Characteristics of Preaching from Peter – Part 1

On Sunday evenings, I am presently preaching through the Book of Acts. And when I arrived at Acts 2:14 at the onset of Peter’s preaching I realized that there are several characteristics of preaching that I can learn from Peter. But before I get to that, the following are some preliminary thoughts on preaching.

The first event that took place in the history of the church that followed the coming of the Holy Spirit was preaching. The book of Acts contains many records of various preaching. For instance, there are 8 sermons by Peter, 1 by Stephen, 1 by James, and 9 by Paul. And if you would to read throughout the book of Acts, you would agree that preaching was central to the mission of the early church (cf. 2:41; 4:2; 5:42; 8:4, 5, 12, 25, 35, 40, and that’s only on chapter 8! There are myriad of other examples throughout the rest of the book of Acts that demonstrate how preaching was central to the mission of the early church).

Not only is this true biblically but historically as well. For instance, the recovery of the gospel and the Bible during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century was a result of revival of biblical preaching by notable preachers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox. And following the Reformation, in the 17th century with the Puritanism, what caused the churches to flourish and nourished was sound biblical preaching by many notable Puritan pastor-preachers such as John Bunyan (author of the Pilgrim’s Progress), Richard Baxter, Thomas Watson (my favorite), and many others. And when we come to the 18th century with the Great Awakening, what caused such earth-shaking and soul-saving revival was due to powerful preaching by men like George Whitefield, John Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards.

When we come to the 19th century, some of the men that made a huge difference in churches at that time were preachers; men like D. L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Joseph Parker, and others. And when we come to 20th and 21st century, some of the men that have greatly influenced and continue to influence today’s churches are pastor-preachers; men like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, W. A. Criswell, A. W. Tozer, John MacArthur, John Piper, and others.

So, if we would to look biblically and historically, preaching has been central to the life of the church. And if I can speak personally from my own experience, some of the men that have greatly influenced my Christian life are none other than preachers of the past and present. And if you would to come visit my study, you would see pictures of some of my heroes of faith hung on my wall and they are all preachers that God used to shape me as a Christian and pastor.

As much as the priority of preaching is critical to the health of the church, not everyone sees it as the same priority. Listen to what one notable and influential pastor-preacher said:

In an effort to appeal to people’s interest, the church today emphasizes a great many different programs, methods, and approaches. Small group activities, sharing, and “culturally relevant” worship services, emphasizing music and drama, have become increasingly popular. Secular psychology, management techniques, and advertising strategies have all made significant inroads into the life of the church… Not all of those things may be harmful. Some, in their proper place, may even be helpful. But what has too often been sacrificed in the flurry of activities and programs is the priority of preaching.[1]

And I must say I cannot agree more with such observation.

As we see and study the book of Acts we come across various different style of preaching by various men. We see that Peter’s style of preaching is different than Paul’s style of preaching. But what is very important to keep in mind is that though there is room to be different in styles, the substance must be the same. And that’s another aspect that we will witness as we study the book of Acts. Though Peter may preach differently in style than Paul, we’ll see that their substance of preaching is identical.

What is important for churches to keep in mind is that just as the churches demand our preachers to preach well, we preachers equally demand the churches to listen well. If there is a need for expository preaching in our churches, then there is equally a need for expository listening in churches as well.

Here are some of the characteristics of preaching that we can learn from Peter.

I. Preaching is Vocal

“Peter…raised his voice and addressed the crowd” (v. 14). The word for voice is the Greek word phonae, where we get words like phone and phonics, and it refers to sound, voice, and roar.

Notice verse 14 says, Peter raised his voice. Whether you are a preacher or not, when do you normally raise your voice?

Maybe when you get upset, mad, angry, happy, excited, thrilled, and etc., right? Do you see the common denominator? All those descriptions have to do with your emotions. You raise your voice because of your emotions. It is result of emotions or passion.

In the same way, Peter raised his voice as a result of his emotion or passion. If you were Peter, wouldn’t you be little emotional or passionate since the man you thought was killed has been resurrected and appeared before you for more than a month? Wouldn’t you be little emotional knowing that the things that Jesus said to you came to its fulfillment?

Another way that best describes Peter’s emotion or passion is due to his conviction. The text reads that “Peter, taking his stand with the eleven” or “Peter, standing up with the eleven.” That verb means to establish together firmly, to stand together, or to confirm together. It speaks of standing together with same conviction.

Let me make a further case why preaching is vocal. Although I think the visual aids are helpful in our communications, preaching is still vocal. And it still is God’s means of communicating his truth to us. Al Mohler writes:

Preacher uses clips from films, dynamic graphics, and other eye-catching technologies to gain and hold the congregation’s attention. The danger of this approach is seen in the fact that the visual very quickly overcomes the verbal… This is exactly where the preacher must not go. The power of the Word of God, spoken through the human voice, is seen in the Bible’s unique power to penetrate all dimensions of the human personality. As God made clear, even in the Ten Commandments, He has chosen to be heard and not seen. The use of visual technologies threatens to confuse this basic fact of biblical faith.[2]

Stay tune for Part 2.

[1] John MacArthur, Acts 1-12 (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1994), 47-48.

[2] Al Mohler, “The State of Preaching Today,” accessed on August 28, 2006.


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