Preliminary Considerations In Preparing A Sermon From The Gospels -- By: Robert H. Stein

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 14:1 (Spring 2017)
Article: Preliminary Considerations In Preparing A Sermon From The Gospels
Author: Robert H. Stein


Preliminary Considerations In Preparing A Sermon From The Gospels

Robert H. Stein

Robert H. Stein is Senior Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Choice Of A Sermonic Text Of Passage

Choosing a sermonic text involves numerous and varied circumstances. When preaching a series, sermons are frequently suggested by the content of the biblical passage or the subject matter that is the focus of the series. The present sermon is not associated with any series, so no such restrictions were involved. As I reflected on a possible subject, the thought came into my mind, “What if this were the last sermon I ever preached?” Several suggestions immediately came into my mind. My first inclination was to choose a difficult New Testament text or passage that is confusing and not understood by most people and try to explain this clearly and accurately perhaps for the first time. As a professor of New Testament such a possibility would be quite tempting. After all, are not professors often known for preaching on little known, unclear subjects that are confusing and making them even more confusing? As I began to reflect on the idea of preaching something new and unique, however, two thoughts came to mind that caused me to realize that this would not be a very good idea.

First I thought of the likelihood of my discovering some text in the Bible that no one else has understood correctly and that I would be the first person to discover its true meaning. Over the years I have heard people preach new and original interpretations of biblical texts, and I think that I can say, if my memory does not fail me, that in most instances there have been good reasons why no one in the history of the Christian church had every come up with such an interpretation. How likely is it that Bob Stein would come up with the correct meaning of a text that no one in the whole history of the Christian church ever came up with before? It is not impossible, but how likely is it?

The second thought that came to mind was, “If I really came up with a new, unique, and correct interpretation of a Biblical text that no one has ever understood before, how important could this teaching be?” Do we really believe that the divinely-inspired writers of the Bible thought as they wrote, “I know that no one will understand what I am writing

for nearly two thousand years but this is very important”? Did God really seek to hide his revelation from his people for thousands of years? Does this not sound foolish? When we speak of the Bible as God’s “revelation,” this does not mean that the Bible “conceals” God...

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