Why Must Paul Preach (Write) With Clarity?

By Nicholas McDonald | February 9, 2017 |

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:4

How can Paul say he “ought” to speak clearly? Does it really matter? Isn’t God’s word sufficient to do the work? Doesn’t Paul trust in the “power of the word?”

Of course he does! But unlike us in the reformed mold, he doesn’t see any tension between the power of God’s word and our ethical obligation to clarify it.

“But doesn’t God love to work with poor communicators?”

If by “poor”, you mean unimpressive to unbiblical Greco-Roman standards of rhetorical flourish, perhaps.

But if by “poor” you mean unclear, then clearly the answer is “No. He does not.”

“Well, it’s not like I’m preaching to my English congregation in Spanish! I’m contextualizing!”

Well, Paul goes further – he’s not praying that he might preach in Greek, as he ought – he’s asking for prayer that he speak greek in a way that will best enable his hearers to understand. Furthermore, he sees this as his ethical duty.

Why? Because a failure to clarify is a failure to love.

Maybe that’s the root of much of our pseudo-reformed rhetoric, in the end.

Nicholas McDonald

Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, preacher and author and is currently completing his graduate work in theology at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He studied creative writing and mass communication at Oxford University and his new book, “Faker” Good Book Company 2015) is available at his blog, www.scribblepreach.com, where you will find Nick’s writing on a variety of topics.