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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Biblical Words for "Preach" in Context

We've been spending some time on this blog looking at the concepts of preaching and teaching and how they relate to the church. If you are new to this series and have not seen the former posts, let me point you to them here:

The comments on these posts have been really great, and I appreciate the involvement of all who have chosen to interact. I've been saying for some time now that I really want to look at the differences between teaching and preaching in the New Testament. The basic thrust of this series is that I have a hunch that the current model of church that we see here in America (and I know other western countries are very similar, too) is not a healthy one, and is not as biblically-based as many would like us to think. The concept of preaching is one area where I feel that we have missed the mark. Consider some of the following points that are rather common among most evangelical churches:

  • Church is viewed as a place where lost people can come and be led to Christ (read 1 Corinthians 14 to see what perspective the gathering of believers has with relation to the unbeliever)
  • The church service is almost always geared around a lengthy monologue of some sort from the same person who preaches every service
  • People are expected to join a church and sit under the preaching of that one man (or whomever is preaching) for their entire lives. The only ones who get a "get out of jail free" card (don't take that too seriously!) are people who end up pastoring their own churches, or missionaries who travel to another country to evangelize and preach.
  • A church is pretty much known by who its "pastor" is, and that pastor is viewed as the spiritual head of the church, as well as of each individual member, regardless of the size of the church and the corresponding ability for an actual personal relationship between the pastor and each member.

Since I've already attempted to show that Nehemiah 8 is not the model we should be using, it stands to reason that we need to look at what actually is talked about with regard to preaching and teaching in the New Testament. And with that, I'd like to first of all examine some uses of the word "preach" in the New Testament.

Please note that the nature of this blog is such that an exhaustive word study is not being presented. I am merely scratching the surface here to challenge your thinking and possibly cause you to search more on your own. If you have any questions about what I've included or what I've left out, however, feel free to address those questions in the comments section, and I'll answer them.

There are several different Greek words translated as "preach" in some versions. I have chosen to use the King James version for this word study, because I think it is through that version that a lot of our concepts of preaching have come. There are two words that appear more than any others. Those are the words kerusso (I'm using transliterations here since not everyone may have the same Greek font that I use) and euaggelizo.

Kerusso is basically defined as "proclaim" or "herald". This word is most often used in conjunction with the proclamation or heralding of the Kingdom of God. Throughout the Gospels, this is the word translated as "preach", with the two exceptions of Luke 4:43, which uses euaggelizo and Luke 9:60, which uses diaggello (defined as "to publish abroad").

Euaggelizo is defined as "to bring good news", and is used one time in the Gospels and translated as "preach". That is, as I just mentioned, in Luke 4:43. Throughout Acts and the epistles, however, both euaggelizo and kerusso appear in almost even numbers. In the vast majority of the verses where these words appear, and where context gives some indication of the purpose of the "preaching" being done, it seems to be clearly related to actual evangelism. Admittedly, it isn't as clear in every situation as we might hope (for the purpose of drawing distinct conclusions), but there are a couple of instances where it is most definitely referring to evangelism. Those are Romans 15:20 and Galatians 1:16.

Romans 15:20 says, "I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation." Here, Paul clearly states that his "preaching" was not a weekly task in a church full of believers, but evangelism in unreached places. Likewise, Galatians 1:16 says, "...that I might preach [Jesus] among the heathen...." Much as some pastors would admit that their congregation members seem like heathen (hehe), I don't think that's what Paul was talking about.

In the passages where evangelism is not clearly understood from the context, it is almost impossible to narrow down the purpose of preaching. While some passages are clearly evangelism, others are not clear at all. This includes 2 Timothy 4:2 which says, "Preach the Word". Context is not entirely clear in that passage, but Paul does exhort Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist", and I think that might give us a clue. Paul is seeming to be asking Timothy to carry on the work that he (Paul) had been doing, since his time was about gone in this life.

Regardless of how we interpret these "less clear" passages, one thing that I found is that there is never a clear example of "preaching" being done in the church gathering. One particular passage, however, that I have heard many times used to justify preaching in the church needs to be addressed. That is the story in Acts 20:7-12. Here, we read that Paul preached to them until midnight. In today's modern churches, it is easy to imagine that Paul must have stood up at a pulpit in the front, and preached to the people, monologue-style, for hours on end. I've been in some churches where that has pretty much happened! But something very important needs to be pointed out here. This word for "preach" is not kerusso. It's not euaggelizo. It's dialegomai. Does that word look like any English word you know? I'll give you a hint. It's different from our English word "monologue", and rhymes with "buy a log"! :) That's right. Paul "dialogued" with them until midnight. It was most certainly interactive teaching taking place.

