Preaching and Teaching: What Your Preaching Communicates to Others Regarding Teaching

 |  August 8, 2018

Ever since C. H. Dodd’s 1936 watershed book, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development, debates have arisen regarding whether or not preaching (kerygma) and teaching (didache) are two distinct activities. According to Dodd, didache delivers moral instruction to believers. However, kerygma communicates the gospel to unbelievers.[1]C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development, (Great Britain: Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd., 1936), 1–2.

In contrast to Dodd, others point out with substantial evidence that a relationship exists between teaching and preaching. Furthermore, one of Dodd’s critics contend that both biblical terms were used to describe the activity of Jesus, Peter, and Paul.[2]R. C. Worley, Preaching and Teaching in the Earliest Church, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1967), 35. Thus, preaching and teaching are not two distinctive activities without relationship to one another.

Having had opportunities to serve and study the teaching ministry of various churches, I find that preaching and teaching are interconnected with one another. R. C. Worley affirms the view when he states, “These two activities appear to be inseparable.” [3]Ibid. I’ve recognized that preaching directly impacts the teaching ministry of the local church.

For this reason, I suggest the following points that preaching communicates regarding the teaching ministry of your church:

  1. Preaching demonstrates what you desire others to teach: The expositor’s assignment as he preaches is to communicate the original thoughts and intents of the biblical author. He must strive to not preach his opinion, others’ thoughts of the text, or overextend his attention to crafty illustrations. If the preacher is to not have the previously mentioned items as his primary topic, then what’s to be preached? He may teach all that God has commanded in Scripture. (cf., Matt 28:20) Paul contends, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16–17)
  2. Preaching demonstrates how you desire others to teach: A preacher’s degree of faithfulness to exegeting the Holy Scriptures instructs others on how to proclaim God’s word. If a preacher desires to be great, he must step out of the way and allow God to declare through him. However, if he relies on carnal attributes he has already failed the task of effectively delivering God’s word.” (cf., 1 Cor 2:1–5)
  3. Preaching demonstrates why you desire others to teach: America churches are full of eloquent pulpiteers delivering sermons that evoke the emotions of their hearers. However, the preacher of God’s word must remind himself and others through the delivery of the Scriptures that preaching instructs concerning Christ and God. Thus, the motivation of preaching should always strive to bring a soul to God. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:20–21)

Preaching and teaching are divine communication of God’s holy, infallible, and inerrant word; therefore these activities should be treated as such. The modern preacher has available a plethora of great expositors’ sermons to aid in the crafting of his preaching in such a way that will cultivate the teaching ministry of the local church. However, space permits me to refer to one: America’s Preacher, Billy Graham. His ministry and life serve as a constant reminder for preaching today. Graham, for over 70 years, consistently and faithfully instructed his hearers in three ways every time he preached:

1) What he preached: Graham preached the Bible. He told the hearer what that “the Bible says,” not his opinion.

2) How he preached: Graham preached using the Bible. He instructed the audience with the Bible as his guide.

3) Why he preached: Graham called the hearer to respond to what the Bible says. He preached to bring   others to Christ.

Therefore, be mindful of your preaching—for the one who preaches impacts the teaching ministry of others.


Carl Bradford is Instructor of Evangelism and Church Planting in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

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