The Most Important Trait for the Expositor: Boldness
When a preacher is filled with the Holy Spirit, what is the result in preaching? Letâ€™s have Acts 4:31 tell us the answer:
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
The filling of the Spirit results in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23), the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12), including verbal and manual gifts (1 Peter 4:11), God-honoring singing and music (Ephesians 5:19), thankfulness (Ephesians 5:19), submissiveness (Ephesians 5:20), and right relationships (Ephesians 5:22-6:9). With all of these tremendous consequences of Spirit-filling, you can add boldness in preaching, or perhaps better add those to this one. Of all the traits to look for in preaching, this is the one most mentioned in Scripture.
Acts 9:29, And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Acts 13:46, Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Acts 14:3, Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Acts 18:26, And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. Acts 19:8, And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 28:31, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. Philippians 1:14, And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 1 Thessalonians 2:2, But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
If you skipped over the above verses, go back and read them. It isnâ€™t a good habit to read these kinds of articles and skip the Scripture that is quoted. The Greek words in all of these instances are the noun parresia and the verb parrsiazomai, which mean “to speak openly, freely, and fearlessly,” “a use of speech that conceals nothing and passes over nothing,” and “a state of boldness and confidence, courage, fearlessness, especially in the presence of persons of high rank.”
Godâ€™s admonition to Jeremiah at the beginning of his preaching ministry was for him to have this very quality:
Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD (Jeremiah 1:8).
This was the characteristic for which Paul asked the church to pray that he would have in his own preaching (Galatians 6:19).
Why do I believe this trait is the most important to exposition?
1) It is the most important to all preaching based on the above passages of Scripture.
2) When we find out that what a passage means will be a problem for the people to whom we are preaching, our flesh will be tempted to alter the meaning to fit what they want to hear. This is the “itching ears” preaching of 2 Timothy 4:3, characteristic of perilous times. I believe this is the number one cause of false doctrine. Preachers tell people what they want to hear a passage means instead of what it actually says.
3) The Holy Spirit is quenched by the selfish pride that motivates our fear, so that we will forego His illumination to know a passage even before we lack His holy boldness to declare it.
When the preacher is not afraid to preach anything that God says, He can enjoy peace with any portion of Godâ€™s Word. The most difficult passages are those which say something that clashes the most with our culture. For this reason, many preachers adapt Godâ€™s Word toÂ its popular criteria. As a historic Baptist, I am no Martin Luther fan, but I love this quote attributed to him:
If I profess, with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle fields besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
You canâ€™t get the right interpretation if you are not willing to get it. You canâ€™t be afraid to want what God says. You wonâ€™t preach it the right way if you are even the least afraid to do so.
 Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Third Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000. Revised and edited by Frederick William Danker base on the Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-deutsches WÃ¶rterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments un fer frÃ¼hchristlichen Literatur, sixth edition, ed. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, with Viktor Reichmann and on previous Enlish Editions by W.F.Arndt, F.W.Gingrich, and F.W.Danker.Â Electronic Edition.