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Preaching in the New Testament (New Studies in Biblical Theology, Volume 42) Paperback – March 14, 2017
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Many Christians share the assumption that preaching the word of God is at the heart of God's plans for the gospel in our age, that it is vital for the church's health, and that it is the central task of the pastor-teacher. Many helpful books on preaching are available. The vast majority are concerned with "how-to," but relatively few focus primarily on the character and theology of preaching according to Scripture. Two key, interrelated questions need to be addressed. First, is there such a thing as "preaching" that is mandated in the post-apostolic context―and, if there is, how is it defined and characterized? Second, how does post-apostolic "preaching" relate to the preaching of the Old Testament prophets and of Jesus and his apostles? In this New Studies in Biblical Theology volume Jonathan Griffiths seeks answers to these questions in the New Testament. In Part One he gives an overview of the theology of the Word of God, surveys Greek terms related to preaching, and looks at teaching concerning the scope and character of other word ministries in the life of the church. In Part Two his exegetical studies concentrate on teaching that relates especially to the post-apostolic context. In Part Three he summarizes the exegetical findings, sets them within the context of biblical theology, and proposes a number of broader theological implications. Griffiths's accessible, scholarly investigation will be of value to scholars, pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers. Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship, and to point the way ahead.
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"Preaching in the New Testament presents a compelling biblical case for what preaching is and does. The book will not necessarily help readers become better preachers, but it will make them more aware as preachers―which, in the end, may make them more effective."-- Peter Krol, Bible Study Magazine, November/December 2017
"As a pastor myself, I found this book extremely encouraging, and came away not only with a clearer grasp of what God intends to accomplish through my preaching, but with a renewed goal of doing what I can to see that my preaching fulfills those divine purposes."-- Gary L. Shultz Jr., The Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society, March 2018
"What a great encouragement for maintaining the centrality of preaching in our worship! Tasting heaven as God speaks to us through his word; what a great thought! Preaching in the New Testament: An Exegetical and Biblical-Theological Study by Jonathan I. Griffiths is a great scholarly resource and encouragement to pastors in their regular work of exegesis and preaching ministry. Griffiths’ wok comes with the highest recommendations."-- Jacques Roets, Mid-America Journal of Theology
"Readers will find here a wealth of information and insight related to the biblical basis for preaching which should fuel a life-long commitment to handle God's truth rightly and to proclaim it to others today. For at least these important reasons, Preaching in the New Testament should be welcomed with enthusiasm as a vital resource for all those who are called to serve in the specific word ministry knwon in Scripture as 'preaching.'"-- Pete Charpentier, Midwestern Journal of Theology, Spring 2018
"I recommend this book. It does what it sets out to do. It convincingly shows that preaching is not simply something we do (and to which we listen) because it works or because it has been done for many centuries, but instead because we are commanded to preach the word (2 Tim 4:2, the motto of my alma mater) and to 'desire the pure milk of the word' (1 Pet 2:3)."-- Robert N. Wilkin, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Spring 2017
- Publisher : IVP Academic (March 14, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 153 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0830826432
- ISBN-13 : 978-0830826438
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #580,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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There are three different words used in the New Testament for preaching, euangelizomai, katangello and kerysso, and Griffith overviews these three words in great detail in the second chapter. Interestingly, none of these words “are used anywhere in the New Testament to frame an instruction, command or commission for believers in general to ‘preach’” (36). This means that the lay leader is not specifically called to proclaim God’s Word. However, he emphatically states that believers do have a responsibility and a role to play in the Christian life. He states that the Bible “calls them to minister the word to one another, and does so using language that can also describe preaching” (49). Finally, he briefly exegetes Philippians 1:14-18 and shows how the two verbs katangello and kerysso are used similarly in the New Testament.
In the second section Griffiths overviews a variety of different biblical passages to find biblical merit for the preaching event. In the first section detailing 1 Timothy 4:2, he asserts that “Timothy’s ministry stands in a line of continuity with speakers of God’s word stretching back through the apostles, Jesus himself and then the Old Testament prophets” (126). This means that Timothy’s ministry is not built upon a new office, but an ancient office rooted and grounded in the biblical text. The brief excurses in the next chapter affirms this by saying that “although Paul never designates himself a ‘prophet,’ there is a range of evidence within his letters that he views his own ministry as standing in a line of continuity with that of the Old Testament Prophets,” which is reemphasized in the next section on Romans 10 (65). Chapter six details how 1 Corinthians shows Paul’s reliance on the Spirit of God, and not the power and rhetoric of man. The seventh and eight chapters both emphasize Paul’s view of a shared ministry of the Word that he did not work alone in the endeavor. Finally, Griffiths concludes with a section on the book of Hebrews, which is the only epistle to self-identify as a sermon. In this chapter he emphasizes why the preacher should have confidence in the Biblical text and in their preaching.
