Search the Scriptures
Now that we have covered the preacher’s calling, education, theological knowledge, and understanding of the original languages, the foundational aspects of expository preaching have been addressed, and we can move on to sermon preparation.
The first thing an expositor must do is chose a text to preach. I highly recommend preaching through books of Scripture. This will alleviate the agony of choosing a new text to preach each week and over time guarantees that you preach the whole counsel of God. A paragraphed translation will be helpful in determining where to begin and end each sermon based on the paragraph divisions since individual paragraphs deal with a singular topic. Also pay careful attention to the Greek and Hebrew conjunctions and their relationship to what precedes and what follows. They will tell you when the topic being addressed changes. Noting where a good commentary divides a passage is also advantageous. The idea is always to identify a passage of scripture that deals with one basic topic. This is because a good sermon has one basic idea, not a plethora of unrelated information.
Once a text has been settled upon, an exegetical study of that text will need to be done. I suggest beginning with a diagrammatical analysis of the text. No doubt, you will remember diagramming sentences in eight grade English class. Diagrammatical analysis is essentially the same thing except that it is done in the original language. You can learn how to do this one your own or simply consult the diagrammatical analysis of your chosen text that is provided with comprehensive Bible study software such as Logos or Bible Works. You can also purchase completed diagrams of the Geek text online. For me, I find it far easier to print out a diagrammatical analysis than to do it myself. It also saves considerable time unless you’re an expert at doing diagrammatical analysis. After I print out the diagram(s) of the text, I use that printout as a worksheet for identifying and labeling verb tenses, word meanings, and grammatical functions of participles, infinitives, nouns, etc. Focus on correctly understanding the meaning of the main verb in each sentence. Main verbs are the key to understanding the passage.
At this point it is wise to consult a good exegetical commentary or two that deal with the intricacies of the original language. In doing so, your conclusions about the passage may be confirmed, or you may encounter different perspectives that you need to consider. The goal is to develop a good grasp of the text and its meaning through this process.
Once you are comfortable with your understanding of the original text, round out your study by taking a look at some expositional commentaries. An expositional commentary is written to help the average believer understand the biblical text. They do not contain technical explanations regarding the original languages. Their value will be to give you incite on how to preach the text by observing how others have dealt with it.
After having completed your study of the text, it may be a good idea to get out of the office and do something else for a while. This will allow you to some time to recharge after a period of intense and sometimes exhaustive research.