Expository Preaching

How Then Shall We Preach?

Should students be taught a single approach to expositional preaching?

For almost two thousand years, expositors have been answering the clarion call of Paul to “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Even a cursory review of history demonstrates that God has gifted his church (Eph. 4:11–13) with a host of faithful expositors. Men like Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Augustine, John Chrysotom, John Wyclif, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin each proclaimed the Word to their generation. Puritans like Richard Baxter, John Owen, Thomas Manton and John Bunyan are also noteworthy. Others like Charles Haddon Spurgeon and David Martyn Lloyd-Jones set a high standard for preachers.

Even in this post-modern generation God continues to have a voice to proclaim His Word. For each preacher whose name is easily recognizable, there is a host of faithful yet unknown men laboring to expound the Word of God to His people. Additionally, homiletic professors in Bible colleges and seminaries seek, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to teach “faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

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Toward Expository Preaching

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2014. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

God’s people understand that the Bible demands the preaching of God’s Word. Faithful ministers will, therefore, preach God’s Word, and God’s people will listen to the proclamation of His Word. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 and 2 Timothy 3:15—4:2 demonstrate the priority God places on preaching the Word. Paul insisted that God’s methodology is the “foolishness of the message preached” (1 Cor. 1:21). The preacher must proclaim the Word “not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4). He further instructed Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).

The Background of Preaching

The ancient world recognized the value of spoken words. Aristotle’s On Rhetoric provides insight into the importance of public speaking. He defined speaking in terms of the ethos (character) of the author, the pathos (emotion) of the author, and the logos (content) of the message. Aristotle argued against the manipulation of an audience and concluded that the character of the author must come before either emotion or the content. All of these elements find emphasis in a class on preaching.

Classic education also emphasized the value of spoken words. Classic education typically divided itself into three categories (trivium): grammar, logic, and rhetoric. This form of education is actually finding a rebirth in some school curricula. The New Testament church found itself in the cultural backdrop of these educational emphases in the first century.

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