The Meaning of Parresia

What does parresia mean?

The greek word parresia (παρρησία) is used 31 times in the New Testament. To understand the meaning of the term, we reference the translated verses in context. Boldness, confidence, courage, and fearlessness are all words found in the Bible that relate to the concept of Parresia.


Jesus spoke with parresia like no one ever had

His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking PLAINLY (παρρησία) and not using figurative speech!” (John 16:29 ESV)

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken OPENLY (παρρησία) to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. (John 18:20 ESV).


His apostles in turn spoke with parresia and turned the world upside down

Now when they saw the BOLDNESS (παρρησία) of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13 ESV)


It was the empowering Holy Spirt that enabled men and women to speak so passionately

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with BOLDNESS (παρρησία). (Acts 4:31 ESV)


The Word of God needs to be preached “fearlessly” and without constraint

… proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all BOLDNESS(παρρησία) and without hindrance. (Acts 28:31 ESV)


It’s Jesus’ work on the cross and His abiding love for us that compels parresia

Since we have such a hope, we are very BOLD. (παρρησία) (2 Corinthians 3:12 ESV)

…Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have BOLDNESS (παρρησία) and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3:11b-12 ESV)


The apostle Paul asked the church to pray that he always spoke with parresia in spite of the persecution it would prompt

…and (pray) also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth BOLDLY (παρρησία) to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20 ESV)

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full COURAGE (παρρησία) now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:18-20 ESV)


Parresia is the “confidence” that enables christians to do the impossible things that we’re called to do in the name of Jesus

Therefore, brothers, since we have CONFIDENCE(παρρησία) to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, (Hebrews 10:19 ESV)

Therefore do not throw away your CONFIDENCE(παρρησία), which has a great reward. (Hebrews 10:35 ESV)

…but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our CONFIDENCE(παρρησία) and our boasting in our hope. (Hebrews 3:6 ESV)


Because of Jesus, we should have the uttermost confidence before God now and in the coming age

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have CONFIDENCE(παρρησία) and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (1 John 2:28 ESV)

And this is the CONFIDENCE(παρρησία) that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have CONFIDENCE(παρρησία) before God; (1 John 3:21 ESV) So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have CONFIDENCE(παρρησία) for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (1 John 4:16-17 ESV)


In Conclusion

Parresia (παρρησία) is the unabashed and unashamed truth talk that is almost alien to the American church. We live in a politically correct society where everyone is so hyper sensitive as to how they’re perceived, that we no longer even know how to just say the truth frankly and without all the filters that sweeten our speech. Parresia is a way people speak to one another and speak to God. Parresia (παρρησία) is what the church needs to effectively preach the gospel and make disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.