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‘Expository preaching’ is a phrase not commonly known by people. The way most people come across it is through books or a good preacher or from a friend who has shared how expository preaching has been effective at their church. Whatever the case, I will try to explain this term ‘expository preaching’ in a simple way. Let me start by addressing a few misconceptions about ‘expository preaching’.
Often people tend to think that expository preaching is not very relevant for everyone, it’s for those who are highly educated and intellectual. Some think it’s boring, and others prefer to listen to sermons on what’s going on in the World. Many times people have misunderstood expository preaching with going through different books of the Bible one by one. While there are benefits of preaching through books of the Bible, that is not the distinguishing feature of expository preaching. Let us look at what actually ‘expository preaching’ means.
What is Expository Preaching?
The dictionary meaning of the word expository is intended to explain or describe something. So, ‘expository preaching’ is to explain the meaning of the text from the Bible by being faithful to its context, and then applying the truth of that text in today's context. In other words, understand what is the main truth as told by the author to his audience in that text. For e.g., What did Paul intend for the Corinthians to understand when he wrote the letters to Corinthians in the first century. Then you apply that truth in today’s context by drawing applications. As one Bible scholar has put it this way, “as preachers we stand in between the two World, the ancient world and the contemporary world.”
So, it can easily be put into three steps, although some sub-points can be added under these.
- Read the text.
- Explain the text.
- Apply the text.
Why Expository Preaching?
The Bible is at the centre of expository preaching, which is where it belongs because it is the Word of God (1 Tim. 3:16). When preaching is saturated with the Word of God, it brings transformation and real change in the lives of people (Ps. 12:6; 119:9; Heb. 4:12).
In expository preaching, you the preacher will be bound to the text of your sermon; instead of using the text to preach your own ideas or thoughts. So, the authority lies in the Scripture, not in the preacher (Ps. 119:89; Isa. 40:8). The preacher is merely a spokesperson on behalf of God; he has nothing to say except what’s in the text.
All encouragement, exaltation, comfort, confrontation and conviction will be based on the Scripture, and that will make the congregation to grow and mature by constantly relying on the Word of God, not on the preacher (Neh. 8 & 13). The preacher’s job is to direct people to God, and that can only be done when he is preaching what God has spoken in his Word. (1 Thess. 2:13).