At Last. . . Now . . . an Open Confession: What Saith the Scriptures

By Ron Halbrook

Word Definitions Demand Distinction?

According to Ketcherside, the meanings of certain Biblical words will demand the gospel-doctrine distinction. The words come in groups, and a look at Thayer’s Lexicon refutes the argument from definition. Didaskalia is “teaching, instruction,” “teaching i.e. that which is taught, doctrine.” One who teaches or instructs is a didaskalos, “a teacher,in the N.T. one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man.” To instruct or impart information is didasko, ‘to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses,” “to be a teacher,” “to discharge the office of teacher, conduct oneself as a teacher,” “to teach one: used of Jesus and the apostles uttering in public what they wished their hearers to know and remember,” “to impart instruction, instil doctrine into one,” “prescribe a thing,” “to explain, expound, a thing,” and “to teach one something.” That which is imparted or taught is didache, “teaching, viz. that which is taught . . . the doctrine which has God, Christ, the Lord, for its author and supporter,” “(the act of) teaching, instruction.”

While Ketcherside tries to make “doctrine” some body of teaching separate and apart from “gospel,” the truth is that anything which can be taught or imparted to others is doctrine. Anyone who teaches, instructs, or imparts information and truth is a teacher. What Ketcherside calls “gospel” is really a thing “which is taught, doctrine.” What he calls a preacher or evangelist is also “a teacher . . . one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man.” True gospel preaching informs the hearer of certain events, imparts instruction from God, prescribes the commands of God, and explains or expounds the will of God. Preaching is teaching, whether we refer to the activity or to that which is imparted by the activity.

Euangelizo means to announce good news, “to bring good news, to announce glad tidings . . . in the N.T. used esp. of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God, and of the salvation to be obtained in it through Christ, and of what relates to this salvation,” “to proclaim glad tidings; spec. to instruct (men) concerning the things that pertain to Christian salvation. ” The good news itself is euangelion, “the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, and subsequently also of Jesus, the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom, ” “the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ. ” One who brings good news is euangelistes, “a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist. ” Related words include anangello (“to announce, make known . . . disclose . . . to report, bring back tidings, reherse” ), apangello (“to bring tidings (from a person or thing), bring word, report . . . to carry tidings to a place, ” “to proclaim to make known openly declare . . . by teaching . . . by teaching and commanding . . . by avowing and praising”), and katangello (to announce, declare, promulgate, make known; to proclaim publicly, publish” ).

This group of words can apply only to that narrow field labeled “gospel,” as distinguished from “doctrine,” according to Ketcherside, Actually, these words related to the kingdom of God, the person of Christ, his sayings and deeds and death, to all things that pertain to salvation. Any message recounted, promulgated, and spread abroad qualifies as “gospel,” especially if it is a message good in nature. As Vine observes, “gospel” in a given context may refer more to “the basic facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ . . . viewed historically” or more to “the interpretation of these facts . . . doctrinally” (Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. II, p. 167). Facts, commands, and promises are involved in the gospel of Christ.

Kerygma is “that which is promulgated by a herald or public crier, a proclamation by herald; in the N.T. the message or proclamation by the heralds of God or Christ. The messenger or proclaimer is kerux, “a herald a messenger vested with public authority, who conveyed the official messages of kings, magistrates, princes, military commanders, or who gave a public summons or demand, and performed various other duties . . . In the N.T. God’s ambassador, and the herald or proclaimer of the divine word.” To proclaim or publish is kerusso, “to be a herald; to officiate as herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald; always with a suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed,” “to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done . . . something which ought to be done,” “spec. used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it.”

Ketcherside claims this group of words is related only to his concept of “gospel” as a narrative of events (though he sometimes seems to include our primary obedience or initial acceptance of the message, but never more than this). Actually, each group of words stresses something different about God’s message. As Vine observes, “Kerx indicates the preacher as giving a proclamation; euangelistes points to his message as glad tidings . . .” (Ibid., Vol. III, p. 202). THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT TOTALLY DIFFERENT MESSAGES ARE INVOLVED! Ketcherside tries to partition off euangelion and kerygma from didache and didaskalia. He tries to bolster this by an appeal to the definitions of these words, but it is accomplished by giving only partial definitions and excerpts from the definitions. This becomes obvious with kerygma as with the other words. Any message which comes with divine authority qualifies as kerygma, and may include narration of events, public summons or demands, commands and instructions. Whatever is proclaimed or promulgated by divine authority–the divine word”–is the proclamation of God. That most certainly includes what Ketcherside calls “doctrine.”

