What is Expository Preaching?
Harshit Singh: Brothers, what is expository preaching?
Stephen David: I think expository preaching is exploring the text to find the authorial meaning so that through that discipline, we can ultimately apply the text to people so that they can live according to the will of God.
Harshit Singh: Anything you want to add to that?
Jonathan George: So, usually it helps when preachers take a book and preach through it consecutively. So that helps to do this. So you track with the authorial intent as you go through a book. And so hopefully, you understand it in its context and then apply it to the church. Because that’s how the New Testament or even the Old Testament people would have received the books of the Bible — as big chunks.
Nathan Eda: And the word intent can be difficult to understand. So, the way we figure out the author’s intent is by actually looking at the text itself. So when we say intent, we’re not saying his intentions other than what’s confined to the text of Scripture, and his intent can be wider than the actual book is written. So, as an example, for Pauline, Pauline’s intent is, let’s say, justification throughout his literature, and he uses justification by borrowing other Apostolic writers as well. So intent is found within the locus of scripture itself.
Harshit Singh: Some heavy words used there, by Nathan!
When I think of expository preaching, I find Mark’s definition really helpful I think he often says that when the main point of the passage is the main point of the sermon applied to the life of the people here and now. So I think I find that very helpful in my own ministry (just trying to like again). I think the question would be, how do you find the main point of a passage? Do you guys want to say think about that?
Stephen David: Yeah! the way we find this is through the hermeneutical disciplines. Which are you need to look into the context, immediate context and a wider context and also the holistic context, and also the grammatical interpretation also matters. What kind of grammar is that? And also the historical, and cultural context that we need to find out and the theological or the unity of the Scripture. How does it fall into the line of biblical theology? And seeing with an overarching God’s redemptive purpose and how this text fits into that, also is very helpful in exegeting the text.
Jonathan George: And maybe a good test for are you doing expository preaching is after the sermon, are people able to get the big idea of what that passage was.
Stephen David: Right!
Jonathan George: And does that match with what you, as a preacher, studied and found from your time in the Word?
Nathan Eda: I think reading and re-reading so more simple answer might be. Reading and re-reading the Bible over and over again. Trying to find yourself within the context itself can be very helpful in finding out the main point of the passage.
Harshit Singh: So just following up with what Jonathan said, I think as preachers, we do not want to say something from the text, what is not in the text, that’s one thing. Second thing, I think I’m not very happy when people come to me if they come to me after church or a sermon and they say “Oh Brother, the thing that you said, I’ve never seen it, and I could never ever see that!”
Nathan Eda: Yes, yes.
Harshit Singh: I think what we want to encourage people or help people see or look at this passage is what’s theirs, and they can see it for themselves. And they say “Ah! I see it here.”
Nathan Eda: Yeah! I think that a good example of that is if somebody, like years later, let’s say you preached to Mark somebody years later, says “Hey! I think in Mark, we saw this in the text when Harshit Bhai preached to this, you know. This is what Mark is about.” I think that’s what we are trying to drive at let’s see what he’s saying and apply that to our lives.
Stephen David: Right! and as the authors of “How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth”, they emphasise that text.
Hatshit Singh: Who is the author of“ How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth”?
Everyone: Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
Harshit Singh: Yeah!
Stephen David: And they said that text can never mean what it never meant.
Harshit Singh: By the way, it is a very helpful book for those who want to learn more about how to study the Bible.
Nathan Eda: Yeah, that’s a very smaller textbook.
Stephen David: Yeah! right and exercise of us is to go, you know, then and there and understand what the text meant to the original recipients of the letter or the book. And then figure out how does that apply to us. It’s not what it means to us individually but what it meant to them and how it applies to us.
Nathan Eda: We don’t want to make it sound easy because we have literary genres. So it’s very easy to find the main point of a Pauline text, for example not very easy but you have to work not as hard. But poetry, Hebrew poetry, especially and things like that are slightly higher end. So, it takes a little sweat and toil to get to that.
Harshit Singh: I was just worried you’re going to like to throw in more big words.
Jonathan George: If I can just add one, I mean, I think the importance of application. So sometimes, in the name of expository preaching, it becomes very intellectual. So, I understood my text, and now I’ve told you the main idea of the text. But actually thinking about how does it affect the church people, the housewives, the professionals, everybody? What does the text have to do with their lives for the week ahead of them?
Stephen David: Right!
Jonathan George: That’s very helpful to think through.
Stephen David: And I think we all should remember that this is not a running commentary, where you just explain what the text is saying, it is expositional preaching, which means how this text matters to you in your daily practical Christian Living.
Nathan Eda: Yeah! horizontally but also vertically. How do we worship God better through our understanding of this particular text?
Harshit Singh: I just want to add to what you said, so I use that triangle. God to them then, what it meant to people back then at that time, not to us directly first to them then and to us now here. But before we come to us, we should also remember Jesus has come about two thousand years ago, particularly for Old Testament passages. Before we bring it to us, it has to come via the cross, via Calvary, via Christ’s finished work on the cross. If you keep that in mind, I think that will keep us from making a lot of errors particularly, especially when you’re looking at the Old Testament passages; keep in mind the timeline—where we are in the whole canonical timeline. (So, I think just those kinds of things are pretty.) And some of it, I think, comes with practice. I’m sure, like when you started several years ago just teaching or preaching the passage, it took more toil and more work. But with practice, as you study, work hard, and pray. I’m not saying it becomes easy, but it’s easier in some ways. I think you develop skills you hone your skills better and you just learn to use available tools better. I think just to study the passage and are able to then communicate it better what by God’s help, we want to see what the Word is saying to the people in our congregation.
Any final words you want to say?
Stephen David: Yeah! And also, expositional preaching is mainly sticking to the passage. It is not topical, where you jump from one verse to another verse and have the topic dominate the preaching, but letting the passage dominate your preaching and exalting the authority of the word of God.
Jonathan George: And so I think ultimately, then so it’s not just a preacher who’s preaching. But it’s God’s word which itself is proclaimed. And so people go away with that, isn’t this God amazing, not isn’t the preacher amazing?
Nathan Eda: And we think that it is going to change lives through the word of the Spirit, and the Word going into Hearts is amazing. So, just toil with the text because God does his work through the text.
Harshit Singh: I remember my teacher saying, let the text be in the driver’s seat. And let the text do the work, so let the Word do the work. Believe that the Lord will use his Word and change people’s lives. So study it, meditate upon it, apply it to your own lives, preach it, apply it to the lives of the people., and the Lord will help us in his time to see people transformed into the likeness of Christ according to the scripture.