Practically Theologians

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008 - Biblical Preaching Stages 1-3

December 4th, 2018

We discuss stages 1-3 from the book "Biblical Preaching" by Haddon Robinson.  Here is the link to the INTRO PODCAST we did on the subject.

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Chapter 1 - The Case for Expository Preaching

Robinson makes the case for expository preaching by showing how at the end of the day it allows the preacher to say with confidence, “thus saith the Lord.”  Expository preaching expounds and applies concept derived straight from the text of Scripture, applying it to the personalities and experiences of the congregation after having first been applied to the preacher himself.  Expository preaching does not import the preacher’s ideas into the text, rather the ideas that are preached and applied come from the text to the congregation by way of the preacher.


Chapter 2 – What’s the Big Idea?


Preaching must be a “bullet and not buckshot.”  In other words the congregation must be given a single idea that coheres the entire message preached in order to be able to grasp and apply what the preacher is bringing to them from the text.  In order to get this idea one must find the “subject” and the “complement” of the exegetical unit.  The subject is that which the author is talking about, and the complement is what the author is saying about what he is talking about. 


Chapter 3 – Tools of the Trade


Robinson gets into the stages of sermon preparation here:


Stage 1 – Selecting the Text

The selection of the text involves looking at thought units, sections of the text that contain an idea.  One must balance the size of the thought unit with a determination of the amount of time one has to preach.  Combining these two factors will give the preacher the right length of text to cover in one go.  Another way to preach is the topical approach, and the texts may be selected in much the same way.  One thing to be careful about with a topical approach though is that you don’t import the topic into the text; one must let the text speak for itself.


Stage 2 – Study Your Passage and Gather Your Notes

The next stage gets into studying the passage and context.  Robinson gives five points to consider as you study the passage.  First take the context of the passage as it sits within the book into account.  In order to do this one may need to read the book many times.  The goal is to be able to see how the passage relates to the overall message of the book.  Second take the context of the passage in light of its immediately surrounding passages into account.  Third read several translations and write down the problems in translation that you observe. Fourth try to state the subject and complement, at least roughly.  Fifth is the study of the passage’s structure, vocabulary, and grammar.  It is during this time that knowledge of the original languages becomes very useful, even essential, to being able to see clearly what is being said in all its nuances.  He lists several resources that the preacher will want to avail himself of.  Lexicons, Concordances, Grammars, Word-Study Books, Bible Dictionaries, Commentaries, etc.


Stage 3 – As You Study the Passage, Relate the Parts to Each Other to Determine the Exegetical idea and Its Development

In this stage you are analyzing and synthesizing the text, zooming in to get the particular details of the text, then zooming back out to understand how the smaller units fit into the larger.  During this time the subject and complement should be further refined to better reflect the particular idea within the thought unit.  In order to do this Robinson gives some instruction.  For  the subject, what the author is talking about, he recommends using who, what, how, when, why, and where to ensure that the subject you get truly reflects the idea the author is talking about there.  For the complement you must focus in on the main assertion or assertions of the text.  When you find the correct complement it will be supported throughout the paragraph by its supporting arguments.


At this stage Robinson says you should be able to do two things, state the idea of the text in a single sentence, and outline the development of that idea.