The public and oral inculcation of the truths of religion, especially of the gospel of Christ, Isa 61:1; Ac 8:4; 2Co 5:20; Eph 3:8. Public instruction in religion was no doubt given in the earliest ages. Enoch prophesied, Jg 1:14-15; and Noah was a preacher of righteousness, 2Pe 2:5. Frequent instances of religious addresses occur in the history of Moses, the judges, and the prophets; and these were to some extent in connection with the Jewish ritual, Ne 1. The psalms sung in the temple-conveyed instruction to the people. After the captivity, numerous synagogues were erected, in which the word of God was read and expounded from Sabbath to Sabbath. Under the gospel dispensation, the preaching of Christ crucified, by those whom he calls to be his ambassadors, is an established ordinance of prime importance - God's chief instrumentality for the conversion of the world, Mr 16:15; 1Co 1:21; 2Ti 2:2; 4:2.
In the OT 'preaching' is referred to explicitly in the case of Jonah's preaching in Nineveh (Jon 3:2). The word here used means strictly 'proclamation,' and corresponds to the NT word used with reference to our Lord 'proclaiming' (as a herald) the advent of the Kingdom of God (e.g. Mt 4:17), which, in its initial stages, was closely associated with the preaching of John the Baptist (cf. Mt 3:1-2). Christian preaching is often described in the NT as a declaration of 'glad tidings' ('evangel,' 'gospel'). Strictly, the 'proclamation' ought to be distinguished from the 'teaching' that followed on it. But in its more extended application 'preaching' covers all instruction in religious matters of a homiletlcal character, and especially such as is associated with public worship.
The prophetic preaching hardly falls within this category. The prophets undoubtedly as a rule spoke their discourses (before writing them down). But these allocutions were special in character, and formed no regular part of the public worship.
The preaching of John the Baptist and of Jesus was largely prophetic in character
This is often used in the N.T. for 'announcing, or making known,' without the idea of preaching in a formal way, as the word is now understood. When there was persecution in the church at Jerusalem, they were all scattered, except the apostles, and they went everywhere 'preaching the word.' Ac 8:1-4.
Solomon in the Ecclesiastes calls himself 'the preacher,' and it is said of Noah that he was 'a preacher of righteousness.' Paul was appointed a preacher (herald), and it pleased God by 'the foolishness of the preaching' to save them that believe. Preaching is still used of God as the means for making known the love of God and the work of Christ.
PREACHING is the discoursing publicly on any religious subject. From the sacred records, says Robert Robinson, we learn that when men began to associate for the purpose of worshipping the Deity, Enoch prophesied, Jude 1:14-15. We have a very short account of this prophet and his doctrine; enough, however, to convince us that he taught the principal truths of natural and revealed religion. Conviction of sin was in his doctrine, and communion with God was exemplified in his conduct, Ge 5:24; Heb 11:5-6. From the days of Enoch to the time of Moses, each patriarch worshipped God with his family: probably several assembled at new moons, and alternately instructed the whole company. "Noah," it is said, "was a preacher of righteousness," 1Pe 3:19-20; 2Pe 2:5. Abraham commanded his household alter him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment, Ge 18:19; and Jacob, when his house lapsed to idolatry, remonstrated against it, and exhorted all them that were with him to put away the strange gods, and go up with him to Bethel, Ge 35:2-3. Melchisedec, also, we may consider as the father, the priest, and the prince, of his people; publishing the glad tidings of peace and salvation, Ge 14; Heb 7.
