Why Must Paul Preach With Clarity?

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:4

How can Paul say he “ought” to speak clearly? Does it really matter? Isn’t God’s word sufficient to do the work? Doesn’t Paul trust in the “power of the word?” 

Of course he does! But unlike us in the reformed mold, he doesn’t see any tension between the power of God’s word and our ethical obligation to clarify it. 

“But doesn’t God love to work with poor communicators?” 

If by “poor”, you mean unimpressive to unbiblical Greco-Roman standards of rhetorical flourish, perhaps. 

But if by “poor” you mean unclear, then clearly the answer is “No. He does not.” 

“Well, it’s not like I’m preaching to my English congregation in Spanish! I’m contextualizing!”

Well, Paul goes further – he’s not praying that he might preach in Greek, as he ought – he’s asking for prayer that he speak greek in a way that will best enable his hearers to understand. Furthermore, he sees this as his ethical duty. 

Why? Because a failure to clarify is a failure to love. 

Maybe that’s the root of much of our pseudo-reformed rhetoric, in the end. 


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Posted in Preaching, Theology, Writing.


Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.


  1. Excellent clarification of our need to recognize the power inherent in GOd’s word and the need for us to speak that word clearly rather than obscurely, Nick. The clarity Paul sought is one of the works of the Spirit in the lives of believers, and Paul clearly saw that it can be hindered by a believer who did not try to work with the Spirit in the ministry of the word.

  2. “Because a failure to clarify is a failure to love.”

    Wise words, Nick. I am very thankful I found your blog. I have been on the hunt for good, thought provoking Christian blogs and you are by far my favorite. I’ve also been enjoying the recent flood of new articles. Keep it up.

    – Daniel

    • Daniel – thank you so much for your encouraging words! I’m glad you’ve connected to the material. My pleasure to serve.

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