The Importance of Expository Preaching


The seminary I attended emphasized the importance of expository preaching.  I’m glad they did.  To exposit means to clarify, to expand or to make clear and understandable.  It refers to taking a passage of Scripture and thoroughly explaining it.  We look at each word and how it is used.  We ask ourselves what the writer had in mind.  We put ourselves in the place of the original recipients and seek to discover how they would have understood it.  It’s not until we thoroughly understand a passage and how it applied to the original readers that we can then apply it to our situation today.  A shepherd must feed his sheep God’s Word in a way they can digest and use it in their daily lives.   Your sermon or lesson, then, must say exactly what the Bible passage says in a form people can understand and apply to their lives.

Many pastors pick a topic and preach on that subject, using Bible verses that refer to it.  It takes less work to put together a sermon like that, and we can talk about things we are interested in.  There is nothing wrong with doing that, but there is a better way, a far better way.

Expository preaching teaches people the whole Bible.  Instead of just covering topics we like or know about, we are forced to cover all the Bible says in the passage we are using.  By preaching through various books of the Bible, we speak on a great variety of subjects and teach people the whole Bible, not just the same parts over and over.  We feed our people a balanced diet which they need (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Start with the smaller Bible books and teach a New Testament book followed by an Old Testament book, then another from the New Testament. It doesn’t have to be a whole book, a chapter or section of a book is good, too.   Alternate, don’t just stay in the New Testament.

          Expository preaching lets God speak through His Word.  When we preach the Bible verse by verse, we are teaching God’s words, not ours.  There is special power in the words of Scripture (Hebrews 4:12).  God’s Spirit takes His Word and teaches it to us as we study and prepare, then when we preach He takes the truths of God’s Word and speaks them to the hearts and minds of the listeners.

Each passage has one main idea which the writer focuses on.  We must study and find that central truth and form our sermon around it.  God’s Spirit helps us do that.  Thus, we let God’s Spirit, using God’s Word, show us what we will be preaching and teaching in that message.  What could be better than letting God use His own Word to change our lives and the lives of those who listen?   This forces us to learn and preach all God has in His Word, not just some familiar parts of it.  We learn and so do our people.  After all, God knows better than we do what we and our people need to hear.  Expository preaching allows Him to speak through us by His Spirit.

Expository preaching teaches the listeners how to study and apply the Bible.  As they see how you analyze and break down each part of a verse and relate it to other parts of the passage, people will learn how to do that in their own reading.  They will realize the benefits of doing this and their appetite to know and use God’s Word will grow.  Most Christians do not know their Bibles well, and often don’t understand or remember what they read after reading a passage.

Learning all of God’s Word will better protect people from false teaching.  We will teach them Bible doctrine, but also equip them to think for themselves and not believe everything someone tells them.  That is very important for healthy, growing Christians.

So, I encourage you to make the Bible text central in your messages.  Teach what the passage says, explaining it and applying it  to your people.  Don’t just preach your own thoughts and use a Bible verse to support them.  Jesus said “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15-17) and that’s what we must do.

1 Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching.”

Matthew 28:18-19   “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”

Is your preaching topical or expository?

What has this article taught you to make you a better preacher and teacher?

For more information see my books “Studying the Bible” and “Preaching and Teaching the Bible” at  Or email me at and I’ll email you a PDF copy.


Christian Training Organization

(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)

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