So what about preaching, then? Does it have any place in the church? Well, quite honestly, it's hard to say. But I can say this: There is no clear example of a regular, weekly sermon being given in the New Testament church. And even if there were regular "sermons", it is not at all evident that the same man gave them every time. In fact, 1 Corinthians 14 deals with the fact that everyone can contribute something to a gathering of believers.

Many have suggested in the past that "prophecy" in the New Testament equates to our modern practice of preaching. I don't think that is the case, though. Note a couple things about the instructions Paul gives there. First of all, he says that there should be two or three that speak. Secondly, he clearly instructs that if one gets a revelation while another is speaking, the first should be silent and let the second speak!

Preaching is clearly used in the New Testament (this much we do know) in an evangelistic environment. In other words, regardless of whether or not you agree with his theology (that is not under debate in this context), Billy Graham preaches in a way that is consistent with the New Testament. He preaches publicly, with the intended audience being unbelievers (Acts 2, Acts 4, etc.) and preaches the basic truth of the Gospel to them, basically proclaiming the Kingdom of God. I believe there will always be a need for that kind of preaching.

Next time, we'll take up the words translated as "teach" and see what we can find.

Until next time

steve :)

30 comment(s):

Interesting. I think that if we take II Timothy 4:2 in its context, (historical as well as grammatical) a case could possibly be made for preaching in the church.

3:14 forward is speaking of the importance of the word of God. It is specifically described as being profitable for "doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." These qualities would seem to be those that are beneficial to believers (i.e. church). Timothy (a pastor) is then commanded to "preach the word".

4:3 refers to those who will not endure sound doctrine but are seeking after teaching. Now I don't think the Apostle was trying to say that all teaching is wrong, it seems apparent that he is referring to those who simply want to hear what makes them feel good.

I think that it could be interpreted that 4:5 is a reminder to Timothy to not ignore the work of evangelism. Many pastors become so wrapped up in their pastoring/teaching that they let evangelism fall through the cracks.
"Make full proof of thy ministry" seems to encourage Timothy to do "every good work" not just the ones that he may be good at or enjoy in particular.

As far as various members speaking per revelation, this is probably a preamble to the cessation/continuation debate. :-)

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Tuesday, April 04, 2006 7:50:00 AM  

Gordon, thanks for your interesting thoughts in response. I will definitely give consideration to your thoughts about 2 Tim. I'm still working through this and am not anywhere near firm on my conclusion.

With regard to the cessation/continuation debate, are you implying that 1 Corinthians 14's instructions are affected by that debate, and therefore would be considered no longer valid by cessationists?

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Tuesday, April 04, 2006 8:23:00 AM  

I would not presume to speak for all cessationists but I will be glad to share my opinion. I think that the principles found in I Corinthians 14 (orderliness, edification, etc) are still relevant. I even think that having two or three who are capable of sharing the Word would be good.

I am one of those that believe that I Corinthians 13 implies that the completion of the Scriptures rendered the "sign" gifts unnecessary.

I Cor. 14 as well as Eph. 4 teach that spiritual gifts are to be used for the edification of the church. It is interesting to see how many of those gifts are related to the preaching/teaching of the Word. If we compare this with II Timothy 2:15, it would seem to indicate that we should focus more upon mastery of the word than upon our giftedness.

This is not to downplay the importance of gifts, but I do think that the more skillful we become with the Word of God, the more edifying our gift will be to the body of Christ.

This issue has been debated by men on both sides who are far more intellectual than I am, so I seriously doubt that I will add anything new to the conversation, but I do think we would be better served to learn what God has already said to us than to be seeking for new revelation.

I hope that I haven't rambled to much and that this makes sense.

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Tuesday, April 04, 2006 11:16:00 AM  

Gordon, thanks again for your contribution to the dialogue. It's possible that we might not come to agreement on this (I used to be a cessationist, and am no longer), but your thoughts and input are still very welcome and helpful!

I personally feel like the cessationist argument from 1 Corinthians 13 is a weak one. It was the argument I used for years against charismatics, but when I looked at it for myself finally, the argument did not hold up for me.

Had 1 Corinthians 13 been the end of the book, I would have an easier time believing that it really did refer to the completion of the canon, but there is just too much in chapter 14 without any kind of "in the meantime, until that happens" caveat.

