“Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6).
Progressive theologians occasionally exhibit shark behavior. Let several take a sideways bite or two out of a traditional doctrine or practice, and the blood drawn from those initial injuries can stimulate others into a kind of feeding frenzy. As attack after attack escalates, the wounds may widen until the subject is finally left as a bloodied stump, ripped and torn beyond all orthodox recognition.
Perhaps the traditional teaching sermon suffers such a fate through our repeated caricature of it as “three points and a poem.” A caricature distorts or exaggerates a subject’s distinctive features to present something grotesque. It supplies an unreality which, although objectively absurd, nevertheless appears to be acceptable.
In the quotation above, Job bitterly complains to his friends that all that life has left him is as tasteless as the white of an egg without salt. Everything in his situation lacked flavor. Life’s dullness and dreariness wearied and revolted him. The white of an egg is pure protein, nutritious sustenance for the body, but it needs salt if we are ever to stomach it with any relish. I suggest that, in our commendable zeal to discover improved approaches to pulpit communication, much of the distaste we feel for didactic sermons may lie in the fact that we seek to swallow them without the savor that responsible usage and creative treatment require. My contention will be that, in our zeal for fresh homiletical approaches and forms, some of us may view didactic sermons with limited vision, others may evaluate them without recognizing some of their distortions, and most of us appear to neglect at least one fundamental theological perspective of their essence.
I realize that, for some, any suggestion that we “de-abandon” the didactic sermon seems about as hopeless an objective as hanging water on a hook. I do not suggest we embrace the idea of “three points and a poem” with any kind of totality. My plea is rather that while we do see the entities so described as too common in practice, we may also regard them as the twisted counterfeits of a healthy didactic whose reality we can only discard at great peril for the preaching task. In support of the teaching of actual biblical substance as a significant part of the local church preaching curriculum consider:
I. A Focus on Narrative Can Cause Us to Neglect the Rest of the Story.
The contributions of Fred Craddock, Gene Lowry, Dick Thulin, and many others highlight fresh dynamics in narrative appreciated by us all. But the new homiletic cannot all be encapsuled under this one refreshing form of “narrative.” A truly progressive vision needs to expand until we see that our fresh focus is, in reality, one which spotlights creativity, imagination, and congregational involvement in preaching. Narrative is but one significant variant among many new potentially progressive approaches. I suggest a better definitive which covers contemporary movements in the field might be participative preaching. The didactic approach can be fashioned to involve congregations. We may gain great release from its wooden, mundane, deductive, and monological character through the careful application of many progressive insights. If we limit the definition of a didactic approach to “three points and a poem” we perpetuate the least such a sermon can be. We need to ask, “How best can it be?” Tom Long supports the call for an adequate balance:
“Good stories generate many insights. But if we preach only the insights, we end up with a prepositional and scholastic form of the faith. If we preach only the stories, we end up with hopeless ambiguity. The rhythm between them must be preserved” (Long, The Senses of Preaching, p. 18).
Too many who preach the substance of the Scriptures remain captive to traditional customs. Some didactic pulpiteers continue to feature historical, or biblically-contextual beginnings. They fail to note that the novel, the proximate, the contrasting, the intense, the concrete, and the unexpected always add special relevance. Variety remains one of the most useful keys to human interest. Some continue to insist on reading Bible portions at their hearers for the first five minutes in the pulpit immediately before they begin their actual sermon content, thereby effectively killing most potential attention. If biblical material is needed as a foundation for the address it should be read earlier in the worship. Unless the sermon’s first five minutes lock down an anticipated relevance for the listeners we are simply warning them that the better part of the next half-hour will be spent centuries away in time and miles away in space.
Tacked-on “applications” of truths, declared as we conclude, jettison attention as effectively as the children’s story-teller loses it when he or she says, “now boys and girls, the moral of this story is …” But life-situation beginnings can place an issue squarely within the immediate context of the hearers, then enlist them as hungry participants in the seeking of solutions from the biblical materials as these are introduced. So those preachers who begin with relevance build immediate bonds with a congregation. Those who end with it build walls between themselves and their hearers as the latter squirm under the guilt of the truths applied, and resist the specific authority with which the proclaimer seeks to direct them.
Paul’s Audience Adaptations
In Paul’s sermons and addresses we find ample evidence of his ever-increasing communications skills.
