Woe Unto Me If I Preach Not

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Text: 1 Corinthians 9:16-17----1Cor 9:16 (KJS) For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation [of the gospel] is committed unto me.

SUBJECT: Through the Bible

TITLE: Woe is Unto Me if I Preach Not the Gospel

PROPOSITION: To study the statement of Paul relating to preaching in the text above.

OBJECTIVE: So that we might understand the truthfulness of the WOE upon those who do not preach the gospel.

Woe Is Unto Me if I Preach Not the Gospel


1.      The term "woe" is found numerous times in both Testaments.

1)     It is a favorite expression of the prophets when announcing God’s judgment upon nations, cities, or individuals.

2)     Frequently used by our Lord in crying out against the sinners and errorists among the Jews--7X in Mt 23.

3)     It is used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:16-17 in the sense that he recognizes he is under the threat of judgment from God if he fails in his responsibility to preach the gospel.


1)     Although none since Paul have received such a direct commission as his (Acts 26:16-18), what he says of himself is no less true of every Christian.

2)     The commission to the apostles reaches far beyond them----Matt 28:20 (KJV)

3)     Everyone who obeys the gospel becomes debtor to the untaught as was Paul----Roma 1:14 (KJS) I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

4)     The apostles and evangelists could not evangelize their world by themselves, though they led in the effort.

5)     It took the effort of the "ordinary" saints when they were scattered abroad, preaching the gospel as they went, really to begin the march of truth throughout the world.

6)     We are under the same “woe” as was Paul.  Or at least we SHOULD BE!!!

3. STPO.


I. I Must PREACH the Gospel.

1.     The word translated, "preach" in Paul’s statement is euangelizomai--to bring or announce the gospel, to get the message of glad tidings to others.

2.     Notice, Paul did not write about SHARING the gospel, but PREACHING the gospel.

1)               To "preach" correctly implies that one is imparting a message to others who need it and who learn from it!

1-     This is always the relationship between the saved and the lost.

2-     The saint has a message that the sinner must hear in order to be saved.

2)               To "share" implies a two-way exchange, a dialogue between the parties involved.

1-     It further implies that each has a message equally needed by the other party.

2-     This is simply not the case between sinner and saint.

3.     Not only does Paul NOT use the phrase, "share the gospel" here, it is NEVER used in the NT to describe the preaching or teaching of the word of God, whether to sinners or saints!

4.     Many men who are called preachers nowadays ought to be renamed "sharers."

1)               They do very little preaching.  Instead they “share” with their audience.

2)               In a recent issue of The Regan Report ( newsletter for communications executives), it is observed that speakers who use the word "share" do not really do so at all.


2-                         Where did the "sharing" concept come from?

1-     It came from romantics and psychologists who don’t believe in the existence of truth or in the presentation of an authoritative message.

2-     It came from those who suppose one can sort of "sneak up on" sinners without really preaching the gospel plainly.

5.     There are lots of men who attempt to preach, but DO NOT like to be known as "preacher."

1)               Some of our brethren, both in the pulpits and the pews, are too dignified to like this term.

2)               They delight in the word "minister."

3)               It sounds SOOOO much sweeter and softer than "preacher."

4)               I am convinced that our exclusive use of the term MINISTER for preachers is an unscriptural application of a scriptural term.

5)               In the NT it is applied to ALL who serve the Lord and the aims of the gospel, even unbelieving rulers and women (Rom 13:4, 6; Mark 1:31).

1-     When Paul speaks of a "minister of Christ" and a "minister of the gospel" (Col 1:7,23), he is not using the term as a synonym for "preacher" or "evangelist."

2-     He simply means he is a servant of Christ and the gospel.

3-     When he tells Timothy to "make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Tm 4:5), he is simply urging him to show himself a faithful servant of Christ.

6.     We must recapture the concept as well as the correct use of the terms of Scripture on this matter.

1)               Our world and the church need far more than a sweet sharing of religious platitudes.

2)               Paul said, "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel."

II. I must Preach ONLY the Gospel.

1.     To escape the woe of God, Paul knew it was not enough to preach any message he might choose.

1)               Rather, the gospel is what he and we must preach.

2)               Those who preach a changed and perverted gospel have the damnation of God resting on them (Gal 1:7-9).

3)               It matters not if such preachers are the companions of presidents and rulers.

4)               It doesn’t matter how large their TV audience might be.

5)               It doesn’t matter how big the church is where they preach or how fast the numbers are increasing.

6)               It doesn’t matter how big the crowds are at their crusades.

7)               The tragedy is compounded in that those who follow such blind guides will be led to eternal destruction with them----Matt 15:14 (KJS) Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

2.     We must preach ONLY the gospel because IT ALONE is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16).

3.     We must preach ONLY the gospel because IT ALONE is the means by which we are begotten of God (1 Cor 4:15).

4.     These truths and many others demand absolute purity in the gospel message.

5.     Some of our brethren seem to be far more enamored with wild, infidelic guesses of skeptical theologians than with what the Bible teaches.

