By the late Bishop Youannis

This work is great, which was done by a small number of the preaching apostles and disciples, without any help from earthly authorities or human power; without gold or silver, nor bag for their journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals nor staffs (Matt 10:9,10) as lambs among wolves. How did they achieve this great mission about which the Lord said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15). How did they preach? What was their procedure for preaching? And how did they overcome all the obstacles, which were many, they faced?  

We read about the ministry and preaching very short hints in the Book of Acts. But behind these hints, a lot of tiredness, struggles, sacrifices, brave acts, watching, fasts… a lot of elevated prayers, shedding tears and blood which flourished the small mustard seed which became a large tree for nesting all nations in its branches.

Methods of preaching:
We didn’t receive any written details in the New Testament about the preaching methods, except very few examples; referring to the living word of God (1Cor2:4; 1Thes2:13; 1 Tim1:11; 2Tim2:2; Tit1:3; Jam1:22). At the first period for establishing the church, preaching depended on the uttered living word more than the written word.  

Procedure of preaching:  
The book of Acts didn’t record for us the apostolic preaching sermons, except St. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (Act 2:14-36), and St. Paul’s sermon in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia (Act17:22-31) but he was not allowed to finish it. In addition to that, there are some speeches and small hints which indicate essence of the preaching ministry; and the apostolic epistles.

Depending on St. Paul procedure of preaching, as an example, we notice the following:
1.    Starting his speech positively that prepared the hearts of his audience to focus to his speech. For example, at Antioch in Pisidia, he reviewed before the Jews their historical greatness; and in the Areopagus at Athens, he praised the Athenians for being religious in spite of his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols (Act17:16,22).
2.    His preaching sermons were characterized with openness, bravery, firmness, and clearness. At the same time, he respected his audiences; and through his compassion he evaluated their spiritual needs, and understood their ignorance for the facts he preached.
3.    He benefited from all what were offered to him by the culture and environment of his audiences for the success of his mission. For example, he made use of founding an alter marked “To the unknown god” at Athens, and he quoted the famous saying of some of their own poets “In Him we live and move and have our being”. This declares his own principle, he stated, “To the Jews; I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as a weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1Cor9:20-22).

Places of preaching:

Our fathers the apostles and preachers didn’t leave a place without preaching in it, nor they didn’t lose any opportunity without benefited from it, but rather they made use of it for the glory of God by spreading the good news of salvation. Even during their trials before authorities, the only important thing for them was the salvation of those who were listening to them.

St. Paul, for example, was imprisoned in Caeserea, and he was praying there, not asking for his release for being innocent, but asking for those who will hear him, including his judge who had the authority to keep or release him, to believe. While the prisoner, St. Paul, was explaining his case before King Agrippa, the king said to him, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” and he replied, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains” (Act26:28).
•    Our fathers the apostles preached in the Jewish synagogues everywhere (Act9:20; 13:5,14; 14:1; 17:1,10,17; 18:4,19; 19:8)
•    They preached in homes, as in Corinth (Act18:7), and in Troas (Act20:7). St. Paul, in his address to the priests of Ephesus, said, “I… taught you publicly and from house to house” (Act20:20). During his house arrest At Rome, He was preaching in that house (Act28:17-23), and after his release he was preaching in his own rented house for two years (Act28:30,31).
•    St. Paul also preached in the school of a person called Tyrannus at Ephesus for two years (Act19:9,10).
•    He also preached in the houses of the rulers and governors, e.g. before the proconsul Sergius Paulus in Cyprus (Act13:7), and before the governor Felix and his Jewish wife Drusilla; who was afraid from Paul’s speech about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come (Act24:24,25). He also preached the Jewish king Agrippa and his wife Bernice. He preached as well in Philippi’s prison where he was imprisoned, and the keeper of the prison believed (Act16)
•    They preached in the marketplaces (Agora) as we read about St. Paul in Athens, and also before its council of judges and Stoic philosophers at Areopaggus (Act17,19).
•    St. Paul also preached at the riverside in Philippi (Act16:13), and even on the stairs in the Roman barracks in Jerusalem, when the Jews arose against him during his last visit to Jerusalem (Act21:40; 22:1-12).
•    As the Lord, in the parable of great feast, asked his servant to go to the highways, roads, streets and lanes of the city to invite the poor (Luke14:21), the apostles did the same; as they preached in the streets, like Philip the preacher who preached the Ethiopian Eunuch, who had great authority under queen Candice (Act8:26).     

Regarding the time of preaching, the apostles achieved their mission unceasingly and without slowness, preaching day and night (Act20:31). St. Timothy learned this from his teacher, the active preacher, St. Paul, who advised him saying, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season” (2Tim4:2)