The Work and Craft of Preaching

Essay 1

The work of the preacher – some sundry thoughts

The work of a preacher is developed by Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. Brief reflection on those words will be useful – and is very much necessary if one is to include the Lord’s standard to one’s personal teaching and preaching.

It is interesting to me that in the early part of Paul’s letter to Timothy he gives a charge to Timothy to stand against error. Paul tasked Timothy to stay in Ephesus for the purpose of grounding the local church in the truth of God, opposing error as needed. Paul was fully aware of God’s mercy having been shown to him; because of God’s mercy he was motivated to proclaim the same mercy to others. In so doing, it was necessary to oppose error in what we commonly call doctrinal areas and oppose error in one’s behavior. Some failed to do this and because they did they wrecked their ship on the rocks they never saw.

Paul did not leave Timothy in Ephesus just to combat error, however. Though opposing error is a necessary component of preaching the gospel, there is also edification and education that is to occur. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to ground the church in the ways of God (1 Timothy 3:14-15). This consisted of having holy men lead in prayer, teaching godly women the propriety of modest behavior and apparel, and setting leadership and servants in place for the benefit of the saints and to the glory of God. The preacher is to be “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6, NKJV) and, of course, he is to teach the brethren the same things. As Paul brings his first letter to Timothy to a close he speaks not only with regard to warnings, godly behavior for the preacher and non-preacher alike, but he says to Timothy that he is to “fight the good fight of faith” (6:12). Reading Paul’s letter to Timothy we learn of what this consists.