In Greek philosophy and culture, much was made of public communication, and the greatest communicators of that day were known by their ability to move audiences using logos, pathos, and ethos.
Logos described with the subject matter of the communiqué. It was vital that the communicator had his facts straight. He was expected to communicate truth. His arguments had to be logical.
Pathos described the power used in communicating the message. It was the “how” behind the “what.” The effective speaker was not one who merely presented the facts, but the great speaker was one who communicated them in a manner that stirred the emotions of his audience. Because he was moved by his message, his message was moving. To the effective communicator, it was vital that his listeners experience or feel something.
Ethos described the man himself. There was no doubt about it, the speaker’s reputation added to or detracted from his overall effectiveness. Those who were deemed credible, knowledgeable, genuine, and sincere, were much more likely to experience a successful lecture. In effective communication, ethical character mattered. The faithful “who,” delivering the factual “what,” with an emotive “how” was much morel likely to win the day with his words.
The Apostle Paul – a most effective communicator – penned a letter to his friends in Thessalonica. And in his introduction, he commented on his successful ministry in their midst. In the opening verses of his letter, Paul reminded them of his logos, pathos, and ethos in communicating Gospel truths to them:
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (1 Thess. 1:4-7)
Paul preached the Gospel. His message came from Jesus Christ and his Old Testament prophets. Therefore, factually, his presentations were built upon divine, inspired, infallible, and authoritative revelation. Paul communicated true-truth. He was most wise in his lectures. His commitment to logos was great.
As he preached the Gospel, the Apostle did so not only in word, but also with conviction and power. God’s Word had greatly affected him. Therefore he sought to greatly affect others. He was moved, and therefore he sought to move others. There was no apathy or boredom in his ministry. With tremendous passion he presented his teachings, for he was dealing with matters of life, death, heresy, and worship. Additionally, in many situations, he did so in concert with the Holy Spirit. God and man were passionately involved in communicating the wonderful words of life. Both Paul and the Holy Spirit were interested in communicating logos with pathos.
Additionally, Paul preached Law and Gospel with ethos. He knew his lips and his hands were involved in presenting his message. And he was able to stand with confidence and say, “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you.” Paul was not sinless, but he knew his lips and his life had communicated the same truth. He was hungry to communicate logos, with pathos, adorned by genuine ethos.
Regarding the Thessalonian Christians:
And what was the result of Paul’s communication? Paul’s spiritual children believe that which he taught. They bought that which he sold. They agreed with Paul so much that they became imitators of Paul who was an imitator of Christ. And like Jesus, and like Paul, they were enthralled with the joy of the Holy Spirit and were able to stand in the presence of great affliction. And like Jesus, and like Paul, they too became examples and effective communicators of the Gospel to people in their neighborhood – those throughout Macedonia and Achaia. Paul’s listeners became witnesses of Jesus, communicating God’s truth with logos, pathos, and ethos.
Regarding Us and our Ministers:
Friends, we have all been called to be communicators. All of us who are Christians have been summoned to be leaders, leading people closer to Jesus Christ. We are all to be evangelists, heralding the Good News to those about us. As witnesses, we have been commissioned to tell people that which we have heard, seen, and experienced. We may be good. We may be bad, but we are all communicating something about Jesus Christ, his work, and his will.
Therefore, let us improve our logos. Let us stand more consistently on the Word of God. Within the pages of our bibles, timeless truth is found. We cannot go wrong communicating God’s words. Philosophy and Psychology contain a mixture of truth and error – but not so the Scripture. Contemporary counsel changes like clothing fads with the morphing generations, but not God’s Word. Brothers and sisters, let us be better educated in God’s Word. Let us be increasingly wise. Then, let us be more factually straight in our conversations. Let us read the Bible, think the Bible, and talk the Bible. Let’s improve our logos. Let’s be more exact.
Then, let us communicate with greater passion. Let’s improve our pathos. Why would we communicate God’s Word without zeal? Apathy in our scriptural conversations is surely a travesty. Perhaps we need to pray for a spirit of revival in our own hearts so that we feel more deeply that which occupies brain space. It was Martin Lloyd Jones who said, “Preaching is theology on fire.” Oh friends, in our witnessing, teaching, preaching, parenting, and debating, let us seek to stir the emotions and go for the heart. The Gospel is the greatest news for people who are naturally in the worst of conditions. Logos with pathos is beautiful and moving.
Finally, let us communicate truthfully, passionately, and consistently. Let us pursue greater ethos in our communication. How wonderful it is when people “see our good works” and are led to “glorify our Father in Heaven” whom they continually hear about through our lips. As it is said, “Our walk talks, and our talk talks, but our walk talks louder than our talk talks.” Christians communicators – ordained and laity – may our feet and our lips shout forth a consistent message. Let’s pray that Christ continually improves our ethos. Let’s work at it, and as the Holy Spirit communicates grace from the inside out, may we then, with passion and truth, communicate it to our outside world.