The Priority of Preaching in Problem Times -- By: William E. Arp

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 01:1 (Spring 1997)
Article: The Priority of Preaching in Problem Times
Author: William E. Arp

The Priority of Preaching in Problem Times

William E. Arp

Professor of New Testament, Greek and
English Bible, Director of Th.M. Program

Preaching should not and need not be dry and windy—especially in the time in which we are living. But how should we preach? Or better stated, what should we preach in the problem times in which we are living? This article suggests that we will find the answer in Paul’s words to Timothy found in 2 Timothy 4:1–5.


A minister was rushed to the hospital and an inexperienced nurse was assigned to him. She put a barometer in his mouth instead of a thermometer and it read, “Dry and windy.”1

This may be an apt description of much of the preaching occurring in churches today. In 2 Timothy 4:1–5 Paul is addressing Timothy, who is living in problem times, and he commands him to preach the Word. It is necessary to pay close attention to the words of the passage in order to understand their significance to preachers and preaching in our times. This article will examine the meaning of Paul’s words to Timothy and their significance to preachers today in terms of their context, content, and contextualization.2

Context of 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Second Timothy is Paul’s last canonical letter. He writes it from prison (1:16–17; 2:9) to Timothy, his son in the faith, to appeal to his loyalty to the faith in light of Paul’s imprisonment and the defections of others (1:15; 2:17–18; 4:10). He warns him about false teaching and exhorts him to stand against it. Paul wants Timothy to endure suffering as he ministers in light of and in spite of opposition.

In the first part of the letter Paul exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel but to endure suffering for it (1:8–12), to hold fast to the words which Paul gave to him (1:13–18), and to be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus so that he might endure difficulties for the elect (2:1–13). He concludes this section by encouraging Timothy to be a worker approved by God because of the existi...

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