An Old Testament Pattern for Expository Preaching -- By: David C. Deuel
MSJ 2:2 (Fall 91) p. 125
An Old Testament Pattern for Expository Preaching
Associate Professor of Old Testament
The Master’s Seminary
Ezra provides an unusually clear and inspiring pattern of expository preaching in his ministry to the people of Judah at the outset of the postexilic period. He models an expositor’s commitment—studying, practicing godliness, and teaching—which leads him to perform an expositor’s task—reading distinctly and explaining the Scriptures. In so doing, he challenges expositors of all generations to handle accurately the Word of truth.
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In a true sense, expositors today stand in a succession which spans from before Ezra3 down to the present. According to Rabbinic
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tradition, Ezra introduced many basic tenets out of which the “Great Synagogue” and its preaching developed.4 Centuries later the early church borrowed much of its polity, order of worship, and even its preaching from the synagogue. If Judaism followed the pattern established by Ezra and if the church took many of its first practices from Judaism, is it possible that expository preaching has enjoyed an unbroken succession of “pulpiteers” from this early period?5
This essay argues that Ezra embodies an early and inspiring example for expositors of all ages. Scripture never explicitly affirms that Ezra was the first true expositor,6 that Ezra’s expository method has been followed by an “unbroken” succession of preachers,7 or that
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Ezra gives a complete picture of what an expositor should be and do.
Rather than search for precedents or unbroken successions that cannot be proven, the significant lessons regarding the OT pattern of expository preaching should be sought in Ezra’s example:8 the book Ezra-Nehemiah9 sets forth in the person of Ezra an expositor’s commitment (Ezra 7:10) that leads him to perform an expositor’s task (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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