What to Call the Preacher

Text: 2 Timothy 1:10-11

This lesson will examine two things: (1) what the Bible calls those who preach the gospel and (2) what the religious world calls those who preach. Why is this important? Names mean something – they are used for a reason; they help describe the work (or the perceived work). This is not an exhaustive list, but addresses some of the more common names used today.

Preacher

  • Greek word (kerux) – a herald of divine truth; from kerusso – to herald, proclaim, publish
  • Describes the work of proclaiming the word of God
  • Work of a preacher is simply to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) – all of it (Acts 20:27) without changes (Galatians 1:8-9)
  • Critical role of preachers in God’s plan of redemption (Romans 10:13-14) – also shows the importance of supporting such men (Romans 10:15; 1 Corinthians 9:14)

Evangelist

  • Greek word (euangelistes), from euangelizo – to announce good news (gospel – euangelion)
  • Describes the work of one who proclaims the gospel
  • Similar to preacher – preach the word / proclaim the gospel (2 Timothy 4:2, 5)
  • Differentiated from “pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11) – seems to emphasize audience being outside / inside the church; either way, the preacher/evangelist does both kinds of preaching

Minister

  • Greek word (diakonos) – where we get our word deacon; means a servant
  • One who preaches is a servant (Ephesians 3:7-8; Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 4:6) – just like Jesus (Matthew 20:28)
  • Therefore, a minister of the gospel must be selfless (2 Corinthians 4:5) and willing to sacrifice (2 Corinthians 12:15)
  • Other kinds of ministers (1 Peter 4:10-11; Philippians 1:1; Romans 16:1; Acts 24:23) – a minister of the gospel is just one of many servants; every part has a function (Ephesians 4:16)

Pastor

  • Greek word (poimen) – a shepherd
  • This is not referring to a preacher / evangelist, but to an elder (1 Peter 5:1-2)
  • Paul called the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17); uses three terms for this office – elder (v. 17; presbuteros); bishop (v. 28; overseers – episkopos); pastor (v. 28; shepherd/feed – poimaino)
  • Elders / pastors may be preachers (1 Timothy 5:17) – but not all preachers are pastors

Missionary

  • One who is sent, usually to a foreign country, to preach the gospel
  • Common word, but not found in the Bible – we hear of Paul’s “missionary journeys”; these were preaching tours
  • Religious people today go on “mission” trips – preach, feed poor, build hospitals, etc.
  • When men were sent out in NT, it was to preach (Acts 13:2-5) – interestingly, they weren’t called missionaries, but apostles, meaning a messenger or one who is sent (Acts 14:14)
  • Churches may send out men to preach – nothing inherently wrong with “missionary,” but it has come to mean different things to the world

Reverend

  • We may be somewhat tolerant of using the non-Biblical term missionary, but reverend is simply wrong to use
  • This is a word / concept that ought to be reserved for God (Psalm 111:9)
  • No use of this word / concept, stated or implied, in the NT
  • Suggests an inappropriate superiority of the preacher over others (1 Corinthians 3:4-7) – opposite of the Scriptural term minister

Conclusion

  • In all of the Scriptural terms and the NT descriptions of the work, the emphasis is on preaching the word (2 Timothy 4:2)
  • Why? … the gospel is God’s power for salvation (Romans 1:16) – that is what’s truly important

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