Expository Preaching -- By: J. Ellwood Evans

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 111:441 (Jan 1954)
Article: Expository Preaching
Author: J. Ellwood Evans


Expository Preaching

J. Ellwood Evans

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 1–15 with the number “7” duplicated, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–16 respectively.}

The power of oral instruction has been illustrated clearly in the annals of history. Socrates exerts a tremendous influence on the thinking of the world. So far as is known, however, he left nothing in written form. He is said to have replied when asked the reason why he did not commit his instruction to writing: “I would rather write upon the hearts of living men than upon the skins of dead sheep.”1 Socrates must no doubt have recognized the vital power which a living teacher has over the mind of students. While the situation is not exactly the same, it is noteworthy that even Christ did not leave a single written sentence. Preaching, then, is a natural as well as a divine method of presenting truth. Hoppin states: “Easy as the talk of children, fleeting as the passing breath, oral preaching is yet the strongest and most enduring instrumentality in the world, because the Spirit of God and the spirit of man are in it and wield it.”2

Preaching had a central place in the ministry of Christ as it did also in the ministry of the apostles. In the synagogue at Nazareth the Lord said of Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; he hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19, A.S.V.). Of the apostles it is written: “And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42, A.S.V.).

The generic idea in preaching may need definition. Phelps

offered a rather full definition when he said: “A sermon is an oral address to the popular mind, upon religious truth contained in the Scriptures, and elaborately treated with a view to persuasion.”3 From such a statement has arisen a classification of sermonic material under three heads. It is generally true that sermons are classified as being either textual, topical, or expository.

The textual sermon is one in which the text becomes the theme, and the parts of the text are the divisions of the sermon and are used to suggest the line of thought. There is no reason why a text...

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