Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 7, 1953

Preaching And Teaching

Robert W. Lawrence, Madison, Wisconsin

If what has been written recently relative to this theme has been emitted primarily to make both elders and evangelists more cognizant of and interested in their respective duties, the writer wishes to commend any good that may have been accomplished. That which is written about the most important work in the world should be received, however, only when it is clearly invincible. It is my conviction that there have been some things published recently which have concealed a fair portion of the truth on this theme. The purpose of this article, then, will be to elicit from the Book additional facts bearing direct pertinence to the theme.

Let us state the issue: It is the belief of some that there must always be a clear-cut distinction between preach and teach. It is the belief further that one can only preach to non-Christians and teach Christians. They say, "It is an impossibility" to preach to the church. Also, it is believed that preaching is confined to the announcement of the "good news." They say that the words kerusso, euangelidzo, and katangello "never mean teach and are never so translated."

Let us begin our review with a study of words. We are told that kerusso must always be used when the "good news" is being made known. By the term good news they mean the news of salvation in Christ and what it takes to become a Christian. However, that is limiting the use of the word kerusso short of scriptural usage. In Romans 2:21 Paul asks: "Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest (didaskeis) thou not thyself? Thou that preachest (kerruson) a man should not steal, dost thou steal?" From this it is evident that kerusso, the word often used when the gospel is made known to alien sinners, is also used with reference to such things as stealing. But if their theory be true, Paul used the wrong word when he used kerusso, for it is limited, they say, to the "good news." It cannot be used, they say, "in the context of teaching the church." Candor must admit that the words are here used interchangeably.

Another word in this realm, and, one often overlooked by the exponents of the above teaching, is matheteuo. Thayer says that this word, used transitively, means "to make a disciple: to teach, to instruct," and cites as references Matt. 28:19 and Acts 14:21, (p. 386). Jesus said, according to Matthew, "Go ye therefore and teach (matheteusate) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." I am assuming that this is understood by most students as the commission to make known the gospel to sinners. Then, it is informing to notice that Mark records it something like this: "Go ye into all the world, and preach (keruxate) the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) It doesn't take a skillful exegete to see that preaching the gospel and teaching all nations amount to the same thing. In Acts 14:21 we read: "And when they had preached (euangelidzomenoi) the gospel to that city, and had taught (matheteusantes) many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch." The word translated taught is also rendered made disciples of. Is that not precisely what one does when he preaches the gospel with success? Those who say there is always a distinction simply gloss over matheteuo by saying that it means teach, "irrespective of the subject matter." Such begs the question and displays the debility of the argument.

"But," we are asked, "Why are both preach and teach used in the same verse in places like Acts 5:42 and 14:21 if they mean the same thing?" Even if the merit of this question be conceded, will they follow the same reasoning in other cases? Peter said Christ commanded them "to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead." (Acts 10:42) Would we say there is a difference in these two terms? There is no possible evasion in this because the judgment was certainly part of the message to aliens, Acts 24:25. Was Peter redundant? Paul wrote to the Roman Christians and, in 16:25 said: "Now to Him that is of power to establish you, according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ..." Now, is there a difference between Paul's gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ? I trow not!

To show that kerusso is not always used with reference to that which is new, let us go to Acts 15:21. James said that "Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach (kerussontas) him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day." "Now," to use one of their expressions, "wouldn't it be silly to announce him every Sabbath?" Don't tell us that the Jews had not already heard of Moses.

Let us now look at Colossians 1:28. Paul, writing to Christians, says of Christ: "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." From this it is evident that Paul's preaching consisted of warning and teaching. They say, "It only shows that Paul preached"! If Paul could teach and warn in his preaching, so can we.

The meeting in Troas, Acts 20:7-9, deserves some attention. We are told by Luke that Paul "discoursed" or "reasoned" with those gathered. We will never know here just what was contained in this discourse. Common sense, to say nothing of his spiritual perspicuity, would suggest that an analysis of his audience determine the course of thought. We have reason to believe that Paul could have, even in discoursing, made known that Christ was the font of salvation and what sinners must do to accept him. This view is corroborated by the fact that the same word (dialegomai) is used of Paul's entering the Jewish synagogues and reasoning with them concerning Christ, Acts 17:2,3,17. One does not have to stand before people to speak the message of salvation. In Philippi, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke "sat down and spake unto the women that resorted thither." (Acts 16:13) Lydia and her household were converted. Paul then, may have at some time during the lengthy discourse alleged that Jesus was the Christ for the benefit of any unbelieving Jews present. We know from 1 Cor. 14:23-25 that unbelievers did frequent the assemblies of the saints and that if the assembly were orderly; a favorable effect was produced so that they were impelled to admit that God was in them of a truth.

To say that Christians cannot receive a repetition of the message of the cross is inconceivable. To say such is to challenge, if not deny, the wisdom of Paul who wrote to the Corinthians — Christians who had "already heard the good news" — and reminded them of the gospel he had already preached to them, 1 Cor. 15:1-8. Paul thought it quite proper for them to "hear again" what they had heard him preach some five years earlier. If Paul could write it again to Christians, why can we not speak it again to Christians? Or do some object that Christ is preached — the message repeated — so often in our assemblies? Did not Paul command his epistles to be read in the churches? "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans: and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." (Col. 4:16) We have already shown from Acts 15:21 that Moses was preached when he was read in the synagogues. That should answer any forthcoming objection. Paul repeated several things — dozens, in fact — to Christians that they had already heard. To the Colossians he repeats words about their hope, redemption by the blood of Christ, and peace and reconciliation through the cross of Christ. Had they not heard this before? Paul said they had. See Col. 1:5,14,20.

We readily concur that the subject matter for saint and sinner should vary to suit the particular need. We do not agree that it is improper for one to hear what may be of primary concern to the other.