This book is divided into three main sections. In the first section a biblical theology of the word is presented, the key terms used to describe preaching in the New Testament are explored, and the word ministry of all believers is addressed. In the second section of the book Griffiths narrows in with laser focus on six of the most prominent New Testament passages that address the issue of preaching the word, his work addressing Hebrews and its implications for the church are worth the price of the book. Th third and final section provides an overview of the material covered in previous chapters with some important implications of this work explored.
Biblical preaching has fallen on hard times, and rather than argue for the importance of preaching simply based on its importance in church history we must have a biblical foundation for preaching in the church. Griffiths in this work points to the solid foundation for understanding the enduring importance of preaching in the life of the church which is found in the New Testament.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
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Secondly this particular new volume in the series, by Jonathan Griffiths, previously with the Proclamation Trust and now pastor of a church in Canada, is well worth reading. This in emphatically not another "how to preach" book it is rather a "what is preaching " book. Strangely we have many of the former but few if any of the latter.
There is Griffiths argues an unspoken assumption among Christians especially evangelicals that "preaching is a good thing" but according to the bible is there "preaching" that is mandated in the post apostolic age and if so what are its characteristics? This is particularly important because there has recently been - in my view highly welcome - reaction against what has been called "one man ministry" through a rediscovery of the importance of all Christians having a word based ministry. Is there then even such a thing as "preaching"? Distinct from every Christians duty and privilege to share the good word? Are we all called to be preachers?
Griffiths argues that there is a distinct biblically defined activity of preaching and he looks in detail at some prominent New Testament passages which address this as well as the three main Greek words used to describe and define preaching. - evangelizomai, katangello and kerysso. These three verbs are "used especially by Paul to denote the didactic activity of preaching the gospel". Griffiths notes that encounters with God in the Bible are often encounters with Him through his word. Even in a striking physical manifestation of God such as Moses and the burning bush, the essence of the meeting is what God has to say to Moses.
The book then very helpfully and thoroughly goes through various of Paul's letters and the Letter to the Hebrews and analyses what the usage means, where it is being used and draws conclusions. These conclusions include his view, which I found persuasive, that there is such a thing as "preaching" which is as I understood his definition a public proclamation in an official capacity of the good news about Jesus. Furthermore that this activity in the NT stands in continuity with the OT, that there is a sense in which preachers are commissioned and that God has determined to bless this means of transmitting his truth - certainly not to the exclusion of other means but particularly.
Griffiths makes the important point that the bulk of the the usage of the three what he calls "semi technical terms" detailed above are in context of the public proclamation of the good news to non Christians. Though he also goes in to show that a significant minority of the usages are to assemblies of Christians. Finally, he concludes the whole book by stressing the centrality of preaching in the life of the local church. In fact, almost the last words in the book are " the primary feeding and teaching of Gods people should come from the preaching that takes place week by week..."
The book is relatively short - not a bad thing in theology -and the author explicitly states he is not trying to produce a comprehensive guide or to cover everything. Personally, I would have been interested in learning more about this issue of preaching to believers and non believers and a number of other loose ends that are mentioned, but for reasons of space not really developed . For example Griffiths argues, again persuasively in my view, that there is a continuity between OT prophecy and NT preaching. He draws for example on Joel's quote, used on the Day of Pentecost, which speaks of " in the last days...I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters will prophesy". For a complementarian like Jonathan Griffiths there is an obvious issue in that verse and despite pointing out in his introduction the link between a clear separation of preaching from other word activities and a view on different roles for men and women in church, the theme is not re examined.
I also would have welcomed a longer concluding chapter with more application. What does all the excellent theological spade work done actually mean for preaching in the church today? If this is the biblical template to what extent are we - especially we evangelicals because it's always easier to identify others weaknesses than our own - actually following the theological template laid down? Various questions were raised in my mind. What is "public proclamation" in an internet age? If someone sets up a course or a YouTube video is that preaching? What is the distinction between verbal and written "preaching"? Where does evangelism fit in? Griffiths majors (though not exclusively) on the importance of preaching building up Christians, but how do we proclaim to our non Christian friends when unlike in previous ages they perhaps won't be willing to come to hear "preaching" in a church context? What does evangelistic preaching therefore look like? Where does "apologetics" fit in?
But it might be well observed that the answers to these questions, which others better qualified than I can answer, is a different and much longer book. It's also perhaps a good thing on a book on preaching to be made to think for yourself rather than being spoon fed every answer. What's very compelling about the book is that it's utterly biblical, it's thought provoking, it addresses directly a massive assumption and it's very clearly and logically structured. Almost Pauline one might say in its flow of argument! Any preacher whether occasional in an obscure corner or five times a week in a mega church can benefit from reading it and it will certainly make them think. I encourage preachers to buy it and read it and pray that it will prove useful, as I think it will, so that preaching in 2017 will be as powerful, effective and biblically grounded as it was nearly 2000 years ago.