses for Moses and the Law had been revealed and proclaimed for 1500 years. He was still being "preached" every sabbath day by reading the law given through him in the synagogues and as was customary also by giving an explanation of its meaning. It would be interesting to hear our friend try to reconcile this "preaching" with his theory of what it means to preach. He seizes upon only one definition of the word "keerusso," viz., "to be a herald; to officiate as herald," and then comments, "but confined to the primary announcement of the message and facts of salvation and not including continuous instruction in the contents and connections of the message" — (page 10). He gives Vincent as his authority and misrepresents him from the quotation given as endorsing the idea that "preach" always means only that. Vincent did not believe any such thing nor does any other scholar. What he says it does mean is exactly what the word cannot mean in this passage and what he affirms it cannot mean is exactly what it evidently does mean as it is used in Acts 15:21.

4. Romans 2:21. "Thou therefore which teachest another. teachest thou not thyself ? thou preachest (keerusso) a man should not steal, dost thou steal?"

Here the word "preachest" comes also from the word "keerusso" :men which the contention mainly is built and here again the word cannot mean the "primary announcement of the message" as our brother says it must whenever it occurs and here still again it must mean "continuous instruction," which he says it never can mean. One can readily see that the "preaching" of "thou shalt not steal" in the New Testament day was not a primary announcement in any sense of the word. It must rather he a "continuous instruction" concerning one of the ten commandments "primarily announced" 1500 years before. The writer was so anxious to justify his theory that he unfairly and incorrectly would force the word to mean every time what it only means sometimes and thus disregard other correct definitions of the same term and other usages of it likewise. This is a common error and almost always is resorted to by a prejudiced mind looking for "self-justification" rather than honestly searching for truth.

Let it be noted also that the "preaching" in this passage was not an official preaching in any sense but was done rather by the Jews in general as the context readily shows. It was not inspired preaching but simply the teaching of that which was revealed to be God's will in the ten commandments given to Israel through Moses. Thus again the theory built on the word "preach" (keerusso) fails.

5. I Corinthians 1:21. "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching (keerusso) to save them that believe."

Here once again the word "keerusso" is translated by the word "preach" in the King James. American Revision, and in the Standard Revised Version. God's plan is here set forth for the redemption of humanity. Men are to be saved by believing. But men are to be made believers by the proclamation of God's wisdom. It would be as well to argue that believing is no longer a part of God's plan as to contend that the "preaching" of this passage is no longer a part of God's plan. Albert Barnes' comment on this point is this: " 'Not by foolish preaching' but by the preaching of the cross, which was regarded as foolish and absurd by the men of the world." A. T. Robertson, an eminent scholar, comments: "the proclamation of the cross seemed foolishness to the wiseacres then (and now) but it is consummate wisdom and God's good pleasure. The foolishness of preaching is not the preaching of foolishness."

Salvation is through faith and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17.) Our brother places himself among the wiseacres now who think "preaching" is foolishness. It was. is. and ever will be a means of reaching the souls of men to save them and it is God's wisdom that so decrees.

6. II Corinthians 11:4. "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."

II Corinthians 11:7. "Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?"

In these two verses we find the words "keerusso" (verse 4) and "uangelizo" (verse 7) both translated by the word preach and again this is true in all the. English translations — King James, American Revision, and Revised Standard Version. This passage simply shows that the Christ, the Gospel, and the Spirit proclaimed by Paul and others ran he counterfeited and a false Gospel, Christ and Spirit can be "preached." Thus it can be seen that anything, any message, true or false, can be "preached." This is also evidenced by Galatians 1:6-11. In this passage Paul pronounces by divine sanction, of course, the curse of heaven upon any one, even an angel from heaven, who "preaches" (uangelizo) any "other gospel." It was not the fact that it was "preached" again that Paul condemned but the fact that the message had been corrupted. It is therefore necessarily inferred that if anyone "preaches" the same gospel that Paul "preached" it would be pleasing to God. But the writer under review affirms that when the gospel is "preached" it cannot be a continuous instruction — that is it cannot be a continuation of declaring the same message with its "contents and connections." If that be so, then Paul put his emphasis upon the wrong point.

