Paul was different from simply an average preacher in that he was an apostle. An apostle is a delegate; a commissioner of the gospel; literally one sent forth. The original ones who saw the Lord, as Saul did, had miraculous powers, as is stated in the gospels. Since being intercepted by Christ on the Damascus road, and being called to the service of the Lord, Saul of Tarsus became as zealous a preacher of the gospel as he was a persecutor of it before that interception. Saul, (later called Paul), was called to be an apostle as “one born out of due time” (Greek=ektromah; as an untimely birth, or an abortion. (See 1 Corinthians 15:8). Many scholars believe his conversion was around 37 A.D., seven years after Christ was crucified. From that day until Paul’s death between 64--66 A.D., he only lived to serve the living Christ whom he had met on the Damascus road. As he said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Saul knew what he was doing in his role as a prominent persecutor of Christ’s followers (not yet called Christians, but usually referred to as “that sect”). Saul’s passion was to wipe out these followers of this sect which followed Jesus, the despised Nazarene, through their imprisonment, and even death if necessary. This was the case with Stephen. Then later, after his conversion, the great apostle Paul knew what he was doing and in whom he believed.
WHAT IS PREACHING?
Paul spent time in every city to which he primarily addressed his letters. I say primarily because I believe, at least in his later years, that Paul knew these epistles were meant for churches in more than just the immediate cities. He certainly did with Ephesians. Most scholars believe it was a circular letter, going to Laodicea, Ephesus, and then other churches in other cities. Of course, every epistle in the New Testament ultimately goes to the entire church, the body of Christ. In a very real sense the writing of these letters of Paul was preaching. To preach is not only to verbalize, though it primarily means that. The Greek word for preach is euaggelizo= to announce good news. This can be done verbally, or in writing. Paul did both, as many do today.
Preaching is different in some ways from a speech. True preaching involves good news. Speeches may not. Teaching and preaching are similar, though the goal of preaching is to announce and stir, while teaching has the primary goal of educating. Preaching also may involve announcing and educating. Our word for preaching in Greek has several forms, but it especially applies to announcing the Gospel. God said preaching is foolishness to unbelievers, but He has ordained the “foolishness of preaching” to save them that believe. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18; 21)
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
Actually the definition for gospel is Greek euaggelion=good news, good tidings, and is actually a variation of the word for preach. There is another similar Greek word euaggelistce=evangelist, which is preacher, or good news bearer. So preach, gospel, preacher or evangelist are all related words in Greek, and in English. They have to do with the good news of Christ’s sacrifice for sinners. As to the origin of the English word gospel, it comes from God spell as those that were converted were said to be under a spell. So we may say that the gospel is the evangel which evangelicals and evangelists must preach. To preach anything else, as so many are today, is not true bible preaching. As Charles Hodge once said “The gospel is so simple that small children can understand it, and it is so profound that studies by the wisest theologians will never exhaust its riches.” That is a profound, but very true statement. We must remember that, and apply it.
This gospel must be preached in power. Paul said, it is the power of God unto salvation “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16). The Greek word for power here is dunamis. We get our word dynamite from this word. It takes this power to save a sinner. It is the same power that raised Lazarus from the tomb. It is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. The gospel is dynamite, preacher. Be careful how you handle it!
It is true that the apostles (all of them), were following Christ’s final marching orders from Mark 16:15. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” They were commanded to do so, and so are we in the successive ages. By the way, these verses are still in my bible! Then in Matthew 28:19, 20 Jesus said “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
WHAT IS SALVATION?
As I have already said, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. I don’t really think most people know what salvation is. In the New Testament, it is often the Greek word σωτηρία, or soteria; which means to deliver, to rescue, or to save. That is exactly what it means in Romans 1:16. It means rescue; deliverance, save. It is the ultimate of rescue! God has rescued His children from sin, death and hell. What Jesus did by giving His life, was the grandest rescue ever! No one else could have accomplished what Christ did, because no one else was sinless and perfect. Once Paul realized this, he taught it with great zeal. He was willing to give his own life in the cause of Christ, and he ultimately did so in Rome. Many have done the same since then.
You see my friend, our salvation was costly. It cost the saviour His life, and His blood. It cost Paul and most of the apostles their lives also. Over the centuries, many others have given their lives for Christ as well. Some seem to think the cost was not so great, but it was the most costly transaction we can ever think of. If you go to your death ignoring, or successfully resisting what Jesus did, you will regret it for all eternity. Just think friend, Jesus paid it all for you. If you will hear His voice, and repent and turn to Him, I promise you, He will save you. Please do it before it is too late for you. This is the most important thing you will ever do. Do it this very minute! If you will trust Christ, He will save you. Will you do it this very day? I have been saved over forty years, and I have never regretted it. You won’t either. Jesus is going to return soon, and you had better be ready. If you are not, eternity in hell awaits you. You cannot now say you have never heard the truth. You have. If you will contact me, I will talk further with you. God help you!
Published by Charles Woodruff- email: email@example.com