What is expository preaching?
Well, when we say expository preaching Fred… and just to be very succinct we’re really talking about biblical preaching…the word expository if you take the Oxford English dictionary and look it up it really means a commentary or setting forth of principal themes from a text. And then the word preaching really goes beyond the exposition and really takes the truth of the biblical passage that has been read and explained and properly interpreted and then shows the relevance of that passage to modern-day life and drives it home to the heart with fervor and passion as well as pastoral comfort and encouragement.
So those two words—expository is the adjective and preaching is the noun—expository describes a kind of preaching that is unusually text driven. It starts with the text of Scripture, stays with the text of Scripture, supports it with other texts of Scripture, gives the proper interpretation of this text of Scripture, gives the authorial intent, shows how it fits in the overall message of the Scripture and then shows the relevance of this passage. What it requires of us, how it speaks to the Lord Jesus Christ and then the preaching part, there has to be an element of preaching that I think goes beyond teaching.
A young man once came to Martin Lloyd-Jones and said “what’s the difference between teaching and preaching?” And Lloyd Jones said with that dry humor, “Young man if you have to ask me the difference between teaching and preaching it’s obvious you have never heard preaching because if you’d ever heard preaching you would know the difference between teaching and preaching.” He went on to say:
A lecture which is teaching oriented can be given any time, today, next week, next month, next semester, but with preaching there’s a sense of urgency about the message. It must be delivered now and it must be received now. And it both builds up and it tears down, both comforts and afflicts, it challenges, it consoles, it confronts, it points the way with urgency.
So just to give you a short answer—obviously you and I both could go a couple of days on the answer but it’s not expository teaching; the word teaching is implied in the word expository. It’s expository preaching.
The Puritans used to say there needs to be a fire in the pulpit and the fire gives off light and heat. There’s the light of the exposition and there’s the heat of the preaching. That’s really what expository preaching is there’s both light and heat.
The light of instruction and interpretation and even application, but with the heat of preaching that motivates and inspires and challenges and summons and confronts and corrects and encourages and consoles—all of those elements are part of preaching.