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D. A. Carson, in his essay on “Challenges for the Twenty-first-century Pulpit” in the new book, Preach the Word, answers the question of what Paul meant when he said said that he had not shrunk back from declaring “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27):

When Paul attests that this is what he proclaimed to the believers in Ephesus, the Ephesian elders to whom he makes this bold asseveration know full well that he had managed this remarkable feat in only two and a half years. In other words, whatever else Paul did, he certainly did not manage to go through every verse of the Old Testament, line by line, with full-bore explanation. He simply did not have time.

What he must mean is that he taught the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively. It embraced

  • God’s purposes in the history of redemption (truths to be believed and a God to be worshiped),
  • an unpacking of human origin, fall, redemption, and destiny (a worldview that shapes all human understanding and a Savior without whom there is no hope),
  • the conduct expected of God’s people (commandments to be obeyed and wisdom to be pursued, both in our individual existence and in the community of the people of God), and
  • the pledges of transforming power both in this life and in the life to come (promises to be trusted and hope to be anticipated).

(pp. 177-178; bullets and italics added)


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3 thoughts on “Preaching "The Whole Counsel of God"”

  1. Barcificus says:

    Leave it to Carson to show me an English word that I have never, to my recollection, ever seen or heard before:

    asseveration, from asseverate.
    tr.v. as·sev·er·at·ed, as·sev·er·at·ing, as·sev·er·ates. To declare seriously or positively; affirm. See Synonyms at assert. –as·sev”er·a“tion n.

  2. Jeff Kerr says:

    I love DA Carson. Reading this summary catapulted that book onto my wish list.

  3. Ramos says:

    Perhaps the greatest need of the hour are those who will stand and share “thw whole counsel of GOd.” The problem is that it must be encapsuled, permeated and saturated in the love of God. May it be our aim to walk and abide in love.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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