What do you believe is the difference between preaching and teaching? Is it a matter of emphasis on facts vs. application?



Great question! An important one too. The distinction needs to be understood from the Bible.

Many think the main difference between preaching and teaching is style, the former being louder and more animated and the latter quieter and subdued, but the point you introduce regarding facts and application is much closer to the heart of the issue.

Years ago, I learned from Bill Rice III the biblical distinction that sets preaching apart from teaching. When Paul taught Timothy, he said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). Several words and phrases address the substance of preaching. Rice used the acronym APT to highlight the key components of preaching:

Preaching heralds truth from a point of authority. Preach the Word! In biblical preaching, the authority is the Word of God—not man’s ideas, God’s ideas.

The phrase, “reprove, rebuke, exhort,” reveals the intent to persuade from the point of authority.

The word “doctrine” means teaching. The preaching of the Word is teaching, but it’s more than teaching. It is teaching with the express intent to persuade.

On this basis, Bill Rice defined preaching as teaching from a point of authority with the intent to persuade. I believe the text affirms this articulation.

Teaching, on the other hand, leaves out the persuasion. It’s more informational, and there is certainly a place for that. Teaching communicates truth, but given its limited scope, it presents neither a demand for a verdict nor a challenge regarding what hearers should do with the truth.

We need teaching. But we also need preaching, the God-ordained method of the Spirit using the message through a human messenger to bring people to a point of decision.

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