I personally believe that the "perfect" which is referenced in chapter 13 is the second coming of Jesus. I get that from the fact that Paul says "then we shall see face to face." Additionally, he goes on in chapter 15, after discussing the spiritual gifts, to contrast "perishable" and "unperishable", "mortal" and "immortal". This seems very similar to his contrast in chapter 13 between "perfection" and "imperfection", "poor reflection" and "face to face", "know in part" and "know fully".

Additionally, Paul spent a lot of time talking about the sign gifts and their proper use (I do not deny that many misuse those gifts still today), instead of just saying "These are only gonna be around for a few more years, so don't pursue them."

Instead, he concludes chapter 14 by saying, "be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues."

Having said all that, I think we can still agree on the basic principles you mentioned, including the fact that everything done within the church should be done to edify the church and glorify God.

All in all, I'm not exactly sure how we got into cessationism/continuationism in talking about preaching! :) Was there some relevance that I missed, or was it because I mentioned that some have equated "prophecy" in the NT to preaching today? Or was it because I referenced the mention of "revelation" while one is speaking? I was merely using Paul's words there.

Bottom line on this topic of preaching, then: If 1 Corinthians 14 applies today, then how can we compare our modern practice with Scripture?

What I have attempted to show here is that, with the exception of public evangelistic preaching, I am unable to find one record in the New Testament of one man doing all the preaching week in and week out in the local church. I'm not one who says that something must be found in Scripture (e.g., Church of Christ's prohibition against musical instruments in congregational worship), but when we have a practice that actually stands in the way of biblical teaching, I feel we need to examine it very carefully.

I have yet to see how preaching in the church produces mature disciples who are equipped to do the work, and then who are actually encouraged to do the work. And with all of the focus on mutual involvement, multiple contributors to gatherings, etc., I think the modern "preacher" concept is actually running counter to that.

When I post my next entry, regarding teaching, I plan on touching on the verses that actually indicate that we should not always need teaching, but should be reaching a point of maturity where we are able to teach others.

By the way, I think you see my heart in this, Gordon. You and Ray have both been very gracious and slow to take offense. I appreciate that more than you can know. Please keep in mind that my writing of these thoughts is an attempt to work through these thoughts "out loud" and get input on them. I mean nothing to be derogatory or slanderous.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Tuesday, April 04, 2006 12:21:00 PM  

Steve, even though we might not see eye to eye on some things we have discussed, let me say that I appreciate your spirit in this discussion as well. It never hurts to have one's way of thinking challenged.

I think we get into the cessation/continuation thing from your description of "revelation" and then your question regarding my comment upon it. Anyway, it's all your fault ;).

In all honesty, I don't think there is a particular text that mandates that one person do all the preaching all the time. I'm not sure how, exactly, that we got into that mode. Perhaps it was during a time in which there was a shortage of those who could or would speak. Tradition is sometimes born of necessity and that is not always a good thing.

You are right that two or three sermons a week are not sufficient to disciple believers. In my mind the ideal situation is that church members take responsibility for studying the Word of God on their own. Then, the church should have teachers to guide them in that study. The preaching will then become much more meaningful, either bringing further enlightenment to what they have already learned, or challenging them with something that they have not yet learned.

I do indeed see your heart in this. I think that we would be in agreement in saying that there is a dire shortage of both evangelistic preaching and discipling teaching occurring today.

God bless.

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Tuesday, April 04, 2006 5:12:00 PM  

Regarding the "end of the canon" concept as applied to Paul's 1 Cor. 13 statement...could Paul have known "the end of the canon"?
He was writing a letter. Did he have foreknowledge that he was writing what would become the New Testament a thousand years later? Isn't the end of the canon something decided upon by men when some books such as the gospel of Thomas didn't make the cut, but the other four gospels did?

If Paul knew his writings were going to part of a finished, canonized scripture, then it would make sense that he could look out and say gifts are completed because now the canon meets the needs of the church. Since we do not know this for certain, it strikes me that we cannot know the answer just by scriptural exposition. Therefore I would think we have to conclude one of two things:
1. His reference to completion was about the second coming...and giftings are not ended.

2. His reference to completion
means gifts are ended because God inspired him to write those words as a phrophetic utterance to apply once the canon was literally ended.

Either way requires a position of faith, as the natural powers we have of reading and understanding cannot clearly define this one. Hmmmm...since we walk by faith not by sight, should we conclude both positions are "right"?