At Antioch (Acts 13:13-43): As he spoke to Jews in the synagogue Paul initiated connections with his audience by acknowledging the revelation of God through Moses and the other Old Testament records. After discussing the Messianic promises and proceeding from this common ground, then he proclaimed the expansion of the divine revelation through Jesus Christ. Verse 16 reveals verbal anchors such as “sons of Abraham,” and “men of Israel” and “ye who fear God.” (The careful precision evident in the last phrase embraces both Jews and proselyte Gentiles there, without overtly naming the latter in an insensitive manner). In verses 26-41 he moves from first person testimony through to second person direct address. Thus from his wise and sensitive understandings of his audience Paul used these rhetorical devices with great effect.
At Lystra (Acts 14:6-16): Here the apostle did not speak to Jews in a synagogue but to a group of pagan townsfolk. He initiated a connection with them at the point of their superstitious nature which had led them to attempt a sacrifice to the missionaries believing them to be gods. Paul reasoned with them, not on the basis of special revelation through the Scriptures as he had with the Jews in the synagogue, but began with a discussion of God as seen by all in the world through “natural” revelation (vv. 15-17). However, at this stage he failed to control his Jewish recoil from the very idea of pagan gods and only restrained the mob from sacrifices to them with great difficulty (cf. vv. 13, 15, 18).
At Athens (Acts 17:16-34): By the time Paul came to address another Gentile crowd his skills had developed further. Instead of recoiling in Jewish purist horror at the pagan interests and “other gods” as he had at Lystra, the apostle uses some of these very elements as a fulcrum on which to lever hearers into a consideration of the claims of Christ. He honed in on the Athenian desire for novelty in all areas of life. Beginning with this interesting hook of curiosity, he quickly disarmed their hostilities by dropping in casual quotations from their own writers and poets, which subtly met their challenge that he proclaimed “strange things” (v. 20). He used his awareness of Gentile philosophy by again discussing their recognition of God’s revelation in nature (vv. 14-29).
At Miletus (Acts 20:16-38): His farewell sermon to the Ephesian church leaders began by building on points of mutuality, past heritage, and friendship (vv. 18-21). He chose not to reason with calm logic but rather to exhort with passion. Accordingly he focused on the personal appeal which his sacrifice, imprisonment, trials, and love for them provided. This reality so moved them that it caused them to express love for him with tearful embraces (vv. 28-35).
To the Jerusalem Mob (Acts 21:27-22:22): Here Paul fights for a hearing against a hostile mob, calling them “brethren and fathers,” and using the local Aramaic dialect of the Hebrew tongue. He previously enlisted the confidence of the Roman tribune by conversing with him in Greek, the language of culture, and secured his support by confessing a kinship with him as a Roman citizen. He began with affirmations of his own Jewish heritage, education, former persecution experiences, and conversion (vv. 22:3-20).
To the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:1-11): Aware of the diverse interests, issues, and concerns of this group, and the dangers he faced before them, the wise apostle immediately behaved very belligerently. Thus he artfully set the Sadducees and the Pharisees in argument against each other so that they could not combine to censure him (vv. 1-9). The consequent uproar resulted in a rescue which saved him from an otherwise inescapable situation (v. 10).
Other Contexts: His speeches to Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (Acts 24:1-7, 25:13-16; 32) show him reasoning logically in the law court, using the intimate knowledge of Jewish laws and customs possessed by his judges, and appealing to Rome as an escape from a potentially negative verdict. In all the above patterns of communication the apostle shows an intimate knowledge of the connectional dynamics appropriate to a great diversity of situations and audiences.
In many mainline churches, congregations shrink and age-averages escalate. But to where do so many single adults, young marrieds, and median adults with families out of the mainstream move today? They flock to churches where a strong didactic ministry that is both propositional and achievement-oriented suggests a freshly-relevant approach to faith. This explosive reality appears to be a major one that the research behind the new homiletic simply ignores. How and where is God blessing preaching today? An abundance of recent research documents the reality that American churches which advocate a “conservative” theology outpace those with a more traditionally “liberal” orientation in reaching the unchurched and in maturing their spiritual commitment. But in most cases the “conservatism” involved displays more of a mainline classic evangelical character than one of a fundamentalist extremism. In most such fellowships we discover sermons which declare biblical propositions with ample imagination and creativity.
