Expository Misunderstanding

For many people the term “expository preaching” carries negative baggage. Often this baggage relates to some restrictive view of what is meant by it. Dry, dull, lifeless, canned – these are all possible, but not required. Irrelevant is also added to the list, but technically that is not even possible. John Stott notes that “all true preaching is expository preaching.” But he does not mean form, he means content. “In expository preaching the biblical text is neither a conventional introduction to a sermon on a largely different theme, nor a convenient peg on which to hang a ragbag of miscellaneous thoughts, but a master which dictates and controls what is said.” (Between Two Worlds)

Let us be clear that expository preaching is a philosophy of preaching, not a form of preaching. It is about the authority, centrality and influence exerted by the biblical text in the preaching process and event.

Our goal, as expositors, is to communicate the meaning of the text relevantly to our listeners. Biblical text, relevantly communicated. We can use whatever form we deem to be both appropriate and effective. Form is not the issue. There is great freedom, in many ways there are no rules, but we must seek to communicate the meaning of the text in a way that has applicational relevance to our listeners. Any definition of expository preaching that defines form is a misunderstanding.

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