Expositional preaching – What is it?

Expositional preaching is preaching that is focused on explaining the meaning of the biblical text in its original context. This involves investigating the original intended meaning of a biblical passage and how to best communicate this meaning and appropriate applications to today's listeners.

The Bible is clear that God's Word is to be the emphasis in preaching within the church. Second Timothy 4:2 notes, "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." The first church focused on the apostles' teaching (Acts 2:42).

Expositional preaching became an important topic in the twentieth century as a response to many churches that rejected the inerrancy of Scripture. In contrast, expositional preaching accepts the 66 books of the Bible as God's perfect, inspired words. The goals of expositional preaching are to understand these words and effectively communicate them to others.

Because of the focus on the study of Scripture in its original setting, expositional preaching can be more difficult than other forms of speaking. Second Timothy 2:15 teaches, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." In addition, the pastor or elder must be able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2). He must also, "Hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it" (Titus 1:9).

Expositional preaching includes a study of the languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek), grammar, history, culture, and literature of the time. The use of language tools, commentaries, and other biblical resources are considered valuable tools to enhance one's understanding in expositional preaching.

In addition to a study of the biblical text, the expositional preacher must also seek appropriate applications for his contemporary audience. For example, how should a person apply Romans 13 and its teaching to "be subject to the governing authorities"? How should Christian marriage operate today based on the biblical principles of marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33? What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself in a world in which many people know far away friends on Facebook or Twitter better than their next door neighbor?

Expositional preaching is difficult, but an essential focus for those who preach today. It is the biblical model for those who seek to reflect the teachings of God's Word and the early church today.

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