Lyle E. Schaller recently completed an exhaustive analysis of successful “Megachurch” congregations. His research yielded twenty-four common reasons why today’s young people and adults, who have largely forsaken the more mainline churches, rush to participate in these congregations. He affirms that the two primary motivations for the amazing growth of these groups are both related to how their ministries are communicated. These growing churches offer quality programs designed to serve the common spiritual interests and specific practical life needs of those who attend their services. They also all feature a didactic preaching ministry with expositions of the biblical substance oriented to fit clearly within that framework of relevance.
Sermons shared there minister carefully and directly to those same needs and interests. This biblical preaching does not display “inchworm exegesis,” but aims to expose the substance of the biblical content. The pulpit curriculum includes topical sermons, but these also orient to a teaching of the biblical revelation directly from the Scriptures. Schaller affirms that the strength of these churches arises from “… the search by millions of people born in the 1942-67 era for a Christ-centered church that offers Bible-centered preaching and teaching ministries.”
While a surprisingly large number of these fellowships are mainline and denominational, others are transdenominational. Many of their program details differ, but they all share a propositional approach to preaching illumined by a presentation of biblical materials related to contemporary needs.1
The sermon which motivates is one which encourages a congregation to take advantage of those benefits which it explains, sustains, or illustrates. Thus when I angle a sermon towards family needs and interests, personal struggles and life situations, or practical interests and spiritual growth, I will always be heard. Sermons can be titled to seize the attention of listeners through the obvious connections they bear to congregational desires, problems, hurts, challenges, and curiosities. Such subjects as “How to Handle Loneliness,” “Where is God When We Hurt?,” “Achieving Victory over Temptation,” “How to Find and Follow God’s Will,” “Getting the Best out of Marriage,” “Successful Parenting,” “Getting on Top of Your Job,” “Dealing with Anger and Jealousy,” “How to Heal a Broken Heart,” How to Live Straight in a Twisted World,” or “What To Do When Life Tumbles In” are sure to focus some of these major concerns and engage interest.
Nourishing Sermon Flow
Logical continuity can initiate a kind of “narrative” flow when major “points” (divisions) are treated as elements which gather an increasing momentum from their rational appeal. True division statements are segments of a subject which cover it holistically. But we can communicate them as milestones noted as we pass along the sermon journey. As such they capsule information on how far we have travelled. They renew the direction of our destination, and encourage continuance.
The fashioning of an effective sermon movement may be therefore compared to organization skills needed for the planning of a program of trapeze dexterity by high-flying circus acrobats. The athletes who leap into those graceful arcs first launch themselves from high platforms which attract primary attention. Then each succeeding trapeze is artfully swung into its pre-determined position along a particular pathway to allow for the safe completion of the planned journey. One artist may use a specific bar to change direction completely, and another merely to deflect the flight to another nearby bar or platform. But each acrobat rests on one or another of those fulcrums for a bare moment as his or her body twists around the trapeze. And that brief respite allows for a continuity of movement so that the whole flow of the journey may continue. Without such change points the entire flight would be impossible.
Like successive trapeze bars within such a program, sermon divisions (although they may always remain as definable entities) can therefore be regarded as potential pivots upon which subtle increments of momentum can be created, and which thus contribute to the flow and impact of the whole. Division statements can be crafted to hold oral attention just as we fashion contrasting typefaces in publications to grab visual attention. Effective preaching requires crisply-worded division headings, bold-styled and italicized for the ear.
Correcting the Caricature
One significant step in the restoration of a biblical teaching ministry for the pulpit is the recognition that the “three points and a poem” caricature is a twisted distortion of the real didactic. Such a phrase suggests a dull and boring triteness, information without relevance, and authoritarian deductive pontification. A didactic sermon may (unfortunately) be all of these, but when this is so it indicates a perversion of the model, not a pursuit of it. A violin capable of creating the finest music may only produce wails of agony in the hands of a novitiate unskilled in the techniques of its operation. If poor results arise we need to look first at how the instrument is designed to function; only then can we check to see if a poor outcome arises from clumsy handling.
Didactic sermons regularly fail to communicate. They also commonly exhibit poor logic. But when they blunder like this, the collapse comes because the propositions with which they begin are poorly handled. To reason inductively a proposition must be employed as the central sermon idea, and then verified via an appropriately logical structure. The manner in which a proposition is used determines either the sermon’s failure or success. The mere use of a proposition does not cause a problem — in fact a sermon without a central thesis always struggles to achieve both purpose and unity.
