The Science of Exegetical Sermon Preparation
Theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul, founder of Ligonier Ministries, once stated, “There is only one correct meaning of any Biblical text.” Exegetical sermon preparation is the attempt of the preacher to discover and communicate that “correct meaning”.
What is ‘expository’ preaching? Expository preaching is a form of preaching that details the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture. It explains what the Bible means by what it says.
The science of ‘Exegesis’ is the “technical and grammatical exposition”, or a “careful drawing out” of the exact meaning of a passage of Scripture in its original context.
While the term ‘exposition’ could be used in connection with any verbal informative teaching on any subject, the term is also especially used in relation to Bible preaching and teaching.
The practice originated from the Jewish tradition of the Rabbi giving a “Dvar Torah”, that is, explaining a passage from the Torah, during the prayer services.
Expository preaching differs from ‘topical’ preaching in that the former concentrates on a specific text and discusses topics covered therein; whereas, the latter concentrates on a specific topic and references texts covering the topic.
- Pray over the passage of Scripture to be studied, asking God’s guidance and insight.
II. Familiarizing yourself with the text.
- Read the text of Scripture from different translations to the feel of what the passage is about.
- Read aloud and with feeling.
III. List elements of the ‘naïve’ (i.e. how you would understand the passage of Scripture without any formal training or technique in Hermeneutics).
- Questions that come to your mind.
- Feelings produced.
- Insights – where we think the sermon might lead.
- Memories that the text produces.
IV. Understand the “historical context” of the passage.
- Use secondary resources: Commentaries, Bible Encyclopedias, Bible dictionaries, etc.
- Who wrote the passage?
- To whom is it addressed?
- When was it written?
- Why was it written?
- How would this passage have been understood at that time?
V. List the elements of our senses.
- What can you see, hear, smell, touch and taste when reading this passage?
VI. Take note of important ‘key words’ in the passage.
- Use Biblical language dictionaries and lexicons to study the meaning of the main Hebrew or Greek words in the passage.
VII. Identify the genre, literary form, function and intended meaning of the text.
- Is it a poem, parable, hymn, narrative, letter, etc.
VIII. Understanding the author and the author’s circumstances behind the passage of Scripture you have decided to preach from.
- The circumstances of the author of the book of Job were drastically different from the circumstances of the author of the book of Psalms, therefore, we should not interpret them the same way.
- How did the author understand his own circumstances?
- What was the author’s intention?
- What was the author’s purpose (e.g. Pastoral support, or, Prophetic challenge, etc.)?
IX. What is the analogy between then and today?
- What function did the text serve then, and what function does it have for today?
- How are we to understand and apply the text today?
X. Theological evaluation of the text.
- With whom do you identify in this passage?
- What are the ‘theological’ points from the text that need to be made known?
- What ‘form’ of the intended meaning suggested by the text would be appropriate for today?
XI. State your objectives for the sermon.
- What is your purpose for this sermon?
- What do you hope to accomplish with this sermon?
- What is your conclusion for this sermon?
XII. Sermon summary.
- Try to summarize your entire sermon in one sentence.
XIII. Sermon Outline Sample:
- Scripture Text:
- Sermon Title:
- Sermon summary in a sentence:
- Transition to the text:
- Preaching points: A) B) C) D) etc.