10 Greatest Preachers of All Time

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Who do you consider the ten greatest preachers of all time?  Who would make your list? Comment and tell us and why.

Ten Greatest Preachers

The preachers I have selected may differ from yours but those that I have selected were based upon the impact that they had on their churches, on the individuals in those churches and in the society or areas in which they did their ministries.  These men poured out their lives like a drink offering, leaving nothing left by the end of their lives and giving more than a hundred Christians might give in a lifetime.  Just how much impact they will have made cannot be estimated or completely understood until that day that we stand before the Lord for our rewards and see our treasures in heaven.  There are so many down through the ages that it is hard to select just ten but these were among the greatest preachers of all time, if not for all eternity.  Naturally, I should put Jesus first because not only was He the Word, He is the Authority behind the Word and His preaching cut to the quick.  Obviously, all preaching flows from Him as He directs the church, being the Head of the Church, so clearly Jesus Christ is the greatest preacher of all time.  Others would argue that it was John the Baptist who was said to be the greatest of men born to women (Matt 11:11) but at this time I am restricting this article to those chosen, human vessels to Whom He has called and He has anointed beyond the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

#10  The Preacher Apostle Paul

Who can argue that the Apostle Paul was not the most effective preacher of the Word.  We cannot overlook Paul just because He was the most prolific of writers in the New Testament or that he planted churches throughout the Roman Empire because much of his of preaching was done in his letters to the churches.  Preachers for two-thousand years would use his letters to proclaim the gospel to their congregation and to the lost.  His preaching in the books of the New Testament is still effectually bringing people to Christ through the use of the law to humble them and then grace coming to those who were broken over their sins.

Paul was so bold that he once walked right into the Areopagus, and preached to thousands of Greeks who knew nothing of the One, True God.  He told them in contrast to the altar that was dedicated to the “unknown god” he was about to proclaim to them the “God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:23-24).  Prior to that he walked right into the synagogue and told them about Christ and even those in the public square that Jesus whom they had crucified was God in the flesh (Acts 17:17) and he did this every day.  He was not afraid of men in the sense that he would not back down in telling all about Christ.  He did acknowledge that he came at times with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).  I can tell you from experience that this is a fearful thing.  I have done street preaching and my palms get sweaty, my heart races and I begin to sweat — but how can I not proclaim the gospel when I feel that there is nothing more important for a Christian to share than the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and people who step out of this life without Christ will be eternally separated from Him?

#9  The Prince of Preachers, Charles Haden Spurgeon

There are few arguments that this man, Charles Haddon Spurgeon,  is the preacher among preachers outside of the Bible and he was called the Prince of Preachers.  Testimony to that are the more than 300 million copies of his sermons and his influence in the formation of over 200 other churches.  In my own personal library I have some of Charles Spurgeon’s written sermons that are nearly as powerful as the Scriptures themselves.  He preached to some ten million people worldwide and in the church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, it was always jam packed with five thousand people with an overflow of another one thousand. He tirelessly proclaimed the gospel even though he suffered greatly from depression and physical ailments which neither slowed him down nor stopped him from giving his messages. He was clearly one of the greatest of all time.

Who do you consider the ten greatest preachers of all time?

Who do you consider the ten greatest preachers of all time?

#8  Martin Luther, the Reformer

Most people only think of Martin Luther as the Reformer or having begun the Great Reformation.  He had this to his credit but he was also an astoundingly great Bible expositor.  While imprisoned, he translated the Bible into German. The Protestant church clearly owes this man’s selfless effort and bold, courageous work in what had been missing for centuries; that we are saved by grace and not by works.  His commitment to the centrality of the Scripture over church tradition and his emphasis on salvation by grace is still the essential to any successful church today.

#7  The Tireless John Wesley

Whatever this man had, he gave every ounce of his fiber to it.  Under his direction, the Methodist church, the real founder of it, made the gospel a social one where Christians were expected to be salt and light and getting the salt out of the shaker and the light out from under the basket, being the chief advocate for as an abolitionist while fighting slavery when it was not popular to do so. This great man of God preached over 40,000 sermons, gave away more than 30,000 pounds (today, that is around 100 thousand dollars), and rode over a quarter of a million miles on horseback. He once bemoaned about growing old and sorrowed over sleeping in until 5 AM!

#6  George Whitfield, Laborer of the Word

George Whitfield’s preaching drove and helped to sustain the Great Awakening, at the time the greatest revival that the world had ever seen since Jonah preached to Nineveh and the whole city-state repented.  This man preached over 40 hours a week!  Martin-Lloyd Jones, himself one of the greatest preachers of all time, says that George Whitfield was the greatest preachers that England ever produced.  Of course, this was prior to Charles Haden Spurgeon.

#5  Jonathan Edwards, Scholar, Author and Preacher

Jonathan Edwards is believed by many scholars, both secular and Christian, to be the greatest intellect and philosopher that America ever produced.  This Puritan Preacher stood tall in the biblically centered message and life. His sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God made people weep and repent by the dozens and may be the single, greatest sermon ever preached from any pulpit.

#4  John Knox the Thundering Scott

Could this man, John Knox, ever put his soul into his preaching!  He was so inspiring that his preaching transformed all of Scotland.  Being a student of John Calvin, who is also in this list, may have been a case where the pupil outdid the teacher.  His Bible-centered preaching made people take up his passion for the lost souls of men and women.

#3  John Calvin, Gifted Scholar and Theologian

What John Calvin did for the gospel was to put to paper what had previously never been written about.  He was one of the first preachers to preach progressively through each book of the Bible.  He never preached topologically but his was expository; that is he exposited or preached from line to line giving a personal commentary for each verse.  His writings made the Bible easy to understand, even to the uneducated.  To his credit, he remained humble even though his fame spread throughout Europe.

#2  John Wycliffe, Philosopher, Theologian, and Preacher

John Wycliffe was one of the first proponents to make the Bible available to the common man and woman. He focused on Bible-centered reform knowing that most of the public heard sermons in either Latin or not at all.  He wanted them to be able to read a Bible in their own language so he translated the Bible himself so that they could.

#1  Who is Your Choice?

I have left the last one to you.  In my opinion, it could be the Apostle Peter who preached maybe the single greatest sermon ever on the Day of Pentecost.  It may have been Stephen who before the Sanhedrin gave one of the best surveys of the Old Testament in proclaiming Christ as the Promised Messiah.  There is also Alexander Maclaren, John Mac Arthur, Billy Graham, or Billy Sunday.  Maybe the greatest of the post-biblical era preachers is reading this today or hasn’t even been born.  Remember that God uses men who are least likely in the world’s eyes to succeed and as I have heard it said, God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.  I consider myself to not even be in these men’s shadows but the power is always in the message and never in the messenger, that way God always received the glory for He is not only deserving of it, He is worthy.

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