A hush fell over the marketplace. Every eye was fixed on the man with the crown on his head and the staff in his hand. The man spoke and his loud, clear voice carried a royal proclamation to every ear. He was the herald of the king.
The Greek word for being a herald is kerusso (kay RU so) and is the word translated “preach” in the New Testament. A brief look at the ancient heralds may help us better understand what it is to preach.
In those “pre-microphone” days, the chief qualification for being a herald was a loud and clear voice. They even held “herald contests” along with the athletic contests at their great national festivals. The herald’s job was to call soldiers to battle, to summon citizens to the public assembly (the ekklesia), and to proclaim official edicts. He always spoke under the authority of someone else--he was the spokesman for his superior. He had no right to negotiate with his hearers--he had only the responsibility to proclaim the message faithfully. The herald made an authoritative announcement. To ignore it was not just indifference; it was refusal!
The ancient Greeks held the herald in high honor. Unfortunately, however, they ultimately came to place more emphasis on the man than the message. This unnatural distortion of things led to the herald’s fall from his place of honor. Focus on the man, instead of the message, brought attention to the man’s inadequacies. Popular opinion later classed heralds with keepers of brothels and petty shopkeepers. Demosthenes said that only the poor and lazy aspired to be heralds, and their only motivation was the money!
The New Testament, on the contrary, turns our attention from the herald to his message. The word for the herald himself (kerux) is used only three times, but the word for his proclaiming of the message (kerusso) is used sixty-one times. God's herald does not preach himself, but Christ Jesus (2 Cor 4:5). It is not the herald's office, but the herald's message that demands respect. And if the herald faithfully preaches the message which God has commissioned him to preach, he has fulfilled his ministry and has done his duty (2 Tim. 4:2-5). Preach the word!