By Anonymous ded, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 6:06:00 AM  

oops...I meant "...were going to BE part of a finished..." I even previewed this and still missed the omission. Oh well.

By Anonymous ded, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 7:49:00 AM  

ded, I agree with your comments here. I want to be very gracious to those who believe that certain gifts ceased with the completion of the canon. As I've pointed out to Gordon and others in the past, I was taught that position, and defended it for many years. So, I'm definitely sensitive to it.

However, about 7 years ago, or so, I examined it from a purely scriptural standpoint, and I came to the conclusion that cessationism was not as strongly supported by Scripture as I had been taught it was.

In the absence of stronger biblical evidence, I choose to take the teachings about tongues, prophecies, etc. at face value.

Let me be clear, though, for the sake of Gordon and other cessationists who are reading here: Believing in the continuation of the gifts does not require one to believe that any revelation received is superior (or contradictory) to what has already been received (i.e., Scripture).

Gordon, I'm not sure how long you've been reading my blog, but a few months ago, I wrote a post showing that the "completion of the canon" argument for cessationism is a bit of a red herring. (Several on the Pyro blog and other places were saying that continuationists have to necessarily believe in an open canon.) If you haven't already read it, I would recommend you do, so you can get a better idea of why I don't believe closed canon and continuationism have to be exclusive.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 8:34:00 AM  

Gordon wrote: In my mind the ideal situation is that church members take responsibility for studying the Word of God on their own. Then, the church should have teachers to guide them in that study. The preaching will then become much more meaningful, either bringing further enlightenment to what they have already learned, or challenging them with something that they have not yet learned.

I think we're real close in our thinking on this. I would actually think, though, that if the "ideal" you described were actually being played out, we would find that there wouldn't be need for regular, monologue-style preaching in the church gatherings.

The problem that we face is that, by giving the preaching center-stage focus in our churches, we undermine any chance of getting to that ideal.

This has been my basic premise through all of this discussion: The current system encourages and fosters immaturity in the listeners and an unhealthy dependence on the word of the man up front, not God's Word.

You and I agree on the need for maturity and discipleship in the body, and I'm trying to say that this is a huge piece of the equation.

I'm not sure we're very far apart, are we? Or am I being too dramatic on this topic?

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 8:39:00 AM  

Steve,

My position is like yours. These scriptures about gifts are alive now and have not stopped. Yet, I know I cannot prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt for those who would take the opposite view. You have written clearly and with compelling logic on the subject. My respect for your "gift" in exegesis continues to grow. The debate is nothing to divide over, which is the thought I want to underscore.

For those on the other side of the fence, the abuses which have sprung out of the view we hold is reason to suspect the biblical basis for believing "power" gifts are active today. Though I hold the view of active power gifts, I reject most of the practices of today based on these scriptures.
Man, as usual, is capable of messing inordinately with scripture. Prudence dictates a fair examination not just of what one believes the scripture says, but what is done with that belief as well. What we Christians (any stripe considered) claim is of God, often just ain't so.

By Anonymous ded, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 8:59:00 AM  

Steve, I don't think we are far apart at all on an idealistic level. The gap may be a little wider on a practical level.

I am still not convinced that monologuic preaching should be abandoned. I still believe that II Tim. 4:2 while perhaps not limited to the function of the church, is at least inclusive of the function of the church.

Matthew 5:1 indicates that the Sermon on the Mount was delivered in monologue form by Jesus to His disciples.

The vast majority of church history reveals that pastors have stood before their congregations to preach doctrine. I realize that historical tradition is not equal to scriptural mandate, but even the eary church had pastors that preached.

I think we are in agreement though, on the need for church members to take the initiative for personal study of the word so that they may teach others.

Concerning Paul not being able to see the future canonization of the Scriptures, if he were writing under divine inspiration, was it necessary for him to be able to understand or clearly foresee all that God led him to write? :)

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 11:42:00 AM  

Gordon,

My point exactly in my second conclusion about how to accept these verses. I can see that Paul was inspired and the corollary he did not know the full ramifications of what He wrote. I can see it, but not necessarily accept it that way. 8^)

To then allow for the interpretation that gifts have ended, well, it is an interpretation. It takes faith to believe it that way or not. It is not finitely clear one way or the other since his words are "when the perfect comes." To identify that phrase as meaning a reference to the completed canon is an idea we bring to the text. The text does not explicitly say it is so.