Moses was a most eminent prophet and preacher, raised up by the authority of God, and by whom, it was said, came the law, Joh 1:17. This great man had much at heart the promulgation of his doctrine: he directed it to be inscribed on pillars, to be transcribed in books, and to be taught both in public and private by word of mouth, De 4:9; 6:9; 17:18; 27:8; 31:19; Nu 5:23. He himself set the example of each; and how he and Aaron preached, we may see by several parts of his writings. The first discourse was heard with profound reverence and attention; the last was both uttered and received with raptures, Ex 4:31; De 33:7-8, &c. Public preaching does not appear under this economy to have been attached to the priesthood: priests were not officially preachers; and we have innumerable instances of discourses delivered in assemblies by men of other tribes beside that of Levi, Ps 68:11. Joshua was an Ephraimite; but, being full of the spirit of wisdom, he gathered the tribes to Shechem, and harangued the people of God, De 34:9; Jos 24. Solomon was a prince of the house of Judah; Amos, a herdsman of Tekoa; yet both were preachers, and one at least was a prophet, 1Ki 2; Am 7:14-15. When the ignorant notions of Pagans, the vices of their practice, and the idolatry of their pretended worship, were in some sad periods incorporated into the Jewish religion by the princes of that nation, the prophets and all the seers protested against this apostasy; and they were persecuted for so doing. Shemaiah preached to Rehoboam, the princes, and all the people at Jerusalem, 2Ch 12:5; Azariah and Hanani preached to Asa and his army, 2Ch 15:1; 16:7; Micaiah, to Ahab. Some of them opened schools, or houses of instruction; and there to their disciples they taught the pure religion of Moses. At Naioth, in the suburbs of Ramah, there was one where Samuel dwelt; and there was one at Jericho, and a third at Bethel, to which Elijah and Elisha often resorted. Thither the people went on Sabbath days and at new moons, and received public lessons of piety and morality, 1Sa 19:18; 2Ki 2:2,5; 4:2-3. Through all this period, however, there was a dismal confusion of the useful ordinance of public preaching. Sometimes they had no open vision, and the word of the Lord was precious, or scarce; the people only heard it now and then. At other times they were left without a teaching priest, and without law. And at other seasons again, itinerants, both princes, priests, and Levites, were sent through all the country, to carry the book of the law, and to teach in the cities. In a word, preaching flourished when pure religion grew; and when the last decayed, the first was suppressed. Moses had not appropriated preaching to any order of men: persons, places, times, and manners, were all left open and discretional. Many of the discourses were preached in camps and courts, in streets, schools, cities, villages; sometimes, with great composure and coolness; at other times, with vehement action and rapturous energy; sometimes, in a plain, blunt style; at other times, in all the magnificent pomp of eastern allegory. On some occasions, the preachers appeared in public with visible signs, with implements of war, with yokes of slavery, or something adapted to their subject. They gave lectures on these, held them up to view, girded them on, broke them in pieces, rent their garments, rolled in the dust, and endeavoured, by all the methods they could devise, agreeably to the customs of their country, to impress the minds of their auditors with the nature and importance of their doctrines. These men were highly esteemed by the pious part of the nation; and princes thought proper to keep seers and others who were scribes, who read and expounded the law, 2Ch 34:29-30; 35:15. Hence, false prophets, bad men, who found their account in pretending to be good, crowded the courts of princes. Jezebel, an idolatress, had four hundred prophets of Baal; and Ahab, a pretended worshipper of Jehovah, had as many pretended prophets of his own profession, 2Ch 18:5.
When the Jews were carried captive into Babylon, the prophets who were with them inculcated the principles of religion, and endeavoured to possess their minds with an aversion to idolatry; and, to the success of preaching, we may attribute the re-conversion of the Jews to the belief and worship of one God; a conversion that remains to this day. The Jews have since fallen into horrid crimes; but they have never since this period lapsed into gross idolatry, Ho 2; 3; Eze 2; 3:27. There were not wanting, however, multitudes of false prophets among them, whose characters are strikingly delineated by the true prophets, and which the reader may see in Eze 13; Isa 56; Jer 23. When the seventy years of the captivity were expired, the good prophets and preachers, Zerubbabel, Joshua, Haggai, and others, having confidence in the word of God, and being concerned to possess their natural, civil, and religious rights, endeavoured, by all means, to extricate themselves and their countrymen from that mortifying state into which the crimes of their ancestors had brought them. They wept, fasted, prayed, preached, prophesied, and at length prevailed. The chief instruments were Nehemiah and Ezra; the former was governor, and reformed the civil state; the latter was a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, and applied himself to ecclesiastical matters, in which he rendered the noblest service to his country, and to all posterity. He collected and collated MSS. of the sacred writings, and arranged and published the books of the holy canon in their present form. To this he added a second work, as necessary as the former: he revised and new modelled public teaching, and exemplified his plan in his own person. The Jews had almost lost, in the seventy years captivity, their original language; that was now become dead; and they spoke a jargon made up of their own language and that of the Chaldeans, and other nations, with whom they had been mingled. Formerly, preachers had only explained subjects: now they were obliged to explain words; words which, in the sacred code, were become obsolete, equivocal, or dead. Houses were now opened, not for ceremonial worship, as sacrificing, for this was confined to the temple; but for moral and religious instruction, as praying, preaching, reading the law, divine worship, and social duties. These houses were called synagogues; the people repaired thither for morning and evening prayer; and on Sabbaths and festivals, the law was read and expounded to them. We have a short but beautiful description of the manner of Ezra's first preaching, Nehemiah 8. Upward of fifty thousand people assembled in a street, or large square, near the water gate. It was early in the morning of a Sabbath day. A pulpit of wood, in the fashion of a small tower, was placed there on purpose for the preacher; and this turret was supported by a scaffold, or temporary gallery, where, in a wing on the right h