PARRESIA–The Church’s Need Today!

The Book of Acts ends with Paul awaiting trial, yet preaching the Word as he could from some rented quarter:

He preached God’s kingdom and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ with great boldness (parresia) . . . Acts 28: 31.

There is one word that runs through the entire book of Acts. It is that great Greek term parresia which here is translated “boldness.”  However, it is not the ordinary word for boldness.  It is a word that puts the emphasis not upon courage—though that lies behind it—but upon a particular kind of courage and boldness.

The word means “courage to speak without fear of consequences.”

Too many Christians (and preachers as well) lack this God-blessed quality which is why so little progress has been made in recent days in evangelizing a nation that is rapidly going down the drain. We complain about the fact that we have been remiss as a nation when it comes to truth, holiness and the like, but we are loathe to do what needs to be done about it, namely, to proclaim the one message that is capable of transforming a degraded society into one that pleases and serves God. Science won’t do it, technology can’t, politics is incapable, and only the Gospel has the power to do so. But if we remain afraid to open our mouths honestly and forcefully—as the preachers in Acts did—things will continue to go from bad to worse.

Read the book of Acts again, focusing upon this bold preaching of the apostles and others, and you will see how it was what made it possible for them to “turn the world upside down” as those opposed put it (Acts 17:6).  Actually, they were turning things right side up, but unbelievers always get things upside down.

What Preachers Need Today

Throughout the Book of Acts there is an ever-occurring term that stands out. Indeed, this descriptive term is so characteristic of the apostles’ preaching of the Gospel that Luke is careful to use it even up to and including the very last verse of his book!

“What is it?”

Let me quote that verse an see if you can pick it out.

“OK. Go ahead.”

Speaking of Paul’s house arrest, here is what he writes:

He stayed two whole years in his own rented house . . . proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance (HCSB).

Do you see the word that I have in mind?

“Not sure… is it ‘proclaiming?'”

A great word—shows us how he never stopped preaching. But that’s not the word I had in mind.

“How about ‘teaching?'”

Another good choice— but not what I had in mind.

“Then it must be ‘boldness.”‘

Bingo! You got it.

“Thought I never would. Why do you point this out? Isn’t boldness a bit careless? You know what the word means—’he boldly jumped over the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle’—and so on?”

No! No! No!

“What do you mean, ‘NO?'”

I mean NO!

“Why say NO?  Everyone knows that boldness can lead to carelessness—why would Luke characterize Paul’s teaching that way?”

Glad you raised that question. You see, this isn’t the ordinary word for boldness—it is a special word.

“How does it differ?”

This word means “to speak the truth without fear of consequences.  How we need that sort of preaching today!

“You’re right.  Thanks for clearing that up.”

You’re welcome.