II. A Concern About Argument Can Cause Us to Forget that Initial Decisions Control Outcomes
The problem with virtually every deductively-argued sermon is that, because each begins with a premise instead of with a thesis, the erroneous foundation conditions the faulty logic. Only where the theme is proposed as a reality to be explored, an outcome to be reached, or as an objective which the sermon will aim to verify, can the argument truly be rational. A premise presents a base from which other ideas are developed. But a thesis generates an increasing momentum validating its truth as the sermon progresses.
Where a preacher forms a proposition as an authoritative premise, and then applies it or extends it, he or she will always offer an unconvincing deductive rationale. We must plan to encourage our listeners to partner with us in the joint discovery of truth through inductive reasoning. This also fosters the freedom for our hearers to differ if they can refute the logic of the journey. Fuzzy comments about inductive and deductive reasoning in homiletic texts confuse many.
The typical critic lists a topical proposition such as “God Loves Us,” then follows with a sermon skeleton such as “therefore we should (1) Give Sacrifically to His Kingdom; (2) Live Pure Lives Which Please Him; and (3) Love Others to Show Our Gratitude.” While this may be mundane, it does present some simple theological and practical truth. Yet the argument becomes entirely deductive as it only applies or develops the original premise (that God loves us), while, as a proposition, the idea remains logically unsupported. (If the proposition offered as premise had first been proven true then all that follows could be used as application.)
By contrast a biblical thesis, such as “God Loves Us as a Father” (based on 1 John 3:v.1a), can be explained, supported, and illustrated through a simple exegesis of the verses which follow. As we ask “How does God love us as a Father?” we may answer, “in the following ways: (1) He Treats Us as His Children (calls us this when others cannot see it as true, and actually brings a new spiritual life to birth within us, vv. 1, 2a); (2) He Plans For Our Future (to be like Him, perfect in all things, v.2b); (3) He Nourishes Our Growth (the promise of final sinlessness motivates us to mature in holiness now, v. 3). The discussion here explains, supports and illustrates the proposition, and thus inductively leads to its acceptance, effectively teaching the biblical substance as it does so.
Before we totally reject the use of propositions we must first ask, “Is the common use of them a correct manner of approaching a reasonably-argued biblical sermon, or is it some distortion of the appropriate didactic process?” I am fascinated to discover an abundance of critics of the didactic approach, who illustrate its “deductive potentials” with examples, yet seem to be unaware that they begin their models with premises. They fail to realize that it is the misuse and abuse of their initial propositions which conditions the errors they abhor. The shame of traditional preaching’s irrationality lies then not in its form but in its foundation. The glory of traditional preaching shines out as its central focus is proposed and treated as a true thesis, as a reality to be established. Craddock’s general comment on preaching seems most apposite here: “… part of the malaise in the discipline is due not to a stubborn refusal to move beyond tradition but to a thoughtless failure to listen carefully to that tradition” (Craddock, Preaching, p. 14).
Character of the Text
Statements about the need to allow the sermon to be shaped by the language, context, and structure of the biblical text supply a needed emphasis. Yet this idea, also, in its common applications, avoids some significant concerns.
1. The Didactic in the Scriptures: One omission unconsidered by some who advocate a total excise of didactic preaching from the pulpit is the failure to note that large portions of the Scriptures are presented to us in precisely the kind of logically-argued forms which they reject. If preaching is to be shaped by the character of the text, many sermons will have to be didactic because some exceptionally large and significant portions of the biblical contents are just that. Much of the biblical substance consists of clear, sensible reasoning which presents lists of propositional materials, obviously geared towards cognitive understandings. These reveal a clear intention to persuade the reader to accept the points of view being proposed through rational argument. The New Testament epistles (the biblical literature produced closest in time to the Christ event) bear this common character. Early historical records (and theological treatises such as John’s Gospel and the Epistles to the Hebrews) overtly claim that a direct intentionality lies behind all their writings.
Likewise many of the Old Testament records are filled with teachings about God, and the relationships His people hold with Him in as direct a manner as can possibly be conceived. Certainly as much biblical truth is pictured as narrative, and imaged in a variety of other highly communicative forms, these need appropriate recognition. But to claim that those through whom the New Testament came did not teach in a cognitive manner would require not only the excise of the bulk of epistles, but also the addresses in Acts, and much of the Gospels, including that long series of “propositions” delivered by Jesus which we call the “Sermon on the Mount.” We cannot then totally abandon a didactic model for the narrative one. To do so would negate the basic principle now advocated by the critics themselves — that of responding to the actual literary form in which much of the Word of God exists.
