The Relationship between Exegesis and Expository Preaching -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 02:2 (Fall 1991)
Article: The Relationship between Exegesis and Expository Preaching
Author: Robert L. Thomas


The Relationship between Exegesis and Expository Preaching

Robert L. Thomas

The distinctive characteristic of expository preaching is its instructional function. An explanation of the details of a given text imparts information that is otherwise unavailable to the average untrained parishioner and provides him with a foundation for Christian growth and service. The importance and centrality of thorough exegesis in preparing the expositor for this service cannot be overstated. Exegesis must itself be on a solid footing and must lead to development in supplementary fields that, in turn, provide important data for expository preaching, too. With the raw material of sermon preparation thus obtained, common-sense principles must be applied in putting the material into a form that the congregation can receive with ease and learn from.

* * * * *

The distinguishing mark of expository preaching, also called Bible Exposition, is the biblical interpretation communicated through the sermon. The expositor must teach his audience the meaning of the text intended by its author and understood by its original recipients. Because the original languages of the Old and New Testaments are inaccessible to almost all congregations, precise and detailed interpretations of Scripture will be also. So a Bible expositor’s central responsibility is to acquaint them with these interpretations previously unknown to them. The final test of the effectiveness of Bible Exposition is how well individuals who hear the sermon can go home and read the passage with greater comprehension of its exact meaning than they could before they heard the message.

The point that differentiates expository sermons from other types is not the cleverness of their outlines or their “catchy” clichs. Neither is it the relevance of the message to everyday life. These are helpful and necessary as communicative tools and devotional helps, but they do not distinguish expository preaching from other kinds of sermons. A sermon could still be expository without them, but if the explanation of what the author meant is missing, so is the heart of Bible Exposition.

The unique contribution of Bible Exposition is its substantial enhancement of the listeners’ comprehension of Scripture’s intent. Such a service is the ideal way to cooperate with the Holy Spirit who inspired

Scripture as He takes an improved grasp of the text’s meaning and shows its applicational significance to individual listeners. That is the best avenue for building up the saints. The NT puts heavy emphasis on using the mind as the principal avenue to Christian growth (e.g., Rom 12:2;...

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