Expository Preaching Defined and Defended

Having given the month of January to the subject of spiritual leadership, we’re back to our study through the book of Matthew in February until… well, for the foreseeable future. So now might be a good time to answer the question “Why spend so long preaching through only one book?” Answer: “I’m committed to expository preaching.” Let me demonstrate my rationale.

What is expository preaching? Expository preaching is explaining the biblical text from the biblical text, declaring meaning and exhorting listeners to obey its teaching. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, agrees preaching at its most basic level is reading, explaining, and applying the text. Also in agreement, Robert Thomas, Professor of New Testament Emeritus at Master’s Seminary, says its distinctive quality is its instructive nature. Someone who subscribes to a different discipline of preaching may be driven by his opinion, his thoughts regarding relevance, or his perception of audience preference. An expositor of God’s Word, though, ties himself to the Scripture and is therefore driven by the text in his preaching calendar, his emphasis, and his outline. The preacher is not delivering a speech of his own creative liberties but communicating a message that has already been delivered in God’s Word.

 Why expository preaching? Surely this question deserves an answer since many argue against such discipline directly and many more subtly suppose its error in their preaching. I will defend expository preaching in two brief points. First, the Word of God is our authority. As authoritative, the people of God need to hear the divine message from the divinely inspired writer as much as possible. For this reason, I am committed to preaching through a passage of Scripture in the sermon and through Bible books in the preaching calendar. While the preacher cannot completely remove himself, his experience, and his context from his preaching, he needs to preach the Word and not his opinion, his agenda, or his hobby horse. He needs to, very literally, rely on the text. A ‘he must increase; I must decrease’ approach is altogether necessary. 

Second, expository preaching is exegetical not eisegetical, designating the flow of meaning out of the text to the preacher not into the text from the preacher. The exegetical nature of expositional preaching rests on the sufficiency of Scripture. Because the Word is sufficient, no deficiency exists to be bolstered by the gifted preacher. I will therefore lean not on my creativity or intelligence in contriving messages but am committed instead to preaching expositionally and exegetically through a text and through books of the Bible relying on the sufficiency of Christ reflected through the sufficiency of his Word.

The authority and sufficiency of the Word therefore drive my commitment to expository preaching. I am preaching not a sermon here in Matthew, there in Exodus, and another in Acts, but verse-by-verse through books of the Bible. Sure, the preacher must seek guidance and wisdom in choosing the book or occasionally preaching a theological topic, but expositional preaching most effectively delivers the infallible Word of God to the people of God.