Paul indicates here that the usual method of conveying the gospel is by preaching. What is preaching? Lots of books have been written about the topic, which tells us that there are a lot of opinions about it. So what can we say about it in a brief way?
- The word Paul uses here means to herald, and a herald was sent to deliver a message of another person, usually a ruler. So preaching is the telling of a particular message by a servant of the Lord.
- Moreover, the herald would ensure that he had a relevant audience.
- The ruler would want his message explained carefully and straightforwardly.
- The herald would be delighted to declare the message and would want his listeners to embrace it
- The herald would warn of the consequences of disobeying the message.
In verse 15 Paul gives a description of divine messengers by citing a verse found in Isaiah 52:7 which originally referred to messengers who ran over the countryside to inform people that the Babylonian empire had been destroyed and the captives had been freed. We can easily imagine how glad listeners would have been to hear the message. Perhaps at first it sounded too good to be true as those messengers joyfully told God’s people about the great things he had done for them. Yet once appreciated their message caused great joy and strong praise to the Lord
Paul does not say in verse 15 who sends the preachers. Does he mean that God sends them or that the church sends them? In an ideal situation, both would be true and this may be what Paul has in mind. Of course, the mention of sending means that the idea did not originate in the mind of the herald. Instead, the person chosen is selected by the Lord or by the church, and also the place of service at any time is chosen by them as well. What should the effects of this sending be?
One clear deduction from God sending a herald to a place is that he has people there whom he intends to save and bless. God obviously has many heralds, which means that he has planned to work in numerous places simultaneously. A denomination sends individuals to different places and tries to contribute to their work, but their oversight is largely external. In contrast, God works internally in the lives of people as the good news is declared.
Therefore, the presence of an authentic herald should create spiritual expectation that God is doing or is about to do a spiritual work in a community. The message of the herald changes lives because the Subject of the message changes the hearts of listeners as they grasp the contents, believe in the Saviour it describes, and call upon him. That is the process we should be expecting and praying for.