A favorite dodge of Ketcherside is his claim that since 3,000 souls obeyed the gospel on the day of Pentecost, yet without hearing all of “the doctrine, ” that proves a difference between the two. No, it only proves that men of God portion out to hearers of God’s Word whatever they need at a given time from the teaching, the glad tidings, the proclamation. “The word of truth” is one message, not two or three or four, but it must be portioned out to each man according to his need. The atheist, the denominationalist, and the Christian all need to hear the one “word of truth,” but they need to hear specific application to their differing needs. Not different messages! Just different portions and applications of the one message! All of it is equally binding according to each man’s need. This is why the workman of God must give diligence to “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The man who would handle “the Word of God . . . strictly in accordance with the lines of its teaching” must “courageously, yet lovingly, apply its glorious meaning to concrete conditions and circumstances, doing this for the glory of God, the conversion of sinners, and the edification of believers” (ef W. E. Vine, The Epistles to Timothy and Titus, p. 126 and William Hendtiksen, I-II Timothy and Titus, p. 263).

Let us turn now to specific passages which use the word groups of the teaching, the glad tidings, and the proclamation. If Ketcherside’s gospel-doctrine distinction is to be verified in Scripture, it must be discovered in strict separation in the use of glad tidings and proclamation over against doctrine or teaching. We shall begin our examination in the texts of Matthew through John.

In Matthew 2:8, King Herod told the wise men to find the new-born Christ, and to report their finding: “bring me word again” (from apange116). Later, when Jesus began his ministry, his “teaching” in the synagogues was “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” (from didaskii and keruss6, with euangelion; 4:23; 9:35; 11:1). In proclaiming this gospel of the kingdorn, “his (ioctrine” covered many important subjects (see Matt. 5-7, esp. 5:3, 20; 6:10, 33; 7:28-29). Jesus gave these instructions to his disciples: “what I tell you” and “what ye hear in the ear,” “that speak ye” and “preach ye” (10:27). What they spoke by his authority, they proclaimed. In condemning the hardened, Jesus said that even the Ninevites “repented at the preaching of Jonah” (12:41). Jonah’s proclamation had been, “Yet iorty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Included in the teaching and proclamation of the tidings of the kingdom, was the promise of Christ, “I will build my chuich ” Not only did he refer to his Deity and the need of men to confess that, but he later gave instructions on the Lord’s Supper as a part of the proclamation of the kingdom (16:13-19; 26:26-29). Matthew’s narration of Jestis Christ includes what he commands, his official messages, sammorts, and demands. His discussion of the kingdom — something proclaimed (4:23) – included the charac[tf necessary to enter that kingdom, discipline, and the necessity of our forgiving others (chapt. 18). When arrested, Jesus reminded the mob, “I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me” (26:55). Daily, his doctrine or teaching had been the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom.

“Now after that John was put in Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-15). He proclaimed the tidings of God’s kingdom. In this teaching of “his doctrine,” Jesus instructed men concerning his own Deity; the people said,”What new doctrine is this?” (1:21 28). As Jesus declared the good news or “the mystery of the kingdom of God,” he also included parables; this, too, was part of “his doctrine” (4:1-11). Jesus selected twelve of his disciples, “that he might send them forth to preach . . . and to cast out devils.” “And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils . . .” “And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught” (cf 3:14; 6:12, 30). “What they had done” was to cast out demons. “What they had taught” was proclamation or preaching. “Here it becomes unquestionable that preaching and teaching can be employed as synonyms” (Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 111, p. 713). To prepare his disciples for what was to come, “he began to teach them” the events which were to be included in the gospel (8:31; 9:31). “While he taught in the temple,” Jesus gave a lesson on the Messiah or Christ (12:35-37). When he sent the apostles into all the world to proclaim the glad tidings, he taught them to include this: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall he damned”(16:15-16).

According to Luke, when Jesus in ther synagogues,” he proclaimed and announced glad tidings “the gospel,” “his doctrine” (4:15, i8 19, 21, 31-32). Once when Jesus healed a leper, “he charged him to tell no man” (from parangello, “to transmit a message, along from one to another, to declare, announce,” “to command, order, charge, ” says Thayer; 5:14; 8:56). When Jesus on another occasion commented that someoue had touched him, the woman who had been healed “declared” the reason for her having done so (from apangello; 8:47). Jesus told a procrastinator, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (fcom diangello, “to carry a message through, announce everywhere, through places, through assemblies of men, etc.; to publish abroad, declare,” says Thayer; 9:60). When Jesus “taught the people in the temple,” He “preached the gospel” (20:1). After rising from the dead and before ascending to heaven, Jesus instructed his apostles “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached” or proclaimed. Gospel preaching, therefore, includes more than simply an account of historical events.

