I am currently preparing a course that I will be teaching at the end of October – Hermeneutics for Preaching. I came across this very important reminder in Grant Osborne’s Hermeneutical Spiral (p343):
“The hermeneutical process culminates not in the results of exegesis (centering on the original meaning of the text) but in the homiletical process (centering on the significance of the Word for the life of the Christian today).”
To some of us it is obvious that there must be a direct link between exegesis and homiletics, but we all need the reminder. C.R.Wells, in Interpreting the New Testament (edited by Black and Dockery, pp506-523), writes the final chapter on interpretation and its connection to preaching. He warns of some critical approaches that will produce “tempting” content for sermons, but content that should not be included. However, critical methods that deal with the “text-as-is” have great potential as tools of the preacher. According to Wells, “Every preacher should and must be a critic, but no preacher should ever forget that critical study serves homiletics.”
Accurate interpretation governs expository preaching. So two simple implications:
1. Don’t allow interpretation and exegesis to be an end in itself. Study in God’s Word must run its course, not only to personal application, but to communication for corporate application. If you have opportunity and ability to preach the Word, do it. If you don’t, then find another way to share the truth and its implications with others.
2. If you ever preach, then be an ever-improving interpreter and exegete of God’s Word. Don’t try to preach without the foundation of biblical interpretation under your efforts. Preaching is more than sharing the fruit of exegetical work out loud, but it cannot be less. Skill in communication, relevance in content, personal spirituality and prayerful preparation are all important, but without effective biblical interpretation undergirding your messages, don’t call it preaching.