They Will Know We Are Christians by our Scars

The Preacher’s Body in Pauline Missiology


  • Stuart Van Koh (pseud)


When homileticians refer to the preacher’s body, emphasis is paid almost exclusively on body language—eye contact, facial expressions, posture, mannerisms, and gesticulations. The neglect is striking, given the embodied nature of Jesus. Not only are the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus central to the Christian faith, the gospel of the kingdom is literally carried and proclaimed by human bodies who long for their own eventual bodily resurrection. Yet, the role of the proclaimer’s body in mission strategy and effectiveness is rarely examined. This paper contributes to the growing field of missional homiletics by exploring the role of the preacher’s body in Pauline missiology, with special attention to the apostle’s Corinthian correspondence. Through close readings of the relevant texts, I argue that Paul’s frequent references to his own bodily sufferings offer a paradigmatic model for the church, which, in its contemporary Western form, has largely ignored this significant mission strategy, leading to deviant praxis, from idolatries of the body to eliciting disbelief among non-Christians.