By Anonymous ded, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 12:02:00 PM  

DED--To then allow for the interpretation that gifts have ended, well, it is an interpretation. It takes faith to believe it that way or not.

You are correct in saying this. The text does not actually define "that which is perfect." I realize that an argument could be made that this is referring to the Second Coming, but I don't really see how that fits in the context of this passage. It would seem (to me) that the canonization of Scripture would be a more likely fit.

Steve, I have not yet had opportunity to read your post on this, but I will as soon as I have the chance.

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 1:44:00 PM  

Gordon, I would definitely be curious on why you say that "the canonization of Scripture would be a more likely fit."

Even though it's kinda off topic, feel free to flesh that out in this comments section. I may have to go back to posting on that topic! ;)

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 2:38:00 PM  

Hey Steve,
Do you have an e-mail address anywhere? I'd appreciate talking to you. Thanks,
Joseph
you can contact me at horningjm@hotmail.com

By Blogger Blaurock, at Wednesday, April 05, 2006 3:01:00 PM  

Steve, didn't mean to get so far removed from what you originally posted. :)

To answer your question, I believe that the context of I Corinthians is dealing with a gross lack of knowledge and understanding by the Corinthian church.

There were disputes over several issues that stemmed simply from the fact that there was no written Word on the subject as yet. (i.e. head coverings, Christian liberty, spiritual gifts, etc.)

Chapter 13, while describing love is also speaking of revelation: prophecies, tongues, knowledge. Paul reminds them that at the time of his writing, knowledge and prophecy is only partial, but a completed form was forthcoming.

Despite the extensive discussion of tongues in Chapter 14, I feel that the most important principle is the edifying of the body. This again is accomplished through speaking the revelation of God which at that time was still largely unwritten.

It is possible of course that, "that which is perfect", is a reference to Christ. But the Greek word for "perfect" is teleios for "complete". Christ had already come and has always been complete.

Given that the context of the statement concerns revelation of truth, and that the definition of perfection is the completion of something that has not yet come, I would think this makes a stronger case for canonization than it does Second Coming.

I want you to know that I am thoroughly enjoying the entire discussion we are having here on your blog.

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 10:33:00 AM  

Gordon, I'm enjoying it very much, too. Thanks for your participation.

Stay with me here while I press a bit further on this issue. First of all, the way that we got to this discussion was my mention of "prophecy" in 1 Corinthians 14 being equated by some with the modern practice of preaching. (Note that this was not being presented as my position, but I was using it to make a point.)

OK, so if prophecy in 1 Corinthians 13 refers not to preaching, but to the writing of Scripture, therefore leading to teleios being interpreted as the canon being complete, we still are left with some lingering issues. The issue in this discussion does not need to relate to tongues, to be honest. You said, Despite the extensive discussion of tongues in Chapter 14.... But the issue we are talking about is prophecy, which as you know is a different gift.

Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to desire to prophecy. In fact, he makes the point in verse 1 of chapter 14 that this is a gift to be pursued earnestly because it edifies the Body. (Your point on edification is well-noted, and not at all disagreeable with my points here.)

Why would Paul encourage the Corinthian believers to seek to prophecy? How many books in our NT canon are written by members of the Corinthian church? I am not aware that any of them were.

But let me point out an even more problematic point with your position. (In love, of course!! Stay with me, friend. I'm not trying to shoot you down.) You use teleios to reference completion of the canon. I'll allow for this possible usage of the word. However, it is important to note the way Paul uses that word elsewhere. Granting that this might actually (at least temporarily) shoot a hole in my "Second Coming" interpretation (although I think "face to face" and the other comparisons that I noted in chapter 15, which I'm not sure you considered, need to be dealt with honestly), teleios is almost consistently used in Paul's writings (1 Cor 2:6, 1 Cor 14:20, Eph 4:13, to name a few) in the sense of "maturity".

So, if we use this logic, wouldn't we then have to be consistent and say that the gifts of Ephesians 4:11 were only until the completion of the canon?? After all, verse 13 says that those gifts were given to us until we attain the level of a "mature" (teleios) man. In fact, most cessationists do argue that apostles and prophets are no longer in existence today. Some even eliminate evangelists, leaving the preacher/teacher alone in the church today. Why do we still have pastor/teachers if the canon is complete?

