The effective expository preacher is involved in two different worlds
- The world of the Bible
- The contemporary world of himself and his congregation
The preacher needs to know how to develop the Biblical text into a message that will address people’s needs today.
The exegetical idea should be submited to three developmental questions:
- What does this mean?
- Is it true?
- What difference does it make?
Just four things can be done with a declarative statement
1. Restate – put the idea in other words. Consider Hebrew parallelism
2. Explain – ‘What does this mean?’
Think about your passage, and ask, ‘Is this biblical text itself an explanatory one?’ Cf. the ‘body’ analogy in 1 Cor 12.
Think about your people, and ask, ‘Do I need to explain this text to them?’ Cf. meat offered to idols, 1 Cor 8.
3. Prove – ‘Is it true?’
Don’t too readily assume that people will accept an idea as true just because it comes from the Bible.
Acceptance must also be gained through reasoning, evidence, and illustration
The biblical writers themselves validated their ideas from everyday life as well as from the scriptures, 1 Cor 9:6-12
Example of Paul preaching to Greek pagans on Mars Hill
This is important today: modern education promotes pervasive doubt
“A statement is not true because it is in the Bible. It is in the Bible because it is true.”
4. Apply – ‘What difference does it make?’
Begin with what the passage meant to its original readership, then ask, ‘What does it mean for us today?’
Sometimes, the correspondence between what it meant then and what it means today is close, Jas 1:19f
At other times, the differences are greater, Eph 6:5
A particular problem with OT texts – hence the dangers of allegorising and of reading NT ‘frameworks’ into OT texts
Application must be controlled by the theological purpose of the biblical writer within the context of the entire book
- Does the text itself indicate its theological purpose? Eg Ruth 4:11-21
- Are theological judgements made in the text? Eg Judg 17:6; 21:25; 2 Sam 11:27
- In the case of narrative, ask, ‘Is this story given to us as an example or warning?’
- What message did the author intend for his own and subsequent generations of readers?
- Why did Holy Spirit include this in Scripture?
Other questions to be asked
What was the original setting in which God’s word came? How does that setting differ from our own?
How can we identify with biblical men and women?
- Although we do not share their life-situation, human nature has not changed
- We therefore identify with David’s guilt, Thomas’ doubting, Peter’s denial, Demas’ falling away, even Judas’ betrayal
What further insights are contributed by additional revelation?
What specific, practical applications does this text have for my hearers?
- What ideas, feelings, attitudes or actions should it affect?
- Do I live in obedience to this truth? Do I intend to?
- What obstacles are keeping my audience from responding as they should?
- What suggestions might help them respond?
Obviously, the Bible does not deal directly with all modern problems
What does it mean to respond biblically to issues such as abortion, IVP, environmental problems, world poverty, etc?
Testing the accuracy of our conclusions
- Have I understood the facts and correctly formulated the questions involved in the issue?
- Have I determined all the theological principles that must be considered?
- Is the theology I espouse truly biblical, or does it rely merely on proof-texting?
Based on Haddon Robinson, Expository Preaching, 77-96.