3 Purposes of Preaching

The Threefold Task of Preaching

The Apostle Paul deals with the proclamation of the Word in 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” The word preach means “to herald or announce.” In Titus 1:3, Paul said that God “hath in due time manifested his word through preaching.” The word manifested (phaneroo, from phaneros) means to “make visible, clear…, uncover, lay bare, reveal.” Proper preaching will reveal the truth—make it visible—and will accomplish at least three things according to 2 Timothy 4:2:

1. Preaching Should Convict (Isaiah 58:1, John 15:22)

The word reprove in this verse is the same word found in 2 Timothy 3:16 and means “to convict, rebuke.” The preacher is to both preach the facts of the Word and to expose the faults of the people so as to convince them of the need for change. This is the same word used in John 16:8 of the Holy Spirit who, “Will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

There are those who contend that only the Holy Spirit is to convict the sinner and the responsibility of the preacher is only to exposit the passage. That is not true. The holy speaker, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is to both present the Scripture and persuade the sinner to submit to the will of God. The preacher is not only a proclaimer but a persuader as well. Note carefully Acts 13:43, “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” Study the preaching of Paul as described in Acts 18:4, “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” See it again in Acts 19:26, “Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:”

It is obvious from Scripture that both Barnabas and Paul were seeking to persuade others to come to Christ or continue with Christ. Strong defines persuade as “to convince (by argument, true or false).” Robertson says it comes from the term “to urge.” The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament defines persuade as “to convince.” The Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament agrees stating that it means “to convince someone to believe something and to act on the basis of what is recommended.” Simply stated both Paul and Barnabas preached to persuade!

2. Preaching Should Correct (Titus 2:15, Jude 9)

The Greek word for rebuke, elegcho, means “to convict, refute, reprove.” God told Isaiah to, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). To reprove is to disclose the sinfulness of the sin, and to rebuke is to expose the sinfulness of the sinner. Concerning biblical preaching, Ray Steadman declared, “It is the business of preaching to change the total world view of every member of the congregation, to dispel secular illusions, to identify and underscore concepts and practices that are not right.”

3. Preaching Should Challenge

Again the word exhort, parakaleo, is associated with the Holy Spirit, for He is the Paraclete. To exhort is to “call near, invite, console…comfort.” Biblical preaching will not only expose the sin and the sinner, but will encourage him as well. The Holy Spirit convicts the believer in order to change him to Christ-likeness through the vehicle of preaching.

This article is an excerpt from Dr. Tom Farrell's new book, Preaching That Pleases God, available from Striving Together Publications.

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