“Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2): Its Implications (Part 1). The prescription to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) that we’ve been introduced to in my previous posts (post #1, post #2) is really a prescription for what is called ‘expository preaching’. Unfortunately, the term ‘expository’ has come to mean different things, some of which fail to conform to what God prescribes here. It is thus important to carefully observe what God means by what He commands here. Not so much to recover a more faithful definition of ‘expository preaching’ (as helpful as that may be), but more importantly to be more faithful ministers to His church.
This command prescribes a particular kind of communication: to “preach (kērussō)..reprove (elegchō), rebuke (epitimaō), exhort (parakaleō), with all patience (makrothumia) and instruction (didachē).” God could have ‘breathed out’ (2 Tim. 3:16) through Paul any of a number of words that pertain to communication. The Greek language is rich with possibilities. But God does not simply prescribe that we ‘speak’ (legō) the word, which would allow for just about any form of communication; nor does He say, ‘dramatize’ (e.g. kataseiō) the word, which would set a precedent for dramatic monologues, skits, and the like; neither does He charge that we ‘interactively communicate’ (e.g. sullaleō) the word, which would warrant a more dialoguing approach; nor does it merely say to “read” (anagnōsis) the word. Not that any of those means are wrong of themselves. They just aren’t what God prescribed for the faithful ‘good soldier’-shepherd of His church when it is gathered (cf. 2 Tim. 2-3).
The verb to “preach” (kērussō), means to verbally proclaim as a herald. A herald doesn’t come with his own message or authority but that of the king. A herald’s faithfulness is measured by how accurately he passed on the intended message of the king. This is ‘expository preaching’. Let’s now briefly draw some important implications from this and what is coupled with this command. Observe, then, that…
- ‘Expository preaching’ is not just one of a number of possible styles of preaching, rather it is to be the indispensable substance of all true, faithful preaching!
- ‘Expository preaching’ isn’t a take-it-or-leave-it, apathetic, or frivolous kind of delivery. The faithful herald is to convey the authority, spirit, and urgency of the intended message of the King of kings Himself (cf. Titus 2:15).
- ‘Expository preaching’ isn’t merely a “heady” informative speech. It is to include “all…instruction”, but it isn’t to end there. The preacher must also show in what ways we’ve not conformed to that “word” (“reprove”), the sinfulness of that lack of conformity (“rebuke”), and encourage (“exhort”) us with “all patience” in the pathway to conformity.
And this is only some of the implications for just one of a number of dynamics in this rich prescription. We’ll unpack more, but it’ll have to wait until my next post.