Gospel Pt.4 - Should we give our testimony instead of preaching the Gospel?

Paul is arrested in Jerusalem by the Roman soldiers. As he is being carried away he says to the captain, “I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” (Acts 21:39)

Remarkably, Paul is given permission. “Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:”

What will he say? Now is his opportunity to preach Christ and him crucified.

…but no! Instead, Paul gives his testimony!! What on earth was he thinking?

I recently listened to a podcast from the White Horse Inn about how inappropriate it is to give one’s testimony when presenting the Gospel. One of the speakers said

“My story may be interesting but it has nothing to do with the Biblical Gospel”

So why did Paul not take this golden opportunity to preach “the Biblical Gospel” but instead told his story. Actually it is worse that that—Paul’s testimony is actually repeated no less than three times in Acts. Luke gives it to us, and then Paul tells it on two occasions rather than giving a more cross-centred Gospel message.

So why does Paul do this? The answer is very simple: first and foremost Jesus tells us to be witnesses.

The biblical scholar, Professor A. A. Trites, looked at all the Greek terms in the New Testament used to refer to evangelism and came to the conclusion that the word translated as ‘witness’ or ‘testimony’ occurs more often that all the others put together. He published this in an excellent book entitled The New Testament Concept of Witness.

The book was later republished in a popular format as New Testament Witness in Today's World and in it he states, that the group of related “witness” words appear over two hundred times in the New Testament (p.9)

Paul didn’t just spin an interesting yarn. His testimonies were very focused. If you compare the account that Luke gives us together with Paul’s two accounts, some valuable insights can be gained into Paul’s strategy.

Your main evangelistic responsibility as a Christian is simply to be a witness to Jesus and what he has done for you.

Here is a link to the audio and notes where I go through the two accounts and compare them in detail: The Gospel 4: How to Give your Testimony

For a bit more of a technical discussion, see

For a slightly more technical discussion, have a look at Paul's Autobiographical Speeches in "Gospel Preaching in Acts".