"Woe is me if I do not preach the Good News!" 1 Corinthians 9:16
(1) Woe is a word that is not used so often today as it was centuries ago. It was a common word in the old English; but there is a meaning attached to it at present, we think, that was not in the original word. Nearly all who read the parable where the Master speaks of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" seem to have the thought of eternal torment. Woe, when used in the King James Version of the Bible, means the same or similar in some minds. So these construe our text to mean: "I will be eternally lost if I do not preach the Good News." This is because of the traditions and doctrines that have been adopted by various religious groups and organizations.
(2) We understand the apostle to mean here: "I would be very unhappy if I could not preach the Good News; it would be a cause of great distress to me. In view of my former course of persecution, and Yahweh's great mercy to me, it would mean a loss of his favor and blessing should I refrain from proclaiming his message." We also notice that The New English Bible Paul's words are rendered: "It would be misery to me if I did not preach." The context seems to bear out this thought. So it would be great distress to those whom Yahweh has granted the illumination of his truth, if the opportunity of preaching this glorious Good News were taken from them.
(3) From one standpoint, the apostle's words would apply only to his public ministry of the Word. From another standpoint, any one of Yahweh's dedicated people is a minister, ordained to preach; for ordination means commission, right, authorization. The commission to preach the Good News is mentioned by the Prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 61:1-3) There the called-out ones are brought to our attention through their Head, Jesus Christ, who is represented, primarily, as the speaker. We read: "The spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to preach the acceptable year of Yahweh, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn, to appoint to them that mourn in Zion -- to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness -- that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he might be glorified."Many Ways of Preaching the Good News
(4) Here the commission of the holy spirit to Christ was prophetically announced, long in advance. Those who belong to the Christ, who have received the same anointing through him, have also received this commission to preach the Good News. (1 Corinthians 1:21; Acts 8:4) If the disciple of Christ properly appreciates the privilege of being a messenger of God, an ambassador for God, it would be woe, a sadness indeed to him if he could not proclaim the message, to the extent of his ability and opportunity. -- 2 Corinthians 5:17-19.
(5) There are some who have the thought that there is no way to preach except by a public discourse from the platform. But the Bible does not give this thought as the even the preferred method of preaching. Jesus talked to the people by the seaside, and along the road. (Mark 2:13; Matthew 21:19-21) At one time he sat on the edge of a well and preached the message of the Kingdom. (John 4:6-30) He preached to his disciples up in the mountain. (Matthew 5:1,2) He taught the people while standing on a ship. (Luke 5:1-4) He told his disciples to preach in the streets. (Luke 10:10) The apostle Paul said he preached in the homes. (Acts 5:42; 20:20) Even after being arrested the early Christians were "daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as Christ." (Acts 5:42) And so with us. Whatever way or time we may have for preaching the Good News we should use.
(6) We are to tell the "glad tidings of great joy." This may done in the daily walk of our life, as we meet the butcher, the baker and grocery man, or our neighbors and friends, as well as preaching the message from house-to-house. It may be done by literature sent through the mails, or by offering literature to passersby on the sidewalks, or by preaching from the platform. All of these methods are preaching the Good News, making known the Good Tidings, for preaching means merely to make known, and does not relate to the manner in which the knowledge is imparted. The question is, if you are a dedicated disciple of Christ, are you using your opportunities, even making opportunities to preach the Good News?Basis and Superstructure of the Good News
(7) There is much preaching being done today. Most, however, do not fully preach the Good News. Many preach bad tidings of great misery. Usually, evangelistic tracts follow this trend. Some tell of billions spending an eternity in indescribable suffering. Others tell of millions of men, women and children being eternally destroyed because of their being under Satan's blindness. These kinds of tracts we do not wish to circulate. The more we spread of such tidings the less preaching of the Good News we would do. We are to remember that our Lord Jesus especially identified the Good News with the kingdom. This has been God's method for gathering the church, and will be the witness to the world. (Matthew 24:14) We still have opportunity for making known this good message of the kingdom. The basis of this Good News is the death of our Lord Jesus, as a sacrifice for sinners, his resurrection and his ascension to the right hand of the Father, Yahweh. Its superstructure is the salvation of the church, "those who have ears to hear," (Matthew 11:5; 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; 7:16; Luke 14:35) and the world in the next age -- "whosoever will." (Revelation 22:17) The blessings of God are all through Christ. ========== See our studies: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Hell? Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?
