5. Master the whole. Don’t just preach chunk by chunk through the epistle without getting to grips with the flow of the whole. You cannot accurately preach a portion of an epistle without a good grasp of how the whole is working together.
6. Get the author’s logic. Don’t read a section and look for three preachable parallel points. Instead wrestle with what the author is trying to do in this particular section. Sermon outlines can always adjust to fit the text, and they should do so. Don’t adjust the text to fit your outline.
7. Preach to today. Don’t just present a set of commentary labels and then try to apply “back then” truths to today. Instead, preach the text to today, and go “back then” to substantiate what you are saying. Wrestle with how that audience is similar to, and different from, your audience today.
8. Let truth be felt. Epistles can lull us into a false sense of abstraction. Don’t give theological theory, preach the gospel applied to real life (both then and now). Preach tangibly, use implicit imagery, be vivid, help images to form on the heart-screens of your listeners.
The final four tomorrow.