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Kerygma? - What is it? A vital subject for the future of the church today (Part 1)

The term “kerygma” is a Greek biblical term that can be translated as “preaching” or “proclamation.” With respect to the New Testament, it specifically relates to the preaching of the gospel, or “good news” regarding the gift of forgiveness and salvation made available to men and women through Jesus Christ. “The kerygma” most simply stated refers to the preaching or proclamation of the Gospel. The purpose of this article will be to examine several verses that deal with the major themes of the kerygma, to define the kerygma, and to examine the meaning of the Greek root word from which the term “the kerygma” is derived and determine what this means for the modern church.

There are many key verses that give a good overview of what composes the proper preaching, or proclamation, of what God has done in the person of Jesus Christ and the gospel, or “good news” concerning this. This paper will only examine five of them. The first is Acts 2:14-36. This passage emphasizes that Christ was unquestionably accredited by God as demonstrated through the miraculous signs and wonders that took place during His ministry.

Also, Christ was crucified and rose again in accordance with God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes it clear that Acts 2:23 is stating that “the Crucifixion was no accident. It was in God’s set purpose (boulē, “plan”) and was God’s determined will, not merely His inclination. It was a divine necessity.”[1] Peter emphasized that Jesus was handed over to the Jews “‘by God's set purpose [Gk. boulē, ‘designated will, definite plan,’ as revealed in the OT prophecies] and foreknowledge’—which Jesus himself recognized.”[2]

One of the other key themes of the passage is that God raised Christ from the dead because it was impossible for death to have hold over Him. In light of this, when God raised Christ, He also exalted Him to the right hand of the Father. Within these verses, Jesus is proclaimed as both Lord and Messiah (or Savior) and at the end of the passage Peter declares that “Jesus is the Messianic King. Because God raised Him to life, He was not abandoned to Hades nor did His flesh ‘see decay’ (v. 27).”[3] This passage also shows that God wants to pour out his spirit on all flesh.

The kerygma is not meant to be isolated to the Jews alone, but spread throughout the entire world. The Book of Acts: A Logion Press Commentary points out that on the day of Pentecost, the event this passage refers to, “the many languages highlight God's purpose to keep pouring out His Spirit or to pour out His Spirit again and again on ‘all people’ (Gk. pasan sarka, "all flesh"). In the Hebrew ‘all flesh’ usually means all humankind, as in Genesis 6:12.”[4]

The second passage, Acts 14:15-17, makes it clear that every “god” or idol is false and a vanity and that there is only one true living God. The one true living God is the creator of all things. He has let nations go their own way and He has still shown them provision and undeseverd kindness in the midst of their sin. However, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible points out that in verse 17 of this passage, it states that God didn’t leave Himself without witness. “Though the heinousness of idolatry is represented as so much less in the heathen, by how much they were outside the pale of revealed religion, he takes care to add that the heathen have divine "witness" enough to leave them "without excuse."[5] This means that all mankind is in need of the salvation that only the one, true, living God can provide.

The third passage is Acts 17:22-31 and points out that man tries to fill the spiritual void in his life through religion and idols. God is not bound to images, or temples, nor does He need anything that man can give Him. This is because God is the author of life. This attempt by man to solve his spiritual need through worshipping and praying to his own religious creations is both idolatry and sin.

Thus, God commands everyone everywhere to repent. Idolatry shows “humankind's ‘ignorance’ of what God is really like. This “ignorance”, God in mercy and longsuffering overlooked ‘in the past.’ ‘But now’ He (through the gospel) is commanding ‘all people everywhere to repent,’ that is, change their minds and attitudes toward God by turning to Him through Christ and the gospel.”[6] The passage also suggests that because Christ will one day judge the world with justice, repentance must take place in order to escape this judgment. “God has ‘set a day’ in which He is going to judge the inhabited earth with justice (in righteousness) ‘by the man he has appointed,’ whom He has designated. That is, there is a judgment day coming and God has revealed who the judge will be.”[7] God raising Christ from the dead is the assurance that this day of justice is coming and that Christ is both the judge and who He claimed to be.

(Part 2 Next Week)

[1] John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, ed., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas

Seminary Faculty, (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1985), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 358.

[2] Stanley M. Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary, Revised ed. (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House,

2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 71.

[3] Ibid., 75.

[4] Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary, 67.

[5] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible,

1871, Bible Study Tools, (date accessed

January 30, 2013).

[6] Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary, 301.

[7] Ibid.

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