(8) Some Bible literature preaches a certain individual, group or organization as specially chosen by God. In effect they end up giving their organization, or its leaders, the position held by Jesus. The Watchtower of March 1, 1979 displayed on its front cover: "Put Faith in a Victorious Organization"! This attitude only reflects many statements that have gone before and after from Watchtower publications in the last few decades. For instance, in The Watchtower of October 1, 1967 we find this statement: "Make haste to identify the visible organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect. We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his Word and channel of communication." But notice what Jesus himself said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Thus the Watchtower leaders make themselves take the position of Yahweh's son! That this is true can be further seen by the statement made in The Watchtower of February 15, 1981 (page 19): "The record that the `faithful and discreet slave' organization has made for the past more than 100 years forces us to the conclusion that Peter expressed when Jesus asked if his apostles also wanted to leave him, namely, `Whom shall we go away to?' (John 6:66-69) No question about it. We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the `faithful and discreet slave' organization." Thus the Watchtower leaders are put on par with Jesus. The rest of Peter's answer tells us to whom we should go: "You [that is, Jesus] have the sayings of everlasting life."
(9) How grateful we can be that the rich blessing of Yahweh for both the church and the world are to follow the second coming of Jesus. (See our study: The Restoration of All Things) Then the church will be glorified and exalted; and the world will be raised from the dead to enter into the era of blessing God has promised will come as a result of His kingdom. It is this happy message that we find so wonderful that we feel great sadness if we do not preach it!
(10) Whoever, therefore, understands this real Good News, or Gospel, and appreciates his own ordination to preach it, must necessarily feel unhappy if he should be hindered from preaching it. Some can preach in several ways. Others can preach in nearly every way. Some can preach in very few ways. All can preach in some way. The more we do, the more happy we should be. So we thank God that we have so many helps in our day: Bible literature, Bible concordances and reference works, etc. We greatly appreciate all these and are seeking to make good use of them to the blessing of others as well as for our own up building.
(11) As has already been noted, every member of the Church (whose names are "enrolled in heaven" -- Hebrews 12:23) in the early times was a preacher. We know this not only because it is recorded that they "went around preaching the word" (Acts 8:4), but because we know that no one then or now who is being led of the Spirit of Christ could help being a preacher of the glad tidings. If the anointing of the spirit led Jesus to preach; if the same spirit in Paul led him to feel "woe is me if I do not preach the Good News" (1 Corinthians 9:16), wherever the same mind or spirit of Christ may be, it will have the same general effect, it will make a preacher of the one controlled by it as surely as it did of those referred to above. Of the Church whose names are written in heaven -- every member is a preacher. Are you one? Are you faithful to your ministry?
(12) The Greek word rendered "preach" in the above citations is Strong's #2097, Euaggelizo. It signifies --"to bring good news, to announce glad tidings."* One definition of our English word preach is, "To give religious or moral instruction." (Dictionary.com) The English word "preach" is derived the Late Latin word praedicre, meaing, to proclaim. Scripturally, it we can see that to confine the use of the word preach to a public discourse, as it usually is, is an error, begotten no doubt of the custom of having a special class (often referred to as the "clergy") do all the expounding of what is considered the glad tidings, while others (often called the "laity") feel themselves relieved from it while they sit in the pews or audience and are "served" the tidings being delivered. ========== Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Euaggelizo". "The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon". http://www.biblestudytools.net/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=2097&version=kjv.[raw][/raw]