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well about the living water, her lost condition, and acceptable worship, she said, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, he will tell us all things” (frorn anangello; John 4:25). She understood that the Messiah would deliver tidings on “all things” that pertain to man’s proper relationship to God; Jesus said, “I that speak unto thee am he.” Certainly all that Jesus teaches is rooted in his divine nature as the Son of God, but all that he taught personally and through his apostles is the gospel or glad tidings. If we are to accept the gospel and please God, something more than the Deity of Jesus niust be acknowledged and obeyed. Jesus promised his apostles that “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” He would “speak” and “show” (from anangello) “all things that the Father hath” for nien to know (16:13-15). All that the Holy Spirit announced through the apostolic men was part and parcel of the good news, the glad tidings, the gospel!

The book of Acts is most instructive on this matter of the supposed distinction between gospel and doctrine. The word groups are interchangable rather than distinct, in this book as elsewhere. After his resurrection, just before ascending, Jesus “commanded” (from parangell6) his Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promised gift. Obviously, one can announce orders or commands as well as pa6i events. Beginning on Pentecost, the Apostles taugbt and preached Jesus and the resurrection. Although they weie told not to “teach” this any niore, they were bold to speak “the word of God,” Their enemies imprisoned them, yet they were released miraculously and “taught” again “all the words of this life.” Since they were still “teaching the people,” the council examined them, the high priest saying, “Did not we straitly command you (from parangell6l not to teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine .” Peter responded by proclaiming the good news, or declaring the doctrine, to the council itself (4:2, 19, 18, 29, 31; 5:20, 21, 25, 28). Though the Apostles had been repeatedly warned to stop, “daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (5:42). We both teach and announce the glad tidings of Christ; there is no distinction.

On the way to Jerusalem in Acts 15, Paul and Barnabus declared fully “the conversion of the Gentiles” to brethren along the way, and then in Jerusalem “they declared (from anangell6j) all things that God had done with them” (v. 4). Here, they are announcing to the church, while Ketcherside maintains the nature of that word forbids its use with reference to saints; and, the announcement involves more than the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. On the other hand, in the next verse we find that certain Jewish Christians were commanding or announcing (from parangel16) that men must “keep the law of Moses.” In the discussion at Jerusalem, James pointed out, “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read ‘in the synagogues every sabbath day” (15:21). When Moses “was preached” or proclaimed, it was not historic facts about him that alone was preached, but all of the will of God declared through him and upon his authority. Did James err – should he have said that the precepts of Moses were taught rather than preached?

When Paul was addressing crowds at Athens, certain philosophers said he was announcing or setting forth strange deities “because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.” They inquired after Paul of this “new doctrine,” so he declared or announced (from katangellb) the true God unto them; also, he told them what God now commands, declares, or announces (from apangell6): “all men everywhere (should) repent” (17:17-19, 23, 30). Apollos “taught diligently” only those first principles which John had given him in preparation for Christ. He being deficient in the knowledge of the doctrine he was trying to teach, certain friends “expounded (explained, proclaimed, a synonym for preached, cf 28:23) unto him the way of God more perfectly” (18:25-26). They proclaimed the doctrine fully so he could teach the gospel in its fulness. Paul “showed” or declared (from anangell6) and “taught” all the things of God at Ephesus (20:20). In trying to convert certain Jews, Paul joined in action at the temple “to signify (to announce fully, from diangell6) the accomplishment of the days of purification” (21:26). Here, actions carried the force of announcements. Paul’s efforts to convert people in Rome help us to understand that to “proclaim or preach” the kingdom of God is to “teach” the Lord Jesus Christ.

Usage In the Epistles

As one continues through the New Testament, he finds additional evidence on the use of teach, announce good news or tidings, and proclaim. Paul challenged those who boasted of being Jews, “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” (Rom. 2:21). Teaching and proclaiming are synonymous, and the content includes moral instruction in addition to historical event. Paul came proclaiming and announcing tidings of good things, “the word of faith.” In so doing, he made it evident that the gospel includes commands to be obeyed-belief in Christ and confession of him with the lips, as well as repentance and baptism (10:916; 6:3-4, 17; Lk. 24:47; Acts 2:38). The gospel includes instructions on how to call upon God for salvation (10:13-16), Romans 10 is part of the section which consists of chapters 9-11, in which Paul explains the righteousness which is by faith, “the word of God,” “the word of faith,” “the election of grace,” the plan of God for man’s salvation. Gospel preaching includes the scheme of redemption in God’s mind and the plan of salvation consequently revealed to man (cf Eph. 3).

