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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Preach? Equip?

This is going to be a bit technical, hang in there.  For the past several months I have been struggling with the way κηρύσσω (kerysso, 2 Timothy 4:1, and many others) is translated.  In most of our versions κηρύσσω is translated, "preach".  What's bothering me is that the use of the Word prior to the Christian era was "herald," or "proclaim".  Why then do we continually see κηρύσσω rendered, "preach"?
Preach?  Equip?
This is a start, but we only obey once a month?
I wonder if it is the result of the divide, of which I find no Biblical validation, between laity and clergy.  That divide exacerbated by many if not most pastors ignoring the clear statement of the text of Ephesians 4:16 - 20.  Rather than equipping those in their care to do the work of service, they reserve that work for themselves.  So much so that I have heard one well known pastor, of whom I otherwise have enormous respect, declare that the role of men in the church is to come and listen to their pastor and then teach what they hear to their families.  Really?  I could have sworn that Christ admonished us to abide in Him and His Word, John 15:1 – 16.

This morning I heard another pastor, again one of whom I have utmost respect, essentially remove the work of service from the members of his church by elevating his role above theirs.  I have to be convinced that he really did not mean what he said; at least I hope so.  However, in his message he removed ministry, the work of service, from his people in two ways.  First, he stated that Peter although he was uneducated was known in Acts 4:13 as one who had been with Jesus.  Good stuff, the exhortation was to know Christ, could not agree more with that.  But, then, referring to the fact that Peter wrote two of our New Testament books he said that he did so after becoming a pastor.  I can find no place in Scripture where Peter is referred to as a pastor.  The implicit message is that the pastoral role qualified Peter to write 1 Peter and 2 Peter.  That is just not the case.  He was not a pastor, he was an apostle.  Admittedly, that is an office.  But, I would argue that the real qualification for Peter’s ministry and authorship of the epistles that bear his name was that which is stated in Acts 4:13, he was with Jesus.

Secondly – and again the main point was good, that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we have boldness to share the gospel – in making his point on Acts 4:31, he quoted the last part of the verse, “…and began to preach the word of God with boldness”.  In no translation that I have checked is the Greek, λαλέω, rendered preach, always, “speak”.  By changing the wording, he elevated his role.  The subtle, implicit message, is that it is the pastor, the preacher, who is the one who should share.

In Matthew 28:18 – 20, Jesus tells his disciples that they are to make disciples, teaching them to do all that He commanded them.  In John 17:20, Christ prays all that He prayed for the 12, for us.  Ephesians 4:11 – 20 seems to be and extension of that commission and prayer.  2 Timothy 2:2 and Paul’s actions throughout his three missionary journeys, indicate that he bought completely into the idea of equipping believers to do the ministry, he expected it.  Christ expects it.

Why then do we not follow suit?  Why do we require our pastors by expectation and job description to do the work of service rather than equipping us to do so?  Why, do they not embrace the role that the Holy Spirit set out for them in Ephesians 4:11 – 16?

Something is wrong.

4 comments:

  1. For one thing, we are the heirs of 2000 years of church history. This has some tremendous benefits - and tremendous liabilities. My very brief and cursory understanding of church history indicates this mentality was rooted in church doctrine by the end of the 1st Century.

    We're still trying to get back the the Bible and work our way out....

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    1. My understanding of church history aligns with yours. It brings into focus that at many levels we are still struggling with Mark 7:6 - 8. We are more interested in doing what we have always done than what the Bible says we should be doing.

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  2. The NLT has "preached" in Acts 4:31. That offense was probably not deliberate.

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    1. You are correct. I did not check the paraphrases. Just the typically used versions. I too hope it was not deliberate, however, he did refer to Greek more than once in his message. So if he was using the NLT, which raises another issue for me, I would expect him to know the normal usage of λαλέω.

      The point still seems to stand. We elevate one aspect of the pastor's role, preaching, over that of equipping.

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