6.     Some get caught up in the "grow-at-any-cost" fads.

7.     Lots of brethren are just as likely to take their text from Zig Zigler, Robert Schuller, or Norman Vincent Peale as they are from Paul, John, or Peter.

III. I Must Preach ALL OF the Gospel.

1.     Paul reminded the Ephesian elders----Acts 20:27 (KJV)

2.     He had earlier told them----Acts 20:20 (KJS) [And] how I kept back nothing that was profitable [unto you], but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,

3.     Jesus promised the apostles that upon His departure from them He would send the Spirit of Truth, who would guide them into ALL truth (Jn. 16:13).

4.     Only ALL of the inspired scripture is able to be complete and furnished completely unto every good work (2 Tm 3:16-17).

5.     Only ALL of the gospel gives all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Pt 1:3).

6.     A partial gospel is a defective/different gospel = no gospel at all!

7.     Our age is cursed not only with those who are preaching outright error and falsehood, but with many others who are preaching only a measure of truth.

1)               Preachers can be found preaching “some truth” in every religious group .

2)               However, this is insufficient--we must settle for nothing less than the whole message.

8.     Sadly, brethren sometimes get very testy if the preaching reflects the whole counsel of God, thus condemning the sins they count precious.

9.     Those who do not want to hear the WHOLE gospel are exercising more and more dominance in the local churches.

10.   The result is that many of our preachers are no longer willing to preach ALL of the gospel.

11.  The cardinal sin = someone might be offended by what is preached or taught.

12.  2 Tim. 2:24 vs 2 Tim. 4:2.  Therein lies the rub! (To find balance – in preaching & from brethen).

IV. I Must Preach the Gospel In the Right Spirit.

1.     Urgency. Paul commanded Timothy to be INSTANT or URGENT in season and out of season (2 Tm 4:2).

1)               This sense of urgency led Paul to serve the Lord "with tears, and with trials--publicly and house to house--to incessantly admonish men night and day (Acts 20:19-20,31).

2)               A preacher must feel Urgency!!!

3)               When we teach a friend or neighbor they must see in us a genuine urgency. It deserves our most earnest presentation.

4)               WOE is unto me if I preach not the gospel URGENTLY!

2.     Simplicity. The gospel is simple in its essentials.

1)               Admittedly, it is vastly complex and deep in some of its parts.

2)               However, man tends to complicate the simplest things of the gospel.

3)               Paul presented a simply worded gospel message in Athens (Acts 17:23-31).

1-     He was speaking to the highest class of philosophers of his day.

2-     Yet, he spoke in simple, direct terms.

4)               Paul certainly had the ability to speak in "excellency of speech, or of wisdom" (1 Cor 2:1).

1-                         BUT he determined simply to preach Christ and Him crucified (v. 2).

2-                         Though he spoke with more languages than any of the Corinthians, he said----1Cor 14:18 (KJS) I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that [by my voice] I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an [unknown] tongue.

3-                         Both Peter and Jude warn that one of the traits of false teachers is their "great swelling words" (2 Peter 2:18; Jude 16).

5)               WOE is unto me if I preach not the gospel PLAINLY.

3.     Love. Any lesser motive than genuine love would have soon failed the Lord, His apostles, and their faithful contemporaries, considering the offenses and personal perils their preaching provoked.

1)               Paul’s statement of love’s essentiality in 1 Cor 13:1-3 will forever stand.

2)               Let’s be sure we understand what love means...

1-                      Since our Lord and His apostles preached God’s word lovingly, we can track the meaning of preaching done in love by their lives.

2-                      Love does not mean mere softness or sweetness.

3-                      Love does not mean fear of offending one’s hearers.

4-                      It does not mean compromising with or ignoring error, nor silence in the face of error.

5-                      It does not mean withholding truth in the name of kindness.

3)               Love compels, rather than prevents, an uncompromising proclamation of truth in a plain, straighforward way.

4)               If all preachers bowed to the pressures of some brethren and their definition of LOVING preaching, no sinner would even find out he was lost and in need of a Savior.

4.     Boldness. Luke uses this term or a form of it, to describe the preaching of the apostles and others no less than 8 times.  Paul uses it eleven times in his letters.

1)               To be bold is not to be cowardly and fearful.

2)               To be bold is to speak up and speak out with the truth.

3)               To be bold is to stand one’s ground in the face of threat or danger.

4)               To be bold is to risk offending others for the sake of trying to save them.

5)               To be bold is to risk ridicule and reprisal, even from brethren.

6)               To be bold is not to be ashamed of the gospel.


1.     We must PREACH the gospel, ONLY the gospel, ALL of the gospel, in the TRUE SPIRIT of the gospel.

2.     Woe is unto US if we fail to do so!

3.     However, when we have done so, we must leave it with our hearers.

4.      We dare not soften it or sweeten it to appeal to the vanities and vices of men.

Major Source: Dub McClish, in Studies in 1 Corinthians, edited by Dub McClish, pp. 110-121.

Word Count: 2395

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