What is Expository Preaching?

Here’s a post I recently wrote for the Heritage Theological Seminary blog:

There’s a lot of fuzziness about what actually qualifies as expository preaching.  Some equate it with preaching through a book sequentially, verse by verse, one section at a time.  Others emphasize presenting the biblical author’s intended meaning for the original readers. 

In our homiletics courses at Heritage we use this definition:  An expository sermon communicates the timeless meaning of a passage to encourage a transformative meeting with Christ.

You’ll notice the definition has two parts. 

The first part focuses on communicating the timeless meaning of a passage.  Expositors help listeners understand what the text meant to the original readers and what it still means for contemporary ones.  This requires preachers to be competent students of Scripture.  We must carefully study the biblical text, digging into the historical context and grammatical features of the passage.  We must know how to accurately interpret the text, utilizing valid hermeneutical principles to grasp the timeless meaning of the passage.   This is one of the reasons the curriculum at Heritage Seminary includes Greek and Hebrew, hermeneutics, Bible, and theology.

If the first half of our definition calls a preacher to be a competent student of Scripture, the second half requires a preacher to be a caring shepherd of souls.  As preachers, we want our sermons to encourage a transformative meeting with Christ.  The preacher’s goal is not simply to inform, but to see lives transformed. As J.I. Packer put it, “The proper aim of preaching is to mediate meetings with God.”[1]  For some of our listeners, this will mean meeting Christ for salvation through repentance and faith.  For those already in Christ, it will mean meeting Christ for growth in sanctification—having outlooks, attitudes and actions brought into great conformity to God’s will. 

At this year’s Heritage Preaching Lectures, we have the privilege of learning from a preacher who is both a competent student of Scripture and a compassionate shepherd of souls.  Ray Ortlund Jr. has served as both a seminary professor and a long-term pastor.   

I’d encourage you to join us online on October 8th for the Heritage Preaching Lectures.  Dr. Ortlund’s focus will be preaching Old Testament wisdom literature.  I’m convinced what you learn will help you faithfully exposit God’s Word—communicating the timeless meaning of the text in order to encourage transformative meetings with Christ. 

You can register for the Heritage Preaching Lectures at  DiscoverHeritage.ca/HPL.

[1] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/40-quotes-from-j-i-packer/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: