The History of Expository Preaching -- By: James F. Stitzinger

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 03:1 (Spring 1992)
Article: The History of Expository Preaching
Author: James F. Stitzinger

The History of Expository Preaching

James F. Stitzinger

Associate Professor of Historical Theology
The Master’s Seminary

The history of expository preaching begins with an understanding of the revelatory and explanatory preaching recorded in Scripture. Legitimate preaching in the Church Age continues the expository preaching begun in the Bible. History unveils a limited but rich ongoing legacy of biblical expositors up to the present day. These men who poured their lives into expounding Gods Word command careful attention from todays biblical expositors.

* * * * *

The rich heritage of expository preaching in church history stems from a relatively small number of men who have committed themselves to this type of preaching.1 These men, devoted to expounding the Scriptures, are an encouragement and a challenge because of the profound results of their ministries. Dargan notes that “preaching is an essential part and a distinguishing feature of Christianity, and accordingly the larger history of general religious movements includes

that of preaching.”2 He further observes that “a reciprocal influence must be reckoned with: the movement has sometimes produced the preaching, the preaching sometimes the movement, but most commonly they have each helped the other.”3 This profound influence of preaching in general applies especially to expository preaching. It has been a significant factor in the history of the church, earning a role as a worthy topic of study.

The apostle Paul spoke of his preaching as “not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4). In establishing the pattern for the church, he instructed Timothy to “preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2). God has used the faithful efforts of expository preachers of His Word to bring honor to His name and to increase the faith of His saints (1 Cor 2:5) throughout history.

The history of expository preaching is a principal division of the overall science and art of homiletics.4 In emphasizing the importance of such a study, Garvie wrote the following over seventy years ago:

The best approach to any subject is by its history; if a science, we must learn all we can about previous discoveries; if an art, about previous methods. The Chri...

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