What is expository preaching?
Simply put, expository preaching is biblical preaching. That is to say, the message of an expository sermon is consistent with message of the Bible. However, there is more to expository preaching than just this. Consistency with the message of the Bible is a claim that many preaching methods could make. What separates expository preaching from all other methods is that not only is the message of an expository sermon consistent with the message of the Bible, but furthermore the message of an expository sermon comes directly from the Bible. Other methods may develop a message and then attempt to support it with Scriptural truth, but expository preaching derives its message directly from a specific passage of Scripture.
Expository preaching examines a biblical text in its context, exposes the truth that passage is teaching, and applies the truth to the modern day listeners. In order for a sermon to be an expository sermon all three of these elements must be present. A text must first be examined in its context. This means that the expositor is looking for the authorial intent of a passage. He wants to know what the original author of the biblical text was trying to convey to his original readers. Once this has been established the expositor then turns his attention to the abiding truth, or principle, that the passage is teaching. This principle must be derived from the original intent of the author, and reflect a timeless truth taught or exemplified by the passage. The expositor must bring this truth to light in order to connect modern day listeners with an ancient text. After bringing this truth out the expositor must then apply that truth to the lives of his listeners. This means that he must investigate and communicate all the implications that a particular passage might have on his listeners. The goal of an expository sermon is to bring about a change in the life of the listeners; to spur them on towards godliness.
What does expository preaching look like?
First, expository preaching is usually done in a “verse-by-verse” fashion. In other words, the expositor preaches through a book of the Bible from verse one of chapter one all the way through the entire book. This is not the only form of expository preaching and it does not ensure that a sermon is an expository sermon, but it is a helpful indicator.
Second, expository preaching is text driven. A true expositor will constantly point his listeners back to the text. He will spend more time explaining the passage than he will on stories, illustrations, or application. He will not preach a principle or truth without justifying it from the text of Scripture.
Third, expository preaching is practical. The principles uncovered in an expository sermon should be practical and pertinent to the people of God in today’s world. A sermon filled with facts and data about a passage, but with no practical import on modern day listeners is not an expository sermon.