What Is A Preacher?

by Wayne Greeson

What is a "preacher"? What are the duties of a preacher? What exactly is a preacher supposed to do? Everyone has an opinion and will readily give it, but what does God say?

Servant, Herald And Messenger

There are three terms in the New Testament that describe God's worker known as a preacher. These words are not only descriptive of the worker, but the work God expects of him. These terms are: minister, preacher and evangelist.

The Word "Minister"

Diakonos, meaning one who serves, a servant. A preacher is a minister or servant of Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 4:6). His work is to serve the Lord's Word, the Gospel to all men (Acts 6:4; Rom. 15:16). A "good minister of Jesus Christ" must also "put the brethren in remembrance of these things..." (1 Tim. 4:6). A preacher is to "take heed to the ministry which (he) hast received in the Lord, that (he) fulfill(s) it" (Col. 4:17).

The Word "Preacher"

Kerux which means a herald, a public proclaimer from the king who authoritatively declares the king's law to the people which must be obeyed. The Lord authorized (1 Tim. 2:7) and sent out His preachers or "heralds" into all the world (Rom. 10:14-18). Their sole work is to proclaim His message, the gospel (2 Tim. 2:1-7; 4:1-5).

The word "evangelist" is from the Greek word euangelistes and simply means a messenger of good. Christ gave evangelists (Eph. 4:11-12) to bear His good message, the "gospel" which means "good news." Paul warned preachers to "do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (1 Tim. 4:5). Paul charged "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2).

Diverting The Lord's Heralds

The work of a preacher is short and simple in its description, but large and vital in its scope. Men dissatisfied with God's simple work have devised many other roles and works for their "preachers." By this device, Satan delays, distracts and diverts the important work of the King's royal heralds into a thousand channels. As churches have expanded their work and mission beyond what the Lord gave, they have expanded the "job description" a preacher. We are told preachers are to be pastors or "shepherds" and counselors busy visiting, overseeing and guiding "the flock." We are told preachers are to be deacons, caretakers and superintendents managing and supervising the church building and facilities.

A gospel preacher is not a "pastor," shepherd, elder or counselor. A pastor is a shepherd, the office of an elder, bishop or overseer. This is a different worker for the Lord with a different work. A pastor's work is to shepherd and oversee the flock, watching for their souls (Acts 20: 17, 28; Heb. 13:17). A preacher appoints men qualified to do the work of a shepherd, but he does not do their work, as he has sufficient of his own (Acts 14:23, 21-25; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7).

A gospel preacher is not a "deacon," servant or caretaker of the church property or work. The church selects and the preacher appoints men as deacons to take care of this business. A preacher is not to leave the Word to serve tables, but give himself continually to prayer and serving the Word (Acts 6:1-4).

Preachers And The Local Church

Much of the error concerning preachers and their work comes from a wrong view of the relationship of the preacher and the local church. Many consider the preacher as an employee or servant of the church. As such the church is an employer that determines the scope and duties of the work of their employee. This view is expressed in the statement: "We pay the preacher and we tell him what to do."

The command to pay preachers for preaching (1 Cor. 9:14) does not make them church employees. Such support is compared to that of God's priests (1 Cor. 9:13-14). The priests were supported by the people's offerings to the Lord as the Lord's servants, not the peoples' hirelings (Num. 18:1-20; Deut. 18:1-8).

A preacher is not an employee of any church, but a servant of the Lord (1 Tim. 4:6). He is accountable to the Lord, entrusted to do the Lord's work and not "entangle himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim. 2:3-4). As with His priests, the Lord provides for His servants from His people's offerings to Him.

The Scriptural relationship between a preacher and the Christians that support him is that of fellow workers in the Lord. The Lord commands the preacher to preach the gospel and those who hear him to support him in his work. Together they have "fellowship in the gospel" of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 9:6-14; Phil. 1:5-7; 4:15-19).