2. Total Cognitive Removal Impossible: Another glaring omission from the extremist argument seems equally significant. This is the place which the cognitive model of learning holds as a pervasive core to the whole of Western civilization and life as we know it. Our culture, and its associated methods of education, all build on rational argument and persuasion. These remain with us today, not because we are unaware of their weaknesses, but simply because we have been unable as yet to find an alternate method effective enough to become entirely a complete substitute for them.
The most progressive professors of education are among those who avoid offering regular subjects in the normal university curriculum with a commitment to affective learning as the sole educational approach for their courses. Every wise teacher plans for participative learning and will use some of the many insights gleaned from the whole progressive education movement. But such inclusions arise because of their valuable potential for supplemental learning. They add the affective areas to our perceptions of truth, but are never expected to substitute completely for didactic and cognitive elements.
Lecture notes, examinations, and term papers persist in our society despite all their faults and shortcomings. The older transmissive educational methods continue to permeate our entire culture for only one reason — this being that suitable progressive alternatives have not yet been discovered which are confirmed as effective enough to replace the traditional ones totally. Didactic communication, which centers on the cognitive, cannot ever be the only way of preaching biblically. It will not always be the best way. Nevertheless, it remains as one major and significant method which we are unable to discard. If we cannot remove the major relevance of theoretical cognitive learning completely in other (and often less complex) areas of life, how can we entirely replace it with something else for the proclamation of the Gospel?
Why “Three Points”?
Where a sermon presents three divisions (a much firmer word than the traditional “points”) these normally arise for pragmatic reasons and not from the application of any traditional homiletical “law.” If one plans a total of up to ten minutes to cover the sermon introduction and conclusion (five minutes each maximum) then the fifteen minutes left from a traditional twenty to twenty-five minute sermon allows for a five minute focus on each of three divisions and is communicatively wise. The practice becomes so common just because it makes so much good sense.
Three points are not mandatory. Two divisions give more time to discuss varied contents under each. Four divisions must each be shorter, or they will lengthen the sermon time.2 Consider a further reality.
III. A Commitment to Human Communication Can Cause Us to Ignore the Place of Witness.
Jesus’ commission to the twelve to be witnesses (Luke 24:48, Acts 1:8) set the pattern for Gospel proclamation. Luke consistently employs the phrases “Word of the Lord,” and “Word of God” as the essence of their message. Each such usage is a periphrasis for the apostolic preaching (4:31, 8:25, 16:32, 19:10, etc.). It is by this “Word of the Lord” that Christians enter into spiritual life (1 Pet. 1:23, cf. James 1:18).
Thus, where statements, such as “the word of God increased” or “the word of God grew and prevailed mightily” (Acts 6:7, 12:24, 19:20, etc), occur they refer not to the Bible, but to the apostolic witness about Jesus. Yet the sharing of this “Word bf God” cannot be limited to that of a messenger merely announcing the kerygma to others; it involves a teacher-proclaimer explaining the meaning of those facts.3 The Word may be energized by approaching the hearers through affective bridges connecting with their needs and interests. But where apostolic preachers employed such dynamics, they used these to lead to detailed applications of the good news in Christ. Their heralding included a specific declaration of the facts and meaning of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ as the one avenue for our reconciliation to God. But proclamation as testimony appears to be missing in much contemporary preaching.
Proclaiming the Biblical Substance
Pulpits must relate Christian perspectives to the age. Yet zeal for this can cause us to avoid our Gospel proclamation responsibility. Phillips Brooks focuses this problem, saying that preachers who only discuss the Christian dimensions of great issues and ideas offer
… preaching which must be called preaching about Christ as distinct from preaching Christ. There are many preachers who seem to do nothing else, always discussing Christianity as a problem instead of announcing Christianity as a Message, and proclaiming Christ as Savior…. They may be necessities of the time, but they are not the work which the great apostolic preachers did, or which the true preacher will always most desire…. To discuss the relations of Christianity and science, Christianity and politics, is good. To set Christ forth to men so that they shall know Him, and in gratitude and love become His, that is far better.