Quite honestly, I believe this does tremendous injustice to the text. We can't begin to pick and choose what has passed away. This is why I believe the Second Coming interpretation suits the text much better. I'm not advocating doing away with any of the gifts on the basis of the completion of the canon, because to do so requires ignoring entire passages (such as 1 Corinthians 14), or even taking out portions of a single verse (such as Eph 4:11) and saying that they no longer apply.

Why do we say that certain law passages in the OT no longer apply? Because the rest of Scripture lets us know that. Romans, Galatians, and especially Hebrews help us see that we are no longer under law. I use this, not to get into discussing Law, but to show the comparison. Without that revelation of us being freed from the slavery of the Law because of the complete work of Jesus, we would not have any basis to say "We are no longer under Law."

Likewise, we need to tread very, very carefully in saying that portions of the New Testament (especially in the epistles written to the churches) no longer apply without further revelation in Scripture that lets us know that. If the argument for cessationism hinges on teleios in 1 Corinthians 13...well, let me just put it this way: It was that very usage of 1 Corinthians 13 as the central "proof text" that convinced me to not be a cessationist any longer!!

Your turn! :)

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:39:00 AM  

Gordon, a comment about something you said that actually was about the original post (hehe):

I am still not convinced that monologuic preaching should be abandoned.

I actually agree with this statement. My effort, then, is to determine the role of it, if it should not be abandoned. Scripture is quite vague on this. The OT usage of preaching, in my opinion, does not in any way help us because it was a point in time when the Spirit had not been poured out on all believers. This truth of the Spirit being poured out is a very, very critical one that cannot be overlooked.

So, we are left with very vague mentions of preaching in the church. Something that is so vague should not be (in my opinion) so central to our practice. We have ignored the more clear Scriptures (such as 1 Cor 14 -- sorry to keep coming back to that one, but it frankly is the clearest statement of what should be happening in our gatherings) in favor of an unqualified or unclarified instruction to Timothy to "preach the Word". That is not a strong position to be in, and I cannot in good conscience rest on that.

We'll keep working on it, though!

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:45:00 AM  

Steve, I don't remember saying that prophesying was writing scripture. Perhaps I need to articulate myself a little more clearly.

For the sake of this dialogue, I will use the term "sign" gifts to include prophecy, tongues and knowledge. I believe that these were methods God used in early believers to express His truth. When the early church met, they obviously did not have the luxury of the NT from which to teach and preach. I believe that God used the sign gifts to express "new truth" (for lack of a better term). I agree with your assessment of I Corinthians 14 and how it should govern our meetings.

I did read your remarks per I Cor. 15 as well as the previous posts on this subject. For the most part, I am willing to stipulate that prophesying was probably pretty close to preaching.

I also agree with your definition of teleion in the other references you mentioned. I believe the main difference is that those texts are referring to a process towards maturity while I Corinthians is referring to the completion of something that is incomplete.

I say this because of the use of the word esoptron. This describes a mirror in which we see our own reflection rather than a window through which we peer trying to get a glimpse of Christ. The image in the mirror was incomplete for the Corinthians so they were in need of that which would give them a clear or complete reflection.

It is in the Word that we find what we truly are and who we truly are. It is in the Word that we find our imperfections revealed. It is in the Word that we discover the uniqueness with which God made us. I will admit, this is only an analogy, but it does bear resemblance to the purpose of a mirror.

It may surprise you to know that I am not entirely convinced that the offices of apostle and prophet are no longer relevant. I think there is a difference in nature of the gifts listed in Ephesians 4 and those listed in I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. Those in Ephesians 4 are more official (in function, not status) than the other gifts.

What is an apostle? A missionary, a mentor, an encourager. Those are definitely gifts from which the church derives benefit today. What is a prophet? One who stands before man on behalf of God. Again, very relevant today.

As you mentioned earlier, it is likely, even probable that we will not come to full agreement in this discussion. Even so, I must say it is refreshing to find a continuationist that is trying to take an exegetical approach rather than an experiential one.

God bless.

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 5:29:00 PM  

Now after looking at my last comment, I realize that it is only slightly shorter than a graduate theses and is not even on the original topic.

Sorry to get us sidetracked. :)

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 5:30:00 PM  

Gordon, great comments and good thoughts. I'm not going to try to convince you to become a continuationist, so rest easy, my brother!

You actually offer some stronger evidence in your defense here, and I appreciate it. I'm still not convinced of your position, either, but I'm willing to let this one go for right now. :) I will probably take this up in post form in the near future, and we can dialogue more at that point, maybe. I need to digest all you have said here without firing off a response, so give me some time on that one!

