What is Expositional Preaching?

Preaching in American churches today takes many forms. Generally speaking, sermons can be categorized as topical, textual, or expositional (expository). Topical sermons begin with a topic and draw various passages of Scripture together of the same topic to build the sermon. Textual sermons begin with a single text of Scripture and launch into the message from there (example: 1 Corinthians 13 as the basis for a sermon on Christian love). Expository sermons also begin with a text/passage of Scripture, but do so within the broader context of an entire book. Expository sermons are verse-by-verse studies of a complete book of the Bible or large segment within a book. 

The vast majority of the time, I preach expositionally through books of the Bible. The exceptions would be special services such as Christmas and Easter. This means that a series of sermons in the book of James, for example, would begin with James 1 and continue weekly until every verse in the book is preached and explained. For shorter books, this may only take a couple of months; for longer books, it could take years. 

The benefits to this approach are:

  1. It is the most natural way to read and study the Bible.
  2. It is the best way to understand the Bible in context (both in its immediate context, and in the broader context of redemptive history).
  3. It guards the preacher against avoiding difficult portions of Scripture containing tough doctrines such as election/predestination or other “hot-button” topics like homosexuality, gossip, gender issues, etc. 
  4. It protects the congregation from the preacher’s personal “soapbox.” 
  5. It puts both the preacher and congregation in a position of submission to the biblical text. 
  6. It ensures that the congregation will be spiritually nourished by the whole counsel of God. 

Here is a good article by Albert Mohler on the importance of expository preaching.

I trust this short explanation helps!