You Are A Preacher… So What?

One of the many terms that generally describe God’s worker is the word “preacher.” This word is not only descriptive of the worker, but of the work that God expects of him. Our study here concerns about the etymology of the word, its classical use in the secular world, and in the Bible. Consider these words:

KERUSSO, “to announce, to make known, to proclaim (aloud)”

KERUGMA, “proclamation, announcement, preaching”

KERUX, “herald, announcer, preacher, messenger, proclaimer”

The words in the above group are derived from the noun kerux, frequent in the writings of Homer. Compare this also with the Old Indian karuh, singer; Old Persian xraus, herald; Aramaic karoz, herald, Daniel 3:4 (Colin Brown, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3:48).

Kerux was the man commissioned by his ruler or by the state to call out with a clear voice some item of news and to make that known to the public (Colin Brown, 3:48).

Later, the verb kerusso was coined from the noun to describe the activity of the herald (Colin Brown, 3:48).

Also, kerugma was later formed to describe the phenomenon of the kerussein (i.e. the ring of the herald’s voice, the act of crying aloud) or, on the other hand, the content of the proclamation thus made, the announcement, the edict. The content may either be anything from a mere report to an authoritative command (Colin Brown, 3:48).

In Homer, the kerux, the herald, is used of the attendants of a prince who perform duties which are in keeping with the role of senior court officials, whose task is to care for the personal well-being of the prince and of his guests. However, the heralds are raised above the status of the rest of the retinue by the respect accorded to them, and by a status similar to that of friends. They are the prince’s friends! The herald’s staff, a kind of scepter in their hands, makes it clear, as they carry out their commission to inform or to invite, that they are authorized by the prince (Colin Brown, 3:49).

In the period of the polis (Greek democratic city-state), the herald’s particular function was indicated by the addition of the qualifying adjective or the genitive (such as herald of the city, herald of the council, herald of the court, herald of the mysteries).

Heralds were servants, spokesmen or messengers of certain authorities whose chief qualification for office was a loud and clear voice. It was the heralds who called the soldiers to battle and the citizens to the assembly (the ekklesia). They were responsible for the good order in the assembly, and opened it with prayers and sacrifices and announced its end. They were also responsible for the maintenance of the laws.

The sacred, sacrosanct position of the kerux (Homer called them angeloi theioi, divine messengers, messengers of the gods) is even more evident from the fact that when the kerux appeared, weapons were stilled! It is because of this position that the heralds, guaranteed by the universally recognized moral and religious law, occasionally functioned as political ambassadors. They were harmless creatures, they were ambassadors of peace, and they came for peace. The heralds who went to the camp of the enemy with a message in time of war must not be touched, since that would incur the wrath not only of the one who sent him but also that of the gods. Killing the herald would be tantamount to a gross asebeia, transgression of the religious and moral order (Colin Brown, 3:49).

You are a kerux, a herald of the King of the whole universe, a public proclaimer who with authority declares the king’s law to the people which must be obeyed. The term is used only three times in the NT—1 Tim. 2:7, “For this cause I was appointed a preacher”; 2 Tim. 1:11, “For this gospel I was appointed a preacher”; 2 Pet. 2:5, “Noah, a herald of righteousness.”

Your job is a kerugma, amply described in Rom. 16:25, “the preaching of Jesus Christ”; 1 Cor. 2:4, “my message [was] not in plausible words of wisdom”; 15:14, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain”; 1:21. “it pleased God through the folly of preaching to save those who believe”; 2 Tim. 4:17, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully”; Titus 1:3, “at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by command of God our Savior.” The Lord has 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 kerux was always under the authority of someone else, whose spokesman he was. The Lord’s preachers today are spokesmen for Jesus, who is also their Master. The classical kerux conveyed the message and intention of his master. He had no liberty to negotiate, or amend the message, or adulterate it. No preacher nor any man has any right to amend the Word of the Master.

As heralds, we call the soldiers of the Lord to battle against sin. We are also responsible for the maintenance of the laws of our King. We too are responsible for the good order in the assembly. We open the assembly with prayers and enjoin the congregants to offer a living sacrifice of themselves to their King.

As heralds, we too are concerned about the personal well-being of the King and of His kingdom, the church. We are to be careful that the King and His Kingdom and His Word be not blasphemed. The kerux’s office had in every case an official character, even when he appeared in the marketplace as a public middleman or auctioneer. Today’s preachers must protect their office, or they would be besmirching the cause of the One who has appointed them. We are the King’s friends. The herald’s Bible too makes it clear that as we carry out our commission to inform or to invite, we do so by the authority of the prince.

As heralds we too hold the sacred, sacrosanct position and relationship with the One who has given us the commission. How can they hear the gospel without the preacher? We are God’s key men. If a preacher engages in politics and any worldly advocacies, and gets killed in the process, he has made himself a person of mediocrity, his precious life spent for something not worth spending life for! We are harmless creatures, and we come for peace. We go to the camp of the enemy with a message and the enemy may touch our bodies. Do you care if they kill you? I do. But in so many instances the Lord has saved my life from my enemy.

As divine messengers and guardians of the moral order, the classical heralds had no means of their own and were totally dedicated to the task of denouncing the way of life of their contemporaries, calling them to repentance and reformation of life. Shall today’s heralds do anything less? They are God’s key men to promote order and morality in this morally disordered world; they are to denounce every kind of sin, and he must not be partial even to his own sin. His call is for repentant and reformed life, for everyone including himself.

If the kerux were the preacher of today, he is one whom the Lord has commissioned to preach the good news of His death, burial, resurrection, His saving power, and His coming again to judge the living and the dead. He has to prepare the sinners for the prospect of standing before the throne of their sinless King, and of being judged for their actions and thoughts and judgments made on earth whether good or bad. The act of not being faithful to this commitment carries with it a woe: “Woe unto me if I don’t preach the gospel!” My great trauma and agony is when someone tells me as we face the Lord in judgment: “We seem to have seen each other day in and day out. Why did you not tell me about Him?”

And if we have failed our Lord and King in every aspect of our job as heralds, it’s time we be renewed and get back to the job. Your soul and the souls of those you are preaching to are too important, and the consequence of neglect and indifference to the message is so terrible.

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