Paul, the Master Preacher

Wendell Winkler
By observing the apostle Paul, Wendell Winkler identifies the traits that make a master preacher.

Next to the Lord, the greatest and most effective preacher who ever lived was the apostle Paul. He evangelized three continents and penned two-thirds of the New Testament’s epistles—sacred documents which have revolutionized the world.

First Thessalonians 2:1-12 gives us one of the clearest, most helpful and inspirational insights to Paul, the peerless preacher, to be found anywhere in his inspired writings. In this brief, but most enlightening text, we may observe:

The Preacher’s Manner

“But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children ... As you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged everyone of you, as a father doth his children.” (vs. 7 & 11).

Hence, we can see that Paul’s manner was that of an affectionate mother and a caring father. Such must be the manner of all gospel preachers today. Such obtaining, what devotion, care, interest, gentleness, tenderness and real commitment will follow.

The Preacher’s Motives

“For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile ... For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. (vs. 3,5,6).

Paul’s desire was to please Christ, not man. On Monday morning, the Lord’s preacher, as he reminisces back over the previous day’s activities, is not so concerned with, “Wonder how that lesson went over with the brethren,” or “Wonder what they thought of that,” or “Wonder how they’ll react to that lesson,” or “Wonder if that gave satisfaction.” Rather, his chief concern is, “Did that sermon please the Lord? Can I confidently look up and see assuredly the smiling approval of the Father?” Brethren, it is the Master and not men that we are to please. Now, if in pleasing God first, men are also made happy, well and good. But never, oh never, at the sacrifice of truth or the compromise of principle are we to gain the flighty favor of man to the forfeiting of divine approbation. Remember, too, that Paul said, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10).

The Preacher’s Message

“We were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention ... but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak because we would not be chargable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” (vs. 2,4,9).

Yes, the gospel of God was the exclusive message of the apostle Paul. He said in 1 Cor. 9:16, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” The curse of heaven rested upon Paul (1) if he failed to preach, and (2) if he preached anything other than the gospel. He said in Gal. 1:9, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” And, why would he want to preach anything else other than the gospel since it, and it alone, is the (single and exclusive) power of God to save (Rom. 1: 16). With the gospel of God being the preacher’s singular message, let us henceforth have no more book reviews, personal testimonies and philosophical speculations. Brethren, the world is filled with those who are regurgitating upon having been fed this type of diet by denominational preachers. They are wanting the gospel. Let us give it to them.

The Preacher’s Methods

“As you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged everyone of you, as a father doth his children.” (v. 11).

In this passage we can see that in doing his work the preacher is to use the methods of (1) exhortation, (2) comforting and (3) charging. This text reminds us of Paul’s charge to a young preacher, Timothy, when he said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. 4:2). There are times when a preacher needs to exhort, encourage and commend. There are other times when he needs to comfort, strengthen and console. Then there are times when he needs to charge, reprove and rebuke. With knowledge gleaned from a study of the word (2 Tim. 2:15), and wisdom having been gained in answer to prayer (Jas. 1:5), he will know when to do what.

The Preacher’s Mode

“Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.” (v. 10).

Notice those three adverbs of behavior: holily, justly and unblameably. Truly, his mode of living was most exemplary. The preacher’s life is the life of his preaching. The messenger is his message. Unquestionably, others must see in us a personification of that which we advocate. We must be living epistles. We must practice what we preach. Preachers of the word must never have the concept of do as I say, not as I do. Rather, like Christ, we must begin both to do and teach (Acts 1:1). Otherwise, men will not hear what we say from seeing what we are.

The Preacher’s Motivation

“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak.” (v. 4).

The gospel is a sacred trust! How sobering this thought really is. Consequently, the gospel being a trust, we must give an account to God for the same how we have studied it, how we have lived it, how we have preached it. A constant consciousness of this fact will make a considerable difference in how the preacher goes about his work.