And by the way, I didn't mind the detour. It was completely fine. I was teasing you about getting us off track.

The reason I took your comments to mean that prophecy equated with writing Scripture was because when I mentioned prophecy, and in context referred to revelation, you countered with the cessationist position of there no longer being revelation because of the complete canon. Maybe I took too big a leap there in your terminology. Sorry to misrepresent your view! :)

I would like to challenge one thing that you just wrote, and it might be semantics, but it really is very appropriate to the actual post topics about preaching and the focus on one preacher in the congregation.

You wrote: What is a prophet? One who stands before man on behalf of God. Again, very relevant today.

That statement about "one who stands before man on behalf of God" actually concerns me a bit. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt in assuming that it does not mean what I read it to mean.

And admittedly, this may be part of my lens on this issue coming into play -- a reaction to some things in the institutional church, if you will.

My discomfort with the way the institution places a man in front as the mouthpiece of God to that congregation is pretty strong.

I'd like you to clarify what you mean by that statement about standing "before man on behalf of God". As I'm sure you are aware, Scripture is very clear that there is one mediator between man and God -- the man Christ Jesus.

I'll eagerly await your explanation! :)

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 6:09:00 PM  

I am convinced God accepts both positions because even as neither is complete. Our Father is searching for those hearts in complete surrender to the Word, Jesus Christ.

Faith pleases Him. We come at faith from different places and faith rests upon different conceptualizations of the Word, yet is the same faith when it is realized in an acknowledgement and trust of the living Spirit of Christ. Such presence is known to the individual as life-giving, nuturing, comforting and convicting. A presence recognized as being the One in whom the one lives and moves and has his being.

By Anonymous ded, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 6:17:00 PM  

argggh I am so bad at editing.

"...neither is complete, our Father..."

By Anonymous ded, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 6:19:00 PM  

Steve, my definition of prophet comes probably more from the OT than from the NT.

In the OT, there were priests and prophets. The priest stood before God on behalf of men. The prophet stood before men on behalf of God.

Jesus, as our great High Priest, is indeed the one and only mediator on our behalf before God. I truly believe that "no man comes to the Father but by me (Jesus). Rest easy on that one! :)

If I may expand on the function of the prophet, he was one who stood in prominence (again function, not status) to proclaim the judgment of God upon wickedness. He often would stand even before kings to relay "Thus sayeth the Lord!" Sadly, our culture does not have many who will do that. If we did, we might see more righteousness in our society. (But that is probably another topic).

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 8:53:00 PM  

Well, I would respectfully submit, Gordon, that the OT prophet was fulfilled in Jesus. I have outlined it on this blog before, but rather than make you click through, I'll repeat it here:

* The prophets spoke the word of God, but Jesus is the Word of God.
* The prophets said, "Thus saith the Lord", but Jesus said, "Verily, verily I say unto you."
* The prophets were men representing God, but Jesus is both man and God.

Jesus is not only the great High Priest, but He represented the end of the mediation in both directions. As I've argued before, it was Israel who said, "We don't want to hear from God directly. Moses, you go listen for us, and tell us what He said, and we'll do whatever you say." Jesus put an end to that.

Let's not miss the significance of the veil being torn at the death of Jesus. Let's not miss the significance of the beginning of the book of Hebrews (indeed, the entire book!) where it says that God spoke "in the past" through prophets, but now has spoken through Jesus.

We all have access directly to the Father now. We all (I'm speaking of believers, obviously, when I say "we all") have the Holy Spirit of God within us. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead is at work within us! The hope of glory is Christ in us!!!

This is highly significant. If we believe that someone needs to stand up and preach to believers and say, "Thus saith the Lord", we have reduced the significance of the work of Christ and returned to a pre-New Covenant mentality.

Yes, we must teach new believers and instruct them (like Priscilla and Aquilla did with Apollos), but the goal should not be for them to remain under our teaching and for us to be the voice of God to them. It must be, from all I can gather in Scripture, for the express purpose of them maturing in the faith and learning to recognize the voice of God themselves, thereby being able to teach others!! Yes, I believe there will be times when some need to (and will be prompted by the Spirit to) stand up in the midst of believers and urge a return to biblical doctrine. But this would not, if we were doing the full work of the ministry in making disciples, be the normal "every time we gather" function!

I'm sorry to be so passionate about this. (Well, actually, no I'm not!) But this is significant. This is something that is so critical for the church to recognize!!

