Exegesis and Expository Preaching
The word for exegesis is used only six times in the New Testament (John 1:18; Luke 24:35; Acts 10:8; 15:12, 14; 21:19). Each time, it speaks in expository fashion. John wrote that Christ “revealed” (exegesato) God (John 1:18). The two disciples “related” (exegounto) what had happened on the road to Emmaus with Jesus (Luke 24:35, WNT). Cornelius “explained” (exegesamenos) about his vision of an angel of God (Acts 10:8, NASB). Barnabas and Paul “declared” (exegoumenon) how God had worked miracles among the Gentiles through them (Acts 15:12, NKJV). James spoke of how Simon had “described” (exegesato) God’s show of concern for the Gentiles (Acts 15:14, TCNT). Paul “reported” (exegeito) in detail what God had done among the Gentiles (Acts 21:19, NIV).
The notion of exegesis as a purely academic exercise, fit only for scholars, is alien to the New Testament. The apostles always expressed accurate exegetical data in expository form. They always expounded their exegesis.
Exegesis and exposition therefore define each other. One is not, without the other. Preaching cannot be expository without exegesis. Exegesis without exposition defeats its purpose. The intent of exegesis is to make God’s Word known through exposition. If exegesis is the analysis of the text, exposition is its presentation.64 If exegesis is analytical, expository preaching is instructional. Exegesis forms a solid foundation for expository preaching. Expository preaching, therefore, is exegetical interpretation communicated through a sermon.65 The job of the expositor is to communicate, “the meaning of the text intended by its author and understood by its recipients.” He is to do it in ways that they would understand.66 This method differentiates expository preaching from topical and textual sermons. If the speaker fails to explain what the author originally meant to his original readers, then that sermon ceases to be expository.67
The New Testament stresses the role of the mind in spiritual growth (Matt. 22:37; Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 14:20; 2 Tim. 2:7; 1 Pet. 1:13). Exegesis enables believers to grasp the intent of Scripture, which is the message of the Spirit. Expository preaching instructs the mind with God’s Word. Biblical preaching transforms the mind with the mind of Christ.
Our post-modern world largely denies objective truth. Instead, it constructs its own subjective reality. Individuals and communities make up their own definition of what is true or false. What used to be wrong is now right for our times. What is right may be wrong, depending on the situation. Against this relativism, exegesis is indispensable in the battle of the mind.
Expository preaching communicates objective, eternal truth as revealed in the Bible. It presents what is, not what we think it is. It awakens us to the fact that “the Bible is objectively and eternally true for every culture and every generation.”68 In a changing world, biblical preaching establishes believers in the unchanging Word, and helps them assert its transcendent truths.
64 Keathley III, “Bibliology.” Cited __ Online: http://ww.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=698.
65 Thomas, “Exegesis and Expository Preaching.” Cited __ Online: http://www.tms.net/tmsj/tmsj2i.pdf.
66 Thomas, “Exegesis and Expository Preaching.” Cited __ Online: http://www.tms.net/tmsj/tmsj2i.pdf.
67 Thomas, “Exegesis and Expository Preaching.” Cited __ Online: http://www.tms.net/tmsj/tmsj2i.pdf.
68 R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Mohler: Christians must know their authoritative source.” Cited __ Online: http://www.bpnews.org/bpnews.asp?ID=23629>.