When Paul was “declaring (from katange116) . . . the testimony of God,” he was “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” His proclamation did not depend upon “enticing words of man’s wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:14). Paul was determined to know one message only! He portioned out the message according to need and circumstances, but he did not know one message called “gospel” for one group and another message called “doctrine” for another group. His one message was “the wisdom of God” once a mystery but now made known “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth” (2:7, 13). Notice that the Holy Spirit taught the testimony, the wisdom, the things of God, which Paul declared or announced. Those begotten “through the gospel” should continue “in Christ,” therefore Paul sent an evangelist to remind the Corinthians of the doctrine-“my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (4:15-17; cf 2 Tim. 4:5). Furthermore, Paul commanded, enjoined, announced duties “unto the married” (7:10; from parangefld). Paul-was thus preaching to the church, including commandments for saints in his preaching, and sending an evangelist to teach the church. Obviously, he had not heard of Ketcherside’s strictures on teach, announce, and proclaim. Paul even gave declaration and announcement concerning the pattern of worship (11:17), though Ketcherside loudly denies that such a pattern is any part of “the announcement” (euangelion). The announcement which Paul preached certainly included the death, burial, and resurrection, but also included the facts that witnesses had seen the risen Lord and that Paul was such a witness (1 Cor. 15:1-11). When discussing “the word of God,” “the truth,” “our gospel,” “the glorious gospel,” that which we “preach” or proclaim, Paul explained the proper place of a preacher in God’s scheme (2 Cor. 4:1-5; cf Rom. 10:14-15).

The first two chapters of Galatians, uses some form of “announcement” thirteen times and of “proclamation” once. Upon severest pains, Paul warns the Galatians not to be enticed by those who pervert the gospel. Yet, it turns out that the error Paul warned of was not a denial of historic facts or events in the life of Christ, it was the addition of human precepts to tht: commands of the gospel. Some men were proclaiming or preaching (should Paul have said teaching?) the necessity of circumcision (5:4, 11). Even temporary compromise with such false teachers is denounced as “not according to the truth of the gospel” (2:5, 14). By preaching the gospel, Paul made men understand the whole scheme of redemption in the mind of God, once a mystery, now revealed through inspired men (Eph. 3). Ketcherside and company would like to stress Eph. 4:11 as mentioning “evangelists” separate from “pastors and teachers.” In their peculiar work, the teaching done by elders (1 Tim. 5:17) is almost exclusively limited to the local church, while the evangelisis’ field is as wide as the world. That does not mean they teach different messages. “An evangelist would transmit the gospel given by apostles and prophets (Lenski, Gal. Eph., Phil., p. 527). In the Philippian letter, Paul shows that the gospel itself-not something in addition to it – requires unity among saints, sharing in the suffering of Christ, having the mind of Christ, and stich godly living in general as holds up “the word of life” for men in darkness to see (1:27-2:16). In Colossians, we learn that gospel preaching includes the hope of heaven; preaching Christ also includes the work of “warning every man, and teaching every man” (1:28, 28).

The good reputation of Thessalonica had spread so that brethren in many places could show or relate (from apangello) the story of how Paul had been received there (1 Thess. 1:9). Notice that to relate or explain to another what he already knows, do~~s no violence to the word “announce” (euangelizd). Iii view of their past reception of him, Paul might have expected the Thessalonicans to continue in the faith, but he could not know for sure. Therefore he was encouraged when Timothy “brought us good tidings of your faith and charity” (3:6; from euangello). After Christians have accepted the first announcement of the gospel, they are to obey its continuing announce ments, for instance “to work with your own hands, as we commanded (from parangello) you” (4:11). Some peoplc “believe a lie” and “not the truth.” Others are chosen to salvation “through sanctifipation of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereiriao he called you by our gospel.” These should continue to “hold the traditions which ye have been taught” rather than going into apostacy at the teaching of deceivers (2 Thess. 2, esp. vv. 2-3, 10-15). In beseeching and exhorting these brethren, Paul had given commands, declarations, or injunctions, but again the word is from the euangelion group and not the didache (1 Thess. 4:1-2). In like fashion he said, “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you” (2 Thess. 3:4).