I have said it before, and will say it again. No matter how good our intentions are, if we are putting ourselves in a position (physically as well as metaphorically) where we appear to be the channel through which people hear from God, we are preventing the function of the Body in its fullness, as described in Scripture. The "speaking" in 1 Corinthians is tied to the whole teaching on gifts, and it is clear from chapter 12 that the source of these gifts is the Spirit, and the functioning of the gifts is as the Spirit moves. It's similar to how it is mentioned in Acts that people were speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. The operation of gifts is not something to be programmed or institutionalized. It is to be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and at His discretion.

It is also clear from Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 14 that the speaking is subject to correction from others. And in context, it appears that this "weighing" (which implies correction, as needed) takes place in the very same gathering as the original speaking. This is not happening in our current system! This is what prompts my writing on all of this.

By the way, you mentioned the fact that I'm dealing with things exegetically and not experientially. I would not even think of dealing with this in any other way! Thanks for noticing. (And ded, thank you for your kind words regarding my exegesis, as well. I am humbled, because I'm just a guy reading the Word and repeating it here! This is nothing of me.)

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 9:24:00 PM  

Steve, I think we may still be on different wavelengths here concerning definition of prophet. Perhaps we are using the same vocabulary but a different dictionary.

I am not saying that man today can stand up and speak with new revelation from God. Ephesians 4 is a very clear NT passage that speaks of prophets in the NT era, as is I Cor. 12,13 and 14. This in no way is a means of replacing or overshadowing the ministry of Christ. It shows though that God is still using man to proclaim His message.

I did not say that the ministry of prophets was directed solely at believers. Neither is the scope of his function restricted to the OT. (Even though I drew my basic understanding of his role from that of the OT.)

Consider the Apostle John. Did he not write Revelation as prophecy?

You said: We all have access directly to the Father now. We all (I'm speaking of believers, obviously, when I say "we all") have the Holy Spirit of God within us. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead is at work within us! The hope of glory is Christ in us!!!

I can wholeheartedly say AMEN to that. No man will ever replace Jesus and there will never be a need to. But God is still calling men to stand up and speak His truth (the same truth that was taught by Jesus). Again, consider II Tim. 4:2, "Preach the Word". If the Bible is the inspired Word of God, is that not "Thus saith the Lord?"

John stated in I John 1:3, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you." He was speaking directly of what he had learned from the mouth of the Savior. Is not this "Thus saith the Lord?"

In our proclamation of the Scriptures, I do believe we are accountable for doing so with integrity. "No scripture is of private interpretation." I take that to mean that no individual has a monopoly on the interpretation of the Bible. Thus, we are accountable to God and to one another (as per I Cor. 14) to speak it correctly. The NT gives several examples of how we are to approach those who teach or preach incorrectly.

I apologize if in my feeble efforts to communicate I do not do it clearly. :)

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 10:35:00 PM  

Gordon, it's probably I who am not communicating clearly! I apologize. I really need to take a step back and spend some time re-reading all that we've written back and forth.

I made the mistake of trying to engage your wonderfully peaceful comments while simultaneously engaging in some more frustrating conversations on other blogs!! In doing so, I fear that my answers here may have been more pointed than I intended.

Frankly, that's not how I want to handle things on this blog, and so I am going to humbly take a step back, re-read several times what we have written here and try to understand what you're really saying.

Thanks for the continued dialogue. You are very appreciated here! :)

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Friday, April 07, 2006 7:26:00 AM  

Hey, no problem, Brother. I too have been engaged in several intense conversations on blogs lately. It is getting to where I am even dreaming about them. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Never apologize for being passionate about what you believe. I have certainly not taken offense at your remarks.

I am going to be out of town until late Saturday evening. If you don't see me around, that is why.

Have a blessed weekend. My "Weekend Survey" this week invites my readers to advertise their blog. Come on over and tell everybody about yours.

By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at Friday, April 07, 2006 8:36:00 AM  

28 messages?!! (29 now)
You must be a celebrity!
Yes, it is me, your German visitor, or at least one of them.
Guten Abend.

By Blogger Chris Tilling, at Friday, April 07, 2006 4:13:00 PM  

This has been fun to read. Steve,I agree with your insights.

And Gordon, I may not agree with your definitions of what a prophet and apostle are, but I can agree that we only know in part what they are.

By Blogger Larry Who, at Saturday, April 08, 2006 11:21:00 AM  

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