Origen was one of the earliest and most influential of the Greek preachers. He intertwined exegesis and preaching and created a sermon style that was essentially a running commentary of the text. This style dominated Christian preaching in the ancient church and continues to be used effectively today. In addition, Origen developed the allegorical method of exegesis, a method which is associated with the Alexandrian school of thought and the Eastern church. The allegorical interpretation of Scripture leads the listener to five possible meanings of the text: (1) the historical; (2) the doctrinal; (3) the prophetic; (4) the philosophical; and (5) the mystical sense.
Evidence collected about the early church suggests that most of the preaching in hamlets, villages, and rural areas was done by uneducated but devout lay people. The apostolic preaching, as well as the writings of the apostolic fathers of the second century that have been preserved, stand as exceptions to this overall trend.
The New Testament spiritual gifts—especially prophecy, tongues, and interpretation, along with healing—continued to manifest themselves in the life of the church up to and beyond the fourth century. Evidence in the literature from this period indicates that these gifts were respected among the “established” church leadership, referred to by important theologians, and practiced especially throughout the “underground” church.
The schools, especially the one in Alexandria, preserved early writings and produced important scholars who impacted the church for centuries.