What We Want the Preacher to Be

Text: 2 Timothy 4:2-5

There are different terms that people use to describe those who preach. Often the term that people use reflects what they expect of their preacher. The expectations that many people have are not Biblical. We need to align our expectations with what the Bible says. In this lesson, we are going to consider some terms that are commonly used for preachers.

Minister

  • This is a Scriptural term – “fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5); other passages use “minister” (Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 4:6)
  • The preacher is A minister – a minister of the word (Colossians 1:23)
  • The preacher is not THE minister – not the only one in the congregation (or else there is a problem); all Christians should be ministers (Galatians 5:13)
  • Many want the preacher to be THE minister – they do not want to be involved in the work themselves

Pastor

  • This is also a Scriptural term (Ephesians 4:11) – but the common usage in the religious world is not what is described in the Bible
  • Elders in the local church are pastors (Acts 20:17, 28) – they oversee the flock
  • The preacher is not THE pastor – he can be A pastor (1 Timothy 5:17), but not the only one (Acts 14:23); a preacher has no special authority; he preaches with authority (Titus 2:15) because he is preaching the word (2 Timothy 4:2), which is authoritative (Matthew 28:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:2); we are not to follow a single man (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)
  • Many want the preacher to be THE pastor – they want to look to one man as their spiritual leader

Priest

  • Again, a Scriptural term – but in the New Testament, all Christians are priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9); there is not a special clergy class among the people of God
  • Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 4:14) – we have access to the throne of heaven through Him (Hebrews 4:15-16)
  • The preacher is not THE priest – he is A priest in the same sense that all Christians are (1 Peter 2:5, 9); does not stand between other Christians and Christ; all have the same access (Ephesians 3:3-4; Acts 8:20-24)
  • Many want the preacher to be THE priest – comfortable being one step back from God (cf. Exodus 20:19)

Reverend

  • For the other terms we have considered, there is a Scriptural usage and a common usage – for this term (reverend), there is no right way to use it when referring to a preacher
  • This is a term that applies to God alone – “Holy and reverend is His name” (Psalm 111:9, KJV); we are to revere God, stand in awe of Him, and fear Him (Hebrews 12:28); only Him (Matthew 10:28)
  • The preacher is not “reverend” – he is just a man (Acts 10:25-26); yes, he is to be an example (1 Timothy 4:12), but an example of what all Christians should be
  • Many want the preacher to be the “reverend” – a special God-like figure on the earth (almost like an idol)

Preacher

  • We should simply call the preacher a preacher (Romans 10:14) – evangelist is fine too (2 Timothy 4:5); the word means the same thing (one who proclaims the gospel)
  • His responsibility is to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2) – he devotes himself to it (Acts 18:5); he may be supported for that work (1 Corinthians 9:14)
  • He must limit himself to preaching the word (2 Timothy 4:3-4; 1:13) – cannot change the message
  • We should want and expect the preacher to be a preacher

Conclusion

  • There are many different ideas in the religious world about what the preacher should be
  • We need to be content with what the Bible says – not go beyond that (cf. 2 John 9)

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