The most profound truth in all biblical theology will always be that when God as Father looks at me under His Grace He can only see His Son Jesus Christ. He indwells me by His Spirit, and this indwelling reality will take me through into an eternity of glory. The Christian message is not that God is in His heaven and all is right with the world. Much in this world is horribly wrong. The message we declare is that if God is in His people then Christ in you is the hope of glory (1 Cor. 1:27- 28). We must not fuzz that focus. We must talk much about our glorious riches in Christ. We can proclaim that the life of God enters into such a partnership with our natures that we become truly new creations. This is the great mystery of Christ’s indwelling which we must share.
During a Boston visit some years ago I made a special pilgrimage to Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Square. I had read much about former pastor Phillips Brooks. He ministered in a difficult age, when Robert Ingersoll and others violently opposed the Gospel. But Brooks faced these intellectual critics courageously, dealing frankly with faith and its alternates of atheism and agnosticism. His discussions were so honest, and his arguments so powerful that the students from Harvard and the other major universities of the area packed Trinity Church to hear him preach. His careful and scholarly sermons, filled with powerful encouragements and understandings, gave sense and meaning to the faith of many.
Harvard University named him as their school chaplain. They built a student center house in his honor. Then, after his death, representatives there banded together with the other citizens of Boston to collect funds to erect a magnificent statue to his memory. Their committee engaged the famous sculptor, Augustus Saint-Audens, to create the memorial statue. The talented artist never met Phillips Brooks nor heard him preach, but he studied many photographs, and read as many of Brooks’ sermons as were available in print. Behind the massive power and intellectual strength of Brooks’ words the sculptor found the living Christ uplifted and saw Him clearly revealed. This experience led the artist to read the New Testament for himself. From his reading, he too became a Christian.
The great statue of Phillips Brooks was all I expected, and more. It remains still spotlighted in an alcove outside Trinity Church. The preacher projects as a majestic figure with one hand firmly gripping his Bible, and the other with an uplifted finger pointing men towards heaven. Phillips Brooks stands clearly center-stage, illumined by the truth proclaimed through his person. But behind him, deep in the shadows, a second figure stands. The half-hidden face of Jesus Christ, Himself, also appears — behind the preacher just as the sculptor discovered Him through his reading of the sermons delivered by His servant.
But the sculptor’s skill enabled him to plot a perspective, and to angle lights and shadows in such a manner that, try as you will, you can only gaze on the preacher for a while. Then, after the first few moments, the sculpture itself compels you to look at the Christ. The design diverts your gaze from the clear open face of the preacher to view all that you can of the Lord who stands dominantly (but only partially) revealed beside him. The artist’s genius motivates that whole movement of re-focus from preacher to Christ. He planned a sculptured compulsion which draws your gaze to the Savior, and refuses to permit your vision to remain centered on the preacher. As such this echoes the reality of the message which Phillips Brooks preached.
In every pulpit the Bible must be prominent. And while the preacher may need to be central, the focus must ever be only upon Jesus Christ.
1. For a more detailed analysis of sermons featured in this phenomenon, see Rick McDaniel, “Understanding the Contemporary Preaching Model” in Preaching, September-October, 1992, pp. 14-17.
2. Relevance can be enhanced as the actual biblical substance is taught. For such a “four-point” didactic sermon, which “flows through” a little-known Old Testament narrative, see Craig Skinner, “Backyard Religion” in James W. Cox (ed.), Best Sermons #5 (Harper, San Francisco, 1992, pp. 22-31). For a “two-point” didactic sermon, which treats a well-known New Testament story creatively, see Craig Skinner, “Lost in Your Own Backyard,” in James W. Cox (ed.), The Minister’s Manual — Seventy-Seventh Annual Issue (Harper, San Francisco, 1992, pp. 261-263.
3. Colossians 1:27-28 shows the detailed dialogue and discussion of meanings inherent in Paul’s Gospel preaching by its use of katagellomen (tell thoroughly). Philemon 1:15-17 uses the same verb (in its appropriate form katagellousin) alongside kerussousin (proclaim) suggesting an interchangeability. The modal participles nouthetountes (admonishing) and didaskontes (teaching) also appear in the Colossians reference explaining how the proclamation was explained by supplying the relevance of the meaning of the facts declared.
Salt for the White of an Egg: Seasoning the Teaching Sermon
“Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6).