New Testament Studies


Who is to preach the Gospel? Is it the one who gets paid to preach the Gospel? Is it the one that is ordained and holds an office that some call Minister of the Word and others call Teaching Elder?

Can un-ordained men preach? How about women? How about 5 year olds or teenagers?

The answer, of course, is no and yes.

Does that sound like a postmodern answer to you? Well, it is quite ancient:

Acts 8:4-5 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached to them the Christ.

Verse 4 says that those who were scattered were preaching the word. Our English translation for preach is from the Greek word which means ‘spreading the good news’ or ‘gossiping the Gospel’. This is the duty of all whose hearts have been changed by the Lord Jesus Christ. A converted heart overflows with the love of God and there is a desire to ‘preach’ Christ to all who are around. This means that the un-ordained layman, the old church lady, the little kids, the teens…. all who have been redeemed have this obligation to preach, or gossip the good news of Jesus Christ and his death for sinners.

Verse 5 is a different story. This verse uses a different word for preach. The word is the same word as ‘herald’. In verse 5 we see Philip preaching the Gospel in a commissioned, ordained, set apart for public ministry way. This is heralding of the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners! All who are ordained to the task of Minister of the Gospel, or Teaching Elder, has this responsibility. Preach Christ crucified!

Remember though. None of us are off the hook. We are all verse 4 preachers or verse 5 preachers! Now preach Christ to those who are lost.

The Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary recently received the private library of Dr. Theodore Letis. In the personal library was a very rare copy of Theodore Beza’s New Testament in Greek and Latin. Apparently Dr. Letis (I have never heard of him, have you?) was a New Testament scholar who wrote to defend the Textus Receptus (the Greek text behind the Authorized Version and the New King James Version).

This is a very special addition to any library. The Prots should be happy with this rare volume. The article is here and begins on PDF page number 95. It is worth reading because it gives a short personal narrative of David Englesma’s time in seminary in the basement of 1st Prot Church. The article also shows that they are not interested in too much reading beyond their tradition (Englesma says that there were a number of books about evangelical feminism and they are going in the dumpster! Those would be useful for reference in a paper, at least… you would think!)

Congratulations to the Protestant Reformed Seminary on their recent addition to their library.

Many would like to say that the early Church was socialistic. They cite Acts 2 as a way to defend their own political ideals. Was the early church a Communistic community? Were they Socialists? Should you join the Presby-socialist party? Some of my emergent church friends are promoters of forced socialism based on this text. They claim that the state should be progressive because the early church was progressive.

If that is the case, give me your 80g I-pod. I don’t have one.

Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Because their generosity extended to sharing of their goods, some have regarded this as a biblical endorsement for communism. It is not communism. In fact, the opposite is true. Communism is the sharing of goods, but it is a forced sharing of goods on the basis that no one had the right to own anything. Communism is compulsory; therefore it has nothing whatsoever to do with generosity. Peter himself endorses the right to private property (see Acts 5.3-4).

The sharing of possessions that went on in the early church was not socialism either. Socialism acknowledges the right of private property, but it compels individuals to give a percentage of, or everything above a certain figure, to others. Socialism does not deny a person a right to own things, but it denies him the right to have too many of these things as measured by someone else’s standard. Most people would be astounded to hear that American life is socialistic, but it is very socialistic. Whenever there is a system that taxes those who have more at a higher rater than those who have less in order that the state can take these resources and redistribute them to those who have less, that is socialism, because it is being done not willingly, but by force…

The early Christians shared their possessions, not because they were communists or socialists- not because they were forced to share their things- but for a far better reason. They shared their goods because they had learned generosity from God. God has been generous with them. So because God had been generous to them, they were determined to be generous to one another. -Dr. James M. Boice

There is a vast difference between godly rulers and worldly rulers; much like between godly people and worldly people. Rulers are to look to the Lord Jesus Christ for the way in which they are to rule. The Second Psalm tells all rulers and kings that they are to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ lest they perish! Jesus is a just and merciful King!

What is the main differences between our King, and the rulers of this world? William Symington sums it up well in his magnum opus, Messiah the Prince:

Rectitude of intention characterizes all his (King Jesus’) plans. Everything is designed for the good of his people and the glory of the Godhead. Other kings may have sinister ends to serve: even when doing what is right in itself, they may have an ultimate respect to their own personal aggrandizement, to the advancement of some favorite courtier; or, supposing they move solely by a regard to the good of their subjects, they may be seeking this at the expense of some neighboring state.

Jesus told his disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples cried out, “who then can be saved?” The response is no one! No man can work to earn his salvation. But the sweet blood of Jesus Christ is more efficacious than all the work that a man can do. Thomas Watson, in his Treatise on the Holy Eucharist, comments:

If we had offered up millions of holocausts and sacrifices, if we had wept rivers of tears, this could never have appeased an angry Deity. Only Christ’s blood ingratiates us into God’s favor and makes Him look upon us with a smiling aspect. When Christ died, the veil of the temple was rent. This was not without a mystery, to show that through Christ’s blood the veil of our sins is rent which interposed between God and us.

Acts 17:5-7 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

The book of Acts deals with the work of the early church in spreading the Gospel from Jerusalem to ‘all the ends of the world’. It is amazing that God chose these men, who in the Gospels, were so foolish and narrow-visioned at times. God used men who were prideful, self-centered, unfaithful (at times), and bigoted to ‘turn the world upside down’!

This should give aspiring Gospel preachers hope. The Gospels’ description of the disciples should be a mirror into our own lack of personal ability (but with Him, all things are possible). We also need to remember that the disciples became the Apostles. The old cliche is that God equips the called, not calls the equipped. He will prepare and secure the needed gifts and abilities. The world still has plenty of places that need to be ‘turned upside down’ for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. Proclaim to the world that there is another king- Jesus Christ! This is our calling.