What better place to study the work of an evangelist than in the preacher’s handbooks written by inspiration to a young preacher! What was Timothy told to do so that he could accomplish “the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry”? (2 Tim. 4:5) Paul charged (from parangella, to make an announcement or declaration) Timothy to “charge (same word) some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3, 18). Thus, the evangelist is to preach with reference to doctrine. God’s “commandment” (charge, announcement) produces a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. Moral principles found in Moses’ Law are according to 11 sound doctrine” and “the glorious gospel,” but the theories of men are not (1:5, 8, 10, 11). Paul’s work as 11 a preacher” or proclaimer included the work of teaching the Gentiles (2:7). The things Paul wrote Timothy were intended for his guidance, and so that he might properly guide others. When this evangelist told others what Paul wiote, he was preaching on the pattern authority of Scripture; this evangelist was to preach the word, no other doctrine, the pattern of sound words, the things which were written (3:14-15; 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:2). Because some “depart from the faith,” the evangelist Timothy m.ust “command and teach” (from parangello: and didasko) “the words of faith and of good doctrine.” By continuing in this course, he can save himself and those who listen (4:1, 6, 11, 13, 16). If we “teach and exhort” wholesome words, even “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,” we shall teach “the doctrine which is according to godliness.” But we must avoid wranglings characteristic of those “destitute of the truth” who suppose that “gain is godliness” (6:1-5). Paul charged Timothy and told him to charge others to manifest the proper life (vv. 13, 17; from parangello).

What was true in Paul’s work was true in Timothy’s work: preaching and teaching involved the necessity of holding fast “the form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:11, 13). 2 Timothy 2:2 assumes that Timothy had heard Paul preach the gospel many times; Timothy is to convert others who in turn “shall be able to teach others also.” The gospel message Paul preached on his missionary tours was a thing taught, a teaching, a doctrine. His doctrine was gospel. Paul told the evangelist, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2:15); preaching can include discussion of the proper way to handle and apply God’s Word (cf. 2 Cor. 4:24). Realizing that the chapter breaks are artifical, we can understand that to “preach the word” is to declare and teach the “all scripture” of 3:16-17 (4:1-2). Some will not endure this proclamation or “sound doctrine,” but seek other “teachers.” This is because they do not want to hear “the truth.” What, then, should the announcer proclaim? The scriptures, the word, sound doctrine, the truth! As Paul told Titus, the truth or God’s Word is a proclamation (Tit. 1:1-3). Though each word has its own emphasis, they all refer to one message.

In 1 Peter we find references to the word of God (1:23, 25; 3:1), the gospel (1:12, 25; 4:6), the will of God (2:15; 4:2), the oracles of God (4:11), and the faith (5:9). In chapter 1, we learn that the word of God is simply the gospel announced; in chapter 2, that obedience to the duties of the gospel can draw men to God (vv. 11ff); in chapter 3, that the word or gospel wins souls when Christians obey God’s commands on many subjects (as modesty, subjection, 6tc.); in chapter 4, that we live to the will of God when we abandon lasciviousness and intoxicants as required by “the gospel;” and in chapter 5, that various instructions help us to understand God’s true grace and to resist the devil “in the faith.” The latter even included instructions to elders of the local church. Peter knew nothing of Ketchersides empty distinctions about words.

In conclusion, we see that Ketcherside cannot establish his gospel-doctrine distinction from Biblical scholarship, the Greek lexicon, or, most important, the text of Scripture itself. His keystone is shattered. No New Testament Writer Supports Ketcherside’s Thesis! The New Testament shows that while gospel preaching includes fundamental, all-important events in the personal life of Christ, it also includes the church, the pattern authority of Scripture, the hope of heaven, warning, the proper handling and application of God’s Word, moral principles, the scheme of redemption in God’s mind and plan of salvation revealed to man, opposition to the doctrines of men, explanation of the preacher’s place in God’s scheme, along with the initial obedience of faith in repentance, confession of Christ, and baptism for remission of sins. In the gospel of Christ, God revealed only one message, and it may be addressed lo all kinds of people: Jew and Gentile, saint and sinner, bond and free, male and female, husband and wife, parents and children, rich and poor. The message of the gospel is equally binding upon all, as applied to the need and circumstances of each. What message should be proclaimed, announced, and taught? The Scripture, the word, sound doctrine, the truth. NOTHING MORE OR LESS! The gospel can be taught, and the doctrine declared or announced. A unity movement built upon distinctions over these terms hangs upon nothing.

Truth Magazine XX: 39, pp. 616-621
September 30, 1976