Archive for February 17th, 2008



            There are some preachers who sincerely believe that verse by verse preaching through a book in the Bible is the only legitimate form of Biblical expository preaching.  In the Master Seminary Journal article titled “Must Expository Preaching Always Be Book Studies?  Some Alternatives”[1], Dr. Busenitz explores four possible alternative forms in expository preaching, along with the benefits and precautions with each.

In desiring that all preaching be biblical, Busenitz devoted the first page in making the argument that expository preaching does not necessarily have to be verse by verse through a book in its format.  He cites Jesus as an example, who preached powerfully yet the gospel did not record him preaching verse by verse.  Other examples could have been cited by Dr. Busenitz, such as in Acts where the Apostles often preached topically such as Peter in Acts 2:14-41, Stephen in Acts 7:2-53 and Paul in Acts 13:16-52.  In all the passages mentioned, the Apostles quoted the Scriptures from the Old Testament in a thematic format rather than a verse by verse form.

No matter what the format of expository preaching are, there are things that are common to them all.  The danger of topical preaching is that it is easier to commit eisegesis as one jump from verses to verses.  All preaching must take into account the remote and immediate context, so that what the text really means instead of the preacher’s desired meaning is preached.

            Thematic preaching may perhaps be the most common topical preaching Christians are accustomed to.  Busenitz gave some guiding principles and how as a general rule, “the more you narrow the subject, the more thoughts you will have”.[2]  A popular pitfall is how preachers often would use the verse and match the message rather than having a thematic message based upon the correct interpretation of Scripture.

            Theological preaching is another form of expositional preaching.  It is important for the preacher to explain and defend the doctrines of the faith from the Bible, and an expositional sermon with this format would do much to equip the Saints.  Busenitz warned in his article that the preacher must be cautious that he does not preach only on the preacher’s favorite doctrines nor should the preacher go to the other extreme and avoid doctrines just because it is controversial.[3]

A third type of preaching is Historical preaching, which can be used to edify hearers with examples from Biblically history.  Dr. Busenitz offers as a guideline for historical preaching that “a Bible expositor should review geography and topography, together with the manners and customs of Israel and her neighbors”.[4]

In a similar vein with historical preaching is biographical preaching.  Dr. Busenitz pointed that such a message would be “a study of God’s sovereign, providential workings in their motives and actions, both good and bad”.[5]  In the unfolding of biographies during a sermon, it can be a possible pitfall that the lives of Biblical character are revealed without the focus being the hands of God in their lives.

            In summary, the article was a good survey of alternative expository preaching.  It was also helpful in discussing the appropriate timing for topical preaching and warnings of possible risks in such messages, along with the benefits and concern of each format.

[1] Irvin Busenitz, “Must Expository Preaching Always Be Book Studies? Some Alternatives”, Master’s Seminary Journal Volume 2 (Master’s Seminary, 1991; 2002), 2:139-156.


[2] Ibid, page 148.

[3] Ibid, page 151.

[4] Ibid, page 153.

[5] Ibid, page

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