Vol.XV No.V Pg.4
July 1978


Robert F. Turner

The word "preacher" is coupled with "apostle," and Paul says he was thus appointed or ordained (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11). In this sense "preachers" seems hardly suited to the scattered saints of Acts 8:4 who "went every where preaching (evangelizing) the word." Those who have sought to perpetuate a "clergy" (Judaistic priesthood) system insist that they receive a divine "call" or appointment today; but I find no scriptural indication that apostles or preachers, in this special sense, would have successors. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors of the early church had a unique role — were especially equipped for it — and continue to serve their purpose as we read of their work.

It seems to me a "preacher" today is simply one who publicly proclaims the word; his "call" being no louder than his talent, will, and opportunity. I do not object to the designation "preacher," but believe this describes his work. It should not be used in an "official" sense. In the early church there were those "sent" who were not "apostles" as was Paul, and those who preached who were not so appointed. Their "authority," and ours, is in such passages as Acts 8:4 and 2 Tim. 2:2. The man who aspires to a "clergy" status among God's people is on the wrong road, and will fail the Lord's cause. But the role of a full time, supported teacher of the gospel deserves careful attention.

Preachers are people. If I thought I could convince you of that I'd risk half a column or more, but space is too limited to waste on lost causes, so on to the next point. Their job is teaching. Not administering, as in priesthood; for blessings come from God as each saint offers spiritual sacrifice. Not ruling, as in oversight; for God has given qualified elders this role. Not "telling off," as in dictator; for each of us must act in good conscience toward God, in keeping with our understanding of His word. A preacher is in no higher "position" than any other member of Christ's body, there being no hierarchy among God's people (Matt. 23: 8). He is not the only teacher in the church, for ability and opportunity impose obligations upon each saint. But it is rightly expected that one called "preacher" should have exceptional talent for study, understanding, and presentation, so that he teaches well. (Language loses its significance if all who can drive a nail are "carpenters," or all who teach in some way, are "preachers.")

Teaching involves learning. He has not taught unless he has imparted information; and in the fuller sense, unless the hearer has so learned as to be affected by the message. He can not force acceptance of God's message, but because men tend to act in their own interest, he will seek to persuade them of a spiritual need that only Christ can satisfy. Yes, "God gives the increase;" and yes, Satan blinds eyes and hardens hearts; but no preacher worth his salt will be satisfied with simply "putting it out" and going home. A gospel preacher hungers for souls to an extraordinary degree, and that is the basic reason why he has "let the dead bury their dead" and has given himself fully to preaching the kingdom (Lu. 9:59-60).