The apostle Paul gives Timothy an emphatic command to preach the word. He says in 2 Timothy 4:1-2, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word.” The purpose of this paper is to explain what it means to “preach the word.” It is clear from the context of 2 Timothy that “the word” Paul is commanding Timothy to preach is not just any passage, but all the scriptures. This command comes immediately after two of the most important verses on the inspiration and sufficiency of scripture. Paul was just explaining in 3:16-17 that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
The first thing to notice about the command “preach the word” is that “the word” is the source of all preaching because all of the scriptures are inspired by God and sufficient for all teaching and preaching. But what has God chosen to reveal to us in His word? Is there one single message or multiple messages? Is there any continuity between the Old and New Testaments? It is the goal for the remainder of this paper to provide some answers to these questions.
The word of God contains hundreds of stories, but there is one meta-narrative. There are over forty human authors, but God is the one great author and has one great purpose in giving us the scriptures. This is proof of Scripture’s divine authorship because of the unity found in the pages of scripture. “The unity of Scripture depends on its connection with God, that is, on the divine authorship.” Peter Jensen clearly explains that Jesus Christ is the unifying person of all the Scriptures:
At the very centre of the Bible’s authority and unity is Jesus Christ. It is his kingdom that is exerted through the gospel, and that then leads us to acknowledge the authority of the Bible. Likewise, the fact that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Tim. 1:15) is the central message of the Christian Bible, and the interpretative key for the whole. The entire context enables us to comprehend the meaning of Jesus Christ’s entry into the world; Jesus Christ’s great work provides our access to understanding the Scriptures.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the fundamental and unifying revelation of the Bible. There are many confusing and difficult components to God’s word, but the central message of Christ is clear. From Genesis to Revelation there is one great story and the death and resurrection of Christ is the climax.
In sum, the judge of the living and the dead has mandated that we “preach the word” and His word is most fundamentally the revelation of the gospel. Therefore, we can conclude that to obey the command of God to “preach the word” is to preach the gospel. In Mark’s gospel he “introduces us to the terminology of ‘the word’ to describe the preaching of Jesus, and hence the gospel, as in the parable of the sower (4:1-20). ‘Gospel’ and ‘word of God’ become virtual synonyms in the rest of the New Testament.” Is it even possible to preach or teach the Bible without mentioning Jesus? Graeme Goldsworthy says, “the simple answer…is a resounding ‘NO!’ No Bible passage yields its true significance without reference to Jesus Christ in his gospel.”