About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

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Reasoning, Arguing, or Preaching

We often think that Paul was a great preacher of the gospel, and that he was. Yet Paul did not always preach. Throughout the Book of Acts we see him "reasoning" with the Jews in their synagogue. (E.I. Acts 17:2) In Acts 19:8 the NIV says that Paul "argued persuasively" with the Jews. We might think that arguing is one or two steps beyond reasoning. It is interesting to note that in both Acts 17:2 and 19:8 the same Greek word is used for the words "reason" and "argue". The Greek word is "dialegomai", which means to think difference things with oneís self, then expressing these differences to others.

Why the NIV translates this Greek word as "reason" in many places in Acts, including chapter 17:2, and then translates it as "argue" in chapter 19:8 is unknown to me. I might guess that the context may be a reason for the difference in translation. In Acts 19:8 the word "persuasively" is added to the sentence, making the reasoning process more intense, more like arguing. Reasoning may suggest a dialogue. Reason persuasively may suggest arguing.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to me that Paul spent much time in dialogue, and my guess is that this dialogue got pretty heated at times, thus the word "argue" is appropriate. It seems to me that in todayís Evangelical church we are afraid of dialogue, and in particular more afraid of arguing. We would rather have a one sided teaching or preaching session where another view point is not taken into consideration. The listener has no platform for his or herís opinions. But this was not true with Paul. He was not afraid of dialogue. He welcomed the challenge. He viewed it as a means to proclaim the gospel.

To conclude, I think people learn more and think more about the subject at hand when they are in a dialogue and able to participate in the discussion. People think and learn less when they are simply listening to someone speak. Thus my conclusion has always been that most of us learn more in a mid-week Bible study (as long as there is dialogue) than we do on a Sunday morning, where we merely sit and listen, possibly get board, maybe allow our minds to wander, and in the worse case scenario, fall asleep.

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