Archive for the ‘expository’ Category

I’ve been teaching in our church’s sunday school a “Second Level” Hermeneutics course, focusing on Genre.

I found this book to be helpful, and wished I read it earlier.


Purchase: Amazon

In “Preaching with Variety”, Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs writes about how to have variety in one’s preaching. It is not however, a book which talks about changing the way expository preaching is done per se nor is it introducing some new preaching fad, but rather it is an emphasis of how varieties in preaching can be accomplished biblically by faithfully preaching on the various literary forms (genres) found within Scripture. Arthurs made it clear in his introductory chapter that he believes preaching must herald God’s Word or otherwise it is not preaching.

At first, to preach with variety might not seem like a big deal, but Arthurs gives at least three reasons this is important. It is important because the listener would benefit from hearing something different. The preacher could also break the monotony with the routine of preaching. More importantly, Scripture itself comes in a variety of genres.  In the book’s survey of genres found in the Bible, I found the chapters on poetry, narratives and apocalypse to be the most useful.

In the chapter on the Psalms, Arthurs was helpful in showing how to apply parallelism in the preaching process. Though I have been familiar with the various kinds of parallelism that exists within Hebrew poetry, I benefited with how he brought out some of the practical implications in identifying the various kinds of parallelism. For instance, previously a synonymous parallelism was to me just a poetic relationship between two lines, where the second line repeats the first line in a different fashion.  Arthurs points out how the idea in the second line is doing more than just repeating the first line, but rather it adds an intensifying sense to the text (43-44). The chapter also makes the point that organizing our sermon with parallelism structure is appropriate when we want to intensify the message (57).

Arthurs also offer some great insight when it comes to narrative. I learned that in the Hebrew, the word for “Behold” often indicate an omniscient point of view by the narrator (79).  In the sermon preparation process, the preacher ought to be aware of the different point of view being given from the text.  There were ample amount of examples of how to preach from narrative text given, and these instances also made the chapter a great read for spiritual edification.

Something I have never thought about before concerning apocalyptic genre, was Arthurs insight of how this genre has the flavor from other genres: Apocalyptic genre is poetic and also has the characteristics of rough narrative.  While acknowledging the difficulties in preaching from apocalyptic passages, Arthur’s approach makes the task of interpreting Apocalyptic genre a bit less intimidating and “Gnostic”.

A final comment concerning the entirety of the book was that it was useful that each of the chapters on Biblical genre ends with a checklist of the principles taught.  This allows a preacher to glance over the principles discussed in the book, after the book is done and the preacher is working on his sermon.

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Many of the readers to this blog are involve with some form of ministry or another where teaching the Word of God is a fundamental role we carry out.

Here is something I read from Jay Adams that one should think about while preparing sermons and messages…

You must not exhort your congregation to do whatever the BIble requires of them as though they could fulfill those requirements on their own, but only as a consequence of the saving power of the cross and the indewelling , sanctifying power and presence of Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit.  All edificational preaching, to be Christian, must fully take into consideration GOd’s grace in salvation and in sanctification” (From “Preaching with Purpose: A Comprehensive Textbook on BIblical Preaching”, page 147)


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            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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