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International Graduate School of Leadership Rev.

Bong Baylon 2nd Trimester 2010

Preaching 1 Handout

Exegesis
I. The Aim of Exegesis A. "Exegesis is never an end in itself.... [it] must come to terms with the audience [the waiting church] as well as with what the original author meant by the words he used." (Kaiser, p. 149) "If the text of Scripture is the central concern [in our preaching]... then a mastery of Biblical languages must be properly aimed. There must be more to this admittedly arduous study than the assemblage of a laborious English translation and the correct parsing of the verbal forms. Whenever this type of linguistic study is regarded as the main function of exegesis, the yield is so low that it is unconscionable... Pray for the "'faculty of discernment' - the ability of lovingly staying with each sentence until we can discern the finer points of its style, structure, beauty and the special nuances of meaning the author had in mind." (Kaiser, pp. 48, 50)

Note: What we are looking for is applied exegesis: exegesis that is sensitive to the meaning of the text, the motive of the text and the message to the original as well as modern audience.
II. The Limitations of Sermon Exegesis "In the case of sermon preparation, exegesis cannot and, fortunately, need not be as exhaustive as that of the term paper. The fact that it cannot be exhaustive does not mean that it cannot be adequate." (Fee, p. 117) The Question then becomes what are the crucial aspects of Sermon Exegesis and how do each help the preacher in preparing life changing biblical messages? Lets start with the Exegetical process you were taught in your Greek class. What value might each step have for the preacher? What steps can we simplify or eliminate?

E - Exposure to the book and the passage: helps us see the flow of thought and
argument of the author. Gives us an informing theology to understand our passage.

Value to the preacher: Very Important! Serves as a checks and balances for understanding your specific text. Helps you see the authors overall purpose for

writing the book and what he was trying to accomplish with your text. This will help shape the preachers purpose for his sermon as well.

X - Textual criticism: Identifying variant versions of the original text. Helps to


ensure an accurate God inspired message. Value to the preacher: Next to none. 99.9% of you congregation dont know and dont care that there are textual variants in the bible. Worse you may inadvertently undermine the authority of the bible in your congregation if you continually inform them that the translation that they are using is not accurate or reliable. How should we deal with important textual issues? Absorb them in the next step of exegesis. English translation

E - English translation: The goal is actually not to have an English translation but to
have an accurate translation in the language that your congregation uses for their bible. Not that you should make a different translation from their bibles but rather you should be aware of any significant translation differences between the congregations Bible and your Greek text.

Value to the preacher: Limited. Normally no time should be spent on identifying differences in translations or recommending a better translation. The only time this should be mentioned is when the actual word or phrase in the congregations Bible is so different that it affects the meaning and understanding of the text and would somehow change your sermons message. Then you can simply say I know that your bible uses the word ______ but a better word to capture the meaning of the original language might be ______.

G - Grammatical Analysis and Structure: Seeking to understand how words were


used by the author and how they connect to reveal the authors message. Value to the preacher: Crucial! But in a limited capacity. Generally a preacher does not need to do a full blown grammatical analysis. Rather he must identify specific grammatical usages of words that will reveal significant meanings that would aide in the congregation in better understanding the meaning of the text. The two most common grammatical issues that would be helpful to preach about would be; unusual sentence structure showing emphasis, and tense/mood usage of important verbs that impact application to modern day audience (present tense verbs that show continuing action, or subjunctive mood showing a wish or desire rather than a certainty etc.) Secondly the preacher must understand the general flow of thought of the author in order to differentiate between co-ordinate and sub-ordinate ideas. The goal here is to find the main points of the author, which often serve as the sermons main points as well. Main points are almost always finite verbs. The preacher should also identify the subordinate points (usually participles and infinitives) and determine how they modify the main points (do they show the reason, the
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purpose, the manner, the time etc.) Knowing these to things will give you the sermons main points and the general flow of thought of the passage.

E - Examine context and literary features: Seeking to interpret a text in its context

and to understand the authors intended meaning through his use of literary features (devices). Value to the preacher: Limited for Epistolary Genre but crucial for many other biblical genres (ex narrative or poetic). Epistolary Genre makes little use of literary devices that impact meaning other than the normal grammatical issues identified above. Context as well is helpful as a checks and balance to understand the meaning of your text but generally not crucial to mention in a sermon unless the context sheds light on a hard to understand portion of your text. In most cases if you have done a good job of being familiar with the book as a whole (First E above) then you will know the context enough not to misrepresent the meaning of your own text.

S - Semantical-lexical features: Seeking to understand the precise meaning of


words. Value to a preacher: Moderate but only to clarify what is unclear, never to impress the congregation with the preachers knowledge of the Greek. The preacher should identify those words in his sermon text which might be difficult for his congregation to understand (theological words or unusual words) or those words that are easily misunderstood because of wrong or confused presuppositions (Example: Assuming that filling of the Spirit is the same as Baptism of the Spirit because your church comes from a full-Gospel tradition). Full blown word studies are of no use to the preacher (are they to anyone?). Generally a quick look at a bible dictionary or BGAD will suffice to give you a feel for the meaning of the word in its context. The key is to translate the word with a modern definition that is easy for your congregation to understand.

I Inter-relational Features: Historical and Theological: Seeking to understand the

historical and theological contexts that occasioned and inform the writing of your text. Value to the preacher: Extremely Important! Understanding the historical setting of your text (i.e. the life situation of the church to whom the letter was written) enables the preacher to surface the key problems and concerns of the first century Christians and then to draw parallels to his own modern day audience. This is helpful in shaping his sermon introduction because he can show how the ancient text speaks into the modern felt needs of his audience. Also he can draw legitimate biblical applications from his text for his modern day audience since he understands the life situations, applications and purposes of the original author for his audience. Understanding the Theological themes of the book helps the preacher stay God/Christ focused in his sermons. He must determine how the particular message of his text relates to and reveals the character, purposes
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and plans of God. Thus his messages will always bring people to God so that they can respond to the living God and not to the preachers ideas.

S - Summary exegetical outline, idea and translation: A summarized outline of the


flow of thought of the passage and a clear statement of the main idea of the text. Value to the Preacher: Helpful. The exegetical outline and idea are the starting points for developing a sermon outline and preaching a clear sermon message. In exegesis we are concerned with being precise and capturing every nuance of meaning. For preaching we are interested in seeing the main ideas and how these ideas relate to each other to teach one big idea. Thus our exegetical outline and idea will be more abbreviated and reduced than one used in an exegetical paper. Usually we will only have main points and occasionally a first level set of sub-points if these points are very important to overall meaning of the text (although not necessary in every case). III. Keeping the Balance Between Text and Audience To ensure a balanced text/audience sensitive exegesis the preacher should utilize the following four questions as guides in the exegetical process. Answering these four questions will keep our exegesis focused and productive in the preaching task. 1. What is the Story behind the text? - helps to develop relevance by identifying parallels to modern day needs and concerns. 2. What is the Message of the text? - states the main idea of the text and identifies the major theology taught in the passage 3. What is the Problem with the text? surfaces the aspects of the message that the modern audience will question, doubt or struggle with and seeks to answer these questions. 4. What is the Difference because of the text? applies the text to the audience in ways that are true to the purpose and intention of the original author yet relevant to the contemporary audience.