7. Philippians 1:12-16. "But I would ye should understand, brethren that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (uangelion) so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places, and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak (lalein) the word without fear. Some indeed preach (keerussousin) Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will; the one preach (katangellousin) Christ of contention. not sincerely supposing to add affliction to my bonds."

Here is an unusual passage that sheds much light on our friend's theory and shows it absolutely false. The "furtherance of the Gospel" in verse 12, "speak the word without fear." verse 14, "preach Christ." verse 15, and "preach Christ," verse 16 very obviously refer to the declaration of the same message. Here we have four different words used with reference to the same manner of propagating the same message: uangelizo, laleo, katangello, keerusso. Undoubtedly they contain the same idea and are talking about the same thing. viz., the public preaching or declaration of the word of God.

It can easily be seen from this passage also that "many of the brethren" were "preaching" the gospel in Rome. They were all preaching the same message, in the same city. Here the thing is affirmed not of some who "preached" in an official sense but of many who performed the same function; in the same city; and indeed, in the same church. Some of them did it with evil intent, without sincerity of contention for the purpose of hindering the work of Paul. Notice that these were not "preaching" another Christ or another message but the same message with evil intent yet they were "preaching Christ." How could this be? Were these evil men who were "preaching Christ" sent of God? Did they have the apostolic office or had they been "divinely called and sent" as "evangelists" and therefore endued and empowered by divine gifts? If so. then their wrong toward Paul was God's mistake in "calling" the wrong "preachers." It would he interesting also to hear an explanation of the difference in the "furtherance of the gospel." "speaking the word," "preaching Christ" and "proclaiming Christ."

Of course if we allow our brother to select one definition of each Greek term used and reject all others and then allow him to translate the Passage into English to suit himself. then select from the English dictionary one definition of the English words used to translate and reject all others, he might make some progress but even then he cannot reconcile the passage with his theory. That is exactly the method he used in his attempt to establish his theory.

8. Colossians 1:23. "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven. Whereof I Paul am made a minister."

Here Paul affirms that the "Gospel" had already been "preached" (keerusso) to "all creation." "en pasei ktisei" here denotes the "sum of created things." Yet not all of the New Testament scriptures had been written by any means. This evidences that the contention that "New Testament Scriptures exclusively are the Gospel" is not so. But notice especially that Colossians was written from Rome in A.D. 63. II Timothy was written several years later, ordinarily assigned the date of 67-68 A.D. by scholars. Yet in the epistle to Timothy Paul charges, "preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." How could Timothy preach the word in Ephesus when it had already been "preached" there by Paul and also throughout the "whole creation." Paul had preached in Ephesus. He had "withheld nothing that was profitable" (Acts 20:20) in preaching the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). More than that, he affirms concerning his "preaching the kingdom" (Acts 20:25) in Ephesus that he had preached the "whole Counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).

He had "preached" (keerusso) the Kingdom. He had "declared" (uangelizo) the whole counsel of God, yet years afterward he wrote to Timothy and charged, "Preach (keerusso) the word." These facts alone disprove completely and entirely the theory under study as anyone must know and recognize if he faces them honestly. The writer contends that "preach" and especially as it translates "keerusso" anti "uangelizo" means "the primary announcement of the message and facts of salvation, and not including continuous instruction in the contents and connections of the message"--Page 10 of "Words and Attitudes." But Timothy was to continue the "preaching" (keerusso) of the word where it had been already preached for years. Either our brother is wrong in his position about this word or Paul is wrong in using the word in his charge to Timothy. It does not matter about the "age" during which preaching was to endure — here is specific instance of "preaching" continuing in a specific locality where it had been going on for years.

Hence that the word always means "primary announcement" and never "continuous instruction" just is not so. Timothy was to "preach" the word by rebuking, reproving and exhorting brethren who had the disposition to turn away from that which they had heard. Was he to preach another gospel? He stood condemned if he did. He had therefore to continue "in season and out of season" to "preach" the same gospel which Paul years before had already preached (keerusso) in the same place. If Timothy could preach it years after it had already been preached at the same place, is it not unreasonable to conclude that it could not be preached in the same locality 'years after Timothy preached it ? Can not, indeed, will not our friends see that the Gospel can be preached at the same place, the same gospel, where years before it has been preached? Honesty and fairness again demands it of them. (To be continued next week)